By Lam Yat Yee
Ang Ziyi is a 15 year old published author from Ipoh. A student of Ave Maria Convent, the young writer also goes by the name Angeline, or, as published, Angie Z.
On the 14th of November 2022, her first book was published.
Here’s a short taster of the plot.
No One’s Home is a tween fiction, dystopian, fantasy-esque tale that follows the adventure of two young girls, Vivien and Kiera, as they wake to a world washed of human life… save for a select 500 who find themselves scrambling for one common answer to the question, “Can things go back to how they were?”.
As all control over their world is seized by a population of unidentified extraterrestrial beings, Vivien and Kiera’s lives are overturned as they realise that to survive, and to spare their younger siblings, they must return things to the way they were – to bring back humanity.
And it all started during the pandemic.
A fourteen-year-old Ziyi was scrolling through writing prompts on Pinterest when she came across a prompt that questioned; what if we all disappeared?
From there, she linked the vision in her head with her world at the moment, blanketed by a global pandemic, where, overnight, the life she knew became a ghost town. In her mind, she had a story she wanted to read, but as it was her story, she decided to begin writing – to write the tale she wished to read.
From young, Ziyi had always appreciated various works of literature and creative media. It had always been a dream of hers to hold a novel of her own writing in her hands – a physical copy of her own novel.
Struck by inspiration and with the upper hand of the Movement Control Order, she dedicated the next year to her writing.
Composing a novel is a long and tedious task.
When asked what her biggest challenge was, Ziyi answered that it was when she ran out of motivation and could not think of any way to continue. Next, of course, we asked her how she overcame such a slump.
And as any other human being, Ziyi finds her inspiration and will to continue by reading, watching films, movies, and, of course, taking a step back from her work for a breath of fresh air. This, she said, allowed her to get back to writing in a day or so, and kept her committed and responsible to the project.
Oftentimes, she also found herself overwhelmed by the possibilities of the book.
“I wanted to write many, many things, but I couldn’t just fit them all into one book.”
Her book focuses on a few values – some of which reflects upon Ziyi’s own life.
When asked, Ziyi stated that one of the main areas of emphasis in No One’s Home is family.
“So, the main characters are Vivien and Kei. What makes them different is Vivien’s house is more quiet. Her mom and dad’s always out working and then her sister is always away so she didn’t really care much about going back. It wasn’t so urgent.
“But to Kei, she had a big family, her mom was always there, her siblings always needed her care and attention. So I think that’s what made it, to her, more urgent to go back.”
In the story, it is told that Vivien’s house is often quiet, so even on the day when everyone vanishes, she initially finds nothing odd about the scenario. This was inspired by Ziyi’s own experience during MCO, when her parents were often out working and her sister would remain in her room.
The story also underlines the significance of unity – and humanity, in general.
The story’s first setting is in Ipoh, Perak, and follows the main characters on their journey across the globe.
When asked why, Ziyi explained that she wished to start with a local setting so local readers could picture the story better.
“In a lot of books, especially if you go to a bookstore, most of them are from other countries, and it’s very far away, so you can’t exactly imagine yourself in there. So, I wanted mine to start here.”
And as Ziyi herself has a deep love for travel and the diversity of the world’s cultures – and, undeniably, cuisine – she expresses so along Vivien and Kei’s adventure.
Following her book’s release, the young author learned to speak up in school.
And how to start conversations, so the book was a small stepping stone for her own personal development, too. In fact, Ziyi confesses that more people approached her after she published the book.
And approachable she is – with her quiet charm and bubbly nature!
She also realised along the way that deep down, the inspiration for her main character was none other than herself.
“I’ve heard people say, and I think it is true that, in your first book, the main character is always you. Whenever I am writing her, I always think ‘what would I have done?’.”
Today, Ziyi has plans to focus on her academics for her remaining years of high school.
In her free time, she enjoys reading and observing diverse works of writing by different authors, learning the techniques behind their storytelling styles and how she may improve her own writing.
She is a fan of fantasy, crime, and such creative works, her favourite being Cassandra Clare’s books, specifically the novel Chain of Thorns.
She’s also most grateful to her friend, Miss K, and her mother for pushing her to complete the novel and helping her fulfil her dream of publishing a work of her own.