Tag Archives: 8 Plays

Day 47: Small Steps & SWF next week!

My Orchid Chan novella is at 14,000 words and I’m just thinking of making Orchid’s mum-in-law a pantang queen (like she distrusts neighbour who has curly hair on forehead and I’m trying to decide whether she’s right to… is he the murderer? Or biased and wrong or use this as a step towards discussing whether suspecting the right person for the wrong reason counts…)

It’s been a long long day and I’m tired. But I’ve passed the 50% mark on the first draft of the ACF novel and happy to say Richard Lord has agreed to be my editor. Still have to do the paperwork and apply formally but knowing who my ‘first reader’ (apart from Jay and Priya of course) will be helps!

Small details to be taken care of on the other books–

I just realised I left out an acknowledgement page in 8 Plays and I should at least thank the theatre companies which staged these plays originally. I owe them much more than thanks and a copy of the book but I’ll try to deliver at least that now. Or soon, anyway.

Great news from a dear friend Lee Gwo Yinn. In his words,

Rainbow Arts Project (RAP) has been selected to exhibit at SUPERMARKET 2012 next February.

Since RAP is a not-for-profit initiative and SUPERMARKET does not sponsor us in anyway, we would need your help to make this happen. I will update on the cost as more information becomes available.

1. You may like to donate directly to the fund.
2. You may want to buy one of my works. 100% of the proceeds from now till end January 2012 will go towards the fund.

Write to for more details.

The SWF is next week and I may be getting to see Andrew Motion and Amy Tan in the flesh and hear them speak!!!!

If I weren’t so tired I would be more thrilled. But for now I’m just quietly happy.

My INR levels are stabilizing, my eyes are almost back to normal, I’m having lunch with some lovely people tomorrow–life is good 🙂


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Day 43: Focus On The Writing

Very glad I’m excited about the writing I’m doing now… have decided what’s over is over or rather what’s been published is out of my hands. It’s all a learning process right? At least the writing part is still fun and I can’t think of anything else I could love to do as much.

Though I must say the book looks good!

Especially in the hands of the doyen of Local Theatre…

Singapore's most glamorous academic, Dr KK Seet


Though it seems to have shocked Step-Brother and friends…


Casey Lim and Chien-Seen Chiu


Nothing throws my sweet Robin--sorry, the respected Dr Robin Loon--off balance!


Getting over a bit of a health blip but all’s stabilising now. Have sketched in the ending for the Orchid Chan novella and during practice this morning was thinking of all kinds of little things to add in but will wait and see. It’s supposed to be a Short novella and I’m already at 12,500 words without developing my motives and red herrings!

I should be able to take The Lizard’s Tail to 30,000 words by this weekend. Just received some information about the French nuns who were working in Singapore and Malaya at the time–wonderfully relevant. Actually Singapore during the period between the wars was a fascinating place. I have to keep reminding myself I’m not writing a history though now I’m thinking of classifying the ACF book as a mystery-documentary!


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Day 34: Writing & Publishing


8 Plays is published, I have copies here so I know that… but I’m not sure what happens next. Do I take it round to bookshops myself? Do I organise a book launch myself? I’ll do what needs to be done except I don’t know what that is! I wanted to give copies to the libraries I’ve been reading/writing/working in as a ‘thank you’ but the publishers said not to. Does anyone else have any suggestions?

The publishing/distributing/business side of things is definitely much much harder than the writing. Fortunately the writing is still fun… I need something to take my mind off the rest of the business!

I’m still on word count target with The Lizard’s Tail and I’ve started my first Orchid Chan novella! This is the beginning of Orchid Chan and the Chinese New Year Murder!


1 The Eve of Chinese New Year

Orchid Chan had been warned not to expect too much of Chinese New Year in Singapore. But she would never forget her first Chinese New Year in the island city. Her first murder investigation  started on the eve of her first Chinese New Year and changed her life forever. It all began when a man was murdered in the house next door…

Mrs Orchid Chan was sitting on one of the stone benches in the small square park in front of the Chan house along Jalan Mas Puteh. It was a very private area and cars could enter only through Jalan Mas Puteh, a feeder road that led to the park and ran around it. There were rows of terraced houses on all four sides of the park. Like most of the other houses there the Chan house was a two storey house with large long rooms but a narrow front and a driveway only big enough for one car. Because the Chan house was at the end of that row terraced houses they had a slightly larger garden and on the other side was the power station that served the housing estate. The Chan house shared a common wall with the Pang house, where all the terrible things happened but you will hear about all that later. For now let Orchid explain an important detail about the geography of the place. Behind their row of houses was a narrow granite ledge and then a drain. Even though all the houses had gates in their back fences or doors in their back walls these were seldom used because there wasn’t anywhere to go. Across the drain there was a steep grassy slope and at the top of that was the hedged fence that surrounded the Clementi Stadium. Husband Chan did not like the stadium because before it was built the hill had been full of trees and when he was a boy he used to go exploring there with Arnie Pang from next door. Orchid liked the stadium. She liked walking around it with BaoBao (when she got a chance to walk with her own son!) and it was not the fault of the Clementi Stadium that Arnold Pang was no longer friends with Husband Chan. Arnold Pang did not even visit his own father next door. Orchid knew this but she did not find out why until later.

To get to the stadium from their houses you had to walk to the end of the row. There was a gap there between them and the row of houses that stood perpendicular to theirs and a narrow flight of stone steps cut into the slope and led up to the carpark of the Clementi Stadium.

All the houses faced the small park. Two rows of houses were back to back with the houses that opened onto West Coast Walk and West Coast Road and behind the final row of houses (at right angles to the Chan House) was a row of shophouses. There was a playground in the park, a square patch of sand with a swing standing in it. Normally Orchid Chan liked this park. She liked playing with BaoBao there, either sitting on the swing with him in her lap or playing football with his big foam ball. But today BaoBao was with Mum Chan (Husband Chan’s Mother) in the house and Orchid was feeling homesick. She had been married to Husband Chan for over three years now, BaoBao was almost two years old. They had all moved to Singapore when Husband Chan’s Shanghai posting was over. Of course Orchid Chan had known when she married a Singapore man that she would one day be moving to Singapore. She had even liked the idea—Orchid was always up to trying something new—but now after almost a year in Singapore, Orchid Chan was sitting alone outside the house and wondering whether she had made a mistake.

Orchid Chan had lived in Shanghai all her life. Her mother had also been born in Shanghai. Her father came to Shanghai to study, met and married her mother and as a consequence never left. Shanghai had that effect on some people. But then Orchid’s parents were of the romantic generation.

Orchid Chan was of the 80’s generation. But though a Balinghou, thanks to her romantic, artistic (and therefore not very wealthy) parents she was not a fuerdai that grew up with rich parents and a silver spoon in her mouth. From the time she was in her teens she had been far more practical than her parents. And by the time she was thirty years old Orchid Health Blooms which she had started with support from her parents was a successful business in Shanghai. It is not easy to make a success of a start up business. That was something she was very proud of doing. She was proud not only of the financial success but the hard work she put in and the discovery that she could succeed at something she had no way to prepare for—except to stand firmly on each step as she achieved it, look around and decide where she should start to carve out the next step. Then why did she throw it all away? Orchid Health Blooms was the first shop in Super Brand Mall, perhaps even in Pudong and possibly even in Shanghai to offer a combination of Traditional and Western herbal cures and teas incorporated into artistic floral arrangements. These were works of art you could take apart to use. It had been Orchid’s bright idea—she had always had bright ideas, perhaps too many, which made it difficult for her to focus on studying the right answers to school exams. But in this case Orchid Health Blooms had paid off and had enough regularly subscribers to go on turning a growing profit. When Orchid Chan (who at that time was still Orchid Wu) had sold the business she had made enough profit to pay her parents back double what they had loaned her.

Orchid had been very pleased with herself when she gave the cheque to her parents. She had not been so happy when her mother told her, “We have enough to keep going so we will keep the money for you, in case you ever need it,” and her father said, “Remember you can always come back to Shanghai.”

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Posted by on October 4, 2011 in Writing Life


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First Month Over–Already?

Things went better than I expected, actually. I got my 20,000 words done on Miss Blackmore and started a new novella.

And I’m going to Shanghai 🙂

And 8 Plays is finally here in my hands! To use a pregnancy metaphor I was gestating this babe for over twenty years and ‘in labour’ for the past 48 months!

And I really love how it looks. I’m surprised by how much I like the look and feel of it–suddenly it doesn’t matter whether it sells two copies or two hundred, I’m so glad it exists! 🙂

The next thing up on the schedule is the Singapore Writers Festival. There are so many events up this time I’m very glad being on just one panel gets me a festival pass! (because this year we have to pay to attend stuff. $15 unless you’re a student or over 55 years and I fall between the two categories right now)

There are also two big big things that I’m hoping for very, very much. I keep telling myself hoping doesn’t make anything happen but it’s hard to stop.

Anyway, for the SWF I created an ‘event’ on my Facebook page and I’m replicating it here just in case anyone else might be interested.

As I said there, I’m really excited about this panel and not just because I’m on it. The other speakers are:

Chris Mooney-Singh the poet-performer and world music artist, founder of Poetry Slam and high energy Fun person…

Fredrik Haren, author of The Idea Book which is selling in 9 languages in 40 countries. He was also recognised as Sweden’s Speaker of the Year before he moved to Singapore so he’ll definitely be gripping…

and me, Ovidia Yu. I’ll be talking about collecting ideas for books, plays and life with lighting rods rather than lightning rods and learning all I can from my fellow speakers!

Our panel is moderated by Goh Eck Kheng so please ask your questions in Good English!

Unlike previous years you’ll need a Festival Pass to attend. These will be on sale to the public online from SISTIC.

The Festival Pass is $15 for 9 days ($10 each for group purchase of 10 tickets of above)

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Posted by on October 1, 2011 in Writing Life


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