Royalties from young writers’ book, Secrets & Lies, go to charity

Royalties from young writers’ book, Secrets & Lies, go to charity

20 young writers share their tales of intrigue and mystery in this collection of short stories

SECRETS & Lies marks the entry of 20 young writers into the Malaysian literary world. The anthology features 20 short stories about secrets and lies in families and within friendships. This is the first publication for all the young writers, aged 12-14.

The writers weave intrigue, suspense and controversy into tales of illness, abuse and even murder. The launch was held at BookXcess in Tropicana Gardens Mall last Saturday (December 17).

Shashini Vijaya Kumar, 14, wrote about peer pressure and the desire for acceptance in her story, ‘More Like a Girl’. “I felt the need to write about gender issues because I have always believed that Malaysians, especially the younger generation, need more voices when it comes to issues regarding the LGBTQ+ community.

“There are far too many incidents of violence and disrespect towards the transgender people of this country, and it is setting an execrable example for Malaysian children, while threatening their safety as well.

“Often people are restrained from expressing who they truly are and living the way they want. It takes away their voice and strips them of their identity. I hope that my story provides support and comfort to the people growing up in this country, where sometimes merely being yourself is forbidden and dehumanised,” she said.

As this is her first foray into publishing, Shashini admitted being nervous about what others might think of her writing, especially since her story highlights experiences she has not gone through. “I can only hope that I was able to properly capture the feelings of people who relate to my story in any way.”

Lim Xi, 13, echoes her sentiments seeing as this city boy wrote a story from the perspective of a Malay kampung boy in his story titled Ayah. He chose this character because it was the best way to stay grounded within the local culture and people.

(L-R) Shashini Vijaya Kumar, Lim Xi, and Natasha Lynn Amran, three of the authors featured in the collection. – Pics courtesy of Junior Writers Programme

“With nothing big happening in the kampung in my story, I could focus more intimately on the characters and their dynamics. Another reason for writing about a Malay kid in the kampung is that my hometown has always been the city, so this gave me a chance to explore something different,” he explained.

Lim Xi relied on anecdotes from friends who would visit their kampung regularly for a perspective on life in the village. He also decided to set the story in a fishing village because one of his closest friends comes from a coastal kampung. “Of course, with my friend not going to the school within the kampung, I had to research that part, but it wasn’t difficult,” he said.

There was not much for Natasha Lynn Amran to search on the internet for her story. Her story titled ‘Things Not Said’ is about a girl dealing with her alcoholic single mum. Instead, she tried to put herself in the protagonist’s shoes. She also researched health problems and symptoms so that her story would sound realistic.

The 14-year-old believes that many people across the world would have the same problem as her protagonist who is frustrated at having to be the parent and look after her mother.

Secrets & Lies is the culmination of a seven-month writing programme conducted by writer/editor/trainer Brigitte Rozario. The 20 young writers took part in her Junior Writers Programme, held from January to July this year.

Rozario praised the young writers, applauding them for their creativity and perseverance. “The writers struggled initially to come up with story ideas for the theme. Nonetheless, they pulled through and delivered stories about family, friends and the community. Some stories challenge us to think about how we treat others and our expectations of others. The junior writers did well to dig deep and flesh out the characters in their stories.”

Helena Aysera Hishamuddin Hud and Zizou Looi of Junior Writers 2021 present the mock cheque to Thrive Well’s Michelle Lim. – Pic courtesy of Junior Writers Programme

The programme, held every year, aims to encourage youngsters to write short stories and learn the art of storytelling. Lessons include the basics of fiction writing, including introduction, conclusion, dialogue, characters, descriptions, and editing. This is the fifth book produced by the Junior Writers Programme. The past books are: Spiral Through Time (2018), Writing KL (2019), Lives Under Lockdown (2020), and Trouble Started (2021).

At the launch, last year’s Junior Writers also presented Thrive Well with a cheque for RM1,357.30. The amount was the total royalties from the sales of Trouble Started. Michelle Lim, Head of Partnership, Thrive Well, was on hand to receive the cheque for the organisation’s community centres serving the underprivileged.

Secrets & Lies, priced at RM31.90, is available at BookXcess. Royalties from the sale of the books go to Thrive Well’s (formerly SOLS Health) community centres.

source – The Vibes

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