Sin here. I do enjoy taking control of young (yeah right) Mr. Allan’s blog to carry out these interviews! Today, I’m visited by someone who has travelled a looong way to the asylum – Singapore based Giok Ping Ang.
What’s your name?
Giok Ping Ang
Where are you from?
The small red dot on the world atlas known as Singapore where five million people share 250 square miles of land. We’re busy ants dashing and rushing on a heated pan trying to look for that scrap of sugar or bread accidentally scattered by the big Man.
It sounds a bit cramped. A bit like the Recreation Room when the Coronation Street Omnibus is on. Do you like living there? If not, where would your favourite place to live be? Is yes, where would you least like to live?
Not really as it is 33 degree Celsius everyday with 65% humidity – climate of a slow cooked stew.
It used to be New Zealand until I found out sheep fart a lot, not surprising with the amount of roughage in their gut.
Now, I just want to be in a temperate place with fewer people than Singapore and fewer sheep than New Zealand.
A place with some decent museums and concert halls, some rivers and mountains and parks would be perfect, and of course, a place where food is abundant.
I bet there’s a few ‘dumplings’ in that there stew, too. I didn’t know sheep farted that much. I think I would have thought that of cows. Go figure. As you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?
Yes, it is my day, midday, night and midnight job.
Ah, midnight. A wonderful time – when Death uses the Null to collect the souls of those he’s missed during the day. Tell me about your latest project.
It is a psychological thriller short stories collection.
Cool. I like the sound of that. How do you feel about bacon? A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods. OK, I admit that person was myself…
It tastes good with anything, and would probably turn the most repulsive food palatable. I am trying to think of a repulsive food but am having a tough time. As you know, Chinese eat anything that moves and does not move. We eat things that are deemed dangerous by others.
My mother was from China and went through famine and second world war. To her, any food and every food was precious.
So, yes, if you are brought up to eat anything under the sun, you’ll find bacon heavenly.
I’ve never actually called bacon ‘My Precious’, but I’m now imagining myself in a Gollum style pose doing exactly that… What is your favourite film?
This is really tough for I love so many, from Blade Runner to Sense and Sensibility, and everything in between, from Dawn of the Dead to The Sound Of Music. Well, you can pretty much get the picture here. I do however have a preference for dramas. I cry watching Joy Luck Club for the hundredth time, but I will watch The Exorcist again for the hundredth time as well if it is playing tonight
Is it playing tonight?
Well, there’s some in here who think they’re possessed, if that counts? Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
I have honestly never wanted to do anything remotely as tiresome as writing. But I have not been told of the excitement that comes along with it either. So, I have discovered something too exciting to pass up and completely lost myself in it.
It’s a great feeling, isn’t it, when the words run away and you’re breathless trying to keep up? Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
They dribble out of my nose really badly. I see potential for every situation. I seem to be in a permanent trance of visualization of ideas and scenes. It can be disturbing. It wakes me up sometimes. It is more like I have to hide from my muse. It chases me.
I should introduce you to Mucous Mickey. He has plenty of tissue for your dribbles. If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
That I am flying over different places, different people all the time. Seeing the world from high up. I live in the clouds.
And when I am on ground, my roommate would most naturally be Van Gogh, who would be trying earnestly to show me the benefits of cutting off one’s ear. But all I would care about would be to ask him for another sunflowers’ masterpiece, dedicated to none other than me, his interesting Asian roommate. We would be having long conversations about painting and why people do not appreciate good art, and why it is so hard for people to understand us.
Now that particular delusion is a new one. A flying fan of Van Gogh. Connors would have a field day! What genre(s) do you write?
My first published book entitled ”10276 in Two Months” is a Cyber Romance that has more than a twist in it. Future genres would be Thrillers (tend to be of the mental sort that turns stomachs), and I’d love to try Noir. I am going to follow my muse to wherever it takes me. I do not want to be constrained by a boundary.
That’s the best way. When Shaun writes, it’s whatever is in his head at the time. That’s not always me! What genres(s) do you read?
I love the element of magic realism in Gabriel Garcia Marques’ “One Hundred Years Of Solitude”, Japanese author such as Murakami, books with unusual styles or structure such as “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga. French author Marguerite Duras’ delicate prose. There is no fixed genre. I’ll read it as long as the book has a gripping story and not too thick. I’m a slow reader and tend to chew on the words. I am on a perpetual look-out for thin books that pack a lot of punches.
