Thursday, November 09, 2006

If you had to write a Malaysian story....

...what would it be?

There are more Malaysian writers writing about circa WW2 than there are law-
breaking Klang assemblymen. But for me, WW2 is a pretty pedestrian subject. 

Okay, I suppose if it's written well, it's a good read.

BUT why don't Malaysians write about:

1. A parallel Malaysia where the 3 races are actually at war - contemporary setting. When the story opens, we have a protagonist who is a freedom fighter.
2. Historical fiction chronicaling the life of a street prostitute set in the era 
of the Portuguese 
3.  Hang Li Po - the true story of a princess who was sold into bondage 
(well, kind of)
4. 'Misunderstood' - the real story of Hang Jebat, who was branded as all-time villain wrongly.
(In this version, Hang Tuah is the actual villain)
5. The Fantastic 'Boleh' Four - 4 teenagers from Assunta Secondary School find they actually have superpowers
6. Lady Aminah's Lover - set in WW1 (ah, there's a difference finally), this is a Malaysian version of Lady Chatterly's Lover

Any suggestions? (Hey, this is fun!) The thing is - who's going to write it?


Argus Lou said...

Hee, hee! Your Hang Li Poh story sounds like some bondage soft-porn novel, Xeus.

1. Another parallel Malaysia story could be one in which the Malays still are struggling at grassroots with no affirmative action, the Prime Minister is a Chinese and Deputy is Indian. There are pockets of rebel Malays who try to fight for more rights, some are pacifist while some are sworn to violent means. There are Eurasians, Indians, Sikhs and Chinese sympathetic to the rebels' cause and work quietly to bring the pacifist rebels aid and resources. The entrenched Chinese and Indians in power are corrupt and ruthless... etc, etc. Lots of conflict and problems for the main characters to work through and around.

2. The Durians of Wrath (or more acceptable titles: 'Durians Have Thorns' or 'The Thorn Fruits') - illegal Nepalese and Burmese immigrants work to death in a durian plantation. Plantation owner's daughter falls in love with one of the near-slaves...

Hey, we've got a premise-and-plot factory going here!

Lydia Teh said...

Haha, that's right, this is the plot factory. Who's going to write the stories? Anyone's looking for a great idea and has the will to turn desire into words.

John Ling said...

I am planning on making my next novel a thriller about May 13th 1969, if that counts. =)

Yvonne Lee said...

Hi Xeus!

Interesting question; why don't Malaysians write about those things?

But I have always like non-fiction and wonder why people don't write more about their jobs?

I'd love to read about the job and life of a top Bukit Aman IGP's encounters ( sure censured one!), a doctor's experience with wacko sicko patients,
a hotelier's tales, a private eye's stories, or a Lady of the Night's stories of the Red Light District.

Crappy? Because it reminds one about "No Money, no Honey" (by the late David Brazil? ) but remember, US-based S'porean writer Gerrie Lim also touched the same topic in his book
"Invisible Trade" which hit is a bestseller and his writing is surely not crap nor fluff.

Currently, I'm wondering why local stores don't have books on 'how-to-handle-your-first-period' for the tweens. I think that milestone is one of the more important ones in a girl's life ( and for her mother too).

Hmm...when I can find the time and opinions from the experts, I'd want to be the first to write a book on menstruation, with lots of fun and humour thrown. Won't you, Dr Xeus?

After all, getting your first period can be such traumatising experience. Days when changing pads involved entering dingy toilets in a secluded corner of a century-old school, rifed with rumours that there's a resident blooding-sucking ghost waiting for young girls with their period!
Hey, anyone from the old
(now demolished) COnvent Klian Pauh in Taiping? It was also said that the big field there was a killing field during the Jap Occupation.
Wow, isn't this material for a new teen novel? Wandering spirits of the WW2 deads, mysterious nuns (forgive me, Sister!), pontianak waiting for schoolgirl at toilet corner and secret passages of an old Convent!

Xeus said...

Argus, truth be known, I wouldn't mind reading a soft porn bondage novel about Hang Li Po :) Who knows what those Sultans of yesteryear get into in their spare time!

I suppose in your Durians of Wrath, someone will get to sit on one? Asian Mann Booker Prize, here we come! Steinback beware!

Xeus said...

Lydia, wouldn't it be nice if we just churn out the plots and have a ghost writer write it?

John, now that would be a book I'd be interested to read. I was born around that period, you know. Was a very quiet baby apparently, and didn't alert anyone while we were hiding.

Xeus said...

Yvonne, The Bukit Aman IGP lives down the road from me. Maybe I'll ask for his memoirs :)

Would anyone be interested to read about my once profession? I did think of it. Proposed it to Eric Forbes and he said, "Hmmmm."

