A House in a Forest - the story


My new book with MessyMsxi called A House in a Forest will be out from the printers and available late December.

The world feels noisier and messier than ever before. There is an aggression and fear - a kind of stink. Then there is the sort of helpless noise we make - loud, cloying, sometimes violent. It’s a nightmare. Like the stink monster in Spirited Away, violent, smelly yet pitiful at the same time.

One morning I woke up from a different kind of nightmare, an unhappy dream. And in the moments before getting out of bed, I had an image of a house in a forest. 

Because it is in a forest, nature’s live-giving but sometimes destructive chaos surrounds it - and shapes it.  Some things change and some things remain the same. Some things are restored, some are forever lost - and some things begin anew. The literature students among you will recognise this pattern as a romance.

That very day, I finished a draft of a short story about a house in a forest during my lunch break and the train ride home! The story was that clear in my head.

The story begins like this...

In a forest somewhere there is a house.

The house is neither large nor small. It has a tall roof and big, wide windows. All along the length of the house is a sheltered porch.

On the porch there are many pots of plants, as if to bring the forest closer to the house. And when all the windows are open, not only is it a house in a forest, it seems as if the forest is in the house.

In the house lives a man. The man is neither old nor young. He moves quietly about the house. He is so quiet you cannot tell where he is in the house. The man does not seem to have a routine. At different times of the day, the man will pop out of the house to sit or potter about the porch. Occasionally he wanders from the house into the forest, returning before the sun sets.

When I was 99% satisfied with the writing, I sent it to a friend YWW to read and edit. And I sent a copy also to MessyMsxi, aka Tan Zixi. I have always wanted to make a picture book with her drawings, a dream project; and happily, the feeling was mutual!

A House in a Forest is a story of gentleness and restoration. And MessyMsxi drew just that.

MessyMsxi and I only had brief discussions on the phone and over email/text. She created a series of full page drawings after months of trials and hard work (examples in this post). I have much respect for her focus, talent and "professionalism" - she didn't settle. The soft edges of the charcoal. The glimpses of the forest from inside the house, the hint of life in its presence… and oh, I love all the tiny insects, animals and even household objects she drew that are scattered throughout the book - and so I made a sticker sheet with these smaller drawings.

I will start mailing the books out the week of18Dec. Email me at ampulets@yahoo.com.sg if you would like a copy. Each book comes with a free sticker sheet (whilst stocks last). $35 inc. postage.

p/s In the next post, I will share more about the book itself! First book that I layout and designed for offset print as the one-woman "no-design-training" ampulets hahaha. Actually, I haven't seen the book from the printers, so truth is, there's also a lot of nervousness about how it will turn out.


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