At present, we have little access to local content and good local writers and illustrators. I should add that it’s not that they don’t exist. It’s just that they are not reaching the public because they have few opportunities to be published. Local publishers aren’t very supportive of children’s fiction. If you were an assessment book writer, you would make much more money in our market than if you wrote as well as Roald Dahl!I'd echo what Daphne says. There is I think a very large pool of untapped talent. Many of the participants on my creative writing courses said that they would like to write for children, but there is little support locally to develop their skills. Some time back I did mention that Donald Kee of MPH felt that there was a market for locally produced children's fiction. But nothing is going to happen without someone (and here we're talking about organisations) taking the initiative to get something off the ground.
At present, the only children’s “literature” local publishers are interested in are ghost stories. This is because the Mr Midnight series and Russell Lee’s anthologies sell so well. So, what we have now are short story collections by “writers” with appalling grammar and little (if any) flair for writing. The stories are unoriginal, the language hackneyed, the style (if you could even call it that) clumsy. Would it be so difficult to employ writers with fresh ideas and a good command of the English language? Or better editors? James Lee, who writes the Mr Midnight books, is no Edgar Allen Poe, but he does at least write cleanly and clearly.
Perhaps the publishers feel that it would make little difference to readers. Well, I think it’s insulting to charge for these poorly written excuses for stories. Actually, a source informed me that a certain local horror series is not selling well at all. So you see, the public is becoming more discerning.
I’m sure Malaysian book lovers would be receptive to well-written local content if it were available. It’s the proverbial chicken and egg situation. Publishers are waiting for evidence of a market, but they need to help create one.
One lady who has published her own kids books locally is Vanaja Dhanan. I loved her Ben O book so much I took a copy home for a niece in Britain who was thrilled by it.