Muse Moment: Character Profile – Zachary Thomas

Muse Moment

This week features another Biography of another protagonist in my Mentor Access Project. Like always, thank you for reading and hope you all enjoy it!

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Zachary Thomas is a protagonist of the Brotherhood trilogy. He was born an orphan in the Area 65 Quarantine, and has lived most of his life running for supplies and stealing offcuts for the children and sickly from Block R. While he managed to get by with Quarantine school and remain relatively healthy, he failed National Selection once, resulting in his face tattoo due to his origin from the Quarantine.

After spotting Aeris more than once, and saving her from Dragan Tan’s bullying antics, he notices her motivation to help the disadvantaged and the weak. As such, he asks her to sneak into National Selection with her, where they almost get caught and she ends up witnessing a crime. Knowing that the two of them have nowhere else to run, Zach must turn to his last avenue of help to save them both, even if that meant taking Aeris away from her family.

Zach constantly relies on Aeris as a strategist. While he is a good fighter, he has a tendency to go into things without thinking about the consequences. He is focussed on the end, but has problems coming to terms with the gravity of the means, preferring to just get on with it. Most of the time, his emotions for Aeris are what motivates him to fight, despite knowing that he will be separated from her sooner or later.

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Signal Boost: Featured in Junoesq! and other things

Signal Boost

I actually got the news of the feature for a week, but somehow managed to put it aside until now. Regardless, I’m still quite excited and am very happy to share that my short story, “Junk Mail”, has been featured in the latest issue of Junoesq Literary Journal! Many thanks to the editorial team of Junoesq and if you would like to read my story, together with a whole list of other pieces, click here.

Apart from my story, do check out other stories by some of my friends as well:

  • Agnes Chew – Between Us, An Infinite Distance

Combining the notions of love and math, Agnes’s flash fiction piece (also in the latest issue of Junoesq) will hit you with emotion and longing in between your eyes. To read her story, click here.

  • JY Yang – Campbell Eligibility Award

One of my friends who writes amazing speculative fiction is eligible for Best New Writer for the John Campbell Awards this year! Her list of published works is too long for me to mention completely here, so I’m just going to give you this link to her works. Two of them have been awarded best stories 2014 for Clarkesworld and Strange Horizons, so do give them a read!

Update: This just in – I’ve gotten news that KL Noir: Blue, an anthology of crime & mystery short stories in KL, Malaysia, has entered its 4th Printing! With my contribution, “Unwanted Utopia II” in there, I am both grateful and excited. Many thanks and congratulations to Buku Fixi and Eeleen Lee for such a great outcome!

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Next-in-Reading #41: Shatter Me

Next in Reading

Title: Shatter Me
Author: Tahereh Mafi
Year: 2011
Publisher:
Harper

“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.”

After being locked up for most of her teenage years, Juliette Ferrars finally gets a chance to interact with another person. The only problem is this – she refuses to touch anyone. The moment she was taken away from her family, she knew that her touch was dangerous, lethal, and at that moment, she withdrew, determined not to hurt another.

Shatter Me is the first of a trilogy about Juliette and her battle against her powers and the Reestablishment, a future dystopian organisation pushing itself as the last platform of humanity’s salvation, though they have been torturing, murdering, and ostracizing civilians who were perceived as threats or non-conformists. Having accidentally killed a toddler in an attempt to help him, Juliette was quickly put through hospitals, asylums, and detention centres in fear that she will continue to murder others. Until she meets Adam, her childhood love, and Warner, a power-hungry, high-level soldier intent on using her powers for his own purposes.

Mafi’s unique style of storytelling in this series breaks rules many editors will have a field day trying to cross out. Told in first person, she engages in repetition and quick switches in formatting in order to jerk the reader into Juliette’s world. As disengaged as she is from the rest of the world, the reader will be able to experience how it’s like to be screaming into the void.

At the same time, the shift in format can get a bit of getting used to, especially when words can break in the middle of the sentence. However, Mafi’s fast pace makes it easy to pick up, and her environment and focus on a single few characters ensure a good amount of focus already placed there for the reader.

Shatter Me takes a different approach from many dystopian Young Adult novels I have read – the protagonist does not start out strong, literally groping her way through the story and mostly reacting, and yet, she manages to find that glimmer of hope and come out stronger.

The Shatter Me series is written by Tahereh Mafi. To find out more about her and her works, click here.

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Muse Moment #5: A Quick Glimpse at Aeris Wong

Muse Moment

As I will be working on my Mentor Access Project for a good part of this year, I thought it would be nice to share some of my “off-cuts” (for lack of a better term) which can complement the story. For this entry, I’ll be giving everyone a quick glimpse of my protagonist. I hope you all enjoy it.

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Aeris Wong

Aeris Wong is the protagonist of the Brotherhood trilogy. Born a daughter of an alternative medicine practitioner, she works hard and hopes to get a good selection in order to bring her family into a better position. As her fortune would have it, she ends up witnessing a murder of a high-profile Selectionee and has to go on the run.

With the help of a runner from the Quarantine, a cluster of the Area that is often shut off, she finds the Deviants, rebels once thought to have been wiped out by the Brotherhood. However, her mind is set on saving her parents, who have been taken to be scapegoats for the murder she had witnessed. Reluctant to join the movement, she continues to float along until she discovers a scheme which could cost more than just her chances during the National Selection itself.