I find myself suddenly educated. I must look into these, though the asylum library is sparse – as in non-existent
Bacon – just cooked or crispy?
Haha, food question again. I love it. I would love it if there’s a bacon chewing gum!! Bacon bits in a drink, Bacon jelly, Bacon shortcake, Bacon dumplings! No, I don’t care if it is cooked just right or crispy unless I’m going on an expedition where I will surely lose my direction in the middle of no-where. I would then prefer it crispy for I could hear the sounds as I crunch away and feel less alone.
Bacon chewing gum! A definite gap in the market! Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out? Do you have an escape plan?
Fly away of course. I don’t need a plan, I am on the ceiling, above everyone’s eye level. No one knows that I could just easily think of bacon and drool on them. I rise above them, their panic and worldly worries written all over their faces. I do not have fears nor worries at this very moment. All I want to do is continue flying.
No I don’t need a plan to escape. Why would I need one when I am home?
Well, if you’re home, I’d ask you to pull up a chair and chill with me. Unfortunately they’re bolted down, so I can’t.
Giok Ping Ang was born in Singapore. She graduated from the University of Oregon in Science and later obtained a diploma in Accounting from UCLA. In 2012, her poem “An Invitation” received an honourable mention in the Writer’s Digest 7th annual poetry competition, and was published in the WD competition compilation. She enjoys painting and photography. 10276 in Two Months is her first novel.
10276 in Two Months:
They are hundred thousand miles apart, and could not love in flesh, not in part, so they love with their hearts. Every day they chat on Facebook, and every day they live, love and die a little. 10276 is the number of love messages they chatted in two months. Mark Fallen is a screenwriter from England, and Lim Shi Yi is a poet and novelist from Singapore who is married with two daughters.
It seems a perfect love made in heaven as they both share the same interests in calligraphy, music, painting, cooking and above all, poetry. She decides to write a script to document their love entitling The Secret Love Of Two Poets and he becomes her script mentor as they spiral deeper into a painful love affair.
Two parallel love stories, both virtual, both intense and life altering yet contrasting in development. She is to find out that it is much easier conjuring physical contacts and rendezvous for her characters in her script than it is for her own love and in the end has to choose between family and success or true love.
Lim Shi Yi:
Why did you pursue me? Knowing I am married and we are continents apart.
I don’t know. Maybe I want to die.
I told him I wrote a eulogy for my dear friend and I would like him to read it. So I posted a piece of my love on the message. It was not love for him but I hoped it would help him understand how a woman felt in situations as such.
I met her in an art class when I was painting a lotus and she was painting nudes. I was forty and she sixty-five. She had no breasts so she painted a lot of them, nudes of damsels of all races with creamy succulent breasts. “I have none, and I have to make up for my loss.” She said. Her eyes were teary and her hand moved like flowing water, fluid and soft on the canvas.
They cut her breasts off as they were diseased and removed the well where she fed her hungry babies. They removed her pride and identity. She was given six months but she lasted twenty years. “They couldn’t put out the fire in me,” she said. I admired her, respected her and loved her. Her name was June.
We sauntered from galleries to galleries holding hands in search for perfect breasts on the walls. We sat on different floors of fancy bookstores flipping through and pouring our love on the beautiful pages till they chased us out the door.
We continued painting, she the nudes and I the lotus and sunflowers. Her skeletal arm transferred her pain onto the canvas, the faces became sad and the flesh sallow. We forgot the time and forgot to eat. She was getting weak and her wasted body gave up in the face of her passion and will. One morning, she could no longer hold the brush and although she mixed the ochres and the whites and the blues and the reds, the brush stayed dipped in the palette.
Her legs gave way so I brought the galleries to her. We lay in bed and read an art book I bought and gurgled like two little girls gazing at a jar of sweets, pretending nothing had changed. We wanted a last ride before they called her name. That morning in bed, her eyes twinkled with fire, her last flame burned long and bright, her heart beat with passion and filled with beauty as a young heart might.
The next day I was on the beach, squatting and picking corals with my girls. The ocean breeze ruffled my peace. “Shi Yi, don’t be sad.” She whispered in my ears. I knew she was gone, but I knew somewhere in space she was watching over me.
Somewhere, in a different world she was whole and complete.
Take away my pain.
I shall die. Only a little.
A consciousness is there.
To smell the flower.
What is my writing style?
Well, does my writing have style? Is it a flowing script that captures your attention, or is it a mish-mash of words, thrown together like the ingredients for bread – creating some burnt, crispy rock cakes rather than the plump, fresh smelling loaf you desired?
