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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Call for submissions: KL Noir: Blue

I have many feathers in my cap (writer, proofreader, social scourge…). and the most recent addition is editor. Via a series of convoluted events — mainly, Amir Muhammad of Buku Fixi asking me “Do you want to be the editor for KL Noir: Blue?” and me replying, “Yes.” I am now the editor for KL Noir Blue.
What is KL Noir: Blue?
It is the third installment of the KL Noir series of short crime fiction set in Kuala Lumpur, published by Fixi Novo the English language imprint of Buku Fixi.  Previous volumes are Kl Noir: Red (which includes my short story “Oracle of Truth”) and KL Noir: White
What are we looking for?
Now seeking short crime fiction submissions of 2000-5000 words. The anthology will be published by Fixi Novo in April 2014.
What sort of stories do we want to read?
Blue evokes order, calm,and  harmony —  like a solitary swimmer in a pool. But is that a swimmer or a corpse floating face down? What price for diving too deep for answers and rocking the boat? Should you call the police? Who can you trust? Don’t just scratch the surface — go below it, disturb it. Render it unrecognisable.
What does it mean to live, thrive or survive in Kuala Lumpur, a city where lines are easily blurred (not in a Robin Thicke way…) and law is marred by disorder ? Your story does not have to include brushes with the law (but include them if you can) as much as they should be about transporting your readers into dangerous new urban territories peopled by memorable characters.
Send in stories related to crime, detective or suspense fiction. This includes police procedurals, detective stories, sleuths, revenge , heists and locked-room mysteries, etc. and whodunits and howdunits. Bullies, addicts, pimps, con-artists, crooked cops and gun and fun-loving criminals are also accepted.
When do we want it?
Deadline: 31st December 2013
Email submissions or queries to:
Preferred submission format:
  • 12 point Courier, Arial or Times New Roman. (No Comic Sans Serif *PLEASE*)
  • Double spacing
  • Number your pages on top right-hand corner of each page.
  • Refer to William Shunn’s manuscript format as a handy guide.
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Wednesday, 12 June 2013

New science fiction short story “Future Gardens”

Illustration by Kazimir Lee Iskander

The wonderful folk at Fixi and the organisers of #WORD: The Cooler Lumpur Festival 2013 asked Malaysian six writers to envision Kuala Lumpur in 2063. The result is a collection of six science fiction stories published online at FUTURA and it asks the very salient question:
“Is our future bright? Beautiful? Bureaucratic? Bent on destroying us? Find out with FUTURA
Three stories have been published so far and my story “Future Gardens” includes illustrations by the very talented Kazimir Lee Iskander.
“Future Gardens” is a noir-influenced and cautionary tale of the extremes a large corporation may go to in order to preserve a very precious resource in the future: Viable living space. Michael Crichton’s 1973 film  Westworld  was an inspiration and I did consider inserting a paraphrase of the film’s tagline “Boy, have we got a vacation for you!” into the story.
Another influence which sneaked in under the radar was Corey Hart's 1985 hit, "Sunglasses At Night". Streaming music while you write is a double-edged sword.

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Cooler Lumpur Festival 2013: A KL celebration of Art & Culture

My recent interview with Venus Buzz for the 2013 Cooler Lumpur Festival, a dynamic festival of the literary and creative arts in Kuala Lumpur.

Cooler Lumpur Festival 2013: A KL celebration of Art & Culture
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Monday, 31 December 2012


There are three types of book-to-film adaptation:

1) Good adaptation, bad film

The film sticks to the book's plot, characters and themes but forgets to be a great cinematic experience while doing so.

Examples: Perfume, Cloud Atlas, The Lovely Bones

2) Bad adaptation, good film

Book is filleted and sometimes jettisoned for the sake of the film. In some cases, only the title remains. Not necessarily a bad thing.

Examples: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Shining, any James Bond novel except for Casino Royale

3) Good adaptation and good film

The best outcome for fans, studios and movie audiences. Rarer than you think.

Examples: Life of Pi, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Atonement
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Monday, 22 October 2012

Publications for 2012

After nine months of not writing, I've had a sudden surge of publishing activity:

"Artificial Rock Aquarium" in Readings from Readings
"Oracle of Truth" in KL Noir
"Ninja Wings" in Esquire Malaysia (November 2012)

Review of "Naked" in The Directory of World Cinema: Great Britain
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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Don't work with bad people

Let me define 'bad' for the purposes of this post: If the nature of the job or their natures come into conflict with your ethics.

Continuing to do so means that you're eating shit. Don't eat shit from 9am-5pm, please. No matter how much they're paying you. It's not worth it.

For starters, you may not be able to wash the stains off your soul.
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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Life Support

Another sterotype about writers is that we are egomaniacs. It must require a modicum of pig-headedness to put yourself out there and let's not forget the bragging rights when you see your name on bookshelves and Kindle bestseller lists.

If total ego comes into your writing your work becomes insufferable, but also accept that good writing will not occur without a defined sense of self. From this sense of self springs confidence.

