It was a spook fest indeed!
In conjunction with the celebration of Halloween and the fifth anniversary of Sharpened Word (SW), the October session of SW hosted an evening (October 31) with horror story writers Tunku Halim and Julya Oui at 22 Hale Street.
Negeri Sembilan-born Tunku Halim, a lawyer by profession but locally known as the Malaysian Stephen King, is the author of ‘A Malaysian Restaurant in London’ (2015), ‘Vermillion Eye’ (2000) and ‘The Rape of Nancy Ng – 13 Nightmares’ (2018), among many more.
‘A Malaysian Restaurant in London’ was written based on Tunku’s experience during his year of studies in the United Kingdom, while ‘Vermillion Eye’ is a part of the language and literature course in the National University of Singapore.
Taiping-born Julya Oui is the author of short horror story books ‘Bedtime Stories from the Dead of Night’ (2011), ‘Here Be Nightmares’ (2014) and her latest creation, ‘Taiping Tales of Horror’, among others.
Both Tunku and Julya, who read excerpts from their stories during the session, opined that dark elements found in horror fiction will survive any era, even with the advancement of technologies.
“Each one of us has something that we’re scared of,” Tunku said.
“It is rooted in the sense of fear in every person,” Julya said. “Horror stories, in my opinion, are one of the best literary tools that instil scary experiences in readers.”
Tunku further posited that technology has become an element of horror itself.
“We’re surrounded by countless platforms; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to name a few. At times, we see posts that are even scarier than fictionalised horror, like people who committed suicide and gory instances.
“It is normal to explore dark elements in imagined settings, but to see them happening in real life in an incomprehensible situation is unsettling,” he expressed.
Julya reminisced on her own experiences of fear, written into ‘Bedtime Stories from the Dead of Night’, her first creation, which according to Julya, took many different forms before they were finally compiled and printed.
“I have been writing them since my teenage years. My love for Stephen King, The Twilight Zone and many more, contributed to my imagination for the bizarre.
“The scariest experience I had was the backyard of my house in Pokok Assam, where the toilet was located. It was barely visible in the dark and having to go to the toilet was a nightmare every time.
‘Taiping Tales of Horror’ is a tribute to scary stories she had heard in her hometown while growing up. It depicts a group of 13 boys who went camping one night and participated in telling ghost stories around the campfire, but at the end, only 12 stories were told……
On their advice for up and coming horror story writers, both Tunku and Julya reminded the audience that writing with passion is crucial.
“Horror or otherwise, one should never write for fame and fortune,” Tunku stated. “It’s from the heart that matters. Authenticity is key.”
“Self-experiences are very important too,” Julya added. “I usually do not like sharing scary stories, especially with children, but there are things that undeniably go bump in the night.”
The session was followed with Seram Tales @ Ipoh, where some members of the audience shared their own experiences with the otherworldly.
Tunku and Julya also participated in a mini-game session where they came up with a story, impromptu, by just looking at a picture.
For more information, go to Sharpened Word’s Facebook page. SW will be taking a break for the month of November. Look out for announcements to be made some time in December.