Did You have Imaginary Friends as a child? #FridayReads


Imaginary Friends by Melanie Lee SIngapore

Imaginary Friends: Melanie Lee

I met Singaporean author Melanie Lee at a writing workshop years ago, and we’ve been writing buddies ever since. She has recently published her first collection of short stories: ‘Imaginary Friends‘. I loved her book launch and you can see some of it here!

I’ve loved reading these voice-y tales which end with a snappy ‘moral’ — a somewhat snarky word of wisdom for all of us who fall in love, work, and interact in the modern society. For instance, her story Herman the Hopeless Hippo ends with the cautionary note: If you fall for a mama’s boy, you’ll need to have a lot of patience.‘ After cheering her on at her book launch last week, I got together with her for an interview. If you have more questions for Melanie, drop a line in the comments!
1. Tell us a bit about your fiction writing journey.

I remember writing a copious amount of fairytales at 6 years old about princes and princesses. But that habit faded away when I started going to school, and it was pummeled into me that I had to write more seriously and logically for English assignments. There was this fictional vacuum for many years till my mid ‘20s, when I attended a short creative writing course for fun while doing my Master’s degree in Melbourne. I actually don’t remember what I learned from that course, but
it was an important experience because it made me realise that there were all these possibilities to create wonderful new worlds and characters with words. From then on, I began to write short stories and poems for fun, but only really had more guts to show/submit them in recent years.

2. What gave you the idea for your book, ‘Imaginary Friends‘?

I decided that I wanted to take part in the Blogging from A-Z Challenge (this wonderful writing event was introduced to me by none other than Damyanti, whom I regard as a writing mentor even though she tells me I’m being ridiculous). Someone said something about how it was good to have a theme for this challenge so as to have more focus. I thought I’d revisit this idea of imaginary friends because I had quite a few of them when I was young!

3. What is the target audience for your book?

I wrote these stories with no target reader in mind. My publisher positions it as a “kidult” book –something young-at-heart adults might like. But then, some kids as young as 6 have been telling me they enjoy the stories in the book. I actually think it’s more of a “target personality” – the book is suitable for people who love to laugh, perhaps are slightly cynical and are not opposed to sleeping with stuffed toys.

4. Each of your stories has a ‘moral’, tell us a bit about that.

I thought it was a fun and snappy way to conclude each story. But looking back, I guess they are lessons I’ve learned from life thus far. However, they’re not meant to be taken too seriously. I like it when readers tell me they got different “lessons” from a particular story, because really, there are so many ways to look at this world.

5. Which is your favorite character in the book, and the favorite story?

My favorite character in the book is Olivia the Overachieving Octopus. In general, I’m partial towards efficient personalities because there’s a lot of flakiness in this world these days. I like Elly the Egotistical Eraser story the best because I used to have a whole “stationery family” (with names) in my pencil case and I always wondered about the conversations they had when I was not around.

Melanie Lee: Author of Imaginary Friends

Melanie Lee: Author of Imaginary Friends

6. Can we have a taster, a link to one of your stories?

Sure, I shared my Timmy the Tenacious Teabag story on T Ching (a tea website) which you can read here.

7. Where can we buy ‘Imaginary Friends’?

If you’d like to buy the print edition of Imaginary Friends, you can buy it from MPH Online (they do international deliveries). If you’re from Singapore or Malaysia, Imaginary Friends is available at MPH and Kinokuniyabookstores. You can find the ebook at Amazon and Kobo.

Bio: Melanie Lee is a freelance writer based in Singapore. She does a mix of editorial, corporate and creative writing.
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I’ll be giving away two copies of the Imaginary Friendsebook randomly to two commenters on this post in order to support my friend Melanie, who’s been a joy to talk to and write with, along the years. So please leave your comments, interact, chat with Melanie and each other!

As part of my pledge in my A to Z Reflections post, I’m again featuring Bloggers I Recommend Visiting. I also spoke of Supporting Indie authors, so in that spirit, I’ll put my money where my mouth is. 

This time, I’ll be buying and then gifting books by Indie authors to all my three Recommended Blog Friends. (I hope to do this gifting on the 3rd Friday of each month, and more, if my book budget allows it! )

Tina Downey: A cohost at the A to Z Challenge, fab blogger, very dear friend. I’m gifting her a copy of Imaginary Friends‘ by Melanie Lee. She is the sort of girl who would enjoy a humorous book, with fab illustrations and snappy morals!

