I started working with Nanny Eliana on her first novel in August 2011. My work mainly involved guidance and advice, often in the form of questions I would ask about characters, plot or choices Nanny had made.
I have been doing such freelance editing for several years after serving as managing editor of Monsoon Books (Singapore) in 2008. I have done similar work on many works of fiction during that time, and I would say that Nanny Eliana’s novel WRONG TURN, RIGHT PLACE is one of the more promising works I’ve been involved with.
Some of the virtues are immediately obvious: the writing is solid, with fully realised and believable characters, enticing settings (Singapore, different regions of Malaysia and the “tropical paradise” of Bali) along with an enticing, well-structured plot. But what I find most appealing about this novel, from a publishing standpoint, is that it presents a portrait of a time and place that we rarely if ever see in literature: the roiling social landscapes of Singapore and Malaysia of the early 90s. I have lived in this region for just over a decade now, and I learned many things about these two countries that were new and eye-opening for me.
In WRONG TURN, RIGHT PLACE, we are offered a compelling portrait of the burgeoning rock scene in Malaysia in that period, replete with all the excesses and ecstasies of the scene. We’re also treated to a convincing look at the hectic pace and petty politics of magazine publishing in Southeast Asia in that period as well as the glitzy world of Asian fashion photography with all its own strain of excesses. Also woven into the narrative is an interesting examination of the complex relationships between fathers and their children, especially the limits and problems in such relationships. Whether it be the relationship between the central character Salina and her widower father or the troubled Malay rock star Awi and his father, these stories help define and illuminate the central story.
It’s a story with depth, texture, plot twists and surprises. This a novel that any serious publisher should take a close look at. Today, when more and more readers of books are showing increased interest in other parts of the world, especially dynamic Asia, this is a work that many serious publishing houses should consider adding to its catalogue.
– Richard Lord, book editor and former commissioning editor for Monsoon Publishing Singapore