Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Interview by Kenny Mah

I'm just putting this here so I can have a permanent link just in case Kenny decides to delete it one day! I just love those photo negative montages Kenny has of his drawings in DC2.


Finally, after months of waiting… the book is out! I recently interviewed the mastermind behind it all — Xeus. And yes, as a surprise to readers who thought I only did the cover, I did the inside illustrations too! :D

Dark City 2 cover

KENNY: What was your original inspiration for Dark City?

XEUS: Actually, I was interviewing 4 women authors for ‘Her World’. And then it hit me, hey, I want to write a book too!

Dark City is largely inspired by ‘Sin City’, about all the things that can go terribly wrong with city life. KL is an intensely interesting city with so many layers anyway, you can virtually find any situation in it.

Why the change of format for its sequel (i.e. an anthology of different writers)?

Truth? I couldn’t finish writing it myself! I’m involved in writing too many simultaneous books and projects, on top of having a fulltime job. So I thought - why not get other people to write in as well? Give everyone a platform, especially first time writers. It would be an interesting experience to edit conceptually.

And I’m glad I did. I mean, we now have such gems like Lou Joon Yee’s critically acclaimed ‘Till Death’. We have Chua Kok Yee who is such a great storyteller with a sense of pacing and timing. We have Ahmad Azrai who is so lyrical, and we have Bissme, who specialises in the shocking twist. And on top of that, Lydia Teh got to publish her first fiction story, John Ling got to explore the ‘I’ format and Tunku Halim gave me a story that would be the first new one to go into his book ‘Gravedigger’s Kiss’.

And we have Kenny Mah designing the cover!

Fortunes are told...

What would you say would be your most identifiable style (characterisation, genre, plotting, etc.)?


I love plotting. That’s why I write. I have little notes all over to tell me where the plot is heading. Sometimes, I’m so impatient to get to my plot point or big reveal that I actually dread having to write so much to get there! I think I’d do better at screenwriting if that were the case, only I suck at dialogue.

Even when I read books or watch movies/TV, I go essentially for the plot.

However, many critics have pointed out that my most identifiable feature is ‘detailed writing’. And it’s funny, because when I used to write romantic fiction on the net, the feedback was my most identifiable feature is ‘characterisation’. (Hey, it’s romance, there’s not much plot!)

I would say I’m really into characters as well, except in a short story, it’s very difficult to delve fully into character as you won’t have enough pages to go too deep into anything that does not service your plot. I’m not good enough a character writer to fully do that in a short story.

But in a novel, you are fully expected to delve completely into your characters. And you’ll have no excuse because you’ll have plenty of pages for that.

Your stories always comes with a twist in the tale. How do you come up with them?

By misdirecting the reader in one direction, only to serve up the twist in the other direction. It’s actually a classic misdirect, with all the characters doing doublespeak and doublethink (which means they will not say or think anything that will give the ending away, and yet, what they say and think is perfectly in line with the situation).

If this sounds like gobbledygook, I did promise someone I will blog more about it someday. It actually requires quite a detailed explanation!

Lust without caution...

What are your future plans? Another sequel? Or some other project?

I’m currently in my 3rd write of my children’s book, which is part of a series. This is the one I’m really hoping will be picked up by UK/US. That’s why I’ve taken over 1 1/2 years for it, because I want to make it as good as possible. No, I’m embarrassed to say (hangs head in shame) the characters in it are not Malaysian. (But they are multiracial! That’s gotta count for something!)

If it doesn’t get picked up by UK/US, it’s okay. I have tried. But this is really what I want to do - be a mainstream writer for the world market. And I want to write fulltime.

At the same time, I’m halfway through a book for MPH. It’s non-fiction. I submit one anecdote/chapter a week. This book will probably be finished next April. Beware writers, you might be shown an advanced copy and be asked for quotes!


Kak Teh said...

xeus, I am back and bought Dark City 2!! When can I submit for Dark City 3?

Xeus said...

Kak Teh! You are back!!! When can we meet up? I'm on leave next week and we can go for lunch and stuff.

Submit any time, Kak Teh!

Kak Teh said...

yesssssss, we can meet. Get lydia too. will email.

Argus Lou said...

Hiya. Did you see the item in the round-up of 'dark' works of fiction today (Dec 14) in The Star? DC2 got the headline!

Xeus said...

Yes, yes Argus, I saw it! Now will attempt to link it. I did ask Daph for some help ....:)