Thursday, October 21, 2021

LAST KID RUNNING _____ See you at the Singapore Writers Festival 2021, where we'll be launching Night of the Six-Headed Robogator, the second title in this thrilling gamebook series

Book Launch Special
Last Kid Running: Night of the Six-Headed Robogator
by Don Bosco
Published by Penguin Random House SEA

Zoom online event
14 Nov Sun
4:30pm - 5pm SG time

Free for all — register here!

More info at the Singapore Writers Festival programme page here

About this book:
Welcome to Book 2 of the thrilling LAST KID RUNNING gamebook series, where YOU decide how the story unfolds. You are Runner X, one of six eager contestants on the biggest reality show streaming on the mobile web.

This time, you’re taken to a secret venue in Indonesia. The enigmatic Dr Yamato has created a massive Run Dome filled with crazy technological inventions to challenge you and amuse his viewers.

You’re prepared to face anything, even the intimidating Six Headed Robogator. But the night gets creepy. And you can’t help feeling that the Run Dome hides a nasty surprise in its shadows.

Will you be too overwhelmed to outrun the others? Or do you have what it takes to be the LAST KID RUNNING? Quick, open the book and find out!

Recommended for readers 10 to 12 years old.

More info here, including links to online retailers, author interview, etc

About SWF 2021: 5 Nov- 14 Nov
The Singapore Writers Festival, one of Asia’s premier literary events, started in 1986 as a biennial festival. Now organised by Arts House Limited, SWF is a much anticipated event on the cultural calendar, presenting the world’s major literary talents to Singaporeans while shining a spotlight on home grown and Southeast Asian creative talents. Over the years, the Festival has become an exciting meeting point of writers, academics and thinkers in a choice spread of panel discussions, workshops, lectures and performances over 10 days. It has hosted literati the likes of two-time Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood, Whitbread First Novel Award winner Zadie Smith, British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Nebula winner Neil Gaiman and Lambda Literary Award winner Roxane Gay.

The Singapore Writers Festival is one of the few multi-lingual literary festivals in the world, celebrating the written and spoken word in Singapore’s official languages – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

This year's festival takes place 5–14 November, and will be a hybrid format with a mix of in-person and online events. International speakers will join us digitally.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

GAMEBOOK ACADEMY _____ Meet Bart King, author of the new CYOA gamebook Time Travel Inn, which bestselling kidlit legend Jeff Kinney finds "mind-blowing" and "heart-stopping"!

NOTE: This is part of a series that explains how to create your own simple gamebooks. More articles here.

Please introduce yourself!
Hi! My name is Bart King. I'm an author in Oregon, and I just wrote a book for Choose Your Own Adventure called Time Travel Inn. Also, I can't resist sharing that Jeff Kinney (author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”) recently described my book as having “mind-blowing adventure and heart-stopping thrills!”

So THAT was pretty fun.

Some of my other books include Bad Dad Jokes: That’s How Eye Roll and the funny science-fiction novel, The Drake Equation. Oh, and I like turtles!

Do tell us about your new Time Travel Inn gamebook.
Time Travel Inn shares the adventures of Astrid, a character whose family just moved to a remote motel in Wisconsin. Astrid’s mother and father disappear at the motel, so Astrid and her two new friends start investigating. They quickly discover that the inn is an epicenter for time travel research gone very, very wrong in a variety of unexpected ways. One motel room has a time machine that sends them back 30 minutes in time, but others lead to the reader facing off against gladiators, dinosaurs, and the Grey Council of Wizards. But the trickiest room might be the one where time starts running backwards as soon as you enter.

And ooh, this is cool: Time Travel Inn is coming out in a larger format than Choose Your Own Adventure has published before. I’m pretending that this is because my book is THAT good, so please don’t pop my bubble with any facts that dispute this!

Time Travel Inn came about after I wrote a little about time travel in a different book. At that point, the story really “opened up,” and so I wanted to write a new story that began with that sense of wonder and explore how wide open a story's possibilities might be.

