Friday, July 31, 2020

The Raffles Readers Trailer

Raffles Readers: A Century of Adventures

Ten years ago, I had an idea of doing a series of children's books about the famous Raffles Hotel that spanned a century. As most writers know, writing is a very solitary process and I wanted to get a group of writers together to develop this concept with me, but I did not know if I could find any writers who could come on board the project.

Around four years later, I had the opportunity to meet aspiring authors when I was a member of the Singapore chapter of the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) which, at the time, was headed by the lovely, talented and very funny Catherine Carvell, so I knew most of the members  were aspiring authors who were keen to have their work published.

So I broached the the subject with Emma Nicholson and Linda Fitzpatrick, during a meeting at, where else,  Raffles Hotel and we agreed we should proceed. Simon Wray and Claire Thamboo came onboard shortly after that. 

Emma Nicholson (The Spy in Room 25)

Emma and I had just signed with an agent who thought the idea was brilliant. She then pitched the proposal to a potential 'backer' and before we knew it we were in a boardroom, meeting with high-powered executives, discussing the various possibilities of marketing the book both locally and internationally. We hadn't even started writing the stories yet! A verbal agreement was reached by the end of  that meeting that we would commence work on the books and things would progress from there. 'That was fast and easy,' I said to myself. In hindsight, it really was too fast and easy. And way, way too good to be true.

Linda Fitzpatrick (Monster Mayhem)
We set each of our stories in a different time period, spanning the 1920s to the 2000s  and completed them by the set deadline.  But then, for the following 18 months, we were repeatedly stonewalled.  Our agent repeatedly assured us the project was on track. So when it feel apart, we were understandably disappointed, frustrated and very, very angry.  

Simon Wray (The Mystery of the Missing Silver)

We parted with our agent, put the stories aside, and focused on other projects. Then last year, after some encouragement from a friend, I decided to submit the manuscripts to Penguin Random House SEA for consideration. I didn't expect  anything to come of it. But after a few months, I received a reply offering us a publishing contract. There was one caveat. The stories would be published but as an anthology instead of a series of books.

Claire Thamboo (Ghost Bride)

We were thrilled! After six long years, we were finally going to be published. I asked the talented Mark Yong to come on board as our illustrator and now our book is scheduled to be released next month. Thank you, God, leading us on this roller-coaster of a journey which finally led us to Penguin, the best publisher for the project. We hope you like our book and its tales of 'monsters' missing silver, spies, 'ghosts' and Stamford Raffles.

Mark Yong the illustrator

Kobe & Me  (Stamford Raffles: Zombie Zapper)

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