The 24th edition of the Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) is back from 5th to 14th November 2021, and this year’s hybrid festival (with some programmes held in-person and online) will bring together local and international authors to share candid thoughts and juicy opinions, creating safe spaces for the public to indulge in their literary pleasures.
This year’s theme, Guilty Pleasures, is about exploring the things we love but are too shy to admit. Festival Director Pooja Nansi shared, "Everyone needs a lighthearted pick-me-up. This year’s rather cheeky theme hopes to bring about some cheer and laughter to the local and international literary community. By exploring complicated relationships between guilt and pleasures, we are hoping that these novel pursuits will appeal to a wider audience and signal that the festival is not afraid of pushing boundaries to move Singapore’s literature scene forwards.”
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His first impression of Singapore
Among this year’s line-up is American award-winning children’s horror story writer R.L. Stine, 78.
Stine has created many young adult horror fiction books, making him well-known all over the world. One of those titles is Goosebumps, a series of bestselling books that have sold over 400 million copies so far. The author has also created a new supernatural graphic novel series, Just Beyond, which was picked up by streaming platform Disney+.
In an email interview, he shared with Yahoo Life SEA his excitement about his participation, “I’m really looking forward to the interview. It’s a chance to reach many readers I have not talked to before. I’ve never been to Singapore and never appeared at this festival before. I am very curious as to what questions readers there would like to ask me.”
Regarding Stine’s first impression of Singapore, the prolific writer recalled a movie with the title Road to Singapore, “It was a very wonderful comedy movie from the 1940s starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. I’ve watched it a dozen times. I’m sure it bears no relation to the real Singapore!”
On ‘guilty pleasures’ and pandemic hobby
On his ‘guilty pleasures’, Stine doesn’t think indulging in any pleasures as guilty, “I live in New York City, so there is a great variety of pleasures – theatre, opera, ballet, museums, sports events – to be had. My wife and I really love the city and keep as busy as we can. The restaurants are also amazing here, but can eating be a guilty pleasure?
Like most of us cooped up at home during the pandemic, Stine shared that his reading habit hasn’t changed much.
“I have always read every day, before and after the onset of the pandemic. I usually read for a couple of hours every night. Unlike most expectations, I don’t read much horror, and I don’t read many children’s books. I read mostly thrillers and mysteries. I especially like British mysteries from the ’30s and ’40s,” shared the author.
Besides Stine, other writers who will be participating in the festival include:
T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet, Ocean Vuong
Award-winning comics writer of Ms Marvel, G. Willow Wilson
The beloved host of Queer Eye and author of bestseller Naturally Tan, Tan France
Critically-acclaimed screenwriter and novelist Yan Geling
Host of MasterChef Singapore and Chef-owner at Artichoke, Bjorn Shen
Author of Wet Market To Table and founder of Singapore Noodles, Pamelia Chia
Sivadorai Sellakannu, one half of the popular local singing duo, Jack & Rai
Tun Seri Lanang Award-winning author, Hamed Ismail
Sparrow R Thyagarajan award-winning poet, Geetha Sukumaran