Today I’m welcoming author Selina Siak Chin Yoke to Cosy Books to tell us about the inspiration behind her new novel, When The Future Comes Too Soon. Over to you Selina…
When the Future Comes Too Soon: my inspiration, why and how I needed to tell the story
I began writing out of desperation and a cherished dream. In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Chemo took place over four months, during which I had a medical routine. When chemo ended I thought I would be better, but I felt worse. The ground beneath me seemed to have collapsed. I found no equilibrium – until I started writing. It was a miracle: the act of putting words into sentences transformed me. I remembered a dream I’d had of writing a novel loosely based on my great grandmother’s life. With every page I wrote, my strength returned. Writing saved my life.
Mei Foong’s story is an important one to tell in my new novel. Most people know what happened in WWII in Europe, but what happened in Asia is often overlooked. If the story has been told at all, it has often been from a colonial perspective – involving the resistance, for instance, the so-called tiny band of Force 136, which actually had little impact on the vast majority of Malayans. For most Malayans, the stresses of war were immense. I wanted to show what it was like for a local family and to tell the story from the perspective of a woman who is like many women of the time – strong without knowing it.
In writing historical fiction, historical accuracy is vital to me. I cross-check facts and use a mix of sources: archives, libraries, the Internet, anecdotes from interviews and subject experts. I also reflect the world as it was in my stories. In my debut novel, The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, there are many children because families were large in those days. An early reader wrote in her review that I should have “kept to 5 children”. From a literary viewpoint that would have been easier! But it would have been unrealistic. I also made a decision not to dilute Asian names to make it easier for Western readers. We have to get used to Western names, and I don’t see why we should have to make our names simpler in literature.
When the Futures Comes too Soon by Selina Siak Chin Yoke is out now (Amazon Crossing)
In Japanese-occupied Malaya, lives are shattered and a woman discovers her inner strength in a world ravaged by war.
Following the death of their matriarch, the lives of Chye Hoon’s family turned upside down. Now that the British have fled and the Japanese have conquered, their once-benign world changes overnight.
Amid the turmoil, Chye Hoon’s daughter-in-law, Mei Foong, must fend for her family as her husband, Weng Yu, becomes increasingly embittered. Challenged in ways she never could have imagined and forced into hiding, Mei Foong finds a deep reservoir of resilience she did not know she had and soon draws the attentions of another man.
Is Mei Foong’s resolve enough to save herself, her marriage, and her family? Only when peace returns to Malaya will she learn the full price she must pay for survival.
About The Author
Of Malaysian-Chinese heritage, Selina Siak Chin Yoke (石清玉) grew up listening to family stories and ancient legends. She always knew that one day, she would write. After an eclectic life as a physicist, banker and trader in London, the heavens intervened. In 2009 Chin Yoke was diagnosed with cancer. While recovering, she decided not to delay her dream of writing any longer. Her first novel, The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (The Malayan Series, #1), was published on November 1, 2016 and made an immediate emotional connection with readers. It debuted as an Amazon best-seller in historical fiction, was named by Goodreads as one of the 6 best books of November 2016 and has been compared to the work of Pearl S. Buck and Amy Tan.
Her second novel, When the Future Comes Too Soon (The Malayan Series, #2), was published on July 18, 2017. Readers can expect the same brand of immersive historical fiction, but each book in the series can be read independently. Be prepared for surprises! When not creating new characters for the Malayan Series, Chin Yoke writes a blog at http://siakchinyoke.com/blog.