As promised, this will be the first of my blogs interviews with Dark City 2 authors. Argus Lou, who edited the first and second books grammatically, is on first. And she's already gotten her first complimentary review, courtesy of an SMS by a newspaper editor:
"Just read 'Till Death' and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Ally McBeal meets Norman Bates. A true black comedy on one level; an exploration of parental poisoning; a look at how murderous fantasies are translated into reality."
This is the interview.
1. Without giving anything away, how did you come up with (your story) for DC2?
I had already edited several DC2 stories, so I was wondering what sort of plot would fit the themes and style of the book. News reports tell us that a lot of murder cases are between husbands and wives -- hence, the title from the abbreviation of the nuptial phrase 'till death do us part'. So I began to think about how a spouse would consider killing the other half. And what would drive them to such thoughts. (Hands up, any wife or husband who has never even lightly entertained such a thought in moments of great exasperation!) But I didn't want it to be a straight murder story -- and wished to engage the reader in wondering what's really happening in the first few scenarios.
2. How long did it take you to write it?
Three to four hours. Then you made me do a few rewrites and add some details.
3. What made you want to become a writer? What have you written so far?
I'm driven by the connection between writer and reader -- as I'm a hungry reader myself. If I succeed in conveying a thought, an idea, a feeling or an atmosphere to a total stranger, then I feel elated and gratified. I've written part of a children's novel, with a few short stories in progress. For many years, I was a feature writer and copy editor for The Star newspaper in Malaysia, and edited CLEO magazine (Malaysian edition) for a couple of years in the mid-1990s. I've also written book reviews and film reviews.
4. Who are your favourite authors? What have you learnt from them?
From Chuck Palahniuk, I'm trying to learn an economy of words and crazy plotlines. From Alice Munro, I learn about observing relationships, especially between couples. From Paul Auster, I'm trying to learn how to create more complicated plots with layers of perception. I love Anthony Burgess, too -- he has such an easy prose style in 'The Malayan Trilogy'. And I was charmed by Tan Twan Eng's descriptive powers in 'Gift of Rain'.
From beautifully illustrated children's books, I attempt to keep my sense of wonderment and -- I hope! -- expand my imagination and creativity. Since I'm learning German, I've discovered some lovely children's books and wish to translate them into English (if no one has done it yet).
5. What are your writing habits? Why do you write?
Terrible! I wish I were more disciplined. Sometimes I wish the Internet would break down every few days so I'd have no choice but to set to work on my stories. I feel I have to read for 4 hours every one hour that I write. Wish I had a computer that were linked directly to my brain, so when I think up plotlines, characters and scenes, it can process them into words at once.
I wonder why I write, too... other than the reasons stated in response to question 3 above. Perhaps writing, in a way, would give evidence of my existence at the end of my life. And why that would be important, I've no idea. A sense of vanity perhaps?
6. Do you have any advice to give to budding authors?
I'm a beginning fiction writer myself, so I can't really say. I read your advice and that of other authors all the time. But I must say writing fiction requires one to live and observe life all at the same time -- strange feeling, that.