A great article in The Star newspaper profiles young Malaysian writer Ika Vanderkoeck: Living Out A Fantasy, by Allan Koay.
“I never thought of writing short stories until recently,” says Ika, 25, whose full name is Zulaikha Nurain Mudzar, but took on Vanderkoeck as her pen name to honour her mother’s Dutch parentage.
“My mentor, Janny Wurts, who is already an established author, introduced me to (editors) Julie E. Czerneda and Rob St Martin. They were then having a competition to find new writers. I decided to give it a go.”
It took her two weeks to come up with the first draft, after which Wurts sent it back to her for another two weeks of rewriting.
Her story, Crossing The Waters, is about an ancient tribe that has to make an important decision about foreign travellers encroaching upon its land.
“People have this misconception that because it’s fantasy, you can write anything you want,” says Ika. “My story is based on the Age Of Sail. In the first draft, the details were all wrong. My mentor is an expert in ships and all that, and she said, ‘Do you know that during the 16th century, they didn’t have wheels on a ship? Go back and do your research!’ Even then she was really encouraging. She thought it was a good first draft, and got me to try again and get the details right.”
Ika, whose mother is Dutch-Indonesian and father is Malaysian, is a corporate affairs executive by day. She writes “corporate materials” during her day job, but sits at her personal computer at night creating worlds of magic and wonder. She completed her first novel when she was only 16, churning it out “in between school and work.”
Being young and ambitious, she initially thought all she had to do after completing her novel was to get it published. It wasn’t long before reality kicked in hard – finishing a novel is just the first small step in a long, arduous journey. – continue reading.