INTERVIEW 10 questions: Ivy Ngeow, author of Heart of Glass with Eamonn Griffin

10 questions: Ivy Ngeow, author of Heart of Glass

As you are hopefully aware, I’m currently crowdfunding my new Lincolnshire-set thriller East of Englandthrough Unbound Publishing. And I’m not alone! So, I’ve asked a few fellow writers on Unbound’s current roster to give a quick overview of their writing work, and the book they’re crowdfunding themselves in a ten questions format.

Today’s guest is Ivy Ngeow, the author of Heart of Glass:

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1.      Who are you and what’s your book about?

I am award-winning author Ivy Ngeow and my book Heart of Glass is a dark pacy tale about obsession, greed and music in 1980s Chicago and Macau.

2.      Why should folk read your book?

My book addresses the themes of the Reagan era which are greed and success. The protagonist is an American girl of Chinese origin. She is a young, uneducated, pretty, and naive musical genius who happens to be an immigrant to the USA. She is blinded by her desire for fame, success, love, everything. She is an antihero and this is a story of an underdog and underachiever with hopes, dreams and fantasies usually squashed by mainstream society and realities of life as an immigrant.


“Flying Rhinos with Ivy Ngeow” Books in My Handbag Blog Interview

I was interviewed on Jessie Cahalin’s Books in my Handbag Blog:

During a visit to Singapore, I arranged to meet Ivy at the East Coast Lagoon Food Village.  We sat beneath a canape in the busy food hall.  Although warm, there was a refreshing sea breeze.  The aroma of fish oil, garlic and seafood combined to make my stomach rumble: the choice was overwhelming.  I wandered from one stall to the next unable to make my choice. I ordered a prawn noodle dish and Ivy chose seafood laksa. She wore white shorts and a halter neck lime green top and her bag was a leopard print mini backpack…

In it I discuss how Middlesex University helped me find my writing voice:

Jessie:  Growing up in Malaysia then studying in Middlesex must have presented a contrasting experience.  What were the main differences?

Ivy: Middlesex University was an eye-opening experience. I went in there thinking I was going to be Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot et al but Middlesex made me who I am today. I found my writing voice there. I was given a reading list consisting of books I would never read in a million years. I became aware that I could and do have a totally unique narrative. I became Ivy Ngeow the writer. And this narrative was what has made me stand out amongst 1500 entrants to win the Middlesex University Press Literary Prize of 2005.

Read the whole interview here

Heart of Glass: BOOK REVIEW by book blogger @LaurenKnapper of LozzysThings


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Ahead of publication, the FIRST official review has come in for my FIRST novel out in the UK, “Heart of Glass”. And it’s SMASHING!

“This story is a fascinating literary thriller and incredibly original. I have never read anything quite like it before.”- #bookblogger Lauren Knapper

Curious? Check out the link! Headphones not required this time.

“The twists and turns in the novel leave you shocked and desperately wanting to continue reading.”

“Ngeow writes in such a talented way that you are completely immersed in the time and setting of her book.”


Twitter- @laurenknapper

Instagram – LozzysThings

#HeartofGlass #MadeinGreatBritain #9daystogo #bookreview #Chicago #Macau #underdog #Chinatown #1980s #disco #JamesBond #music #crime #crimenoir #noirfiction #crimefiction #thriller

Heart of Glass book trailer

Fancy some big beats? Switch on your Bluetooth speakers and do yourself a favour: check out the TRAILER I made for Heart of Glass the Novel. Music written, performed and produced by me. Film production by Satsuma Music (which is my alter ego). Hell, I even wrote the damned book.

TIP#1: you might like to grab headphones if you do not have giant speakers. It would be a crime to miss out on my killer basslines.