Not much of a fighter, she is good with gadgetry and has an impeccable sense of navigation and direction. As such, she is often asked to do Recon and scan areas before the Field Combatants move in. She is able to pick directions and patterns quickly, she allows her to react just as quickly as well. Her quick-witted responses and high level of intelligence also allows her to make calculated moves fast – dealing the highest damage with the least amount of effort.

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Book Bites: Creating a Graphic Novel – Creating the Writer-Artist Relationship

Book Bites

After a flurry of Lunar New Year activities, the Tiger and I got to join Ben at an event organised by READ! Singapore and the National Library Board. As it features Dave Chua, Xiao Yan, and Koh Hong Teng, SingLit guru Gwee Li Sui talks about the writer-artist relationships in creating a graphic novel.

All afternoon DaveFest!
All afternoon DaveFest!

Before this particular session was a Meet-the-Author session with just Dave and Gwee. As such, Gwee promised that Dave did not have to answer as many questions as the rest of the artists did. We all laughed.

The session started with a chat on Hong Teng’s and Xiao Yan’s journey and processes into their art, with the comparison of Hong Teng’s focus on the detail and Xiao Yan’s preference for organic development rather prominent throughout the entire session. As both remain passionate and active to their work, both of them also sought inspiration through reads, observations, and constant practice.

From left: Koh Hong Teng, Dave Chua, Xiao Yan, Gwee Li Sui
From left: Koh Hong Teng, Dave Chua, Xiao Yan, Gwee Li Sui
Hong Teng showing us his portfolio and explaining his processes
Hong Teng showing us his portfolio and explaining his processes

With regards to their working relationship with Dave, both have said that the working relationship with regards to their graphic novels have been nothing short of rewarding. As his Mentee, I had to agree. However, it was also stated that while Dave was rather “hands-off” in his creative reins with the artists, all panelists agreed that the common goal helped as well.

At the end of it, the panel reiterated one of the most basic things about working in the creative industry – respect for each art form, the process of each artist, and clear communication. Gwee summed up the discussion rather nicely, and we definitely enjoyed ourselves. It was also great to have their publisher, Epigram Books, to come down and show their support and showcase the books as well.

This session with Dave, Xiao Yan, Hong Teng, and Gwee is part of a series of SingLit programmes organised in conjunction with READ! Singapore and the National Library Board. For more information of future activities, click here.

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Update [February 2015]

Feature Posts

Being swamped with Lunar New Year preparations and the anniversary of the Tiger and myself this month, I did manage to squeeze a bit of time for writing and blogging. Therefore, I do apologise if this month seemed quite sparse around this area. These posts were come of my favourites for the month:

Writer-y Endeavours

February pretty much rushed through writing-wise. After an incredibly fruitful peer review session on the last day of January, it has been squeezing time to write and get ready for the Lunar New Year. Despite everything, I still had fun. And managed to get a few things done on the literary front as well.

Looking at my writing schedule, I would have to say it’s picking up – If I wanted to be optimistic. Haha!

Coming up soon!

  • More reworking for the Mentor Access Project – which means more meetings!
  • The shortlisting for the Fantasy Anthology, “Escape from Reality”
  • More uploads on Wattpad
  • …it’s going to be a busy month, literarily speaking.

I’ll see you this coming March! Blanket Fortress Logo

Blanket Fortress Play: Lunar New Year Games (with a Sneak)

Blanket Fortress Play

 

My cousin Jezel often has her birthday close to our Lunar New Years. Last year, I got her Get Bit! as a birthday present and we played it over the Lunar New Year just so she knows how it works. This year, I got her a game more suited to something she’s interested in – Sushi Go!

BMO's ready!
BMO’s ready!

Inside the Box

Being the quick, casual game that it is, Sushi Go! comes in a tin and the full deck of Sushi Go! cards and the rule book.

Setup

Like the inside of the box, the setup is quite straightforward as well. With the deck of cards in the middle, each player is dealt the amount of cards according to the number of players playing in the game:

  • A 2-Player game gives each player 10 cards
  • A 3-Player game gives each player 9 cards
  • A 4-Player game gives each player 8 cards
  • A 5-Player game gives each player 7 cards

Thus far, we have only played up until four players, so I’m going to base my experience on that.

The Game We Played

I played three games with my Aunts Jac & Fiona, and my cousin Jezel. Jezel and I have this thing going on where every game I have bought her seems to always result in her winning the first game we play after opening it. Therefore, I was about to dive in and see.

While playing...
While playing…
My (almost) winning hand at the last round! (Lost this round by 3 points)
My (almost) winning hand at the last round! (Lost this round by 3 points)

This game is a little different, where you scored with the cards you put on the table, or “discard” from your current hand, before you pass the rest of your hand to the person next to you. The cycle starts again until there are no more cards to take.

Sushi Go! is played with three rounds, with the scoring of each card stated at the bottom of the card. Some of them get really tricky (ARGH PUDDINGS!!!) and some required building sets so count your cards! Each count is then counted up and brought forward to the next round.

For people who like a quick game with a twist, Sushi Go! presents a fun, laughter-filled environment for family and friends. Simple to pick up, Sushi-Go! was created by Phil Walker-Harding and published by Gamewright. You can find out more about the game here.

Gameplay Winners: Jezel & Aunt Jac

BONUS PLAY

Wheee! I didn't really like that I was Mirt the Moneylender but oh well.
Wheee! I didn’t really like that I was Mirt the Moneylender but oh well.

Many thanks to Ben (Creator of Char Siew Space) and his iPad version of The Lords of Waterdeep! The Tiger and I had a lot of fun!

Gameplay Winner: Me =)

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