21 July 2007

My First Book (2)

Wee Kiat had earlier given me a copy of each the following children's books which he co-authored:


Hence I had a fairly good idea of the writing style required for our book. However this book would be slightly different from the earlier books because it would be the first to have photos as illustrations besides stamps. I browsed through the photos which I took during my family's trip to Shanghai, Jiangnan, Wuxi and Suzhou in Nov 2004. A few of the photos were suitable for our book. I also knew what stamps were available for our story. With that knowledge, I proceeded to write the first draft of the book.

I wrote down whatever ideas that came into my mind and tried to weave them into a story. I even made a joke of some prominent person's name. (For obvious reason, I am not repeating the joke here.) Working at a leisurely pace, I put in a few hours a day for several days. At last, the first draft was finished. The first page of the draft is shown below.


As you can see, the original intended title of the book, "Of Men, Horses And A Lot Of Bull - A Moving Philatelic Ramble" is no less a tongue-twister than the current title is very different from the title which we finally adopted. Actually the whole book looks very different from the first draft. You cannot find any trace of the above page in the book, except the photo. (I have Wee Kiat to thank for making the book so different so vastly improved over my first draft.)

While writing the book, we realised that we needed some more photos. Armed with my camera and looking very much like an excited tourist, I visited a popular food centre to take a photo of the rickshaw noodles stall there.


I also took some photos of the sculptures near the Singapore River.


I snapped at interesting bicycles, tricycles and trishaws which came within the range of my camera lens.




However, the most interesting photo trips were made together with Wee Kiat. In January this year, we visited Little India during the Pongal Festival to capture images of a cow all decked out for the celebration.


On another occasion, we visited Kreta Ayer and the Jinriksha Station.


The three co-authors had several meetings, mostly on Saturday afternoons at Wee Kiat's condo in the east. At the meetings, we did alot of eating, drinking, chatting and serious discussion. Several emails were also exchanged. Each new draft looked better than the previous one. Some 9 drafts and 6 months later, our book was finally ready for printing and it was time to look for a sponsor and a printer. Noel and I practically left this task entirely to Wee Kiat as it involved quite a lot of running around and he needed the exercise. As we expected, Wee Kiat eventually managed find a sponsor and a printer for our book. And as they say, the rest is history.

And yes as I discovered, writing the book is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun.

More about the book:

The book uses stamps and photos to describe the early modes of transport in Singapore. It narrates how goods were transported in the olden days and tells the story of the rickshaw, the bullock cart, the horse-drawn carriage, the bicycle and the trishaw. Although the book is intended for young readers, adults can read it too. (However, adults can probably finish reading the book at "one toilet sitting".) The co-authors are not expecting the same level of public euphoria for the launch of our book as that experienced for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows which was launched today. After all, only 2,000 copies of our book were printed. If you would like to grab a copy, the book is available at the Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) at Coleman Street. As we have left the pricing of the book to the SPM, we apologise that as of now, we do not know how much the book cost.

Update on 23 Jul 2007:

Shilpa has demanded requested that I show her the rickshaw noodle instead of just the stall that sells it (see 3rd comment to this post). The challenge is taken. Here is a photo of the rickshaw noodle from that stall:


And the ingredients that go into the dish? Those that I know of are bo cai (波菜) or spinach, dried shrimps, shallots, corn flour and of course, yellow noodles. Now I am throwing her a counter-challenge - create the dish and let me taste its authenticity. :)

22 comments:

stay-at-home mum said...

What a wonderful and enriching experience. The only books I have written were when I was still working, and it was all business books with lots of technical details - like Doing business in Singapore. Nothing fun like what u did. And it was for the company - so I did not get to see any returns from it. Boo hoo!
So, got complimentary copies for good friends or not? (Just joking, hor?)

Victor said...

SAHM - Ah, so you are an author as well. As for complimentary copies, I still have some spare copies to give away. Must see who are my good friends lor (also joking only, hor) and who asks first. :)

If you can trust me (unlike most people), then send your address to koo[dot]victor[at]gmail[dot]com. If it is convenient, I will hand-deliver the book to you.

Autograph is free but, like the book, it is also not worth any money. Remember to let me know the proper term of address if you would like an autographed copy. Right now, I only know that I must never use the address "Auntie". :P

If I can't deliver then I will just make use of our reliable Singpost service lor.

Shilpa said...

Victor, what's the meaning man? Who cares about the rickshaw noodle stall? We want to see the noodles! :) or at least what goes into it, to see whether i can replicate it here! :-P

Victor said...

Shilpa, I have taken up your challenge. Please see updated post. There is a counter-challenge for you too. :)

Shilpa said...

