Sunday, December 16, 2007

Another review by a famous writer!

By none other than Tunku Halim! Malaysia's very own Stephen King! Hope you don't mind if I link this because I need to file it as a keepsake.

I truly thought Kenny's cover was stunning but I was a bit disappointed by the production quality of the colours. And TH, I wish all bios were like yours :)

I did have fun writing 'Strong Chemistry' but it was a very difficult story to write as it involved so much research. Had to pore through US chemistry websites to see if my concoctions would work. Then actually set up a little experiment involving my car speaker to see if what my husband postulated will actually work in real life. I remember writing most of it in a taxi back from KLIA.

'Signature Spa' was a lot easier to write because, as Argus will attest, I know everything there is to know about spas, ha ha. And it came up because Argus and I once visited a spa in Langkawi where they literally wrapped us up in wild rice and coconut leaves; hence a 'nasi lemak' spa. 'Signature Spa' is actually meant to be humorous in a dark, tongue-in-cheek way (don't know if that came across!)

Funny how we get our story ideas.

Peering into Dark City 2

A couple of weeks back I was delighted to find several copies of Dark City 2 waiting for me. Once the brown paper was ripped away I beheld the stunning cover by Kenny Mah. (Why on earth I haven’t used him on my recent books still confounds me!)

I read the Editor’s Note, flipped through the stories and then the bio of each writer. The first thing that struck me was that my bio just seemed too long. Next time, I’ll need to be more succinct!
The 4th story was my contribution - “Hawker Man”. I wrote it about 12 months ago when Xeus approached me for a tale. I was grateful for the opportunity as I hadn’t written any fiction (well hadn’t finished any fiction, to be more accurate) for a few years. Although she did ask for a twist at the end of the tale, I told her I wasn’t a twisty kind of guy. So you’ll find that “Hawker Man” hasn’t got much of a twist. But still, I’m pretty proud of it . . . especially the hawker man swinging his white cloth in the air, grinning, as his slippers slap the floor toward you!

I then turned to the first story “Strong Chemistry” by Xeus. Three pages into the story I went “Wow! This is bloody good!”. I have to admit I said it with a touch of envy. This woman can write lah. This is Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum” Malaysian-style!

I couldn’t resist reading Xeus’s second tale – “Signature Spa”. A story after my own heart, indeed it was. I was set adrift by the scents of essential oils and I could almost feel the soothing treatments as the oils permeated my skin. I could guess, with trembling delight, at what was going to happen – it was like watching a car crash in slow motion. But the gourmet twist was a surprise. For me, it’s “Paradise Revisited” in 2008!

My congrats to Xeus on her new book, not only as author but editor. Congratulations as well to all those whose stories were published. For those who are published for the first time, it is a very memorable occasion, like no other.

Well done, you guys!


Kenny Mah said...

Hehe, so I guess it was "real life" research then for 'Signature Spa'... ;)

If only more of us could indulge in such rewarding research, no? :D

I have to admit I was disappointed too when I saw the final cover in the bookstores. The inside illustrations were too pixelated and the cover was quite severely altered, if you ask me.

But some of these things are out of our hands, Xeus, once it gets into the publisher's. Consider it a lesson learned for the future.

So don't be too disappointed; what matters is that the book is out and getting rave reviews! :D

Xeus said...

Hee hee, Kenny, I'd go to a spa for more 'research' any time!

I understand about some things being out of our hands. Ah well, perhaps MPH will do a better job out of my next book. In fact, I'm sure they will.

Xeus said...

Oh Kenny, forgot to mention, I think you did a great job! Please design my cover anytime!

Argus Lou said...

Ha ha, Xeus, neither can I forget our nasi lemak spa experience in Langkawi - what will they think of next? Swiss cheese fondue spas here (ouch, hot!)? Lay our lazy bodies on hot stones? Hot chocolate bath (er, they already have a chocolate masque, I heard)?

'Strong Chemistry' is engaging, plausible and believable because the anti-hero is full of faults and foibles.

And, yes, the printing quality of the DC2 cover leaves a lot to be desired. Didn't do justice to Kenny's clean, bold work. The point-size in the text is big enough for my old squinty eyes though. ^_^

Xeus said...

Hey, I'd go for the chocolate one anytime, Argus! Any nice spas in Switz you and I can go to? (ha ha, extra motivation to visit you)

Glad you liked Strong Chemistry :)

Like Lydia says, there's always life in reprints! And reissues of the same book.

I've been already asked if I'd like to reissue DC as a separate new book. (But gotta write 4 new stories)

Kenny Mah said...

Trust me, dear, MPH will definitely do a more than decent job. I just designed Wena Poon's Lions in Winter cover for them and the editors worked very closely with me throughout the entire process. Rest assured! :)

And I'd love to work with you again in the future any time! You're one of my favourite authors to work with. :)

Xeus said...

Great to hear that, Kenny. It was SOOO great to work with you...we did have fun, didn't we?

Hey, I need cartoons next! Anyone a good cartoonist? (hint hint)

Argus Lou said...

Haven't tried any spas here - costs 3 or 4 times what we pay for in M'sia.

Only been to saunas - beware nekkid peeeple!!!