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YRC 33: YRC Investigates – YAS Through the Years, Where Are They Now?

In this issue of YRC Investigates, we trace back fellow young authors who have once participated and graduated from the Young Author Scheme and find out what they are currently up to! We speak to four of our previous young authors, Amol Desai, Caryl Lim, Ng Hao Qin and Roy Koh to find out what possible stories they have up their sleeves or which author they are into these days! Join them as they share their aspirations and how writing has inspired them in their path since the YAS!
NOTE: This article has been abridged for online publishing. To get the full article, pick up a copy of YRC 33 today!

What are you currently pursuing (Education/Work) and why did you choose this path? 
I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management, with a major in Finance – Investment Banking at the Singapore Management University. It’s a giant leap from my childhood aspirations of becoming an author definitely but the more I think about it, I see a lot of similarities between the two. In Junior College, I opted for the Science stream simply because it gave me more options to choose from in university. And when I had to choose a degree in SMU, I chose the one that gave me the most freedom and options again. I think that has been the main theme of how I ended up studying Business: freedom. My inclination to write stemmed from the freedom writing lends you: you can be anything you choose to be, you can write about anything that pleases you and no one can force you to do something you do not want to do. That being said, it took me a while before I discovered my passion for Finance, for the challenges it presents and the rest is history.

How has the YAS made a difference in your life? 
First and foremost, it was a great experience. It went beyond what you would ever learn at the primary level about creative writing. In terms of writing better, I learnt to develop storylines, cover plot holes, create mysteries among others. But one of my biggest takeaways was learning to think in an analytical manner. When you write a story, you realize you need to guide your reader along a journey and your writing must be able to engage people. That requires logical reasoning and to build that into your writing, you need to be able dissect your own story through techniques like “5W1H” or “5-Whys”. In fact, getting this experience at that early age really helped develop analytical skills, which I feel are extremely crucial for any child growing up.
Secondly, being in the YAS introduced me to many like-minded peers, some of whom I’m still in contact with today. As a child, when you have hobbies or interests that not many people share, you often tend to neglect them because you have no one to share them with. And for me, YAS was the avenue through which I could mingle with children my age who were just as interested in writing. That’s also a very big reason of why I think it made a big difference in my life.

How has your writing inspiration changed over the years? 
Undoubtedly, as with any other 90s kid, Harry Potter & JK Rowling basically governed my formative years. I was one of those children who begged their parents to queue up/pre-order to get my hands on the book the day it launched and finish it before dinnertime. Of course, Enid Blyton was one of my earliest inspirations, alongside Roald Dahl & Anthony Horowitz.
Growing up, my tastes have not changed too much in fact. I’m still just as enticed by a good mystery or thriller as I was back then. Some of my favorites include Henning Mankell, Agatha Christie, Harlen Coben, Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham. Thrillers aside, I’ve grown to enjoy novelists like Haruki Murakami, Natsuo Kirino and Khaled Hosseini.

What are you currently pursuing (Education/Work) and why did you choose this path? 
It was quite a struggle deciding what I wanted to pursue. There are so many options out there, each with their own perks and downsides. From my first few months of work, what hit me most is how everyone says ‘enjoy school life while you can’. It is exciting working, you feel more responsible for your decisions, you think more critically, and you make choices that create a difference. But school is really where you can explore since it is after all a controlled environment.
I never planned to go into my current industry, but I am learning every day and I enjoy that. I am doing conference production – analysing market trends to see what are the challenges industries are facing and bridging the gaps through knowledge sharing from conferences. As to why I chose this path, I like to be constantly learning which I do from every project in which I have to learn an entire new market. I also enjoy listening to different perspectives because it challenges my own opinions and constantly shapes my take on issues.

How has the YAS made a difference in your life? 
It was definitely an experience that not many people can say they have, a published book is once in a lifetime! The YAS product was a short story, yet the process of producing it really requires much thought, and I remember even having to draw illustrations for the book. It makes me respect authors, who not only must have the flair for language, but the knowledge in the subject, the imagination and the perseverance. It might not seem evident but I feel like all authors have a firm outlook and it is reflected through every word they pen. The genre they choose, the way they depict their characters is all a form of self-expression.

How has your writing inspiration changed over the years? 
When I was younger, books inspired my writing. I would read powerful books with sentences that were crafted very elegantly and wish I could write that way. Then towards the later part of my school life when social media was in trend, writings on these platforms became something I wanted to emulate. It could be personal blogs from friends, or articles from facebook for instance. Now, people inspire my writing. Talking to different people, understanding the reasons behind why they feel strongly towards certain things make me ponder a lot. That alters my own interpretation and stance on matters so I think when I write now I try to consider things from all these angles.

What are you currently pursuing (Education/Work) and why did you choose this path? 
I am a Year 2 student in NUS who’s currently majoring in Psychology. Many people tend to think that psychologists are just passively sitting back on their chair, doodling on their notebook while their clients ramble on about their sad stories. But this is far from the truth. Apart from being a therapist, we could get into jobs involving neuroscience, whereby we explore how the fleshy mass in our heads can coordinate and control our actions. Or we could be hired to examine how stock markets bubble and crash. I like what I am studying now. It makes me understand people around me as I get a better understanding of the motivations and influences behind their actions. We don’t read minds though!

How has the YAS made a difference in your life? 
I joined YAS when I was in Primary Five. I was instructed to write a short story during the year-end school holidays and I was quite worried. As a primary five student, I was intimidated by the word count which was around 1500 words and wondered why I ended up signing up in the first place. However, as I started penning down my first chapter, these thoughts disappeared and I found myself enjoying the process of creating my own narrative as well as making imaginary characters come to life.
I had a chance to publish my story in a book and one day I found myself outside my school canteen signing ‘autographs’ for peers who wanted a copy of the book. Much to my delight, I was also paid royalties. It was truly an exciting experience for me. I felt like a real author.
The journey did not end there. After a few years, I was contacted by YAS that my story would be utilized as a reference for a TV show on OKTO, which really took me by surprise.
I was interviewed and given a chance to appear on newspaper. The YAS gave me opportunities which I had never dreamt of and enabled me to discover my own strengths.

What are you currently pursuing (Education/Work) and why did you choose this path?
I am currently serving my term in National Service. Upon completion, I plan to pursue a Degree in Linguistics at NTU. I feel that I have the potential to excel in this field given my interest. I also feel that it’s more meaningful compared to my other passion, which is working on cars. In fact, I’m hoping to become an English teacher or a speech therapist in future.

How has the YAS made a difference in your life?
It has undoubtedly sharpened my writing skills, expanded my vocabulary and literally brought me places I’ve never been. It has been a great experience, quasi-stardom and all! I’ve enjoyed every bit of it. After all, it’s not just anyone who can say that he or she is a published author.

How has your writing inspiration changed over the years? 
I prefer to write about my thoughts and reflections these days. As I mentioned, more down to earth feel, a more realistic touch. I believe I’ve seen quite a fair bit in my 22 years on this planet, and most of my experiences would make for quite a riveting tale.

Monday,9 November 2015 by | Blog, Catherine Khoo, YRC Investigates |