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YRC 23: YRC INVESTIGATES (SIDE BAR: MONICA LIM & LESLEY-ANNE TAN)

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The Author:
Ms Monica Lim and Ms Lesley-Anne Tan
Name of Series:
Danger Dan

How They Got Into Writing:
Monica: “I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember. When I started work, it was in a communications department which entailed lots of writing. From there, I realised that I loved writing enough to be able to focus on that entirely, so I started my own writing agency in 2002. I also started a blog about five years ago and ventured into fiction writing this year. You can say writing is both my profession and my passion.”
Lesley-Anne: “In primary school, I actually found writing compositions boring because I felt like we had to stick to a rigid format. I experimented for a while, before developing a personal writing style that was more ‘me’. My stories sounded more original after that and writing compositions became a lot more fun. I was also lucky to have a P6 English teacher who encouraged me to be creative.”

Inspiration for Writing:
Lesley-Anne: “We wanted kids to feel that the same adventure could actually happen to them. We hope that after kids read the book, they’ll be able to imagine their own continuation of the story. The inspiration for the character Danger Dan pretty much came from living with a hyperactive boy who loves comics and superheroes – my brother. We also have a second main character – Melody, a 14-year-old girl from the future because we thought a female counterpart would add interest to the story. Because you know how boys and girls get along. Ahem. And because she’s from the future, we can give her lots of great gadgets!
Inspiration can come from anywhere! It can’t be forced. Excitement over your book’s character helps provide inspiration and that’s why it’s important to love your book’s character.”
Monica: “The setting was pretty much set for us – Epigram wanted the character to go back in time to Singapore’s history. When we heard this, our first thought was that we had to make the books FUNNY. In fact, we balked at using the word “history” altogether because we knew kids would immediately have the impression: “Yuck! Another social studies textbook disguised as a fun book!
Our primary focus is always: is the plot compelling? Engaging? The historical figures and places are written in the course of Danger Dan and Melody’s adventures, and not because we feel like we have to feature them. Having said that, it’s actually quite fun when we stumble on fascinating little-known trivia of Singapore’s past that we think might be interesting to include for readers.
Thought is important for inspiration to happen. If you don’t think very deeply about anything, your writing will be shallow. It really doesn’t matter how good your language is. The most powerful writing comes from thinking about and learning from genuine experiences and feelings.”

What They Enjoy About Writing:
Monica: “I think the most valuable part of writing as a team is the brainstorming. When you write alone, you don’t have someone to constantly bounce ideas off. Our brainstorming sessions are wacky and that’s when we come up with the most creative ideas. Danger Dan is now such a big part of our lives that we’re constantly saying things like, ‘What would Danger Dan do in this situation?’, ‘What would he say?’ He’s become our second nature!”
Lesley-Anne: “I love writing about Danger Dan because he is brimming with enthusiasm and is really imaginative. I’ve learnt that imagination shouldn’t have boundaries. A seemingly silly idea may actually have lots of potential. Sometimes, you just need to be patient enough to develop that idea.”

Challenges Faced During Writing:
Monica: “Plot! Time travel plots, especially if they have to be carried through a series, can have notoriously gaping plot holes. For each book we write, we have to think, does this cancel out what was done in an earlier book? Did a character already say something that we can’t change in a later book?”
Lesley-Anne: “We are both really stubborn. Sometimes, we both believe a character should say a certain thing or that a line should be written in a certain way. We can even argue over the usage of one word! But somehow, things always work out in the end.”

Time Taken to Get One Book Out:
The first book of Danger Dan will be out on 15 Jan 2014.

Advice for Aspiring Writers:
Monica: “When I was a teenager, I used to think “oh, I want to write a book!” Many people have that dream but I think it’s important to ask whether that dream is fuelled by your love for writing or just the desire to see your name in print. The love for writing has to come first. We need to respect readers. If someone is to put down money for my book and take the time to read it, that’s my privilege, not his. If we realise that, then we will make sure that what we publish is worth someone’s time and money.”
Lesley-Anne: “Don’t let your imagination get weighed down by reality. While criticism may improve you, always stay true to yourself. Break free of your personal limits and insecurities. Be fearless like Danger Dan!”

Friday,24 January 2014 by | Blog |