Tunku has published two novels and five collections of short stories, the latest being 44 Cemetery Road and Gravedigger’s Kiss. His novel, Dark Demon Rising, was nominated for the 1999 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award while his second novel. Vermillion Eye, was a study text at The National University of Singapore.
A Little Bit about Tunku
Tunku lives in Australia but is a frequent visitor to his country of birth, Malaysia. He is a lawyer turned writer. He is interested in real estate design and development.
Recently his stories “Biggest Baddest Bomoh” and “Keramat” have respectively appeared in The Apex Book of World SF (Apex Publications) and Exotic Gothic 3 (Ash-Tree Press) whilst his essay on Margot Livesey’s Eva Moves the Furniture was published in Twenty-First-Century Gothic: Great Gothic Novels Since 2000 (The Scarecrow Press). His latest tale “In the Village of Setang” is soon to be published in Exotic Gothic 4 (PS Publishing).
He also writes non-fiction, including A Children’s History of Malaysia and History of Malaysia – A Children’s Encyclopedia.
You are my first international Paranormal Headliner! Can you tell us a bit about the places that you’ve lived and what you liked best about them?
Tunku: I was born in Malaysia but was sent off to a boarding school in England at 13. I’ve been living in Australia for almost 20 years, 10 in Sydney and 10 in Hobart, Tasmania. I love the gothic atmosphere in so many English towns and villages. The natural scenery in Australia, especially Tasmania, is stunning. The social scene in Malaysia is great. Good food and lots of friends and relatives who love discussing about ghosts and ghouls!
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Tunku: I used to be into Karate, but now I do Yoga. I recently have taken up oil painting and drawing.
What is it about writing that brings you back to the page for more?
Tunku: I suppose there’s a yearning to share something, to tell a tale, to explore an idea and to create something.
What were the key influences for your books?
Tunku: Being born in Malaysia, its myths and legends are very important. I also like to think that there’s a hidden world behind our day-to-day one, this is what’s drawn out in my writing. Of course, I love Stephen King too!
Are any of your characters based on people that you’ve known, or situations in your books things you’ve encountered in real life?
Tunku: Yes and yes. But I wouldn’t want to go into any details. Trade secret …
What is your writing process- do you plot/plan or do you write from the seat of your pants?
Tunku: I write organically. I start out with a scene, a character or an idea and I see where that takes me. Staring out with a well-formed plot would be too uninteresting for me and removes the pleasure of the unknown journey before me.
How much research do you do for each of your projects?
Tunku: Very little. Most of the research is in the head!
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Tunku: Getting started on a story.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Tunku: Write as much as possible. Don’t worry about the quality of what you’re written. Find out about the writer’s craft from books and courses. Writing is like playing the piano, the more you write the better you get at it.
What are you current working on?
Tunku: A short story for an anthology called “Exotic Gothic 5” (edited by Danel Olson).
Tunku’s Paranormal Perspectives
Do you identify more with the horror genre or the paranormal (or both)?
Tunku: I started off as a horror writer but gradually the desire to strike fear into the heart of the reader became less and less important. I certainly use elements of horror but without the blood and gore. I wrote what can be called a paranormal romance novella several years back called “Juriah’s Song” but it was well before the Twilight novels
became such a hit. I think I’m more comfortable with the phrase “Gothic fiction” or “dark fantasy”. It allows me to soar anywhere on these old bat wings.
How you feel about the boom of paranormal fiction recently?
Tunku: There’s too much of it and this will lead to its eventual demise. This is what happened to the horror boom in the 1980s. Good fiction will always stay with us though.
What scares you?
Tunku: Horror movies. Humanity’s stupidity.
What do you think draws people to this type of fiction?
Tunku: We all believe that if we find the perfect man/woman then we’ll finally be happy. I don’t believe anyone has found that perfect person. So many romances have been crushed. The paranormal romance novel implicitly recognizes this and so takes it to one extreme. The perfect partner has to “super human”, a vampire, a werewolf … but with a heart of gold.