Monday, September 25, 2006

Looking for Local Voices!

"The world is hungry for books about the Asian experience,” says Toby Eady, but he stresses that authors need to tell stories set in the modern world. ... "Please, do not write another book about the second world war or Khartoum ... We don’t need to dwell in the past. Readers are ready for more. They are open to reading about the real Asia, the Asia that is in the present."
Daphne Lee interviews the literary agent with a particular interest in Asian writers, and Daniel Watts managing director of Pan Macmillan Asia which is employing Eady (right) to scout the new talent. Says Watts:
“We are looking for Asian voices – writers of contemporary novels. Toby is on board to help us source for Asian works of quality and we hope to build Picador Asia as a brand that is associated with Asian writing of a high literary standard.”
And adds:
The imprint will acquire and translate established works from China and other East Asian countries, but also hopes to discover new authors, Asian or otherwise, who can offer fresh insights and perspectives on Asian life.
Not so long ago the only choice was self-publish or find a small press locally and risk having no exposure for your fiction overseas, or compete in the overcrowded British or American market. Now it seems that a third path is opening up.

One of the writer's Eady has signed up is Fan Wu (left), author of February Flowers. Daphne interviews the author about her book. Eady and Watts were in Singapore for the launch of the novel.

Channel News Asia's Deepika Shetty blogs an account of the launch and of Wu's first TV interview. She's thrilled (as we all should be) at the news of PanMacmillan setting up Picador Asia. And in the interest of research, she also has dinner with Eady who tells her:
"I would love to see a book based in Malaysia - a love story."
Do I hear the sound of frantic scribbling?

(BTW You might also be interested in reading this earlier CNN interview with Eady.)


Ted Mahsun said...

I agree! No more books about World War II! Or at the very least, writers should write more about other things.

Anyway, this is all great news!

*rushes off to finish his Great Malaysian Novel (now with Love!)*

sympozium said...

I disagree - more books on WW2.

Fewer books on 'poor-Chinese woman with/without bound feet and raped/beaten/abused/tortured by her husband/mother-in-law/government officials during the Cultural Revolution, runs off to the west and marries a white man (usually her uni professor), and also fewer books on young Shanghai/Beijing woman discovering sex for the first time in the big city, and thinking it's her own unique discovery and feeling compelled to tell everyone about her shagging and shopping and her afternoons spent in Starbucks.

Lydia Teh said...

sympozium, does that mean we'll be getting a WW2 novel from you ;)

mmm... I cut out that article on Picador Asia for inspiration to write that *great* Malaysian novel.

sympozium said...

No way! Too lazy to write! ;-)

Anonymous said...

"We don’t need to dwell in the past." -- Right sure, that was why Harmony Silk Factory was so popular :)

Sharanya said...

Thanks, Sharon! This *is* really inspiring.. The best piece of news I've heard in awhile!

Anonymous said...

LOL.. see, one great thing about this country is that people are very independent and individualistic. Poll twenty people and you'll get twenty different opinions :)

Anyway, the past is the only thing any writer can write about because they're too busy living in the present. What's there to write about anyway ? the school system ? it's very much like your average British public school, even in Malaysia. Mine even had a recognizably British name (and still does) even though it's a public school in KL.

Too lazy to write, or afraid of rejection ? :) WW2 is simple.. guns, war, people, nuns, the resistance, concentration camps, jews, can do it almost without thinking. But that's the past. I've read more books on white men who've run off to the East (Lustbader does this a lot) than vice versa.

I could write about Malaysia but would that fill a book ?

Anonymous said...

Love stories are difficult. If there's one thing I can't do it's a love story. How do you write a love story ? I don't want to have to deal with emotions plus if you write about love sooner or later you have to write about sex. If you want tow rie about love, you;d have to set it in your average English countryside. Then you can do the formulaic romance thing, you know, male, female, throw together, add conflict, drawn together despite differences, get married, argue, break up, see other people, realize they're meant for each other, live happily ever after, end of book. There.

Anonymous said...