I think there are menstruation books out there. When I first had it, my paediatrician aunt gave one to me called 'My First Period.'

Argus Lou said...

Xeus Quiet Baby, you had me chortling with laughter - sit on a durian indeed, what masochism or sadism, depending on the situation. And I'd love to write a soft-porn bondage Hang Li Po novel dedicated to you - mmm, Jer might be interested in publishing it, u think?

Yvonne, when I was 12 (that's a trillion years ago) my sis gave me a book called 'You Need to Know' by Dr Nalla Tan. Anyone else read it? I laughed out loud at the part where it said men had erections. The picture in my mind was hilarious to little me.

I want to write a book for tweens too, including self-esteem, self-image, values, spirituality, how to handle teasing/bullies etc. Yvonne and Lydia, you want to collaborate?

Gette said...

1. It'll get banned because it contains unsur-unsur that will cause kekecohan among the rakyat. Or so they will say without even getting past the synopsis. 3 races fighting ah? Might give people ideas!

5. I actually started a superhero story set in Kuching, but I got stuck.

How about a Relic-style adventure where the history-geek protagonist sets out to research certain aspects of Malaysian history? In the process he/she uncovers the "truth" behind the official version. Oh wait, sensitive issue. Ban again!

Anonymous said...

Argus, bring it on... Watch out tweens!

Lydia Teh said...

Anon is me.

Xeus said...

Argus, Jer is interested in anything remotely pornographic :)

Gette, everything fun gets banned anyhow :) by either Malaysia or Singapore. Anyhow, the book I'm writing now - Billy Lang - is a sort of superhero story, except it's got a mind of its own now and went into demon realms previously unexplored by man. Book 1 is about the origins of Billy Lang, also known as the Catalyst.

It seems there's a conspiracy theory out there that Malaysia still is under the British India Company and the papers have never been officially signed over. I did wonder about a story like that.

I like the work from the writers who wrote Relic. Their recent efforts - involving Agent Pendergast's brother, Diogenes, are even better. They do stretch out the chapters very long to prolong the suspense though. Too long, I think, sometimes.

bibliobibuli said...

you are, dear. you just set yourself up.

Argus Lou said...

Bib, who you talkin' about, eh? (No, not Eh Poh Nim, who is like T. Halim; they have several personae, anon or not.)

Xeus - tee hee hee hee!
Mmm... we have so many ideas; if only I can sit down for 3 hours to complete a few chapters of one.

Xeus said...

Argus, I think Bob means me. Anyway, you are in a very ripe position to complete whole chapters in one sitting. Me, I can only do so at weekends or holidays. I'm glad I actually got to Chapter 16 of Billy Lang now. Though I think if I were a fulltime writer, I might complete the whole book in 1 month.

Anonymous said...

Xeus: You mean you're NOT a fulltime writer? You mean you have a LIFE? *gasp dum dum DUMMM*

heh. I think there'd be a huge market for parallel universe interracial war Malaysia stories. We could even rope Amir Muhammad in and make a film a la Children of Men. Pity we'd all be kidnapped mysteriously in the night with black bags over our heads though. BD For Balas Dendam, anyone?

Yvonne: doctor's experience with wacko sicko patients? Think House M.D. satisfies that particular craving (along with, oh, about a million blogs out there). Still, you're giving me ideas. Hmmmm *evil grin*

Thor Kah Hoong once told me his theory that Malacca was nothing more than a large fishing village glorified by the history textbooks. I started a crime thriller set in that, but then I grew up and became sad. Sheesh.

The Eternal Wanderer said...

Now that's a bunch of really cool ideas!! I once mulled about doing a short story of about an estimated 20 pages long about a Chinese boy separated from his family during the clashes of May 13, 1963 and ends up in the care of a Malay ustaz who tries to shield him from the horrors outside. Like all my stories, it's currently in a dormant state.

My current Nano novel deals with a "Chosen One" of Heaven exiled from his homeland and his descendant ends up in Malaysia where he battles against the powers of Hell itself that has been manipulating humans for centuries and restore balance between the powers of Light and Darkness.'s a NaNo novel so, it'll most likely won't see the light of day anyways.

Xeus said...

Eternal Wanderer, all you have to do is finish it. It sounds really good :) BTW, don't forget you have to write a twisty tale for Dark City 2. That sounds just up its alley - a story with a heartwarming twist.

Xeus said...

Angry Medic, I looked up your bio. Yes, I do have a life :) I also started writing when I was in medical school, so you can start now - it's never too early.