Skip to content

THE NIGHT TIGER: A Starred Review from Kirkus!

I woke up to a wonderful surprise the other morning.

Mornings are often rushed, anxious affairs in our house, with one kid waking up late after having sworn the night before (while assembling Boba Fett armor out of cardboard and hot glue) that he had absolutely, positively, finished all his homework (not), and another child remarking plaintively that today was the PTA breakfast and where are the muffins for my class? All with chickens to be fed, lunches packed, and unwashed PE uniforms discovered in backpacks.

But the other morning was the best morning I’ve had, perhaps all year. It began with an email from my publisher, deftly and wonderfully titled: “Starred Kirkus review!!”

Oh!!

I gave a loud squeak of disbelief and joy. Then I read the email title again to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. No, I could still hear the faint shouts of children arguing in the distance.

Getting reviewed by Kirkus is a big deal. One of the biggest independent professional book reviewers, Kirkus also has a reputation for being tough. And a starred review! Awarded to Books of Exceptional Merit, apparently only 10% of books they review earn this. Never in my dreams… well, ok, the dreams in which I also fly and have the ability to teleport to sushi restaurants in Japan. I had to sit down, I was feeling so verklempt. Had I eaten all the chocolate in the house?

Writing is a solitary profession. “How do you come up with such… strange ideas?” I’ve often been asked. The answer is clearly spending too much time in one’s own head, or wandering around mumbling to oneself about tigers and what to serve at 1930s curry tiffins.

So it is with deep, deep gratitude that I’d love to share this review with you. Thank you Kirkus!! And thank you to all for coming on this journey towards pub date (Feb 2019!) with me.

Here’s a link to the review

THE NIGHT TIGER – a chocolate-fueled update!

IMG-1100.JPGIt’s been a long time coming, but my second book is finally done and we have an official announcement! Hooray!!

For those kind and long-suffering readers and friends who’ve been on this journey with me, you’ll know that a few years ago I started saying things like “Oh ya, this book is almost done!” and stopping for mini-chocolate breaks. I was feeling optimistic because the plot included some of my favorite subjects: ghost stories, dead twins, Chinese dancehalls from the 1930s. And tigers. Lots and lots of tigers.

Many absorbing hours were spent in the National Archives of Singapore reading old newspapers on microfiche and trying to figure what the bounty was on man-eating tigers, and what kind of parties people were going to. In the meantime, my book got longer and longer and I started to feel very worried…

Apparently 100K words is a pretty good length for a novel. I’d hit 200K and was starting to panic. How was I going to shoehorn in all those plot twists? It was only thanks to the intervention of my wonderful agent Jenny Bent that this novel was wrestled into submission form. It was hard to leave many subplots and minor ghostly tales on the cutting room floor, but I think the end result is much, much better.

THE NIGHT TIGER sold at auction between 6 publishers to Flatiron Books (US/World) and as a pre-empt to Quercus (UK). It actually sold last summer, but the announcement was delayed until all the edits were in. I’ve been beyond thrilled to be working with my amazing editors – Amy Einhorn and Caroline Bleeke at Flatiron, and Cassie Browne at Quercus.

So, what’s this book about? I wrote a brief author’s note for my publisher’s advance reader copies, and would love to share it with you:

As a child in Malaysia, I was fascinated by the black and white colonial bungalows left behind by the British, many of which lie now in ruins. With their high ceilings and gracious windows, they spoke of a life that has vanished—a sort of Downton Abbey of the tropics with its shadowed interplay between servants and masters.

THE NIGHT TIGER came out of the secrets I imagined hidden in those houses together with many of my favorite obsessions: Chinese dancehall girls; twins; men who turn into tigers; a train that takes you to the world of the dead. And of course, a good mystery!

It took me four years to write this book because I’m a slow writer, but I loved being immersed in 1930s Malaya, a time and place that echoed with quick feet in the airy tiled hallways of hospitals, and the clink of glasses at dinner parties (I enjoyed researching the food a little too much). Where a houseboy could literally be a child of eleven, and belief in ghosts and lucky numbers could determine a marriage—or a murder.

Thanks for coming with me on this long journey. I’ll have more updates coming up soon! xoxo  🙂

 

Late Night Coping Mechanisms

There’s been a long silence on this blog, not because I haven’t been eating and reading books, but because I’m almost done writing my second novel. I say this with some trepidation because to be honest, I’ve been claiming I’m “almost done” for a while. And all the time, my book keeps getting longer and longer and longer. Read more

How to Poach Eggs in Their Shells

A few days ago, we had some friends over for brunch and I decided to serve poached eggs on rice. “Is this going to be raw?” they asked in surprise, as I blithely started to crack eggs over the cooked rice in their bowls. Read more

My Ill-Fated Elephant Detective Novel

Everyone has a mistake or two hidden in their closet. Mine just happens to be elephant-sized.

A number of people have very kindly (and probably untruthfully) expressed an interest in seeing my ill-fated elephant detective novel. This was the first book that I attempted to write, and it was a disaster. Read more

Play With Your Food

When I was a little girl, my sister and I loved to play with our food. We had to do this surreptitiously because my mum frowned upon anything that looked like wasting food or making a mess, but one of our favourite games, which could be played under the radar by two quiet little girls, was “The Giant’s Dinner”. Read more

What to Eat If Your Book is Nominated for an Award?

I was very surprised and excited to hear that my book, The Ghost Bride, has been nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Debut and Best Fantasy. Read more

Instant Ramen Deluxe – the Lobster Edition

When I was a university student, I once organized a kung fu/ramen party.  This consisted of renting martial arts movies and providing a wide variety of instant noodles to eat along with the action. “What kind of party is this?” said my then boyfriend (now husband). Read more

So What Do Authors Wear, Anyway?

I’m heading off to NYC today for Page Turner, the Asian American Writers Workshop Festival, and one of the things that has stumped me as a newbie author is “what do people wear to these things?” Read more

Terrible or Great? Hand-painted Chinese Movie Billboards

Recently, I wrote a guest post for She Reads about how, when I was a little girl, my grandmother lived in a small town in Malaysia opposite a cinema which showed scary Chinese movies. We children were not allowed to go and watch them, although from the front window we could see people lining up to buy tickets. Read more