Singapore Writers Festival 2016 Starts Today

This year's theme is Sayang. Sayang is a Malay word for love and the goal of this year's festival is to "delve into the multi-faceted human condition". Can't wait.

On a side note, it is somewhat interesting that the Korean word for love is sarang (사랑). Hmm...wonder if there's any relation between the two languages or did one country borrow the word? If so, it's a very interesting word to borrow from another language.  

Book launch this Sunday November 6th

Marshall Cavendish (Asia) will be hosting a book launch for my short story collection - Uncanny Valley this Sunday at The Arts House Singapore.

A few amazing authors have read a review copy and offer some kind words for the collection: 

The short story has a structure that appears to be deceptively simple but it requires a master to craft it to perfection. S. Mickey Lin’s insightful stories exhibit his mastery of the form. His is a fresh voice that provokes serious thinking and yet delights.
— Josephine Chia, author of When A Flower Dies
A collection of masterfully rendered portraits of our country and our people. Incisive and biting, S. Mickey Lin conveys our diversity, foibles, strengths and weaknesses in sharply observed stories of university professors and civil servants battling with political correctness; slyly witty accounts in the voice of egotistical food critics and horny masters of the financial universe; and sweetly understated paeans to arts and the home by a floundering Minister of Speculative Technology and an imported badminton player. Insightful, funny and definitely thought stimulating.
— Audrey Chin, author of As The Heart Bones Break
Each story in S. Mickey Lin’s Uncanny Valley has been crafted from a strong premise, then propelled into motion with a whipcord of wit, clever characterisation, and astute observation. A few cross the line into absurd comedy or futuristic farce and have great entertainment value. Other stories like ‘Right History’ and ‘Home Game’ spin their narratives from current issues like blinkered nationalism and ‘foreign talent’. After reading this collection, the twelve tales will keep turning in your mind like colourful tops.
— Dr Chris Mooney-Singh, Artistic Director, The Writers Centre, Singapore
S. Mickey Lin’s stories can reach dizzying heights. If you suffer vertigo, I dare you to step out on this ledge with him to experience Singapore from multiple perspectives, helping to build a fuller, sharper view of this rich city and its multicultural, gastronomic splendours. Enjoy this feast of new work by an up-and-coming local talent.
— Jane Camens, Founder, Asia Pacific Writers & Translators
A lovely showcase. Uncanny Valley collects eclectic stories with great range—tender, funny, clever, moving. S. Mickey Lin manages to unearth the anxieties of city life, and give it a grand cinema strung together by intriguing simulacra. To take a leaf from one of his characters, it scarcely matters that the stories aren’t real, what matters is that we get to know how it all feels like.
— Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, author of Singular Acts of Endearment

If you're in Singapore at the time, please drop by and say hello. 

If you would like to purchase a copy right now, it's available for purchase here.

LESSON: Write your personal best, keep upping your craft, repay others’ kindness, and remember to pay it forward.

The beauty of print

A good friend told me that the Macau Public Library had reviewed Tales of Two Cities

This was completely unexpected as I didn't even know the book was available in Macau. 

This happy incident shows the beauty of print - as long as it's physically available, eventually somebody will read it and, if they like it enough, comment on it. 

Here's hoping more of these happy incidents will keep on happening with all my projects. 

Macau Public Library Periodical August 2016

Macau Public Library Periodical August 2016

The Shape of Stories

From http://mayaeilam.com/2012/01/01/the-shapes-of-stories-a-kurt-vonnegut-infographic/

From http://mayaeilam.com/2012/01/01/the-shapes-of-stories-a-kurt-vonnegut-infographic/

I have to admit that I'm unfamiliar with Kurt Vonnegut's rejected master's thesis in anthropology regarding, in Vonnegut's own words, "that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper."

This thesis was rejected, according to him, "because it was so simple, and looked like too much fun."

Kurt Vonnegut became a well-known, celebrated author and defended this theory until his death in 2007. 

I have never thought of stories this way before and will try and explore whether or not it works for me. 

Graphic designer Maya Eliam created this terrific infographic where she applied his theories to certain stories. If you want a hard-copy, you can buy it on her Etsy website

The Most Literate Cities in the US

From http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2015/04/10/americas-most-literate-cities-minneapolis/25531751/

From http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2015/04/10/americas-most-literate-cities-minneapolis/25531751/

USA Today shares that Minneapolis is the most literate city in the US, according to an annual survey.  

