Being An Account of The Sad Demise of The Body Horror Book Club started life quite simply, as Drip. It was to be a realist work of fiction of quiet psychological horror and middle-class despair, featuring a book club, and elements of crime fiction. It was going to be my first Granta submission so I carefully worked on it. I was mildly inspired by Margaret Atwood’s short story writing style, which could be a bit chatty and gossipy. But I am not quite a realist author and I couldn’t stop the fantastic from creeping in, especially after it was finally rejected from Granta after being held for months. So in crept the creepy and the supernatural elements! It’s so far my only story set in Puchong and reflects my life living in a condominium.
And yes, I’ve heard some scary things in this apartment. And yes, I’m one of those people who bug security and management about things. But it’s easy to let things slide, isn’t it? It’s easy not to think about the sounds in the night. And in a land drenched with folk horror and superstition, who is to say what you’re hearing is human after all? I think this is why more than one of my stories waver between crime and horror — it’s the stuff in the papers and the magazines. It’s the sinew of our existences as Malaysian. Also, I finally dove into J.G. Ballard’s books last year and was chomping at the bit to say things about them. Delighted when I found a way to weave that into this story, and super-chuffed when it got accepted! I keep thinking people won’t buy my odd stories but they keep proving me wrong! Gosh!
Anyway! After I re-shaped this story, I submitted it to a couple of places. Then I sat down, and improved it some more. And lobbed it at The Dark shortly after When The Night Blooms, An Artist Transmutes: A Three-Act-Play came out. Two days after, as a matter of fact. Boy was I gobsmacked when it was accepted. But thrilled! And very happy it found a home at one of my favourite magazines. Also happy with the positive reception!
In case you’re wondering, no I’ve not set up a Book Club in this condominium complex, though I did fantasize about doing so, and about screening applicants. But not after this has been published. That’ll be tempting fate! 8)
On another amused note: I found out there’s actually a “Ranjini” on our home-owners’s board. I giggled a bit to myself when I heard. It may have been a nervous giggle.