Local novel up against Stephen King's

Pearry Teo (above) declined movie offers for Bedlam Stories (inset) from Hollywood as he wanted it to be a “Singapore endeavour”.

A home-grown horror novel has been nominated for an Internet award, alongside Stephen King's The Shining sequel and The Walking Dead zombie comic series.

Bedlam Stories, created by Singaporean Pearry Teo, is up for the Favourite Book/Comic title in website Horror Society's 2014 awards, an annual event now in its second year, which honours the best in horror film, TV dramas, books and comics. Results will be announced on the website early next week. The winners are determined by public voting, which is open till Friday, 11pm.

"I try not to think about it too much," says Teo, 34, who is based in Los Angeles. "I feel awards give someone a false sense of pride about their work. But I definitely get a kick out of thinking I'm nominated beside Stephen King."

Also on the shortlist of 10 are master of horror King's 2013 novel Doctor Sleep, a follow-up to 1977's The Shining, The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman, The Superior SpiderMan by Dan Slott and The Last Jedi by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff.

Nominees were picked by public voting via e-mail and Twitter. The Horror Society staff also had a say in the nominees. One of them was Michael DeFellipo, who gave his vote to Bedlam Stories.

Mr DeFellipo, one of the website's head contributors, said: "Bedlam Stories is one of the most creative and disturbing books now. It is twisted and disturbing, it takes your fond childhood memories and turns them into nightmares."

Bedlam Stories is part of a series which morbidly retells the tales of Dorothy from the Wizard Of Oz and Alice of Alice In Wonderland.

So far, there has been the first instalment, The Battle For Oz And Wonderland Begins (released in September last year), and a prequel, Project: Alice (released in December last year). The first instalment was co-authored with American writers Christine Converse and Nicole Jones. The prequel was co-authored with Converse.

Battle For Oz And Wonderland Begins also made it to The Top Ten Best Sellers in Horror Literature & Fiction on online bookseller Amazon.com's best-sellers chart last September when it was launched. It later climbed to the No. 1 spot on the horror charts between Oct 4 and 7.

"That came as a shock to me as I'm a first-time novel writer," says Teo. The book has since sold about 35,000 copies. Its success has prompted him to turn it into a movie, comics and toys.

Hollywood beckoned with movie offers, adds the author. But he decided to make it a "Singapore endeavour".

His company Teo Ward Productions is co-producing the film with United States-based production company Hydra Media, which is set up by Teo, an Australian businessman and a Singaporean business consultant. Teo will direct.

"I think the misfit in me wanted to do it," says Teo, who also directed cyber thriller The Gene Generation (2007), starring Faye Dunaway and Bai Ling, of his current project. "To do something that would put Singapore on the map. I felt that accepting the offers by Hollywood Producers was too cliched and the challenge wasn't there." he adds.

His first short film, the 17-minute Liberata Me, was named best short horror film at the 2002 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival.

Bedlam Stories has captured the imagination of fans, with 10,600 likes on its official Facebook page. The narrative follows reporter Nellie Bly on an undercover mission in a mental asylum. There, she meets a patient named Dorothy, who talks about the imaginary world of Oz. The journalist also uncovers evidence of "human experimentation" on another patient, Alice, who has similar delusions of a fantasy land.

On his choice of fairy-tale leads, Teo says: "I think that Alice and Dorothy have a very sinister, trippy feel about them.

"As a child, I liked the themes of Alice In Wonderland and The Wizard Of Oz because both involved wandering into fantasy worlds. I've always wanted to visit strange lands and get lost in places.

"Singaporean artists can do more than culture-oriented films, such as films that rely on Singlish that makes it hard to transcend Malaysia," he adds. "I really want to encourage Singaporeans everywhere to create works that have more global reach.

nggwen@sph.com.sg

Go to www.horrorsociety.com/awards to vote for the 2014 Horror Society awards.

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