Thursday, April 23, 2015

Facts make you clever, but fiction makes you imagine

Hello world!

Try to make something cool wherever you are, however you’re feeling. That’s always a challenge, no matter how committed you might be to living a creative life. Things pile up. Opportunities slip away. New stuff sneaks in and squeals impatiently for attention. So what can we do? Pack a small bag and head out. Somewhere cool and clean. Not too many people around. Somewhere with decent food. And write stuff quickly. Because once this day is over, it won't ever come back again. And that's all our life is made up of, the days that are over.

Here I am, sitting at a coffee place not too far from a public library, where I have been feasting on the smell of lovely books old and new. As you see in the photo above, I’m working on my iPad Mini today. Writing this blog post right now. With a handy bluetooth keyboard that I picked up online. It feels more like a plasticky toy than a mobile tech gadget, and some keys are a bit stuck and need to be jabbed at quite sternly. But it cost just under SGD30 (about USD22). Not much to complain about there. And it works okay.

Look closer at the photo and you’ll notice two clamps at the end of the keyboard. I attach these to the iPad Mini, fiddle with the bluetooth pairing, which takes about two seconds, and away we go. Clickety-clack. I am now merrily hammering away while people occasionally saunter past and cast curious glances. I angle my head in their direction and send out urgent thoughts, “Read my books! Visit my website!” But only briefly, for I have updates to share and emails to answer and stories to finish up. Before the day is over.


The Lion City Adventuring Club needs you

This is our new book project for kids, LION CITY ADVENTURES, launching May/June 2015. An exploration book plus mini-mysteries to solve plus a fascinating epic storyworld that we can work on for a long time. Read the introduction post about it here. Latest update: the printer just delivered the books! Which means it’ll be in bookstores pretty soon.

I’m making arrangements to appear at places so I can talk about this project and sign copies. Details to come. Also, this weekend I’ll be working on ideas for some bonus content to flesh out the Lion City Adventuring Club further. And next week I’ll run an interview with the book’s editor, who had a lot of fun working on this. Everyone did. It's quite a special book.


I share our digital publishing secrets, all of them

This year I’ll be doing a talk at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. It’s part of a session called SWIPE RIGHT FOR DIGITAL, and my bit is titled “Using Digital Content to Improve Your Fiction and Engage More Readers”. Times like this I do feel like a respected writer.

You can find out more about the event here, the registration details are here, and information about my session here. The presentation just before I go on is by Saad Chinoy and Wendy Wong of Tusitala, the digital publishing company that developed our Super Cool Books iPad ebookstore. And the talk after mine is by Eric Huang. He’s the Development Director at Made in Me, a digital agency specialising in children's entertainment, and previously he was the Publishing Director at Penguin UK's Media and Entertainment division, and Development Director at Mind Candy, which created Moshi Monsters.

If you’re planning to be there do send me an email and let me know if you’d like me to cover anything in particular.

Asian Festival of Children’s Content
DATE: 4 Jun 2015 (Thursday), 9:00am – 1:00pm
LOCATION: Function Rooms 1 & 2, Drama Centre, NLB Level 3

Using Digital Content to Improve Your Fiction and Engage More Readers
Don Bosco (Founder, Super Cool Books)

Super Cool Books creates Asian fiction for children. It has launched paperbacks, ebooks, workshops and an iPad ebookstore. Founder Don Bosco explains how their digital content strategy drives editorial development and accelerates project partnerships, while reducing creative and production risks.


See a photo of me playing guitar but 20+ years ago

Long before I tried to write stories and publish them, I was trying to write songs and play them in public. And you’ll see evidence at this awesome photo exhibition called So Happy: 50 Years of Singapore Rock, happening at the Substation until this weekend, 26 April.

The photo below is one of the 100 exciting shots on display, some rare and some iconic, that capture the evolution of Singapore's indie rock scene. Yes, it’s stuck to the wall with black tape. The whole exhibition is grungy DIY like that. Because indie punk rock power, you know?

That’s the skinny me from 20+ years ago on the left. Also: Patrick Chng (also played in: The Oddfellows, Fast Colors, Typewriter) on drums and Leslie Low (other bands: Humpback Oak, The Observatory) singing and playing bass guitar.

We called ourselves the Twang Bar Kings and we played quirky indie rock. Leslie and I started this band together in 1989, and we had many other people play with us along the way. By this time Patrick was already a respected figure on account of his groundbreaking work with The Oddfellows, but he always found time to help us out. Also, more recently, Patrick and I started this music blog called Walk On Music to feature local musicians and promote indie gigs.

Thanks a bunch to my friend Angie Lee for capturing this moment. And her brother Alfie Lee for lending me the guitar.

If you love music and enjoy reading anecdotes about indie bands, do go down and catch the exhibition before it’s over. I hear there might be some surprise band performances on the 26th, so remember to act astonished if you happen to see any.

Blog bonus, above: a rare photo which I just came across earlier this week. It’s from 1994. By this time my Twang Bar Kings bandmate Leslie had started recording with his other band, Humpback Oak, and everyone was excited about their debut album Pain Stained Morning. They promoted the album with a series of live appearances, and I played guitar with them for a few months.

This shot was taken at one of those promo gigs. Some of the guys here are Humpback Oak and the rest of the guys are The Lilac Saints, another amazing Singapore band. We were hanging out in a room at the legendary Fire dance club along Orchard Road, waiting for our turns to play. I’m standing, second from left, and so is Leslie, fourth from left.

I definitely want to write a book about those times. With some luck, maybe later this year.


Next week I’ll tell you about our new young adult series. Here’s a teaser for now.

“Racism, xenophobia and unfair discrimination have spawned slavery, when human beings have bought and sold and owned and branded fellow human beings as if they were so many beasts of burden.”
Desmond Tutu
former Anglican bishop in South Africa


Go out and make your noise. That’s the only way other people can know what’s in your heart.

— D