How Malaysian Chinese author Selina Siak turned cancer experience into catalyst for her creativity

By Kate Whitehead

Malaysian Chinese author Selina Siak Chin Yoke began writing her debut novel as a matter of survival. In 2009, she’d undergone two cycles of aggressive chemotherapy to treat breast cancer and was expecting to start feeling better, but instead her world collapsed around her.

“As soon as I stopped going every two weeks for chemo, stopped seeing my doctors regularly, I felt as if my support system had been cut off. I was at the lowest point ever and I knew I had to pull myself out, but I didn’t know how,” Siak says from her home in London.

Face to face with severe depression for the first time in her life, Siak began writing short stories out of desperation. Buoyed by encouraging feedback from an editor acquaintance, Siak remembered a dream she once had about writing a novel based on the life of her great-grandmother and decided to throw herself into the project.

Siak wasn’t looking to become a full-time writer, but the success of that first project, The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, which was published in November, and the critical acclaim mean she is embarking on her fourth career. Read more

Source: South China Morning Post