I hope it’s the latter. of course I do. In the main, I think this is the cake, though you might break a tooth on one of my rock cakes occasionally.
I did a writing workshop last week at a local Academy. I was honoured and surprised to be asked, actually. It made me feel like a ‘real’ writer, something that still sounds odd, though I have a bestselling novel with wonderful reviews. It sound pretentious to call myself such. Who do I think I am? I’m no Stephen King or Dean Koontz – though Sin has been compared to both. I’m no Dorothy Koomson or E.L. James. Me? A writer?
But, it appears I am. People call me that. I almost have to look around to see if someone walked in. Oh. You mean me?
Anywho-be-do. At the writing workshop, I talked about my path through the meandering mire that is writing. From making up stories and drawing the pictures to go along with them when I was young, through to my realisation (thanks to Harper Lee and my old English teacher) that I wanted to be a real writer (maybe I DID do it, after all), to holding a sell-out book signing at Waterstones, writing has had many ups and downs for me.
A down was the year I didn’t write a single word. An up was seeing my first review – five stars.
I mentioned these things to the students and then I read a few excerpts from Sin. I’d chosen them to show the funny, serious and gory sides to Sin – not all exclusive to each other. Then the students set about creating their very own lunatic. I have to say, I was extremely impressed with the work they produced. They now have their very own page on Sin’s blog (Humberston Asylum) and I’m showcasing a piece every couple of days or so. I’m pleased to say it was one of their posts that pushed the blog past the 10,000 hits mark.
The intention was, while they were working, I’d visit them all and give them my take, my ideas, my advice. I wasn’t so sure that I would be able to do this. What did I have to tell them? I should have had more faith in myself. It turned out I had a lot to say. Some were writing a few words then going back and correcting spellings. I said to leave the corrections until the end – go with the flow, without stop-starting to interrupt it. I said, to the boy who had a great idea but wasn’t writing anything, forget about a title or a character name (which he didn’t need as he was writing in the first person) and just write the story. A title will come afterwards or it won’t.
I had more to say to various students. Some were plotting out. I can’t do that. I can’t figure out character profiles or main set pieces. I meet and see people and places when I get there. One was writing, Gollum-like, from two differing perspectives. Multiple identities.
I found I could advise and guide. My first day at school in SO many years, and I learnt something myself.
It seems, along with being a ‘real’ writer, I also have a style. I call it offbeat. I call it… weird. That’s a style, right? I have a story about a mastodon coming for the fossilised tooth I was given for a birthday present. I have one about a computer waiting for the end of the world in the run up to the year 2,000. I’d say they were somewhat ‘offbeat.’
But I can’t write to a genre. I don’t intentionally write horror of science fiction or children’s. I sat down to work on the sequel to Sin and had written a thousand words before I realised I was writing a Christmas children’s story. Go figure.
I write where the muse takes me, or drags me kicking and screaming. Either way, it’s not a path I walk with any knowledge of my destination. I like it that way. I like the journey and the surprises along the way.
Being a WRITER, it seems to be working.Learn More
The Muse. Now there’s a character. If you could picture him, what would he be like? I imagine him with an eye mask and a sly grin. A long dark coat that has a lining of more colours than Joseph’s Technicolor garment of choice. His hair is just so except when you catch him out of the corner of your eye. Then it’s wild and unkempt, a nest of Medusa-like proportions.
Then the mask drops and you see him juggling words, deliberately dropping them into a pile at his feet that he dances upon. As each falls, he plucks another out of the air, smoother than David’s Copperfield or Blaine.
The Muse. He stands before you, but you’re tied to the chair. You want to reach out to him, but he stands just beyond your grasp, his eyes watching you and his sly grin taunting you.
“You want a piece of me?” he asks.
But then, you manage to slip free of your bindings and launch yourself forward. He skips out of the way, giggling, but you catch him with your foot and he falls with you. A scuffle ensues and you succeed in pulling the mask from his face.
Of course, he looks like you. Who else would taunt you with words and ideas tossed into the air and piled at your feet?
But you have the mask in your hand and the coat is torn open to reveal its multi-coloured interior. Woven into the fabric are the words that his sleight of hand made appear from nothing.
Your smile matches his own as you don the Coat of Many Characters and take up your pen.
The Muse pours you a coffee and pulls up a chair beside you. After all, he was only messing. He can’t just GIVE you the words.
You have to want them!