Writing a story about a foreign place or culture is a challenge. You have to immerse yourself and sit in your character's skin to make it really work. Mind you, many Mills and Boon and Harlequin authors write about all sorts of exotic places and people without setting foot outside their own kampung!
I've been thinking about this issue a lot recently because I've written a book for young teens called Mystery of the Demon Caves. It's based in Sarawak, a place where I used to live, and features 4 kids.
I don't claim to write a "Malaysian Book." My heroes and heroines are very much based on the kids I know in Malaysia but they are not iconic Iban Malaysian, Bidayuh Malaysian, Chinese Malaysian, Malay Malaysian etc etc. The plot line draws heavily on local "feel" but it's also Western because I am a European.
I'm hoping the result is a story with enough local elements so that Malaysian and other Asian kids recognise it as "home" but with enough Western elements so it sells overseas too.
Hey, let's be honest: I want this to be the first of a series that is as big as Harry Potter! And for that you need to reach kids everywhere. I'm hoping I've been able to do that.
Mystery of the Demon Caves is coming out in September in Malaysia and Singapore, published by Horizon books.