Then you can have so many excuses, bad weather, horses, farming, farmhouses, inns, old vintage cars. Read a romance set in Australia, about opal miners and the people who live there. Here, the main activity is oil and gas mining, where's the romance in that ? it's offshore, oily and dangerous, no beauty in that. No rugged cliffs, no independent miners, horses don't run well underwater.. plus no one goes to an oil well to buy oil. :)

midnite lily said...

anonymous, you seem very set that love stories are impossible, boring and limited to the Western setting. you lack creativity. read books by (British) Indian writers and read how rich - cuturally, emotionally & in their settings - then you'll realise the endless possibilities a love story written in Malaysia can be.

even Yasmin Ahmad's films are a good sample. it's not about the formulas or a love story, people are always interested in the battles. plus no one said the book must have a happy ending.

love stories does NOT equate romance novels.

bibliobibuli said...

i am more than happy with any well written fiction about here ... never mind the period.

but oh, i ache for a contemporary malaysian novel, a voice of the times.

anon - i'm sure you could write a love story if you put your mind to it. here's your chance

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. you're right, there's an idea. Still racial and religious conflict is a landmine-covered area. I have to admit to a certain kind of mental block I guess, when it comes to love stories. Maybe it's a guy thing, I don't know. Well.. give me a possible scenario then, how would they meet ? I've never read a love story without sex implied or explicit. If anyone can point me towards a love story (any love story) I'll try to read it. I've never actually read many love stories, maybe that's the reason. Ms B has to lend me some love stories, then maybe :)

Anonymous said...

Another thing is this.. I've yet to see a Malaysian author turn down a commission.. so if you want a Malaysian love story, I guess you have to make it worth his/her time.

Anonymous said...

Or put another way.. I don't write about this country for the same reason you don't write about yours.. I'd love to hear about your mom going shopping in hurricane weather -- you'd make a great writer. I'd also love to hear about Africa, and how it's really like out there. Make you a deal, if you can write about your life, I can write about mine :)

midnite lily said...

landmine or not, don't you think controversy intrigues? it is the contemporary landscape.

a Malaysian author turn down a commission excuse my literary industry ignorance, but what mean you?

bibliobibuli said...

midnight lily - changing the subject a moment ... some time back you said on visitor's blog that you'd love to design the header for this blog and had an idea. i really need a makeover and if you would like to take it on would happily pay for it.

midnite lily said...

*^_^* hee.. didn't think you remembered. sure! i'll attempt something and get back to you. (the idea i had was a bit ambitious) don't want to promise anything too quickly.

email me i you have any specific ideas of your own.

im @ midnitelily dot com

Anonymous said...

Lily :

All i'm saying is, if you want a car, buy a car. Don't walk around looking at cars and saying "I want a car, I need a car, I wish I had a car..." :) If anyone wants a Malaysian love story, all he (or she) has to do is approach a writer and go, "this is what I want..." :)

Read@Peace said...

Hey Sharon
Thanks for all the links. I've been getting emails about what
a) Toby would be really looking for?
So for the readers of this blog. Yes, Malaysia is a definite start.

b) If my manuscript is selected, does it instantly make it to a book?
No, it doesn't. From what I gathered through my conversations with Toby, he spends almost a year with his writers, bringing a manuscript with perfection. The quality of the books he has seen to print definitely shows the extent of work that has gone into the making of each book. Then there is hitting the right pitch with the right publisher. Though if you're lucky enough to get your manuscript into the hands of Toby, finding a publisher would never be the issue.

Personally, glad to see a whole lotta writing going on. Would be exciting to see Picador Asia pick someone beyond China next.

bibliobibuli said...

midnight lily - thanks i will be in touch

anonymous - that is not at all the way literary agents and publishers work (unless we're talking mills and boon or something)

thanks so much for the information, deepika - you can see how keen and excited everyone is at this news. it gives hope and it's a spur for local writers to get serious.

Anonymous said...

"that is not at all the way literary agents and publishers work..."

Well why isn't it ? odd isn't it, that it's done that way. Only books are done that way.. if you want a design for your blog, say, you contact a designer and make your intentions known. Then you decide on a price, etc. But if you want a particular kind of book, you wait for a publisher to publish it.. strange isn't it ?

irene said...

Anon: I am soooooo late coming into this conversation, but if you are looking for a love story "without sex implied or explicit", try any of Jane Austen's novels! *grin*