Author returns with the start of new series set in 1930s Singapore

Singapore-based author Ovidia Yu is back with her ninth novel, The Frangipani Tree Mystery. The new work from the award-winning author and prolific playwright (she has penned 30) is the start of a new series and is set in 1930s Singapore.

Yu will be talking part in the Left Coast Crime convention’s humour panel on March 30 in Vancouver. The conventions runs March 28-31.

We tracked down Yu before her Vancouver appearance to ask some questions about her new book and writing in general:

Q: When you decided to set the book in 1930s Singapore what was the first focus of your research? Where did you start?

A: Oral histories. I love listening to stories. I started collecting stories and settings and characters for the books before I realized I was going to write them.

Q: What is the best and worst parts about telling a historical story?

A: Best part is once you start digging there is so much material. It’s like everything you encounter leads on to something else. I actually thought it would be a relatively simple matter of putting together the stories I’d heard and anchoring them with places and events that I looked up. But people were so good to share their family stories with me. A friend actually had a grandmother like Ah Ma in the books, who went around collecting rental money on her various properties and was running the blackmarket in her area during and immediately after the (Second World War). And you think that’s so terrible and you find out she lost three sons to the Japanese. The bodies of two were never recovered. And she had to go to collect the body of her husband after he was killed.

That’s the worst part — finding out things like that.

Every single story I heard was fascinating. And there are scraps of letters and someone told me how two cousins (her grand-aunts) who were raped by Japanese soldiers were told to get over it because they were lucky to be alive.

Sorry, I’m working on the fourth book in the series now so the Japanese occupation is very much on my mind.

While I was growing up, the British years and Syonan years were not talked about by those who lived through them. But now that generation is passing on, I don’t think they should …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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