Tue, May 19, 2009
The Straits Times
Wanted: Tweens who like to write

By Rebecca Lynne Tan

When Adeline Foo was a teenager, local author Catherine Lim went to her school to talk about her book, Little Ironies: Stories Of Singapore.

'I was in Secondary 1 or 2 at the time and I recall being very inspired and looking up to her,' says Foo, 38, a full-time children's book author.

It was her first encounter with an author and she remembered how Lim shared that acute observation was integral to writing.

Even eavesdropping and listening in on conversations when you were out and about, such as at the hairdresser's, were good starting points for stories.

Foo says it was then that she first thought of becoming a writer.

But the author, who has published 13 books since she began writing in 2006, reckons there is still much to be done in encouraging children to pursue full-time careers in writing.

Which is why she has initiated the children's literary event, Enriching Minds And Igniting A Writer's Spark, which will be held next Sunday at The Arts House.

It is one of the pre-events supported by the National Arts Council in the lead-up to the annual Singapore Writers Festival to be held from Oct 24 to Nov 1.

Organised by creative writing school Monsters Under The Bed, Enriching Minds will have seven authors and illustrators, as well as four fringe speakers from the books and creative industries, who will speak about various aspects of writing.

Apart from Foo, the other speakers are 2008's Singapore Literature Prize finalist, poet Aaron Lee; author Felix Cheong; 2006's First-time Writers And Illustrators Publishing Initiative award-winner, designer Stephanie Wong; and illustrators Joshua Chiang, Christine Lim Simpson and Lee Kowling.

Says the council's assistant director of literary arts, Mr Ahmad Shuhaimi Jailani, 39: 'We have many untold stories and untapped talent and we hope that through such events, we will see more writers come out of the woodwork and contribute to the writing scene here.'

Wong and Foo, also a recipient of the inaugural First-time Writers And Illustrators Publishing Initiative award in 2006, will talk about their sources of inspiration and recount some of their experiences.

The event is aimed at children aged eight and up. Parents are also welcomed.

Cheong, whose book The Call From Crying House is being used as a literature text in secondary schools, will focus on how he conjures up storylines for tweens and children aged nine to 14.

The writers feel this informal workshop could go far in paving the way for young talent to develop their writing skills.

Says Foo: 'We just want to ignite a small spark in the children. Contrary to what people think, if you want to be a writer and are determined to succeed, you can make it work.'

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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