Dr. Jack Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University, conducts the study and measures literacy through citizens' use of local bookstores, educational levels, Internet and library resources, and newspaper circulation.

According to the study, the top three cities -Minneapolis, Washington, and Seattle - have never ranked below fifth place.

For me, the scariest finding from the study is that while Americans are becoming more educated, they are also becoming less literate.

That's a very scary prospect for writers.

"World's Greatest Storytellers" Aren't Very Worldly

Raconteur produced an infographic with the title "World's Greatest Storytellers". Unfortunately, it's too Anglocentric. What about the great storytellers from Russia, France, Japan, and China?

From http://raconteur.net/infographics

From http://raconteur.net/infographics

The top 6 is a bit surprising. Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling received more votes than Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Gabriel García Márquez, Isaac Asimov, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, and Lao She. A bit bold for it to be called "World's Greatest Storytellers", no?


Diversity Gap in Children's Book

Lee & Low Books produced an informative infographic about the diversity gap in children's book. 

Basically, the minority population is growing in the US but there's still a huge gap in the representation of multicultural content in children's book. According to them, there's been very little progress. Bear in mind that we have an African-American president, a popular TV show about Asian-Americans in Fresh Off The Boat, a major Hispanic-American TV station like Univision, and yet, diversity is still missing in the children's book industry. 

Hopefully, this infographic is a wake-up call to the industry and will inspire writers/illustrators to produce more multicultural content.

From http://blog.leeandlow.com/

From http://blog.leeandlow.com/

The basis of good storytelling

Professor Sean Hood shared this last week and it's a good reminder of what makes a story. 

From http://genrehacks.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-new-class-at-usc.html

From http://genrehacks.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-new-class-at-usc.html

He also shared the fairy tale structure that Brian McDonald mentioned in his blog, Invisible Ink:

Once upon a time_____________
And every day________________
Until one day_________________
And because of this___________
And because of this___________
And because of this___________
Until finally__________________
And ever since that day_______

If you think about it, almost all great story follow this simple structure.

Wall-E was cleaning trash on the planet Earth everyday until one day, Eve and her spaceship arrived. You know the rest.

Nemo swam in the ocean until one day, he was caught by a fishing boat and because of this, his father went on this incredible journey. 

Even complex story follow this structure. Inception, Christopher Nolan's imaginative story about dream thieves, is considered a fairly complex story, but we can still break it down following this structure.

1. Once upon a time there was a dream thief, Dom Cobb.
2. And every day Dom committed corporate espionage. 
3. Until one day, Dom was caught by his target. 
4. And because of this Dom had to embark on a new mission.
5. And because of this Dom had to recruit members to join.
6. And because of this Dom had to start his mission.
7. And because of this Dom's team entered the mind of his target.
8. Until finally, the target's mind was manipulated by Dom's team.
9. And ever since that day Dom was able to see his kids again.

So if you're stuck on a story, just think of this structure and see if it helps you move along. 

Happy writing!

Meira Chand's 'A Different Sky'

I recently attended an event where author Meira Chand was speaking and picked up a copy of her book A Different Sky.

While I have not finished the book, the premise should interest those with an inclination towards intercultural relations in Asia during the height of the British Empire. The story takes place in 1927 and revolves around three young people - Mei Lan, a Chinese girl trying to find herself, Howard, a Eurasian with disdain for Britain, and Raj, an Indian with a dream of becoming a successful businessman - and their life in Singapore while trying to discover if the island can become their home. 

This is my first exposure to Meira Chand and I'm honestly blown away by the mastery of her craft. During her talk, she mentioned this idea of an "artificial memory", where writers are so immersed in their subject matter that it as though they subconsciously create artificial memories to which they based their stories upon.  I have had moments where I felt as though I'm just recording what I'm witnessing, but I thought that I'm simply describing my imagination. Personally, I think she articulated this experience better than most writers. 

This is her eight novel and I hope to pick up her earlier works when I get the chance. I think her unique background, being of Indian-Swiss parentage and having spent significant time in London, Japan, Australia, and Singapore, gives her an uncommon perspective that is both refreshing and relevant.