What genres are these books?

southern comfort and bolts of thunder please

southern comfort and bolts of thunder please

So I did a quick study of the books that I liked in no particular order, without cheating, without internet access. A handwritten list, just straight off the top of my head in 1 minute:

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Property by Valerie Martin

Flower in the Attic trilogy by Virginia Andrews

Girl with Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

The Talented Mr Ripley  by Patricia Highsmith

Capital by John Lanchester

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Sea Lovers by Valerie Martin

After I wrote the list, then only I allowed myself internet access to find out the genres. When I like something, I don’t even know what genre it is.

To my surprise, more than half of these came under ‘Gothic’. Well dat don’t make sense. All but one were by women writers. John Lanchester, you do it for the ladies. All are commercial fiction except those marked literary fiction. Apparently, if it is literary, it is not commercial. You are obviously doing it for love not money.

what genres are these

Answers on a postcard please!

Here are the internet’s answers:

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach = historical fiction

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters = historical courtroom fiction

Property by Valerie Martin = southern Gothic (PS I always think of Southern Comfort when the word Southern comes with spooky weird stuff)

Flower in the Attic trilogy by Virginia Andrews = southern Gothic

Girl with Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier = historical fiction

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier = Gothic

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn = psychological thriller

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn = ditto

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee = southern Gothic

Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood = literary fiction

The Talented Mr Ripley  by Patricia Highsmith = crime noir

Capital by John Lanchester = literary fiction

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters = Gothic

Sea Lovers by Valerie Martin = magic realist literary fiction

The last one, I thought was a “huh”? Really? Should Gothic have a “capital” G or not? John Lanchester, any idea? How about Gothic noir? Now that would be a genre I would just love to get my claws on.




























photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/52498221@N06/5487805954″>Note the tombstone in the background</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>



London launch of “Hungry in Ipoh” at Knight Webb Gallery, Brixton

My short story called “Funny Mountain”, in the Hungry in Ipoh anthology, will be launched at Knight Webb Gallery in the heart of Brixton, London – birthplace of the legendary David Bowie.

From Amazon’s product description:

“Hungry in Ipoh compiles 15 short stories based on Ipoh—a city in Malaysia famous for its delicacies. These are tales about different people—both locals and outsiders, from the past and the present—and their connection to the city. Every writer was free to explore the theme however they wanted, while still maintaining the grittiness, bravado, and spirit of pulp fiction that Fixi is (in)famous for. This anthology celebrates the diversity of Ipoh. You’ll find love, humor, horror, nostalgia, melancholy, and so much more. Some are mouth-watering, while others can be stomach-churning.

Authors include Hadi M. Nor, Terence Toh, Cassandraw Khaw, Ted Mahsun, Atikah Abdul Wahid, Marc de Faoite, William Tham Wai Liang, Eileen Lian, Wong Hon Kit, Tina Isaacs, Leroy Luar, Julya Oui, Angeline Woon, Benjamin Tham, Ivy Ngeow, and Tilon Sagulu.”


Date and time: Wed 10 February 2016, 7 to 9 pm.

Address: 54 Atlantic Road, London SW9 8PZ.

About the venue:

This is a contemporary art space run by abstract painter Rufus Knight-Webb. It was selected as a collectors’ destination at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House, London and it has been featured in The Financial Times, London Live, and CNN.

The Malaysian launch of “Hungry in Ipoh” was also in a gallery, the Sepaloh Art Gallery, in Ipoh.

What I think happens:

Penny Faith will present a short intro. Penny is the author of the novels Hello Mr Magpie and From a Past Life, and numerous other literary works such as short stories, scripts and plays. She also teaches creative writing at Adult Education colleges.

There will be the books (of course) which you can buy for only £5 (selling for US$15 on amazon.com plus postage).

There will be drinks, a quick intro by Penny, a reading by me, and a Q&A session. This is my first launch ever, so rather excited and daunted. Hope you can make it and support my writing journey.

Malaysian launch of “Hungry in Ipoh” published by Fixi Novo in October 2015

Sat Oct 25th was a very exciting day for me as that is when my short story “Funny Mountain” came out in print and yes, hard copy. I was looking forward to this day. I had not written for a long time and of course, writing is a subjective thing so I need to thank the editor Hadi M Nor for liking my story. It was all the more special as Fixi is an alternative publisher, indie, left-field, edgy one that pushes boundaries and questions conformity. One that is Malaysian. I feel like I have come home.

Frugality, Imagination and the Vintage life: Roald Dahl’s village, Museum and Story Centre, Great Missenden

Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre is set in the tiny village of Great Missenden in Buckinghamshire where he lived for 36 years. He was also buried in the village. I took a train from Marylebone with the family on a bright October day in 2015. We enjoyed a surreal vision of a horse on the ceiling:

It was so poetic and befitting an intro to our outing, since we were going to the village of one of the most treasured children’s authors of all time.

The village of Great Missenden

After 45 minutes we arrived and walked through the pleasant and pretty village surrounded by hills.

railway sign



We saw some interesting old buildings and antique shops. Some of these old shops were actually in his stories, such as the Red Pump Garage on Great Missenden High Street, which appeared in Danny, The Champion of the World (1975), the Post Office Great Missenden… and… Sukhothai Thai fine dining restaurant? Just kidding.

The Museum

was very inspiring for readers and writers.

There was so much information on how to generate plots and create characters.

More importantly, I actually visualised Roald Dahl in his shed working away.

