"God always gives the best to those who leave the choice with Him" ~ Jim Elliot, Christian missionary to Ecuador.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have been writing since I was a child, in fact I would win writing contests at school and also the contests held by the national newspapers. I always wanted to be a journalist but my parents didn't
Lord Denning
think it was a secure career so I ended up studying law in London. Even as a law student I set up an interview with Lord Denning, a prominent judge, famous for laying down the key foundations of contract law and negligence.

He was in his 90's then and declining interviews at that time. Miraculously, he made an exception for me. I was very blessed. I turned that interview into a feature story. The New Straits Times press in Malaysia published my feature story. It was one of his last interviews. He died not long after.

When I gave up my legal career, I became a
freelance journalist. During that time I launched "Agape", a Christian magazine in Malaysia. I had my first novel published by a traditional publisher in 2003. That was followed by a second novel, also published by a traditional publisher and I was working on my third when I became disillusioned with the fanfare and marketing aspect of writing and the loss of control over your own work.

I stepped away from writing novels, but continued to write feature stories for the press and Agape. Then years later, a young medical student who called herself a "fan" tracked me down via Facebook. I was quite surprised as I was going by my married name now. All my writing credits in the past including books carried my maiden name.

This medical student talked about the characters in my first novel as if she were intimately acquainted with them.

"I must have read your book a hundred times," she said. She apologized for appearing to be a stalker but she simply had to find me to ask that niggling question that had plagued her ever since she read my novel. the question was. "Is the story real?"

I had to laugh and yet it was a serious moment of reflection that made me realize this is what writing is about for me. To take readers on an emotional adventure so real that it can affect them that deeply.

So I thank this girl for getting me back into writing again and with self-publishing tools so well constructed and accessible now as compared to ten years ago, I can have more control over my work.

What type of genres do you write about?

I'm an inspirational writer and that can open up doors in any genre for me. However, for now I'm writing for the Christian romance genre. My most recent publication, Child of Dust opens up a whole new genre to explore in the Christian multi-cultural realm.

What is your current book about, and what inspired you.

My current book, Child of Dust, was inspired by the plight of Amerasians who grew up mainly as street children because their American fathers, the GIs who served in the Vietnam war, abandoned their mothers when they left the country. These half Asian half American children were despised by the Vietnamese as the children of the enemy. At the same time, they were also rejected by their American fathers.

The male lead in Child of Dust is Bryan, an Amerasian. The female lead, Kim, is a spoilt Vietnamese socialite who loses all her money and assets when her parents are killed and ends up moving in temporarily with her chauffeur Bryan and his adoptive family in a shop cum living quarters in Hanoi, Vietnam. Kim struggles against the emotional ties she forms towards Bryan, her reluctant savior, who considers her an unnecessary hitch to his already complicated life.

Eventually Bryan and Kim's powerful attraction to each other begins to break down the wall between them.

Did you find doing research on your book difficult?

I don't find research difficult, possible thanks to my legal and journalistic training. Excellent research skills can create realistic backdrops. I have painted a very vivid description of Vietnam in Child of Dust and you won't be able to tell I have never been to Vietnam.

Many people are under the notion that you need to spend some time at the location you are planning to use as your setting. That is not necessary. Take historical fiction writers. They have to write scenes set in 1860 for example. How do they do it? They can't take themselves back in time physically. It's all about research.

However, research can be overwhelming because there is so much information out there that we can get entangled in the morass of that matrix and lose count of time better spent in writing.

To be at the location of your setting can be helpful when you need inspiration and motivation that comes from the sights, sounds, smells of that location. But as a journalist I have learnt how to be in the shoes of the people and places I am writing about. Even the people I used to interview cannot tell me their story when asked to define it. I will have to identify the story/angle myself from what they tell me.

They will talk about everything under the sun. Also, while on one subject they will digress into many different ones taking you on wild goose chase. You need to have the knack to ask the right questions to obtain the right answers. You can't restrict them from going off on a tangent sometimes because that is where you will "feel" the story and learn that person's personality. At the same time you want to check them so they don't waste too much of your time on unnecessary details.

This same attitude should apply to research. Digress a little but come back to the essence of your story.

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?

My childhood favourites were all Enid Blyton books.  I adored all the fairy stories and those of the enchanted forest and then subsequently the Famous Five and Secret Seven series.

What is an interesting fact about yourself that you would like to share with us?

I think that would be that I am also a healthy food enthusiast. I bake my own bread using sourdough starter only as a leaven. I make my own ice cream from kefir. I grow my own produce. I run where I talk about living the country life and post recipes and articles.

                                                        Sesame Balls

Are there any special movies that you enjoy or inspire you?

I love Ben Hur, Gladiator and Ten Commandments. Recently there are Christian movies such as War Room and God is Not Dead that is very inspiring.

Any fun hobbies?

Healthy cooking, gardening, spending time with my pets. Playing the violin, bongo and Djambe.

How do you relax? 

We live just five minutes away from the beach and so my husband and I like to relax by going to the beach with our dogs. He surfs and I swim and walk with my dogs.

Sometimes we cycle along the beach. We are surrounded by national forest reserves too. So we also like to go hiking or as Aussies would say, bush walking.

A HUGE thanks to Shoba for sharing a part of her amazing see more of Shoba:

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