Paul Ruddock A cherished blog-friend, and amazing supporter of this blog through the A to Z Challenge. I’m gifting him Beyond the Binding, an anthology of short fiction edited by Samantha Redstreake Geary and written by a lot of fellow bloggers. He likes short fiction and loves supporting others, so this charity anthology should be right up his street.

Mary Wallace: One of #TeamDamyanti , who has consistently inspired me with her great cheer in the face of incredible odds. I’m gifting her Doing Max Vinyl by Frederick Lee Brooke. She might enjoy an entertaining, humorous thriller with a lady lead.

To all three of you, thank you for your support and I hope you have tons of visitors on your blogs this coming year. I don’t expect you to do anything with the book other than enjoy it, and if you want to support Indie Authors, too, buy a copy for your friends or family!

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Did you have imaginary friends as a child? Would you like a copy of Imaginary Friends in your inbox? Do you know any  of the three Featured Bloggers? Heard of the three books? Want to buy them?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Z for Zebra crossings must’ve been designed by a psychopath


The A to Z Challenge is now coming to an end. Through the month of April I posted a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Today I bring you the last of the 26 stories, and I thank each and every one of you who’s commented on the 25 stories so far. I came to know some of you during the challenge, and some of my much loved readers are from before. I hope to visit your blogs often in the coming months. I’m not a demonstrative person, be it online life or offline, but I do hope to return the support you’ve given me in what has been a difficult month!
Writing prompt: Zebra crossings must’ve been designed by a psychopath

Provided by: Guilie Castillo Oriard friend, fellow writer,  and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge : Z is for Zebra crossings must've been designed by a psycopath

#atozchallenge : Z is for Zebra crossings must’ve been designed by a psychopath

          I dream in black and white, and that’s how I see life. What’s the point of color, anyway?

           Color’s like laughter, completely useless. Both make you look silly, is all. When you’re stabbing someone, all that red is a bit overly done, if you know what I mean. Black, now, black is soothing. It’s a color too, the only one I like, and wear, really.

           Black is the color of shadows, and I like shadows, love living in them, even on this hundred-year-old boat lit up like a Christmas tree on all days of the year. She’s a relic, she is, the Belle of Louisville. Long ways she’s come, from carrying braying mules and bleating lambs to ferrying touristy types from all over the world, who get sneetered with all this history and fork out a good sum to breathe the dank evening air from its decks.

            I arsle about on its decks in the evenings, wiping the glass windows here and there, looking for a likely one. Most evenings I draw empty. They mostly come in groups, the ones I like, the sweet-smiling curly blondes. Uncles, aunties, parents, friends— polecats all of them, setting off such a stink if their darling is missing for more than a few minutes.

            So I’ve got to wait for weeks, months, before I get the right one. Lonely, smiles right back when I smile at her. Traveling alone, finding herself. A divorcee, usually, or someone in her family just died, and she’s on a break, to get away from it all. I tell her I know how she feels, and her eyes widen. I don’t know, not really, not how any of this ‘feeling’ shit works, but I can fake it with the best of them. I’m not as much of a fool as the captain makes me out to be.

              In the end she gets to go away from it all, very far away indeed on the Missisipi, and I get to scratch my itch, know what I’m sayin’?

              I read up on folks like me, folks who don’t feel much, who don’t get stuff like ‘irony’, us folks who dream in black and white. I don’t see what’s wrong with me or black and white. I like zebra crossings, they call them crosswalks around these parts. Zebra crossings must’ve been designed by a psychopath, too. They say folks like me can’t be cured, but it’s good for us to talk it out, once they have us in the hospitals. I’m not going to no hospital, so here I am getting a crick in my neck, writing in this here, my notebook.

             Time for me to wrap up though, because I spot a blonde one boarding, right across. I just might get lucky tonight.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Been aboard the Belle of Louisville?

(An added Disclaimer: This is absolutely a figment of my imagination, and any resemblances of my character with anyone you know is purely coincidental!)

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: Y is for Yes is such an easy word to say when


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: Yes is such an easy word to say when

Provided by:  Csenge Virág Zalka, friend, fellow writer, storyteller, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge: Yes is such an easy word to say when

#atozchallenge: Yes is such an easy word to say when

        Yes is such an easy word to say when you’re tired.

         Tired of walking the whole day around the island, yes, but tired also of being told what to do, and what to stay away from.    