Although he was a successful bestseller author and probably minted, he was so frugal and humble. His shed has no decoration or anything pretty to look at. He wanted no distractions. He made all these makeshift fittings himself out of scraps and what he had. His old armchair was threadbare, he made a suitcase filled with logs for his footrest, he rolled up corrugated cardboard for his wrist rest. Nothing was designery, trendy, handmade or even shop bought. When you see his carefully and meticulously reconstructed shed, you will realise that nothing matters but the writing itself.

The most luxurious place is in the mind, I think Mark Twain once said.

How do you write and what is your advice? Writers share their routines

Pen and ink

Pen and ink – essential, and essential

I write anywhere using my gold fountain Sheaffer pen using royal blue ink. I am not being pretentious. I just can’t write without this pen. And yes, maybe I’m superstitious. The ink is very smooth and I need smooth-flowing ink to be able to think carefully. I hate scratchy blotchy dried-up ball point pens with thin needles for the nib. If I find one of these, I will throw it away straightaway (even if it is not mine).

My father gave me this gold pen when I went to Uni and it has been my constant companion. Since 911 I was gutted I cannot take it onboard a flight in case the ink is actually explosive fluid or in case I stab somebody. After all, the pen is mightier than the sword.

I like to write by hand in bed on hardback notebooks.

This handwriting won't win any sweets, said the teacher.

This handwriting won’t win any sweets, said the teacher.

My love of writing comes from the love of stationery. I can never resist looking in Paperchase, Waterstones or IKEA at notebooks. I never use pieces of paper or A4 pads because they will get lost or be accidentally used to wrap rubbish or fish bones or something. For days, weeks or months I will think of an idea before I actually write it down. It feels very final and exciting when I put pen to paper because I know the idea has been building and it’s formed. I write down my dreams as a lot of my stories are dream sequences. I never type anything until I am ready.

My advice to you is: Declutter your mind. Always read more than you write. Do both with a passion. Don’t worry what people think. And suffer. Writing is hard work.

In the Roald Dahl museum and Story Centre, these writers share their routine:

Marjorie Blackman says: “I write in my attic. My major characters have to become real people to me. I write down things like what their best friends think of them, what the character thinks of himself or herself and whether or not it’s true, favourite foods, favourite place and why, etc.
My advice to you is: Read lots and lots of different kinds of books, even the books you suspect you might not be too keen on. Don’t copy anyone else’s style – find your own. And don’t give up!”

Mark Haddon says: “I write mostly at my cluttered and messy desk in my very cluttered and messy office/studio. When I have an idea, I write it down, print it out, take it away, scribble all over it, return to the computer and repeat. Later, I give what I’ve written to other people to read, then I go back and edit it. Often many times. My advice is: Read lots. Write lots. And throw lots of it away. In the end our writing only really works if we put ourselves to one side and help readers find out about themselves.”

Michael Morpurgo says: “I write on my bed, in an exercise book, by hand. I spend weeks, months, dreaming a story up, weaving the plot, living the characters, then simply tell it down onto the page. My advice to you is: Live first, live an interesting life. Go places, meet people, listen, look, feel the world around you. Record, write a little each day. And read.”

Roald Dahl says: “My work routine is very simple. And it’s always been the same, for the last forty-five years. I go out to my writing hut at ten o’clock in the morning, and I stop at twelve. In the afternoon, I return for another two hour session from four to six. I have a comfortable chair, I’ve got a writing desk. It’s got on it dark green billiard cloth which is very soft on the eyes. I put a roll of corrugated paper under it so that it’s exactly at the right angle. I have an old leather trunk, filled with blocks of wood, to put my feet on. Once you’re in here, you can lose yourself in your work. It is my little nest, my womb. My advice to you is: Whether it is with a group of characters or an idea for the plot, begin to write. Everything develops under the pencil as you begin to write. It really does. And as Hemingway told me: When you are going good, stop writing. Terrific, because then you can pick up again!”

What’s your routine?

New Year New Blog

I don't know

This is my first post this year. After a long time not writing, I was very encouraged by my recent short story “Funny Mountain” being accepted in an anthology called “Hungry in Ipoh” published by Fixi Novo in October 2015.

What’s happened:

During the non-writing lacuna of about five years, many things happened. That is, many things in the social media world. While this was going on, I also gave birth to my second child and I became a mum to two young children. In other words, I was frazzled. I barely slept let alone write. Double espresso in the morning. White wine at night. That was my life. (Actually that is still my life now, except that in between those two beverages lies a day of work, music, teaching, meetings, design, cooking, childcare, makeup etc etc)

What’s happening now:

Writing has changed, and publishing has changed. I am now able to reflect on what and how I have been writing and what I would like to next write. And in fact I would like to write on my own blog for a change from fiction. It has always been hard for me to write non-fiction. My essays when I was in Uni let down my grade. I don’t see the point of the real world, if that makes sense. Essays count as the real world. Research, word count, expositions, facts, figures, conclusions etc. This is all very mundane to me. I mean, I don’t even read newspapers. I hardly write emails or letters, unless they are for work and I keep them brief. I squeeze out a paragraph of either and it is rather unpleasant.

But imagination, creation of worlds, characters, beasts, fear, shame, joy, revenge, emotions, ideas. Fiction is a part of my childhood that I am still hanging onto. Without fiction, I will age and my imagination will die. That’s good, right? You need angst for the arts. Actually make that a double.