Popular Bookstore held its March school holiday book fair at the Singapore Expo over the weekend. I was invited to participate, which is a great honour because my book and publishing company Ottonium are less than a year old!
I went for two days of the 3-day exhibition. Reaching out to the regular Popular customers is a great experience for myself. Kids as usual are amongst the most enthusiastic and open to new ideas, but so are the parents! Once the announcement about my book is made, my team got ready to field questions from families flocking to our location! Everytime I spoke to a parent, my heart went "wow!" at his/her dedication towards the child/children's education, happiness and improvement.
Being at the fair also brought unexpected insight and delight . . . from Mr Midnight!
I was buying myself a frappucino after the first day, when this cool Ang Moh guy standing next to me asked, "how was your day?" Looking at his exhibitor's tag, I figured he was an exhibitor but didn't know what was he exhibiting. It was only after we chatted a bit that I realised he was from Flame of The Forest, a successful local publisher with household titles such as "Singapore Ghost Stories" and "Mr Midnight". These books not only sold incredibly well, but changed the local publishing landscape. "It was hard at first - some bookstores would not even stock our books!" he shared, "but after a few years of persistence, things took off in a big way."
I was so bowled over by his generous sharing that I did not even ask his name. Later, when my mind cleared, I realised I must be talking to Alex Chacko - founder of Flame of the Forest!
Another great occasion was meeting Gary Goh. I'd mentioned his comic books in this blog previously, but never got to meet him. Well, that weekend we joined forces! He invited me to his location, and as I started drawing to entertain the kids, he walked up and down the exhibition hall with his trusty loud speaker.
While I was at the exhibition for only a few hours, Gary was there throughout. He talked and talked and talked, and we even went to make general broadcasts together - he in Mandarin, I in English. His dedication and conviction inspired me! Now this is the guy who quit his teaching job before I did, and started his comic studio dream years before me, so in some ways I'm walking in his footsteps!
On the last hour before I wrapped up my time at the Expo, a boy called Marcus came by. He is very independent, and has been well-trained by his parents to handle situations by himself. So he started making suggestions - "why don't you draw this?" - and even helped in my drawing. Moved by his can-do spirit, I drew him a cover of my book. Given that my book was entirely drawn in the computer, there were no hard copy of my own drawing on paper on Sir Fong's Adventures . . . until now. And Marcus owns it!
Two beautiful ladies are responsible for making this a great weekend for Sir Fong: Dorothea Lee, Operations Manager for this event and Amy Woo from my distributor Marketasia. They're the ones whose leadership made me one step towards the kind of publishers that Alex Chacko and Gary Goh are.
Again, to Singapore parents and Singapore kids. Thank you, thank you, thank you!