Singapore stories by Singapore's largest independent publisher of fiction and non-fiction for all ages.

A Personal Note From the Author of ‘Sushi and Tapas’: Winnie Li

The book launch of Sushi and Tapas: Bite-size Personal Stories from Women Around the World is a very exciting event for all of us at Epigram Books. Not only will the esteemed Professor Chan Heng Chee be our guest-of-honour during the event, we have three authors flying in from overseas as well. Winnie Li, one of the authors, writes us a short post before she leaves for her trip!

I’ve been asked to write a guest blog entry for Epigram Books, in anticipation of next week’s launch of Sushi and Tapas. This is very flattering, because I wonder why ANYONE would EVER want to glimpse inside my mind 24 hours before I’m due to travel to Singapore. (It’s one Scary Long To-Do List.)

“What is on that list?” you ask so innocently.

Here are some examples:

1) Deliver budget and proposal for a year’s worth of film series (for my day job)
2) Lock films for an Arab cinema showcase taking place in Japan (day job also)
3) Attempt to pack
4) Call my mom
5) Email my flatmates that the newly-installed door to the washer/dryer doesn’t quite work so you have to kind of jiggle it to get it to open
6) Attempt to find accommodation and/or trekking guide for Bukit Lawang in Sumatra (where I am going on Saturday)
7) Attempt to store my entire novel in a cloud
8) Write this guest blog entry

There’s 9,992 other things on this list, but I won’t torture you, or Epigram Books will regret they ever asked me to write this.

Regarding No. 7, I was at lunch with my friends today, discussing iPhones, clouds, and other techie stuff I don’t really understand, and I had a brain wave: “Hey, maybe I’ll try to store my novel in a cloud!”  This conjured images of the Care Bears––I envisioned ascending to a fluffy cumulus in the sky and entrusting my shining, incomplete novel to Literary Reading Bear, who would smile benevolently from behind his round spectacles and store it in the heavens along with all the other unpublished novels of aspiring writers.

No really, I like this concept of a cloud.

Because as someone who travels a lot and writes down random thoughts at very inconvenient moments, I live in PERPETUAL FEAR that something will happen to my novel while I am traveling.  What happens if my apartment building bursts into flames when I’m away? Or if my plane crashes when I’m flying? What will happen to my novel then??? All those years of writing, vanished in moments.

Our mortality haunts us even as we try to go about living our defiant 21st-century lives.  For those of you who have read my essay in Sushi and Tapas, you’ll know that grappling with this notion of mortality was key in my recovery from a traumatic incident. My therapist forced me to confront my Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder head-on when she asked me: “If you had died in this incident, what would that mean?”

I shrugged. “That I would never finish writing my book?  That I would never get to travel to all the places I want to visit?” (I listed a bunch more.)

“Well, you didn’t die,” she said emphatically. “So now you can accomplish all those things on your list.”

I eventually recovered from my PTSD. And while I still haven’t finished writing my book, at least I’ve contributed to one book since then.

But I still pray every time I’m on a plane about to take off (even though I’m normally atheist).  And in and amongst all the mundane aspects of my everyday life, I know I need to mix in a bit of wonder and a bit of dreaming through travel, through writing, through art.  Otherwise our lives just become one massive To-Do List, devoid of joy or enlightenment.

So if I manage to get through my current To-Do List (sigh), and if my plane doesn’t crash, I look forward to seeing some of you in Singapore.  I hope you’ll enjoy our book.

August 23, 2012 by Epigram Books Admin

A Day in the Life of Esther

In our new instalment of A Day in the Life, we bring you the perspective of Esther, our Design Intern (officially under Epigram). One of the bubbliest interns we’ve ever had the fortune to have under our employ, Esther pitched in with quite a few Epigram Books’ projects as well!


“Hello, this is Esther here, I am coming here for an interview, but I think I got lost. I don’t know where am I now, somewhere near a school called St Nicholas Girl School.”

“Are you coming for an interview under Epigram or Epigram Books?”

“Huh… Got difference mehhh?”

And that was my adventurous start at Epigram, the award-winning design firm! I’m a design intern so officially I’m under Epigram. However, because we’re one big happy family, I’m often tasked to assist Epigram Books on design jobs as well!

On my first day, while I was sorting out PANTONE colour chips, I felt a huge sense of disbelief that as an intern, I had a such huge desk in such a nice open office, with whole stretches of white book shelves, and black and white photographs everywhere. I was stunned by how nice the office was and even more stunned by the awards displayed at the front of the office. While I tried to look cool and collected, I kept saying to myself, “Ahh… is this for real? I’m in Epigram! EPIGRAM!!”

This is a list of  A+ experiences I had with Epigram:

1. Went for press check for the book Farrer Park.
It was really cool and a fantastic learning experience for me to see the maze like printing press and witness the birth of books! Seriously, those machines are crazy!

2. Doing overtime to read books.
Yes, design books, children books, coffee table books and all other kinds of BOOKS! I always imagine books on those nice white shelves will fly and one day if I accidentally fell asleep in office, words in it will line up and cover me with blanket.

3. Ate raw beef…
… and also other things that tasted really good but in all honesty, I didn’t really know what they were.  This was during Edmund’s (the Managing Director of Epigram and Epigram Books) birthday.

4. Admitted to hospital.
Kidding, I became an actress! I posed as a mock patient for an annual report photo-shoot.

5. Did the layout for a book that is going to be published this year.
The title of the book is Sushi and Tapas and it will be out mid-August this year! Speaking about readability and legibility, Macheads spent lots of time getting things like layout and formatting right! (Macheads=designers who buried their heads with Mac). “I shall appreciate books and words more.” Repeat 3 times before you read any book!

6. Illustrate.
Yes, I used to be afraid of doing illustrations because someone once told me I couldn’t draw. But I’ve found new confidence by illustrating for SPARK newsletter. It is one of the things I enjoyed most in my to-do-list. By the way, SPARK is an ADHD association, which Epigram supports.

7. Attended a book launch.
I’ve never attended any book launch before as I’m not quite a book person, but I get to eat nice pastries and drink champagne! (It was the launch of our new play, Mimi Fan by Lim Chor Pee). And it was really fascinating to see how the team at Epigram Books together with BooksActually pulled it all off! It’s really hard work!

Edmund once asked me, “So how? Do you still want to be a designer after being with us for 6 weeks?”

“Maybe, but I want to be a housewife! That’s my long term dream!” I replied with a silly grin. (But of course I wanted to be a designer first!)

I came to Epigram as a design intern thinking “hmm… I’m just an intern, I’m just going to learn about publication and probably a lot short cut keys using Adobe InDesign!”

But in the end, it turned out to not just be an internship, it was much more…