Here I am smiling after lunch just prior to my workshop "Using Critical Thinking Skills to Create Ideas and to Create Stories" at the 19th MELTA International Conference 2010 at Four Points Sheraton, Kuching, 17-18 June. The theme was “Transformations in English Language Education: Vision, Innovation, Implementation". The good thing about conferences, it gets me out of the house, I get to meet some new people, exchange some ideas, network a little, attend some talks, have some fun at other people’s workshops (I was in drama skit playing the part of a Chinese father who’s upset with his daughter).
It’s always interesting for me as a writer when I meet someone I’ve never met before but who has read one of my books or some of my articles in magazines (“Prove Them Wrong” in Quill, and “Merdeka Miracle” in Going Places that I wrote with Lydia Teh and Tunku Halim, were both mentioned), so they sort of know me. Others were vaguely familiar, having attended a previous workshop of mine or bought an autographed copy of one of my books from me. Some I recognized right away, having taught them at USM in Penang when they took a break from teaching in Sarawak to pursue their English Language and Literature Studies degree.
The turnout for the workshop was good, more than 50 people. They had me in the main ballroom, Rainforest Two, where there’s this huge stage and a row of sofa chairs for the VIP’s for the opening ceremonies, totally unsuitable for a workshop. But Agnes, a student at Batu Lintang Teachers Training College, who was nervous and excited assisting me since this was her first international conference and here I am her first American, helped me with rearranging the table and flip chart to eliminate the distance between the participants and me. It worked out fine. Glad I arrived early to sort this out. Now I was free to interact with the participants and not feel so cut off from them.
By the end of the workshop, as you can see, I felt pretty drained, but still happy to sign autographs. In all, after two days, I sold 25 books, 17 Lovers and Strangers Revisited and 8 Tropical Affairs.
*Thanks to Santhi for the photos and being my Chinese wife in the drama skit!
**Announcement latest workshop: Writing Your Life Stories Workshop—Kuching! 28 April 2012 (with links to other workshops and writing tips!)
Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:
Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.
Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.
Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day.
Chuah Guat Eng, author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change.
Five part Maugham and Me series
Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I