Monday, July 27, 2015

Our SHERLOCK HONG series has been acquired by Marshall Cavendish, the new edition will be launched later this year with a few new stories

Sometimes we get to take our dreams a little higher. I'm thrilled to share that our SHERLOCK HONG book series has been acquired by Marshall Cavendish for an expanded international release. Which means there'll be more books coming out, a completely new look, and we'll also get full distribution around the world. Thank you for your awesome support, and your kids too. If you own an original Super Cool Books edition, do take good care of it, one day it will be a valuable collector's item. Because the future belongs to the young and brave!

About ten years ago, an illustrator friend of mine asked if I could come up with a cool story idea for a graphic novel. That was when Sherlock Hong was born. I wrote a short introduction for him, and came up with summaries for a few adventures. That project wasn't developed further. But I couldn't stop thinking about the character. And then in early 2012, I happened to be at a local creative writing school and we talked about the kind of books that we would love to publish. So I told them about Sherlock Hong. They were enthusiastic about the idea, and that was how I came to write the first Sherlock Hong novel, The Immortal Nightingale.

That creative writing school was Monsters Under the Bed. The same day that we finally got the publishing contracts sorted for the new Sherlock Hong edition, last week, I also received a surprise phone call from Eugene Tay, the founder of Monsters Under the Bed. He was inviting me to a launch party to celebrate their new workshop space at 492 Changi Road. That was wonderful news! I went down and said "thank you" in person. For helping to promote the very first Sherlock Hong story, back when it was just an ebook that I had created on my laptop at home.

Since then, we've produced three Sherlock Hong adventures and a number of fun learning events. We've also received generous support from many other readers. We'll be featuring them in the coming weeks.

There's an old African saying, that it takes a village to raise a child. In the same way, I've learnt that it takes an entire community to make a book successful. No author can do it alone. And these days, no single publisher either. I'll be really busy this week making plans for the new Sherlock Hong edition, and also finishing up the first of many new stories for this young detective. This time, there is so much more excitement in the air. So much joyful anticipation. Because I know Sherlock Hong belongs to all of us.

I wish you happy reading!

— D 

Blast from the past! A photo from early 2012. 
Eugene Tay, founder of Monsters Under the Bed,
with some copies of the very first Sherlock Hong paperback edition.
Last week I visited Monsters Under the Bed's
new workshop space along Changi Road.
It's a cosy and colourful hideaway for young writers
to develop their imagination and learn to craft their own stories. 

Here I am with Leroy Lam from Monsters Under the Bed. 
He's also working on launching the MonstroCity virtual learning world for kids.
He wrote a short story in the Saga compilation.

BONUS: A gallery of Sherlock Hong designs over the years.
They bring back lovely memories. What an awesome journey
so far. And so many more new adventures to come! 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

FRIENDS OF SUPER COOL BOOKS // Film producer and novelist Abhigyan Jha explains the magnificent secret of India’s epic stories

I spoke at the recent Broadcast Asia conference. Made many new friends there, including a very enthusiastic and prolific storyteller from India named Abhigyan Jha. Abhigyan is a screenwriter, TV producer, novelist and indie publisher. He’s been experimenting with innovative ways to tell his stories and create new publishing opportunities. And he’s been at it long before Super Cool Books got started. I’m really thrilled to have him as a guest on this blog. Here, he talks about how he got started as a novelist, his big break when his self-published novel was made into a long-running TV series, and also why he thinks Indian writers and filmmakers can create such uniquely powerful story experiences.

— D


Failure is a wonderful way to begin
I founded an advertising agency with my future wife & co-author Mrinal when I was 19. It was called Utop Ideas & Approaches (Utop.i.a). It did very well for about 18 months & then our biggest client defaulted on the payments for the biggest print campaign our fledgling agency had done thus far - and we were promptly bankrupt at 21. We decided to fall back on the one thing we knew we were really good at — we liquidated the agency & wrote our first novel, November Rain.

We published it with 51,000 INR borrowed from Mrinal's mom as no one wanted to publish what they termed "Pulp Fiction". That book got into the hands of people who went on to become the biggest producers in the Indian TV industry & we became television scriptwriters. Ten years after it was self published, November Rain became the first English language novel to become a prime time Hindi TV series in India. It ran as the Number 1 show on India's TV network Zee, for 300-odd episodes.

To an Indian - LIFE is A Story
India has the longest possible tradition of narrative fiction. We have two world famous epics — Ramayana & Mahabharata — which are told to all children from an early age. Besides these, we have 18 other epics which are told in different ways to everyone born in India. Indian epics differ from the Greek epics in that we have the concept of Navarasa — the nine emotional responses or emotional takeaways that allows a work to be called Epic. So the aim in India has been to never attempt monochromatic stories which seek one emotional response, that's either a comedy or tragedy. Indian tradition seeks a heady mixture of comedy, tragedy, horror, kindness, pity, disgust, music, dance, etc. It's very similar to Indian cuisine, which mixes the maximum possible ingredients with the most diverse food chemistry. Italian cuisine is monochromatic — pastas are never made with clashing flavours. Indian cuisine can be bitter, sweet, tangy, salty & HOT, all at the same time.

Like I say in my Third Book - Soul Search Engine:

"On the winding road, knowing
it was never ending
knowing it was perfect for me
the willing wayfarer
of the Eternal Way"

It's almost 23 years since November Rain was written & we have done thousands of TV episodes, 4 books (3 novels & 1 non-fiction), 4 films, 1 children's play & we have gone on to publish books by other aspiring authors. We have five ready-to-print works, out of which Bolshevik Conspiracy — about an alternate history of the world from the time the Soviet Union crashed in 1989 to a different future in 2017 — is the most ambitious.

If you have a great idea, you must bring it to life, even if no one else will. Bring it out in whatever form you can afford to. Create. Tell stories. As our publishing imprint’s tagline says: Life Is A Story. Books are relatively inexpensive to create in comparison to films & TV shows, so the ability to experiment with different genres & new ideas is far more possible with books.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

TONIGHT WE SPARKLE — a very special collection, available soon on the Super Cool Books iPad ebookstore

At first I thought I was in the business of writing stories. I collected ideas, made up characters, created plots, did my research about people and places and past events. It was great fun. Yet, more and more, I also felt a pull to write other stuff. Like poems. Articles about being creative, and DIY publishing. Flash fiction pieces. Crazy essays. Even make pictures. I had no real plans for these. I just wanted to capture my thoughts and share them as widely on the internet as possible. This book contains bits of me that people really liked. The stuff here connected us. And so I learnt to see beyond the business of just writing stories. I learnt to share the sparkle.

— D

Don Bosco! He writes stories. He makes books. Mostly for children and teens. His better known works include the Sherlock Hong series, about an enthusiastic young detective in Singapore, 1891; Diary of Young Justice Bao, inspired by the legendary judge who lived in China one thousand years ago; and the Lion City Adventures series, about a society of young explorers in Singapore. He is also the founder of Super Cool Books, a small transmedia publishing studio. His website is