Congrats to all of the recent nominees and winners of the 2015 Popular-Star Readers’ Choice Awards, Cheeming Boey for nonfiction for his book When I was a Kid 3, and especially to Tunku Halim for his winning book Horror Stories! He had been nominated several times and this year he finally won. The award makes it a hat trick for “The Merdeka Miracle!”
Back in 2009 Tunku Halim, Lydia Teh (who had already won the Reader’s Choice Award in 2008 for her bestselling Honk if You’re a Malaysian) and I were asked by our publisher MPH and the editor for Going Places to write a joint short story about 2020 for their Merdeka, August issue.
They gave us less than one month to write it! At the time I had never met Tunku Halim or Lydia Teh, though I finally got to meet Lydia at the 2010 Bookfest where our books were again nominated, though neither of us won.)
At the time of our unusual request, I was in Kuching (on the island of Borneo), Lydia in Kuala Lumpur, and Tunku Halim on vacation with his family, traveling between Paris and London. I quickly got an idea and the opening of the story; then we would rotate among us until we completed a draft. We continued to do so, draft after draft, frantically sending emails back and forth until we were relatively satisfied and out of time!
That same month when “The Merdeka Miracle” appeared in the August issue of Going Places, I won the 2009 Reader’s Choice Award for Lovers and Strangers Revisited for fiction.
On my MAS flight to KL for the award ceremony, not knowing I had won, I picked up some copies of "The Merdeka Miracle". I picked up some more on the return flight later that day while carrying my award home. I’m sure I was beaming with pride, itching to tell the other passengers, “Hey, open up Going Places to page…” If only a stewardess would announce it over the PA system, “Ladies and Gentlemen on board we are privileged to have one of the authors of ‘The Mereka Miracle’ featured in our current issue of Going Places. Please open to page…”
Of course I was too shy to mention it to anyone, except maybe the little girl across the aisle who kept staring at me, perhaps wondering, why the color of my skin was different from the other passengers or why my nose was so...
Again, congrats to Tunku Halim for winning and for completing our version of a hat trick! Lydia and I couldn’t have written “The Merdeka Miracle” without you! Here’s a toast to more awards in our writing future!
—Borneo Expat Writer