          Do not heed the siren calls they said, keep your eye on the road, do not eat or rest till we tell you to. You’re a babe in the woods, your sixteen years no match for the forest and its spells.   

           They never tired and strode on, hacking through the undergrowth, scaring away rabbits and snakes and other crawling things.  But he’d had enough of the empty stomach, of never sleeping longer than a few minutes on hard ground, of being terrified of shadows. It exhausted him.

         So, when she asked him to come rest next to her, he said yes.

          She looked shimmery in the twilight, her eyes swimming with unshed tears, as if it was him she’d been waiting for, for years, millennia. The air around them smelled of orchards, of over-ripe fruit, and the call of a lone nightjar cut through the distant murmur of the sea.

         He sat down and moved closer, into her arms. The arms closed around him, the stone of her body warmed in the sunlight, and turned to flesh. He smiled. No one would find him here. He could sleep.

In the morning they found him, a stone lover in a stone woman’s arms. Her cold unmoving eyes looked upon his closed eyelids, a veiled smile upon her white marble lips.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: W for With the heart of a lion


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: With the heart of a lion…

Provided by: Cheryl KP, friend, fellow writer, artist.

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#atozchallenge : W for with the heart of a lion

#atozchallenge : W for with the heart of a lion

      Kill with the heart of a lion, her Pa used to say, slicing the air with his hands, tend with the heart of a lamb.

          She liked the shape of those sun-browned hands, his thumbs bent out of shape, joined back all wrong after he broke them during a butchering accident. A long time ago, he said when she asked him, he was more careful now.

          His hands worked just fine. They birthed calves, made her her dressing table with its dainty drawers, whipped up breakfast for her and her brothers each morning after her Ma took to bed.

            He baked them cakes at Christmas and folded them inside the spicy-sweet tang of pumpkins when he sat carving the rounded shells on all hallows eve, teaching her curly-haired brothers how to handle knives. They lit candles together in the evening, and he brushed her hair into a ponytail when they hung too near the flames.

            She often put her hand on his, and laughed at how different they were. Those same crooked hands cut down the rope she found Ma hanging from in the barn one evening. She couldn’t stop screaming, and held on to those hooked thumbs as she sobbed to sleep that night.

 

When they came at sunset and started digging she screamed once again. She yelled and shrieked, as did her brothers, now hefty young men, but they came in big black cars, waving papers and guns, in white cars with flashing sirens. They stood around in groups against the fading light. They took him to his room upstairs and wouldn’t let her brothers in. She made them tea while they dug up the vegetable patch and orchards, set up lights in the yard. They took shovels to the stables and the barn. She watched from the kitchen window.

       They found sacks, and inside each sack, hair, bones, clothes, grinning teeth. They slapped each others’ backs, exchanged solemn handshakes. The Old Jackal, they called him, in hushed whispers. They’d found his den, his hiding place.

      They took him out in the dark, the flashing lights on those misshapen hands, handcuffed behind his back. She watched as they walked him out the gate, her brothers by his side. He did tend to us, her soft whisper broke in to the night air, but no one heard her.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: V for Vagrancy had always been his calling…


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

Writing prompt: Vagrancy had always been his calling…

Provided by: Mary Wallace, friend, fellow blogger, and one of the Magnificient Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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Vagrancy had always been his calling

#atozchallenge: Vagrancy had always been his calling

         He turned to look at me so I shoved him and said, well, go on, or you’ll never catch the bus.

  He used to go to library and brought books home, about big words like space and time and how to write well by hand and fancy painting stuff, bright melty things drawn by a madman, Picasso he said the painter was, a yellow-billed toucan postcard stuck in one of them, from Peru, look Grandpa! All useless watchammacallits I wanted put in the burning barrel, but didn’t cos I wanted no library fine. 

         He wanted to learn hoity toity words like Shakespeare, Wildlife, Investment. Vagrancy had always been his calling, he said at dinner one day, he felt like a loser. I later sneaked a look in the word-book his dead grandma given him to reckon what he said.

I could tell him what he needs to learn.

       Tell him he’s not a loser. He’s lucky, not like his Ma who died giving birth to him, or his Da whose car crashed into a truck ten years ago and all that sod’s done is drool ever since. That I might be an old hillibilly but I fed him since he was small, cute as a bug’s ear, and saved enough he could take a bus to city. He’s young and healthy, not like this old coot.

