Malaysia's 'Stephen King' is scared of poodles


  • Books
  • Tuesday, 29 Oct 2019

It just happens that when I write fiction, it almost always goes in this gothic, paranormal, dark-thriller-type direction. If you asked me to write a romance, it would be something I just wouldn't be able to do,' says Tunku Halim. Photo: Filepic

He has conjured demons and dark fates in his creepy tales, but Malaysian horror writer Tunku Halim is scared of dogs.

"I'm not talking just about big dogs which might bite, but cute little poodles too," says the self-avowed cynophobe in an e-mail interview.

The 55-year-old, who has been described as "the Stephen King of Malaysia", will be at the Singapore Writers Festival to give talks and a workshop on Nov 2 and 3.

He will also launch Scream To The Shadows, a new collection of 20 short stories.

Part of the first wave of titles from Penguin Random House South-East Asia, the new Singapore-based arm of the global publishing giant, it has already spent eight weeks on The Straits Times fiction bestseller list in Singapore in recent months.

Halim, a member of the Negri Sembilan royal family, was a lawyer before he turned to writing.

He is engaged and has a son and daughter from a previous marriage.

He has published about 25 books, including the novels Dark Demon Rising (1997), which was nominated for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award; and Vermillion Eye (2000), which has been used as a study text in the National University of Singapore's language and literature course.

He never meant to write horror, he says.

"It just happens that when I write fiction, it almost always goes in this gothic, paranormal, dark-thriller-type direction. If you asked me to write a romance, it would be something I just wouldn't be able to do."

His brushes with the supernatural include the time he stayed at a hotel that used to be a jam factory in the 1800s.

"When I was sleeping, the lights in the room began to blink on and off all night long. Then, when morning came, the blinking stopped. I looked up TripAdvisor and found that others had experienced the same thing."

He gets his ideas from all over the place.

"Sometimes, a story title might come to me out of the blue, which then inspires me to create a tale out of it." - The Straits Times/Asia News Network


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