Saturday, June 6, 2015

When stories draw us together and add sparkle to our days

Dear readers! Make yourself comfortable. And maybe grab a nice cup of something. Because here are some of my photos and notes from this past week. Short version: I had a great time sharing the Super Cool Books story and also telling people about our exciting new title LION CITY ADVENTURES. I collected a stack of business cards from around the world. And I created many fresh documents on my iPad Mini filled with possible new story projects to look into. How many? I stopped counting after the fourth one. What really matters: the future belongs to the young and brave. And our stories will light the way.


Photo above: Here I am hanging out at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content with my fellow writers. Thanks to Melanie Lee for snapping this shot. Learnt so much from these kind people. Clockwise from top left:

Fred Chao (USA): Illustrator, writer, creator of Johnny Hiro comics. Link
Me (Singapore): Hello! You'll find my info elsewhere on this website. Like maybe here.
Sally Murphy (Australia): Author of over 30 children’s books. All sorts. Link
Steve Heron (Australia): Author of picture books and creator of BUZ programmes to promote life skills in schools. Link

On Wednesday morning I travelled over to Marina Bay Sands to speak at the Broadcast Asia event, on the first day of the Creative Content Production Conference. This was my title slide.

People in the media industry are getting more interested in developing transmedia entertainment (quick translation: stories that are told using three or more different media channels at the same time) and I talked about how we’ve used a transmedia approach to bootstrap new story ideas, crowdsource development opportunities and also connect with new audiences. The room was kind of dark and cosy which made it quite comfortable but also meant that it was hard to take good photographs.

Photo by Michael Lim

Thanks to everyone who stayed back after my session to chat and share ideas. Really appreciate that we had a chance to connect. Quite a thrill to have had Abhigyan Jha, Indian screenwriter/ director/ producer, stop by and share some nice words of encouragement. Among other things he used to work for Merchant Ivory Productions, ran the Gaming Channel for Reliance Entertainment, and lately has been pioneering his own transmedia projects in India. He’s also started his own indie publishing company, and has a real passion for the DIY approach too.

The next day — that would be Thursday — I had a talk scheduled over at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. This was for a session called Swipe Right For Digital, put together by Tusitala, the company that also developed and manages the Super Cool Books iPad reading app.

Photo by Tusitala

As you can see from my title slide (click on the photo for a close-up, or else maybe just squint a little) this time I focused on how we use digital publishing tools to make the most of our creative work and connect with people who genuinely care about the kind of stories we produce.

Photo by Melanie Lee

Here I am demonstrating a clever origami trick using one of our Foldable Fantasy booklets. And at the end of my talk I also shared this free e-book that I created, titled KEEP CALM AND UPLOAD E-BOOKS. It compiles all the tips in my presentation and has a full section on resources for DIY digital publishing. This free e-book is still available here (read online or download PDF).

At the AFCC I also moderated some sessions, met loads of interesting people, caught up with old friends, posed for photographs, and signed books at the official event bookstore run by Denise Tan and her team from Closetful of Books. Among the cool people I got to know: a young publishing entrepreneur from Malaysia named Irfan Foner, who’s the co-founder of Comichat Enterprise. They promote young comic book talents and also run creative workshops in schools. We’ll be looking at translating some of my story writing articles for their creative community in Malaysia. Yeah! Share the love.

Here I am with acclaimed poet and old friend from uni, Aaron Lee. He came by during his lunch hour and hung out for a bit at the Closetful of Books booth. You can read more about Aaron here.

Also: that same afternoon I received an update from Brain Bytes, our partner in Malaysia, who are running a great holiday promotion on the Maxis mobile shopping app, featuring all our paperbacks. If you’re in Malaysia, you can download the Maxis app and check out the offer here. On account of the PhD from earlier on in my career plus my role in helping to develop their literacy and creative learning programmes (like this Diary of Young Justice Bao reading carnival at Sentul Raya) I have come to be affectionately referred to as Professor Don Bosco.

Meanwhile, over at the Marshall Cavendish office, where the LION CITY ADVENTURES book was put together and published, our Lion City Adventuring Club senior leaders Melvin Neo (interviewed here) and Mindy Pang (will interview her soon) spent the week preparing for our grand bookstore launch at Kinokuniya Jurong Branch. They assembled some cool prizes and goodie bags, which included these lovely Lion City Adventuring Club badges (photo above) and also copies of this Uncle Amir’s Foldable Fun Newsletter, which was created as a transmedia extension of the LCA story world. The newsletter contains a maze, word search, Lion City Adventuring Club story puzzle, sketch section, a short quiz based on the information inside the book, and more. Will be posting lots more photos from the launch very soon. And maybe a video clip too.

Our sincere thanks to Melvin and Mindy from Marshall Cavendish for running the Lion City Adventuring Club; Jeanette Teo and the team from Pansing Distribution for organising this; Melissa Foo and her team at Kinokuniya for hosting us and creating such a neat display with the books; and also my young friend Norman (above) for introducing me with his most enthusiastic speech.

Photo by Clement Teh

This is what it looks like when stories draw us together and add sparkle to our days. I'm so looking forward to sharing a story with you soon.

— D