Women Now

Singaporean author to know: Jo-Ann Yeoh whose first book became an award-winning one

Jo-Ann wasn't even thinking of winning the Epigram Books Fiction Prize, she merely intended to use it as a catalyst to get her manuscript done. But little did she know that she would win the prize for the first book she's ever written
 

Photo: The Straits Times

Whenever there were pockets of time, even at odd hours, she worked on her book: “I gave myself a target of writing 1,000 words every day. As long as I write something, even if it’s not great, I can work on it the next morning. When you know where your focus is, you can write quality stuff .”

And Jo-Ann is her own greatest critic. As a former magazine editor, editing on-the-go was almost innate to her.

But drawing the balance between obsessing over her work and enjoying the journey was important.

She didn’t fixate on the book’s ending because, to her, book characters are alive. “I didn’t know how to end it at the beginning, so I let my characters transform on their own.”

And she shared her preliminary work only with one friend, whom she describes as her “personal cheerleader”.

“He would say things like ‘I can’t wait to see what happens to this character’ or ‘I’m very excited to know what happens in the next chapter’. Without him, I’m not sure if I would’ve finished my book in time,” she says.

But finished it is, and Jo-Ann got to have her cake and you get to eat it.

Image credits

ART DIRECTION Shan

DIGITAL IMAGING Sebastian Lee

STYLING Violet Foo, assisted by Praveena Ravin

HAIR & MAKEUP Zoel Tee, using Hanz De Fuko & 3INA

This was first published in the May issue of our magazine.

ALSO READ: 3 SG CURATORS SHAPING THE ART WE SHOULD SEE: AUDREY YEO WANTS HER GALLERY TO GIVE SOCIALLY CONSCIOUS ARTISTS A VOICE

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