If you have any of your own to add, please feel free to submit them to me at our Facebook page. I'll try my best to answer all of them!
What inspired you to write The Secret of Monk's Hill?
I met the publisher at Select Books while working on a completely different book project. Over time, we exchanged ideas about developing an exciting fantasy series for kids, which would be set in Singapore. One day I actually sat down to try writing it. It took a few drafts to refine the manuscript. The final result: Book One of the TIME TALISMAN series. Ta-dah!
While reading your book, I felt like I was being sucked into an alternate history of Singapore. Even though The Secret of Monk's Hill is a work of fiction, how much of what you wrote about actually happened?
The plot is completely made up. I would go for long walks or take train rides and try to come up with cool story ideas, while listening to music on my iPhone. Some of the ideas were also suggested by my kids over dinner. Later, I'd sit down and organise everything so that the story flowed smoothly.
Of course, there are frequent references to real people and locations in the story. This helped to make the world of the TIME TALISMAN series more intriguing. It was also a way to get creative with the stuff I learnt about back in school. In short: fiction mixed with fact equals freaky fantasy fun!
Is Monk's Hill an actual place in Singapore?
Yes, it is! You can look it up on Google Maps:
Which of your characters do you resemble the most?
Heh! Some days I'm like Justin. Running around and trying to take charge. Other days I might be like Wen. Eager to master the art of magic, and feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. And once in a while, I can be a bit like Megamo. I'll leave you to figure that last one out on your own. :-)
What do you have in store for your future projects?
I hope to focus on the TIME TALISMAN series first, before launching any new projects. I've lots of ideas about what to do. But as they say, only time will tell.
What did you do before you wrote The Secret of Monk's Hill?
I'm interested in a lot of things, and because of this I've explored a number of different fields. When I was younger I played music and wrote magazine articles. Later, I taught in an art college, worked on other people's books, wrote scripts for documentaries, developed software, and even tried to design my own t-shirts and sell them online and at flea markets.
Is The Secret of Monk's Hill your first book?
Yes and no. It's the first fantasy book I've written that ended up getting published. As a writer and editor, I've worked on other types of books before this. Such as: travel books, educational books, business books, even comic books. I've also written lots of stories that were never completed, or ended up in the trash bin.
What sort of fantasy entertainment do you enjoy?
No space here to list them all. So I'll just mention a few, off the top of my head. My son introduced me to the Beast Quest series by Adam Blade. Each book is short and punchy. Totally enjoyable! I've also been checking out books by James Patterson, Rick Riordan and Richelle Mead.
I enjoy fantasy comics too, especially those written by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. Movies: I like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and the Twilight vampire series. When I was a kid, I enjoyed reading the Doctor Dolittle series by Hugh Lofting. I remember being amazed at how he could weave one crazy situation into another. Pure magic!
When were you born?
June 27, 1971.
What would you do if you were 10 years old again?
Wow, interesting question! I'd try to make as many friends as I can. Read exhaustively, to understand how the world works. Exercise and go outdoors often, so that my body is strong and healthy. Learn how to make people happy and excited about life. Also: I'd make a list of the common things that get people sad or angry, and try to avoid all that.