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I’m very happy to announce that I will soon be having my very first book, albeit a very small book, published in the near future on Kindle as an Ebook and as a paperback through Amazon’s publishing arm Createspace.

It is a little unexpected, but nevertheless, I’m very excited at finally being published!

My daughter had fun in creating a collage of my draft cover (as pictured above). But it is not a story for little kids.

I won’t say too much about it, but it is something to do with the asylum seeker issue. I wrote it a couple years ago and it, more or less, sat under a pile of my draft Vietnam War novel’s manuscript as that had precedence during the Masters writing course, so to speak.

During my Masters, I had been working on the war novel inspired by my late Dad. He had a rich and complicated life as a persecuted journalist in war-torn Vietnam. For every subject, except one, I had written countless exercises which ended up as scenes and chapters in my draft novel.

That novel is still a far way off. When I started the course, I had thought that my novel was going to be my first book. But the way that things have worked out, it is not going to be. It will have to wait.

One subject where I didn’t work on my novel was Theory and Writing.

I had deliberately postponed the course towards the end of the Masters degree. This was on the wrong assumption that I had already studied critical theory and post-modernism during my BA in Communication at UTS back in the early 1990s. I had even studied even more of it during my law degree in the mid ‘90s (Law and Social Theory at UNSW). At UNSW, we studied Karl Marx, Max Weber and Michel Foucault. I never would’ve thought that I’d be studying those guys at Law School. The focus for each of those theorists was how power functioned and its relationship to the law.

Fast forward to August 2011 – by then, I had probably forgotten most critical theory as I had been steeped in the finer points of law given that I had been a lawyer since 1995. When I turned up to Theory and Writing, I thought I would just chill out and not put much effort in.

I was wrong. Actually, I am happy to say that I was naively wrong. I hadn’t worked so hard on a subject before. I read every theoretical essay, I had thoughts on every essay and spoke up in class on them; I read every short story and poem; I offered constructive feedback on everyone’s stories every week; I presented a seminar on White Noise by Don DeLillo; I wrote an essay about White Noise and I wrote a 5000 word short story…

We had Tony Macris as our weekly lecturer. Mark Rossister was my tutor. Both were fantastic and taught things that I had thought were familiar to me but they were both approaching it in different ways which made me really enthusiastic. We had multi-media presentations, a guest writer as a lecturer and we watched a bit of Youtube as well! Why, dare I say it – Theory and Writing was fun.

Mark had said to try writing something different. At the time, I was reading various stories to my then 5 year-old daughter.

I was watching her reacting to the end of a certain story – I will mention it once my book is published – and she was cracking up.

Bingo! I realised that I had a structure for a short story. I would re-invent the story in the context of the asylum seeker debate.  Although the debate was and is serious, I had thought the only way that the ideas underpinning the story would stand out was to use satire and allegory.

When I graduated from the Masters three months ago, we had Reverend Tim Costello (UNICEF Australia) give a speech to the graduates. He gave a wonderful speech and implored all of us to make use of our degrees in a positive way to society.

I had no idea at the time of my graduation that his words would propel my short story into publication. The day after my graduation, I went and saw a comedy festival at Chatswood. I couldn’t believe that people were turning up to a bunch of comedians of various backgrounds talking about racism. It really opened my eyes. I briefly met Tien Tran, a comedian of Vietnamese background and congratulated him on a great show.

After the show, I realised that if words are spoken and understood in a certain context, almost any taboo could be raised in a lighthearted way which would allow you to think through serious issues in a positive light. What it showed me was that the story that I had written two years ago, as an experiment, had a potential niche. But not on the traditional writing platform. I realised that I had to develop my own niche because comedic, narrative writing is not often published by anyone, let alone for emerging writers.

The internet is an amazing platform. For emerging writers like myself, it is the best vehicle to start a writing career. I have been mentored by my classmate, Kitty Bucholtz, who is a fantastic mentor and romance writer. She lives in the U.S  and she has inspired me to use the Kindle platform. I had initially thought that I would somehow get my story published in a magazine or journal. However, given the seriousness of the debate and how the way the story was unfolding, it was unlikely that it would get mainstream publication. Hence, I’m publishing it independently under my publishing entity, Flying Pig Media.

Many years ago, I produced and directed and wrote a short film for Tropfest. It never got a placing. That was understandable because it wasn’t very good in terms of editing and the script was a bit forced. However, that was a great journey just to put the thing together with a bunch of friends. Ironically, it was a romantic comedy. I never thought in 2004, when I made the short film, that I would be turning to comedy again to publish my first book. But making the film taught me almost anything could be done if you got the right people together.

I am working with an editor and illustrator and cover designer. I have been in touch with various writers from UTS and other friends in the publishing and the writing world who have provided me with lots of encouragement and feedback.

Watch this space…I hope to have the Ebook out later in August, followed by the paperback.

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