Singapore Writer’s Festival 2013

I’m really stoked to share this experience with you right before the new year rolls around. This definitely has been one of the highlights of 2013.

The theme for this year was: Utopia/Dystopia. So here’s a few of the notable happenings that I’ve managed to attend during SWF, accompanied by some photos, in hope that it’ll show you more than what we’d possibly ramble and recall (a picture speaks a thousand words, yes?).

  • Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels by G. Willow Wilson

G. Willow Wilson conducting her workshop via Google Hangout! How cool is this? SWF’s first ever workshop conducted online. Initially I was disappointed that she couldn’t be at the venue physically (I was armed with her book, anticipating an autograph!) but we understood that she had some commitments that she needed to attend to at home. But fret not, the workshop still went on! God bless technology. I also had the opportunity to have a chat with her and ask her questions pertaining to her novel ‘Alif The Unseen’. When asked where she drew inspiration from for her characters Alif, and his neighbour Dina, she said it was partly her experience with people, and partly imagination. She also admitted she saw a bit of Dina in her. Dina’s my favourite character! She’s so kick-ass.

  • Lyric Writing Workshop by Yusnor Ef

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Yusnor Ef, a talented, well-respected veteran in the Malay Music industry, shared with us his passion, vision, experience, views, and taught us a thing or two about writing meaningful and soulful lyrics. His wit and frankness about the industry made the workshop a fun and light-hearted one!

  • Write of Passage by Natalie Hennedige

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Prior to this I have not heard of Natalie, but from now I’ll be sure to track her future workshops because this was amazing. Such a refreshing, eye-opening workshop, that stretches your imagination and have you see things through different perspectives. We were strangers when we entered the room for the first time, but we emerged out of it knowing each other’s hopes, fears and even our deepest, darkest secrets! There were many interesting activities that require a lot of mingling and imagining and having our boxed-up selves to open up to a room full of like-minded people. Beautiful.

  • The Writer in a Country’s Intellectual Life featuring Kim Young-Ha, Dina Zaman, Alvin Pang and Ma Jian (not in picture)

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Managed to catch the last few minutes of this, but nevertheless, had the chance to listen to Kim Young-Ha, Dina Zaman, and Ma Jian, discussing about their experiences writing in their own country. I remembered Ma Jian (who now holds a British citizenship) talking a bit about being exiled from China, because of the attempt at free speech through his writing, which of course is extremely suppressed and discouraged in the country.

  • Oliver James in Conversation with Siok Kuan Tambyah

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This was an engaging panel, where Oliver James, a psychologist and bestselling author of the book ‘Affluenza’, talks about the pursuit of happiness. He mentioned that one can never have enough, and be content. If given more, he/she will definitely want more. And happiness will continue to elude him/her. A lot of takeaway points that hit right at the spot. It’d be great if this panel was recorded, people can definitely learn from this!

  • You Can Write Too! featuring Claire Chiang, Vernetta Lopez, Rodney Ee and Jerrold Yam

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Learnt a thing or two from this inspiring bunch of panelists. Vernetta talks about her autobiographical ‘Memoirs of a DJ’ and the process of writing it, while sharing a few tips on moving away from the dreaded writer’s block. Rising poet Jerrold Yam talks about gathering inspiration for his 2 published poetry books under Math Paper Press, while Rodney Ee talks about his travel book ‘My Name is not Konnichiwa’.

  • An Inspector Calls featuring He Jiahong, Stephen Leather and Ed Lin

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Exciting session, both moderator and panelists were equally good. They shared with the audience how to write a crime/thriller novel, and I really have a newfound respect for such writers! Personally I find that this genre is one of the more if not most, challenging to plot. You have to think of how the victim dies, covering up the culprit’s tracks… gosh I don’t think I’ll ever have the patience for that. Stephen Leather even asked for suggestions from the crowd for ‘how the victim is to be killed?’. Fun panel.

  • The Festival Pavilion

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Cupcakes by Plain Vanilla Bakery

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Seyra, one of the live bands performing an acoustic set

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Aaaand it’s a wrap! Goodbye SWF 2013, you have been awesome. See you next year!

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