          That we’re all stories, city, town, country, no matter, and stories begin and end, all pretty much the same. The middle is different, but all said and done, the middle don’t mean diddley squat.

           No schoolhouse would teach him that. I could tell him, but young un’s they’re stout as mules. He’ll learn with years, way I did.

           I shoved him once more, and turned back as he walked to the bus stop.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Are you a parent? If you are, what did this story make you think about?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: U for Uncharted worlds


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph W. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

Writing prompt: Uncharted worlds

Provided by: Samantha  Redstreake Geary friend, fellow writer, and one of the Magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#AtoZchallenge : U for Uncharted worlds
#AtoZchallenge : U for Uncharted worlds

       First thing she noticed about him, he wore pale pink lipstick.

        They had to stand close, way too close, for the audition. She could feel his biceps under her hands, smell the coffee he’d just drunk on his breath, and the cologne on his shirt collar. The director urged them to stand closer, come on show some chemistry, did they want the role or not, he didn’t have the whole sainted day, all right?

       She had leaned in then, but today, in the flickering light of the fire, she tried not to look at where she’d left him on the grass. This was meant to be a reunion trip, camping together all by themselves in the middle of nowhere, only now she had a camp, a fire, and no family.

        She wanted to remember him from that first night, when he’d whisked her away from the dressing room, into his studio with its creaky bed, and the landlord had knocked on the floor, asking them to keep it down, and they’d kissed and giggled and kissed some more.

        She wanted to remember him reading bad poetry to Tara, who calmed down in her cradle, and listened to her father with big, droopy eyes. He talked of uncharted worlds, of adventures at sea, of frightened pirates, of stars, and haunted ships. When the book ended, he made up his own stories, and Tara chuckled. She wanted to remember Tara grinning, blowing raspberries, lisping words from her father’s poems, the words of which she barely understood.

        She’d been on movie shoots in different countries, not knowing that behind her back, he babysat by playing dress-up with Tara, put lipstick on her, everywhere. Her brain tried to imagine his hands on Tara, on her budding breasts, her throat, and her bulging eyes as he strangled her, till all she wanted to do was fling herself into the fire.

 

But enough about what she wanted.

          She hauled him, thank God he dieted and wasn’t too heavy to pull. It would smell, but bonfires often smelled like barbecues.

          She looked up, at the stars flickering from between the trees. Up there, somewhere, was her daughter, on a faraway, uncharted world. As his hair and clothes, then skin and flesh began to crackle and burn, she hoped Tara was watching. 

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? What do you look for in flash fiction? What sort of fiction satisfies you?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: T for The bridge connecting the old part of town


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

Writing prompt: The bridge connecting the old part of town

Provided by: Jai Tong, blog-friend and fellow writer.

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#atozchallenge : T for The bridge connecting the old part of town

#atozchallenge : T for The bridge connecting the old part of town

          A broken neck one night, nothing much, just a small boy fallen down the stairs. A man shot in the basement dressing room, by his girlfriend’s irate father. The girlfriend in question, she hung herself using sheets next morning, from the balcony. They opened just the same, that evening, having wiped the mess from the front door. And the men and women, they kept on coming.

           We heard stories each snow-covered morning, of the goings-on at night. Of the drunkenness and laughter, of soft arms about necks, of legs wrapped around thighs, of shrieks, the music and often, past midnight, the banshees of delight.

             We clucked our disapproval. We whispered curses at the fading Open Today sign at the pub. That damned opening day had come and gone, decades ago, in the old part of town. Somebody should set that place on fire, we told each other. Again.

              The bridge connecting the old part of town creaked under the weight of cars each evening. The music began, slow at first, then built up to a wail, as all the windows lit up one by one, like smokey amber eyes of the devil. The scent of meat cooking set all mouths, human and feral, to watering. The plunking of wires reached the stars, as did voices grown hoarse with drink and smoke.

 

Tonight as the air fills with their song, we’ll head down, all of us, together. We’ll gather our habits around us, the cowls to cover our bare heads against the chill. We’ll fight the good fight, we’ll carry the cross, and the sword. We’ll cut down, slash and burn. We’ll cleanse the inn as once we did, decades ago. No ballads, no more, only hymns. No killing, no love, no dancing, no women, no loving nor drunken laughter. Only prayer. Most importantly, nothing to drink but water.

But first we must turn it all to ashes, ashes to ashes and dust to dust. We’ll take a few lives, but what matter? We’ll make the old part of town clean again.

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Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt?