Perak Academy launched four books penned by Ipoh-born writers at Kong Heng Square on Saturday, May 9. The four publications were ‘“Cell Wars’ by Dr Teoh Soong Kee, ‘When Footsteps Merge’ by Bridget Eu Yoke Lin, ‘Made in Malaysia’ by Alexandra Wong and ‘Epiphany’ by Jasemin Sibo.
The launch was officiated by renowned cartoonist, Dato’ Mohammad Nor Khalid (Lat). Present at the launch were the Acting Chairman of the Perak Academy, Chan Kok Keong, Dato’ Dr M. Majumder and Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian and Puan Sri Dato’ Sandra Lee.
Ipoh Echo spoke to one of the four writers, 40-year-old Alexandra Wong.
Ipoh Echo: What is the main message that you want readers to get from your book?
Alexandra: I want the story to inspire other Malaysians to also perform acts of kindness because the whole book is about acts of kindness. There are 40 unsung heroes here and many of them are strangers who did something nice for me.
Ipoh Echo: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Alexandra: Mrs Julie Ho, my tutor from age 10 to 15, inspired me. She was not an ordinary tutor. She was very fierce but at the same time she knew how to make us interested in the language by cracking funny jokes!
Ipoh Echo: What were you like at school?
Alexandra: I was very shy. Also very sensitive because I am very observant and easily affected by what I see.
Ipoh Echo: Do you have a favourite author?
Alexandra: Douglas Adams who wrote ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.
Ipoh Echo: What is the hardest thing about writing this book? Do you ever get writer’s block?
Alexandra: Most of the stories here are from my ‘Navel Gazer’ column in The Star. The hardest thing was actually choosing the stories. It was like having 40 pieces of jigsaw puzzles that you have to put together and you don’t know what the final picture will look like!
Ipoh Echo: How did you come up with the title, ‘Made in Malaysia’?
Alexandra: I was cracking my head. I know I wanted the word ‘Malaysia’ inside. Then one day, there was a tissue box with the line ‘Made in China’ and suddenly it came to me. And I thought, “Hey, that’s perfect. That’s exactly the message I want to send out.”
Ipoh Echo: What is your advice to other aspiring writers?
Alexandra: My editor once told me this: “The writing may not be about you, but there’s always you in it.”
‘Cell Wars’ recounts how Dr Teoh remained optimistic even after discovering lymphoma in his stomach, ‘When Footsteps Merge’ is a collection of poems based on Miss Bridget’s true life experiences as a mother and a professional in the field of caring for over 40 years while ‘Epiphany’ is a collection of short, true stories about failed relationships as a therapeutic means to cast out nagging memories of ex-boyfriends.
‘Cell Wars’ – RM10, available at Pustaka Sufes, SCC Books & Gifts, YMCA Ipoh and Dr Teoh’s clinic at KPJ ISH. (Sales from this book will be donated to charity.)
‘When Footsteps Merge’ – RM20, available at all major bookstores.
‘Made in Malaysia’ – RM32.90, available at all major bookstores.
‘Epiphany’ – USD13.82 (paperback) and USD26.90 (hardcover), only available online at Amazon.