By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Neil Humphreys
Neil Humphreys (Picture credit: Alvin Loh, CraftsmenSG)

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

I started when I was around four or five and haven’t stopped since. It’s not a job. I no longer have a say in the matter. I am never allowed to stop writing. I think writing. I sleep writing. It’s both a blessing and a curse. I can never switch off.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

There are several. My latest fictional work – Marina Bay Sins – is a psychological crime thriller. I’m fascinated by our ongoing ability to do extraordinarily profound and stupid things, to be knowingly selfish and selfless, to be kind and cruel, often at the same time. That’s the character bit. As for the plot, well, I find the hypocrisy of Marina Bay and all it represents rather nauseating. I’d have more respect for the place if it held up a sign that read: “We’re here to take money from the addicted, the desperate, the vulnerable and the incorrigible, and we don’t really care where the money comes from.” At least that’s honest.

My latest non-fictional work – Saving a Sexier Island – is a funny/poignant tour around the island’s finest and weirdest heritage and historic sites and it’s an unapologetic call to arms. Save it or risk cutting the umbilical cord to our nation’s soul.

Third, my children’s book series, Abbie Rose and the Magic Suitcase, is in the process of being adapted by an international TV network. The children’s books involve characters that are cheeky, irreverent, inquisitive, funny, clumsy and often wrong – i.e. they are REAL children, not one-dimensional archetypes. And children have related to the characters, which is wonderful. Plus there are distinct environment themes in the series that are very important to me, but are presented in a subtle fashion without battering the kids over the head with them. As with most audiences, if you make them laugh, you might make them listen.

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Lydia Kwa Pix

 

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

There’s a force inside me that compels me to write. I feel unwell if I don’t write for a while. I think I write simply because it’s part of my be-ing in the world. I need to communicate. Not just with others; but essentially, I need to express and explore what I am not sure yet what I know or don’t know. I need to ask questions.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

If you are referring to the most recently published book, then it would be sinuous, a long poem, published by Turnstone Press in October 2013. But Pulse (Ethos Books, 2014) is the most recently released edition of a novel that was first published in Canada by Key Porter Books in 2010 (just months before it shut down). So, if I may choose to focus on Pulse:

I’d grown up in Singapore and left for Canada in 1980 to begin my studies in psychology at University of Toronto. Even though I’ve spent most of the past 35 years away from Singapore, I am very much connected deeply to the country of my childhood. Pulse is a novel that explores the experience of a queer woman living in Toronto who re-visits her past and engages with the disorienting landscapes of the present. I wanted to explore the various levels of trauma—collective and personal—that mark us, and how we creatively seek to transform those wounds. The book is a work of fiction. But I have certainly borrowed from my knowledge and memories.