20-year-old Steel grabs top prize


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 02 Jul 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: First-time author Steven Steel clinched the top prize in the fiction category of the 10th Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards (RCA) for Someone’s In My Head, a science fiction novel about mind control.

“It’s incredibly overwhelming. I never expected that there would be a day when I would win something as big as this,” the 20-year-old university student said at the prize-giving ceremony yesterday at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC).

Someone’s In My Head is about Jared, a teenager who discovers an invading consciousness in his mind after a terrible car accident. The book is the first part of a trilogy, according to Steel (real name Tey Feng Nian; see Star2’s interview at tinyurl.com/Star2-Steel).

The RCA is held in conjunction with BookFest@Malaysia 2017. The book fair began on June 24 at the KLCC and ends today. Both events are organised by the Popular Book Co (M) Sdn Bhd.

Tunku Halim Tunku Abdullah’s Horror Stories 2 and Vicky Chong, Alexandria Goh and Sona Ghose’s The Kid From The Big Apple bagged the second and third prizes respectively in the fiction category.

“Malaysians love horror stories and dark tales and I think that is why my book resonated strongly with the readers,” said Tunku Halim.

This is Tunku Halim’s third consecutive RCA win. His collection of spooky tales, Horror Stories, bagged the top prize in the fiction category in 2015 while A Malaysian Restaurant In London earned him second prize last year.

Viola Ho reigned supreme in the non-fiction category with her biography, How I Became A Physicist. The book is about how Ho became an experimental physicist after receiving a scholarship from prestigious Oxford University.

“Although the book is about physics and how she became a physicist, Viola doesn’t make it sound so mind blowing.

“She made it very relatable,” said Lilian Ng, a representative from the book’s publishers, MPH Group Publishing. Ho was not present at the award ceremony.

Second place in the non-fiction category went to Tales Of Mothers edited by husband-and-wife team Raudah Yunus and Md Mahmudul Hasan.

The third place winner was Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali for her long-awaited biography, My Name Is Hasmah. Dr Siti Hasmah was not present at the event.

The winners were chosen via a month-long voting campaign which ran in Star2. Readers picked their top three choices in both the categories.

The 20 nominees were selected from last year’s bestselling fiction and nonfiction titles at Popular and Harris bookstores nationwide. (Harris bookstores are a part of the Popular chain.)

Both Steel and Ho received RM3,000, a trophy, and a commemorative plaque each while the second and third-place winners in both categories received RM1,500 and RM1,000 respectively.

Winners of the Popular-Berita Harian Anugerah Pilihan Pembaca 2017 for the top local Malay fiction and non-fiction books were also announced during the ceremony.

In line with the RCA’s objective to reward and encourage local writing and to inculcate a love for reading, its “Read To Vote, Vote To Win” component rewarded 100 readers whose votes matched the final results; each winner received a RM50 Popular book voucher and a free-for-one-year Popular card membership.

Present at the award ceremony were Star Media Group chief ope­rating officer (content development) June H.L. Wong, Berita Harian deputy group editor Datuk Badrulhisham Othman, Popular Holdings Ltd chairman Desmond Wee, and Malaysia’s 13th national laureate Datuk Dr Zurinah Hassan .

Today is the last day of BookFest@Malaysia 2017, which is from 10am to 10pm atKLCC. Admission is with purchase of the BookFest catalogue at RM2.50, available at Popular bookstore outlets and the event’s entrance. Entrance is free for students aged 18 and below and senior citizens aged 60 and above. For more information, visit facebook.com/BookFestMalaysia. Star Media Group is a media partner of BookFest@Malaysia 2017.

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