TIP#2 : You might like to read the book! Pre-order now, out on 30 June 2018 on AMAZON


“Staying In With…” Cry of the Flying Rhino in Linda’s Book Bag Interview Article

Check out an amazing interview with Linda’s Book Bag, award-winning UK blogger in her series “Staying in With…”

Staying in with Ivy Ngeow

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Here on Linda’s Book Bag I frequently mention my love of travel. Today I’m thrilled that my guest Ivy Ngeow is taking me off around the world again as we stay in to chat about one of Ivy’s books.

Staying in with Ivy Ngeow

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Ivy. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it? 

I’ve brought Cry of the Flying Rhino and I have chosen it because it is my debut novel and it won the 2016 International Proverse Prize.

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(Oh! How exciting. Congratulations. I also understand more congratulations are in order as your new novel Heart of Glass was published earlier this week too and there is more informationhere.)

What can we expect from an evening in with Cry of the Flying Rhino?

Cry of the Flying Rhino is a modern novel set in the railway town of Segamat, which has already been deforested and turned into miles of plantation, and Borneo, whose jungles are under threat. It is written in multiple viewpoints and is set in the 1990s and 2000s. The Chinese GP, Benjie, has been forced to marry Talisa, a mysterious and tattooed teenager, and the adopted daughter of wealthy crass Scottish landowner Ian. Benjie has to discover for himself his wife’s true identity, when Minos and Watan, two Ibans who leave the jungle and appear in Segamat one day, looking for Talisa.

(This sounds very interesting Ivy.)

I am quite pleased that the writing has been compared to my heroes, amongst others, Orwell and Burgess:

Anyone impressed, anyone imprinted upon and inspired by Lalwani, Roy, Chatterjee, Burgess, Lowry or Orwell, will be correspondingly affected by Ngeow. – Professor Jason S. Polley, Department of English, Hong Kong Baptist University

(My goodness. That’s quite an accolade. You must be thrilled with the comparisons.) 

You will also find out in the book what is a flying rhino and why does it cry.

(And I’m very intrigued to do so Ivy!)

What else have you brought along and why? 

I have brought along some inciting photographs.


Cry of the Flying Rhino was written thirteen years ago after I made my one and only trip to Borneo with my mother. I was inspired by the dark, macabre and gothic nature of communal longhouse living and the tribal civilisation and culture which have been around for thousands of years.


Two things triggered some ideas. Firstly, during the trip, I saw a tattoo parlour called Headhunters. It piqued my interest in the traditional art and symbolism of Iban tattooing, performed manually with a hammer, steel pin and ink made from tree ash. Secondly, long after our trip, I dreamt of a girl in a longhouse with eyes as huge as the “hollows of the benuah tree”. Those words came to me in the dream. I wrote them down. She looked sad and haunted and there was also terror in her eyes. I did not know who she was or what the dream was about but something unpleasant and unusual had happened to her and I set about finding out about the Iban culture, which I later discovered, is based on dreams. That dreams were everything, our hopes, work, happiness and luck.

(Wow – that’s quite a stimulus for your writing.)


In exploring the two triggers above, I found out that indigenous cultures are threatened and dying, because of loss of habitat due to logging and deforestation, and due to the conversion of the Ibans to other religions. As a result, orang asli (original people) like the Ibans are forced to leave their habitat for the city because their livelihood, dependent on being able to survive in the jungles on the fat of the land, is diminishing due to the jungles being cleared. Their way of life which is so rich in folklore, superstition and traditions will soon be lost. Ultimately the rapid destruction of the jungles will impact upon the rest of the world via climate change and so on. I also found out that children tattooed children which ensured that the art would never die. If adults were one day wiped out by an epidemic or a massacre, the surviving children would all have learned and mastered all survival and artistic skills including tattooing.

(This is utterly fascinating Ivy. I’m thrilled you’ve shared these images and the information with us today.)

Ivy, thank you so much for staying in with me to introduce Cry of the Flying Rhino. I’m absolutely intrigued by what you’ve told me and I’m sure many blog readers will be too.

