Congratulations on your new short story collection! Tell us about Signs of Life.
Signs of Life is a fun collection full of monsters (no, not Singaporeans) and zombies and vengeful ghosts and other weird stuff. There are also remixes of childhood tales like The Three Little Pigs and The Three Bears (sorry, no Goldilocks). And sex, yes! And violence, too! But no, it’s not Game of Thrones.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring full-time writers?
Are you mad? Who ever gave you that crazy idea? Stick to your full-time job(s), silly. Well, unless you have crazy rich patrons/sponsors/sugar dads and mums, then there’s another thing. But okay, if you’re really serious, give yourself a period to try it out and write the hell out of it. And see whether you can make anything good out of it. Check your sanity with your close friends from time to time too.
What are you reading now?
I’m presently killing myself with the first volume of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, The Way by Swann’s (the new translation by Lydia Davis), which, I swear, is killing and resurrecting my brain cells at the same time. I’m in a love-hate relationship with the whole experience of reading it. I’m also reading The Collected Stories of William Trevor, and it’s blowing my mind. The sheer virtuosity of his writing, the unsparing specificity of his vision, his assured and assuring voice; I’m gushing like a fanboy now.
In just a few words, describe Singapore's literary scene.
Fifty-four shades of cool, and utterly vibrant.
How do you think it compares to bigger literary cities like London, Melbourne, Tokyo and Edinburgh?
Who, what, never heard of those places. Come on, we’re the Kimmy Schmidt of the literary world, totally unbreakable, and bursting with energy, soul and gung-ho. We come from humble (not cultish) background, and we are ready to take on the world, baby!
What will you be doing at this year's SWF?
This year, I will be speaking at the SWF Fiction Roundtable together with Suchen Christine Lim, Barrie Sherwood and Meira Chand.
Last question. What's on the horizon for you?
I’m working on a new story collection, which I hope to complete by the end of the year. Then next year, I’ll work on my Great Singapore Novel, or something close to it. It’s that, or bust. Wish me luck.