The answer was VERY wide open—Time Travel Inn  even has a fun multiverse thread that goes into worlds where magic exists and the dreaded Jabberwock is on the loose. What I found was that if I imagined something funny or outrageous, the odds were good that I could figure out a way to work it into the story.

And the fun thing about this book is that it has humor, action, science fiction, and even a bit of horror. So there really is something for everyone.

How did you come to work on a CYOA title?
When I was asked if I might like to try writing a CYOA title, I jumped at the chance like a puppy for a squeaky toy.

That’s because I’d been given a superpower: I got to write a high-interest book where I could do almost anything I wanted to make the book un-put-downable. (Yep, that’s a word.) So I wanted to write like I was daring the reader to find an excuse not to read the story, because it’d be that good.

I know that’s a ludicrous goal, but it helped keep me on my toes.

When did you first get interested in gamebooks?
Well, speaking of time travel…
Waaaay back in the 1980s, I enjoyed playing a text-based interactive video game named Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz. It was a low-tech funny adventure. As you played, it presented scenes that you had to type responses to. For example: 

A volcano gnome seems to walk straight out of the wall and says, "I have a very busy appointment schedule. I have little time to waste on trespassers, but for a small fee, I'll show you the way out."

Here, you might type in something like "Offer gold piece" and hit <Return>. Then the volcano gnome might take your gold piece and give you information. OR it might be offended at the small amount and leave in a huff. OR … you get the idea.

Anyway, I loved that interactive element, and when I later discovered that Choose Your Own Adventure books had been coming out for years, I thought they were sheer genius.

What's your gamebook development process?
The key is figuring out the story endings. Once I have those, I can work backwards. So my book plot diagram looks like a basketball tournament graph, in reverse.

What else are you working on?
I’m having fun writing a possible Choose Your Own Adventure that involves cryptozoology. That’s the study of animals whose existence is disputed, like the Loch Ness monster or armadillos. So one of my story’s important characters is a Pacific Northwest tree octopus.

And I just finished a scene where a mob of highly intelligent apes invades a room, and one of my characters cries out, “It’s a chimp-ageddon!”

(That’s like an Armageddon with chimps … and why am I explaining this?)

Thank you so much for the chance to share about Time Travel Inn, Gamebook Academy!


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MEET THE AUTHOR: JOSEPHINE CHIA, author of Queen of the Sky, published by Penguin Random House SEA

Note: This showcase features five kids’ fiction authors, all proudly published by Penguin Random House SEA. When the pandemic is over, we'll get back to in-person book launch events. But for now, enjoy this virtual version. More info here.
Please introduce yourself!
I am Josephine Chia. I am a Peranakan and am from Singapore. I’ve always been a closet writer and used to write short stories which I didn’t show anyone. Finally, when I was in my twenties, I summoned enough courage to submit a short story to SINGA, now defunct, the literary journal of Singapore. It published two of my short stories. My next big break was in UK in 1992 when my short story was long-listed, then shortlisted, then came in the top twelve for the UK Ian St James Awards. It was published in an anthology by Harper Collins UK.

The publicity resulted in two Singapore publishers approaching me so my first collection of short stories was published by Angsana Books and my first novel was published by Landmark Books. After I returned to Singapore to live, I wrote about my kampong Potong Pasir. This book, Kampong Spirit, Gotong Royong won the Singapore Literature inaugural prize for Non-Fiction in 2014. My YA novel, Big Tree in a Small Pot won the 2019 Publishers Book Award. Altogether, I’ve had 13 books published, both in UK and Singapore.

Tell us about your book.
Queen of the Sky is my first Children’s Novel. I had a Children’s Non-Fiction book and YA novel published before this. In my years of growing up, little girls, especially those from poor villages could not fulfill their ambition due to lack of funds and schooling opportunities. I wanted to write a book about a modern girl who can fulfill hers. The main character, nine-year old Amelia, wants to be a jet-pilot. Her mother does not approve but her Great Grand Mother (whom she calls GGM) encourages her.