Cry of the Flying Rhino

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Cry Of The Flying Rhino is set in 1996 Malaysia and Borneo, told from multiple viewpoints and in multiple voices.

Malaysian Chinese family doctor Benjie Lee has had a careless one night stand with his new employee – mysterious, teenage Talisa, the adopted daughter of a wealthy, crass Scottish plantation owner, Ian, in the provincial Malaysian town of Segamat. Talisa’s arms are covered in elaborate tattoos, symbolic of great personal achievements among the Iban tribe in her native Borneo. Talisa has fallen pregnant and Ian forces Benjie to marry her. Benjie, who relished his previous life as a carefree, cosmopolitan bachelor, struggles to adapt to life as a husband and father.

Meanwhile, Minos – an Iban who has languished ten years in a Borneo prison for a murder he didn’t commit – is released into English missionary Bernard’s care.

One day, Minos and his sidekick and fellow ex-convict Watan appear in Segamat, forcing Benjie to confront his wife’s true identity and ultimately his own fears. Are the tattoos the key to her secrets?

Cry Of The Flying Rhino is published by Proverse and is available for purchase here.

About Ivy Ngeow


Ivy Ngeow was born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. A graduate of the Middlesex University Writing MA programme, Ivy won the 2005 Middlesex University Press Literary Prize out of almost 1500 entrants worldwide. She has written non-fiction for Marie Claire, The Star, The New Straits Times, South London Society of Architects’ Newsletter and Wimbledon magazine. Her fiction has appeared in Silverfish New Writing anthologies twice, The New Writer and on the BBC World Service. Her story Funny Mountain was published by Fixi Novo in an anthology Hungry in Ipoh.

Ivy won first prize in the Commonwealth Essay Writing Competition 1994, first prize in the Barnes and Noble Career Essay Writing competition 1998 and was shortlisted for the David T K Wong Fellowship 1998 and the Ian St James Award 1999. Her debut novel, Cry of the Flying Rhino, won the 2016 International Proverse Prize.

Ivy has been a highly-accomplished multi-instrumental musician since childhood and won fifth prize (out of 850 entrants) in the 2006 1-MIC (Music Industry Charts) UK Award for her original song, ‘Celebrity’. Her second novel Heart of Glass, published by Unbound, UK, will be out from 5 June 2018.

To find out more you can follow Ivy on Twitter @ivyngeow and visit herwebsite where you can also obtain signed copies of Cry Of The Flying Rhino.

Interview with Nigel Ng: Malaysian Comedy Sensation

What are Malaysians in London famous for except Battersea Power Station, Genting Casinos and authors (umm, that would be me)? Meet young comedy genius, Nigel Ng from Kuala Lumpur, an award-winning stand-up comedian. He performs at comedy clubs here and abroad. He won Amused Moose’s Laugh Off in 2016 and was selected to be part of the prestigious Pleasance Comedy Reserve in 2017. I watched his Malaysian Sensation show at the Wandsworth Arts Fringe festival in 2018 on 13th May (the date of which is notorious only to Malaysians due to an unfortunate bloody event in our political history). I talked to him after the show, and was thrilled to jump into comfort chatting in Mandarin, which happens to be both our first languages.

How long have you been performing?

7 years.

When did you decide to become a comedian?

I started at university and then I realised I was quite funny at parties. I was doing horribly for 3 years performing and 4 years in I thought to myself: “I think I can do this.” From then on I decided to go full time.

How did you parents react when you told them you’re not going to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer, accountant?

(Laughs) They are Asian parents. To be fair they are quite cool with me doing anything I want as long as I am happy because I was the fist kid in the family to study abroad. I am the golden child.

Where did you go to University and what did you study?

In USA. Northwestern University. Engineering and philosophy.

How hard do you think it is for Asians to be represented in the comedy industry?

Maybe it is more uncommon. When I do smaller town gigs people think ‘oh that’s unusual, an Asian guy?!’ but then you go on stage you just have to show them you are funny and then they get over it. ‘OK he’s fine.’

