I apologise for this late posting. Due to my busy schedule, I have not been online as often as before but here you go, the final part of the interview with Singa Crew!
Singa Crew: Yeah, sure. Right from the get-go, I knew writing a book and getting it published was serious business. Which was why, given my lack of experience, I didn’t set out to do it alone.
I had a partner from Singapore, during the early days of the project. Initially, he was supposed to be an equal partner. That means I expected him to produce a certain amount of original stories for the book. But after the first few meetings, it turned out he was more comfortable with just listening to me talk and looking through the stories I wrote.
My requests for him to produce original works only resulted in some ideas and disjointed sentences clobbered clumsily together. I had to spend time and effort turning those “contributions” into presentable short stories. Besides his minute contributions (ideas and some sentences strung haphazardly together) to two chapters, he gave permission to re-write an old interview he did with a news blog into a short story. That was the extent of his contributions. Not once did he turn in a full-length story for the book.
Still, I would have been perfectly willing to share the profit from the sales of the book with him. He had a reputation as an artist, so I was expecting him to do illustrations for the book and design the cover. But he did not produce any artwork for the book. Instead he recommended a fellow artist to do the work. However even that plan fell through, because for some unknown reason, his artist friend refused to talk to him.
In the end, I had to scout for artists on my own, even though my partner was supposed to know people in the local art community.
Then when it was time to do the layout, my partner couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do it either. So I had to pay someone else to.
But even though he couldn’t produce a single piece of writing or of art, I was still willing to work with him and split the profit, provided he continued to work with me. There were still obstacles to overcome before reaching the end goal of publication. And after that, there’s the marketing campaign to sell the book.
So we reached a crucial juncture of the project. I finished the manuscript and was ready to cross the border. We needed to start meeting publishers. We needed to clobber together a book deal. And my partner, for reasons known only to him, disappeared. I was unable to reach him by phone, even though it was still in service since I could get a ring tone each time I called. I have no idea what sort of mind game he was playing, but it got a result.
Yes. When I couldn’t contact him for a while, I got so worried, thinking perhaps he talked to the wrong people about the book and got himself arrested, that I had a minor heart attack. Chest pains. Numbness in my arm. The usual symptoms.
Anyway, when he finally deigned to reply to me via email or Facebook, he explained that his phone credit ran out. I think I need not explain that it was such an obvious lie to anyone who ever owned a hand phone. Either you get free incoming calls, or if you don’t, the caller gets a recorded message from the phone company.
Well, the book is out now. So I did make it across the border to meet with a publisher. He did act as my guide one last time before he went off the radar again. When the book was distributed to bookstores, I called him (in August) to remind him of his duty to assist in the marketing campaign. He didn’t help then, and he is not helping now.
When word got back to me that he claimed authorship over some chapter in the book and feigned ignorance about the publication of the book, I decided that I had to set the record straight.
Having said all that, however, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to my erstwhile partner. Even though he never did his fair share of the work, he was a good listener, and I know I never got lost with him acting as a travel guide on those two occasions when we visited Malaysia. He was many things, BUT, as far as the book is concerned, he was never a full-fledged contributor.
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