GGM had a brief encounter with the famous American aviatrix Amelia Earhart who had flown into Singapore’s Kallang Airport in 1947, before her plane disappeared. Ms Earhart spoke about flying so eloquently that GGM had always wanted to experience flying. But her hard life took over so she couldn’t. Now that her great grand-daughter had expressed her dream of becoming  a pilot, GGM was very happy to encourage her and she told her the story of her meeting with Amelia Earhart.

I wanted to bring in a slice of Singapore history that not many people know about and weave it into my novel. Amelia Earhart was called the Queen of the Sky as she was a pioneer for women pilots, hence I thought it would make a good title.

What was your creative process like?
Though I had read about Ms Earhart’s stop-over in Singapore in 1947, I was not born during that period so I had to research the facts. However, I did know about the kampongs, ie attap villages that were situated along the Kallang River. This was the location where I set the scene of Ms Earhart going for a quiet walk, away from the airport, and she encountered GGM.  I also had to research the first female pilot in Singapore, both for jets and commercial planes. I also had to research the oldest person who sky-dived.

Once I had the facts, I created a modern girl Amelia who dreamt of being a pilot. She has a special relationship with GGM who was about to celebrate her 90th birthday. Since her family asked GGM what she wanted as a birthday present, GGM said she would like to experience a tandem sky-diving which horrified her family. Only little Amelia understood her GGM’s dream.

Has the pandemic affected your book promotion?
Luckily, PRH did manage to have a book launch pre-Covid. I also managed to include this book at my talk to Dulwich College where there was a club or something called Amelia Earhart. But other than that, all my school visits were cancelled during the Covid pandemic which made it impossible to do readings.
Any advice for aspiring writers who want to write or launch a kids' novel in the coming year?
First of all, make sure you read lots of Children’s Novels. Second, don’t treat kids as stupid. They are very intelligent and can cope with big words (though they are not always necessary) and complex ideas. Thirdly, make the story exciting and entertaining. Kids love adventures and thrills. Make sure there are some challenges too. Fourthly, introduce some pathos, some pain or suffering. If you enjoy reading your own story, the child will too!


You can check out the other four authors here, they’re all eager to tell you about their lovely books.


Thursday, September 2, 2021

MEET THE AUTHOR: DAVID SEOW, co-author of Raffles Readers, published by Penguin Random House SEA

Note: This showcase features five kids’ fiction authors, all proudly published by Penguin Random House SEA. When the pandemic is over, we'll get back to in-person book launch events. But for now, enjoy this virtual version. More info here.
Please introduce yourself!
I'm David Seow and I've been writing children's books since 1998. To date I have had 45 picture books and one middle-grade anthology book published.

Tell us about your book.
I first conceived the idea for Raffles Readers over a decade ago. I thought it would be fun to collaborate with some authors on a series of stories set at the hotel over the course of a century. Readers will find themselves thrown into a world filled with monsters, missing silver, spies, ghost brides and zombies! 

What was your creative process like?
In 2014 I asked aspiring authors Linda Fitzpatrick, Simon Wray, Emma Nicholson, and Claire Thamboo to come onboard this project. Writing is a very solitary process, so I thought it would be fun to do something as a group. I specifically wanted the expat authors to focus on the pre-independence years and the local authors would focus on the post-independence ones. Once we had chosen our preferred time periods and the plots for our stories, we began writing them.

Has the pandemic affected your book promotion?
Our publishing date was pushed back but we did have a launch at the Raffles gift shop in September last year. Unfortunately I was unable to attend as I had just gone for a Covid swab test and I was quarantined at home for three days. Thanks to our publisher Nora and Nicky Ransome for arranging the launch.
Any advice for aspiring writers who want to write or launch a kids' novel in the coming year?
Not really because everyone's experience is different. There are no shortcuts when it comes to publishing.

Twitter: AuthorDaveSeow
Instagram: Authordavidseow
Facebook: David Seow, Children's Book Author

You can check out the other four authors here, they’re all eager to tell you about their lovely books.