Joelyn's Book Bites

Book Bites: Singapore Writers Festival 2014 Weekend #1

Book Bitse“I was born when the light of the empire was dying.” – Walter Woon, 2014

Okay, that woke me up.

The opening weekend of the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2014 was opened with the theme “The Prospect of Beauty”. With a great variety of genres and topics covered this year, my first panel was The Empire Writes Back, featuring Walter Woon, Dawn Farnham, and Kamila Shamsie.

My first panel of the festival.
My first panel of the festival.

Moderated by Neil Murphy, the panel spoke about writers writing stories set in the colonial past in this post-colonial world. For me, it was a rather heavy panel to start off with, with all three authors speaking about the issues in their books (war, setting, independence etc…) and the experiences which served as research for their stories.

Despite that, I still managed to take one major point – there is always more than one side of story, both good and bad things could and could not have happened if not for various incidents in history.

I went to Worthy Failure vs. Mediocre Success after that, featuring Jason Erik Lundberg, Joshua Gough, and Felix Cheong. This panel was moderated by Gene Tan.

Prep and discussion before "Worthy Failure vs. Mediocre Success" started.
Prep and discussion before “Worthy Failure vs. Mediocre Success” started.

Speaking about their successes and personal failures, the three still agreed on the most important point (for me, at least) – connecting with your audience in a way you want to and are most comfortable with is in itself, a mark of a successful storyteller. If you have a story, that story will have an audience.

Gene was an excellent moderator, weaving the thoughts and recounts of the three authors into an incredibly funny yet thought-provoking session. (P/S – using readings to introduce authors is one good idea as well!)

My last panel for the 1st weekend of SWF was one known as Lion City Secrets. This panel featured Yeo Suan Futt, Dave Chua, and Colin Cheong and was moderated by Zafar Anjum.

My Espeon joins my literary hijinks on Day 2 with this panel.
Espeon joins my literary hijinks on Day 2 with this panel.

Delving into the cracks of Singapore’s “vanilla” state, Dave, Colin, and Suan Futt spoke of their experiences and the motivation behind the crime fiction or true crime stories they have written. While most of their research came from expected sources like news reports, past experiences, and other people’s stories, there was one thing Colin said which stuck to me.

It was a question posed by the moderator, about issues each author would like to look at if research was not going to be an issue. Colin said something along the lines of…

~ I’m interested in you. All of you. When you’re stretched to the point where you have no where else to go, what would you do? Would you snap? ~ (Not exact words but you get my drift.)

I would say this was one of the reasons why I love reading and writing Mystery / Dystopian fiction so much – the Human Psyche is, at its basic level, complicated. And while you can say that reading mystery fiction makes you lose faith in humanity, I feel that mystery fiction is also where you find that faith and glimmer of hope in an environment which seems to be hopeless.

And that is my conclusion for the panels I attended for SWF 2014’s first weekend. Looking forward to my next round of panels, so stay tuned!

To find out more about the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2014, click here.Blanket Fortress Logo


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