Gulp. I shouldn't have been so garang. Errr, corn flour? How does that factor into the whole thing? I often use it as a thickener, but this soup looks watery leh...

these noodles look so bland, not sure whether i'll enjoy them if i do replicate them, haha...

Victor said...

Haha okay, maybe no corn flour. Sorry that I really don't know what secret ingredients go into this dish - the stall owner, Mdm Soh (苏女士), wouldn't tell. But the noodle is more tasty than it looks. Maybe got Aji-no-moto (味精) or mono-sodium glutamate too.

Lam Chun See said...

Congratulations again. I suppose your book does not have so many cancelled out words and phrases.

Victor said...

Thanks, Chun See. You are right, our book does not have any strikeouts at all. But that's only because the 3 of us helped to proofread it.

etel said...

OK! I got something to say to GD and Shilpa:

I know how to make the noodle!

muahahaahaha..

okay.. my grandma used to sell noodles to these trishaw uncles (should have asked me to co-co-author also, add a recipe on the noodles also can ma... =x) heh heh heh...

anyways, back to the noodles, there isn't any corn flour used in this recipe, as the starch in the noodles will naturally thicken the soup. The vege used are usually normal xiao bai cai or can xim (GD pls translate coz i dunno what they are in english hee..).. dried shrimps were fried to golden brown for crispiness, shallots for the fragrant... and tada! Its a real simple dish actually and i am so sick of eating it... :p

how much does this bowl of noodles cost? Shilpa, if you do it, adding maggi chilli sauce will definitely increase the aroma/taste of the dish, i swear! :)

If anyone needs the recipe, let me know. i will get it from my mum hehe...

etel said...

sorry, should be CAI xim instead of can xim, and shallots for the fragrance..

sorry la.. middle of the night cannot think well :p

tigerfish said...

Hhahaha...was the yellow noodles cut to finger lengths? They look un-ordinarily short! Just like those laksa noodles from Katong. Maybe the rickshaw noodles supposed to be like that?-so that you can just eat with spoon?

I will wait for Shilpa to make these too :D

stay-at-home mum said...

Hi Victor,
Heh, not actually an "author" la - just a writer for technical stuff. Thanks for the offer of the book, but somehow I dont feel comfortable about giving my address (no offence to you - it's not you, the problem is me!!). it may be better if I collect it or something. U work somewhere in town?

Victor said...

Etel GNE - Thanks for the recipe. Now all you have to do is to cook it for us. :P *drool*

Aiyah, cai xin and xiao bai cai are very common vegetables lah. Any cook worth his/her salt should know. For those who really don't know, they can refer to these links:

Cai xin

Photo of xiao bai cai

BTW, the scientific name for cai xin is cruciferae. Its common name is Chinese Flowering Cabbage or simply cai xin.

Victor said...

Tigerfish - That bowl of noodles was almost the last bowl which the lady sold me. I think all the scooping action from the big pot had broken up the very soggy noodles into the tiny bits which you see in the photo. Not purposely done.

Victor said...

SAHM - I work in Science Park just behind Haw Par Villa. However I do lunch in town sometimes, including at the famous food centre where the rickshaw noodle stall in the photo is located. (BTW, that's the Maxwell Road Food Centre and the stall is facing the Fairfield Methodist Church.)

Hmm... talking about that, I still owe that noodle lady (Mdm Soh) a complimentary copy of the book. How about we meet at her stall for lunch one of these weekdays? You can email me to arrange. My email address is as written above.

Victor said...

Shilpa - That's another challenge for you. My GNE Etel has given you the recipe (comment above). No more excuses hor.

FireHorse said...

Wow dinno my German sausage seller is a book writer. I am truly envious now, have always wanted to write a book. I actually have drafts and drafts of children stories that I wrote and keep them in my computer, hehe. May I buy a signed copy from you when your book is done?

Victor said...

Firehorse - The book is already out. No need to buy lah. I have an autographed copy reserved for you. It is only waiting for your collection on your next stopover in Singapore. So quickly come.

FireHorse said...

How to pick up? Can come out while on transit wan ah? Dis kopi soh dunno much abt airports wan ler.

Victor said...

Cannot pick up on transit lah. How can? Walau, if can like that, t****rist can pass b**bs, right? Haha.

Cool Insider said...

Nice to hear how you guys went about doing it, and you do write about it in your usual dry witty manner. I think writing in a creative manner can be quite cathartic for many of us. Do continue to keep up the good work and let us know when your newest heritage volume is out. ;)

Victor said...

Cool Insider - Haha, watch out for more of my "dry witty" humour in my next post.