Does comedy does bring people together?

They are willing to listen but if they are not listening you have to work a bit harder. Sometimes it does not work.
Maybe our (Asian) culture does not prize someone being outspoken or opinionated. Asian culture is about obedience and following the rules and is not focused on freedom of expression unlike Western cultures. But that is changing as Asians are going abroad and growing up in a Western environment too.

Tell us about your next project quickly.

I am recording for stand up central Comedy Central tomorrow (Monday 14 May), 6 minute set. My TV debut.

That is a big deal, no?!

Yes! I am also going to Edinburgh Comedy Festival for the full month to do the same 45 min Malaysian Sensation show.

Nigel is performing many gigs in June in London and the South. Catch him if you can. You can get tickets from here. You can watch him Live at the Glee here (11min).

Chris Ramsey’s stand up central Comedy Central is filmed live at the Electric Ballroom in Camden.

He is also playing at the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August. He will be at Venue 85, Laughing Horse @City Cafe. Check him out here, if you are in Scotland!

I totally enjoyed the show, it was a great laugh and I was crying. Comedy is our single most successful arts and culture export as I keep telling everyone. Only Malaysians can do funny and upsetting at the same time.


Heart of Glass: Literary Criticism Cheat Sheet

Heart of Glass is a dark tale about obsession, greed and music. It is a pacy literary crime noir thriller exploring the darkness in human nature. It contains Realism, Drama, Tragedy, Horror and Gothic elements. It is loosely naturalistic as a genre, which means the narrative style is straightforward American vernacular prose about mundane things in a way seemingly devoid of sentimentality, emotional investment or attachment. It is written in first person narrative. The characters are products of their environment and their upbringing, and they behave exactly as they please i.e. badly.

The character of Li-an is inspired by the titular character in Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola, a spoilt, immature beautiful woman who does one bad thing after another and another until she cannot stop. She is miserable from doing these things, yet she cannot stop. This is due to her naivete, selfishness, her lack of education and her greed.

Such a thing as a ‘good character’ is impossible to find in Thérèse Raquin as in Heart of Glassthere are just evil and less evil characters. In Thérèse Raquin, all characters are accomplices in some way or another of the murder of Camille, even Camille himself. As in Heart of Glass, all the characters are only concerned about themselves, their own interests. This leads them to cause crazy and intolerable situations in an endless chain of guilt-ridden activities. Survival is the main objective for each character. In Thérèse Raquin, death freed Thérèse and Laurent of their crime, and futile remorse after months of mutual hate and misbehaviour. In Heart of Glass, Paolo’s true love and forgiveness save Li-an and freed her from her obsessive and unreasonable behaviour. The other characters including Ben her accomplice and her Achilles heel, are all guilty or less guilty. Camille, Madame Raquin, Thérèse and Laurent are all victims and guilty; even secondary characters can be accused of selfishness looking just for self-satisfaction.

Emile Zola is one the finest voices in literature and one of my heroes: “I have simply done on two living bodies the kind of analysis that surgeons do on dead bodies.” He aims to strip away the usual literary polite nonsense of describing people to get at the truth of “the human mechanism”. Hence Zola writes about brutality without judgement, without contempt. As a writer what I have written about in Heart of Glass has no sermon, no moral code. The clue is in the title. Warning label: Heart of Glass may shock.

I am not attempting to pass judgement or inflict my own values. The human problem is not of God and morality. It is of the psychological condition. The reader will be coming along for the ride to experience the horrors and the brutality as my characters and I experience them. The reader is trapped inside a world of despair and desperation of the bad character, the human beast. The idea is to explore the beastly character who gets worse and worse until her heart changes what it desires. 

Which brings me to the final point: is there redemption in crime noir or crime writing? What if there is none? What if there is no solution to evil, no Jesus, no Buddha, no saints in this story, only sinners?

Painting: Sobbing Woman in Bed by Edward Munch.