I meet writers who prefer to tread water and never muster the resolve to either dive deep to start swimming in a certain direction. You may have met them too - the ones who still have ideas for novels, short stories, and scripts but are still "trying them out.", the ones still sorting through their notes for the last ten years, or aspirants who still view writing as a hobby.

If  writing is intergral to you exstence it's not a hobby! Do you tell family and friends that breathing is a hobby?! Or you will only exhale when you have spare time?

Art is your life-support system, not life is your art support system.

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Change something!

I love this current proliferation of motivational posters on the internet. The flowchart above is one of my favourites.

It also applies to when you're writing by the seat of your pants. Not happy with your story? CHANGE IT!

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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Back To Work

After a few years of striking out on my own I reapplied back into the rat race. The speed of the re-acceptance still un-nerves me. A lone wolf pacing up and down at the starting line.
I don't see it as selling out but being very practical. Royalties and flat fees pay well but are always deferred to a later month.
I'll still write and publish like a demon but I'll be earning $$$$ too. Also I'll starve a little less than before.
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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon

Happy New Year

I'm gonna have a short story published in the UK this year- great start to 2012!
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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Short story in Esquire Malaysia

As an early birthday present I couldn't ask for anything better than the timing of the publication of "Jaguar Tracks". Manny 'Pacman' Paquaio on the cover adds extra punch.
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Friday, 28 October 2011

Scary Tunes

Halloween approaches like a horde of zombies outside a makeshift survivors' camp and the usual lists of Scariest Films/ Books/ Stories/ Urban Legends rear their disembodied heads.

However, here is a list of scary music that may help when you are writing horror by setting an apt mood for your session. Scary tunes will keep you awake so think of the money you'll save on coffee and Red Bull. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.

1. Atmospheres Gyorgy Legiti (1963)
Part of movements "Kyrie" and "Dies irae" from "Requiem" by Gyorgy Ligeti. Atmospheres is famously used in Stanley Kubrick's "2001 - A Space Odyssey whenever the black alien monolith appears.

Sounds like?
The beautiful disembodied wails of dead souls swirling in the void outside a derelict spaceship as a swarm of nanobots eat away at the lining of your spacesuit (and that is just the introduction!)

2. Imperial March John Williams (1982)
Don't laugh at the familiarity of this piece. Yes, now you can hum it but remember the first time you heard it during The Empire Strikes Back? You thought the Empire was going to destroy your home planet, right?

Sounds like?
Darth Vader and legions of Stormtroopers marching into your home. What? Uh-huh these aren't the droids you're looking for muh lord....

3. Dead Souls Joy Division (1979)
The title is based on Nikolai Gogol's incomplete 1842 novel although you can't really tell from the lyrics and Ian Curtis' doom-laden vocals.

Sounds like?
Icy desolation punctuated by dissonant guitars and a regimented drumbeat. The atmosphere from Manchester circa 1979 seeps through the ages to genuinely chill your bones.

4. Doctor Who Theme. Composed by Ron Grainer at the BBC Radiophonic workshop (1963)
The original was cut and spliced together on segments of analogue tape - no digital jiggery-pokery here.

Sounds like?
Sinister swoops, electronic 'stings' and pulsating bassline. Imagine your radio suddenly tuning into an alien signal from from another dimension.

5. Tubular Bells (Introduction) Mike Oldfield (1973)
Famously used on The Exorcist soundtrack although I did not watch it until I was much older. All I knew was that this was a rather sinister piece of prog-rock and was impressed by how well it sustained its mood.

Sounds like?
Leaves stirred up by an ill wind as you hurry past that 'bad' house in your neighbourhood.

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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Stereotype Shoot-Out

Now I present the first in a new series called 'Stereotype Shoot-Out', in which I shall dispel common preconceptions and pre-conceived notions associated with writers and writing.

Writer Stereotype #1

Your formative years must've been traumatic

Err, no. No more rocky than yours. There were no wicked step-parents or malicious authority figures a la Roald Dahl.  Fiction is not therapy although writing it can feel therapeutic. (But for the love of God pity your readers if you wish to go down this route! Or have the courtesy to provide sickbags...)

Oh sorry, you were not referring to trauma per se. You meant the euphemistic byword for 'trauma' which is 'experience'. Yes, it is also commonly believed that a writer has experienced an unnatural amount of pain together with obtaining a diploma from the School of Very Hard Knocks. However, literary output is not solely the polished product of the excavations of a writer's emotional seam.

Let's use an analogy from mineralogy; minerals rarely exist in isolation. If diamond is present at a site, you can bet there will other carbon based minerals nearby (graphite etc..) Diamond is in high demand in the market but it doesn't mean diamond is the only mineral that exists in the mines. Some fictions trade in misery yet writers aren't miserable. Our seams are richer than that. Let us surprise you.
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Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Dammnit, Shine!

Mid-year is glut time in The How-to and Inspirational Section. Not many books stand out but this one was simply titled, Shine.

Yes, the author runs his own motivational-speaking company so there is just a hint of slickness to the book's structure (a series of statements and no chapters) but it is more than an inspirational guide to fulfilling your potential at work. 

In the case of writers, you are your work, and this book asks not how to fit in, but how to stand out.
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