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A New Experience: Editing Alasan Alin

Alasan Alin is a brand new book by Krisan Wijaya (author of Cerita Carissa) which I had the privilege to edit. The book is published by Omah Library (RAW Press), in a collaborative effort with Mad Tea Book Club. Here is your cue to toast to little dreams coming true.

A Big Little Dream

Since we started the Mad Tea Book Club, Sherry, Krisan, and I had been thinking about also having a small publishing house focusing on Indonesian women authors, with a curated theme of women empowerment. Of course, a dream takes time, resources, connections, hard work, and support. We’re super excited that Omah Library is on board to give it a shot for the first venture. Out of the box? Yes. Unusual? You bet.

Well. Life is short.

And so it was that I came to the editorial role for our first book: Alasan Alin. First of all, please be aware that the book is in Bahasa Indonesia. Lucky for me, Krisan is an excellent writer, so it makes things very easy. My contributions in editing Alasan Alin were largely 2 points: the stylistic footnotes and the plot twist at the end.

Ala Crazy Rich Asians

Since the book is a medical chick-lit, there are some healthcare related words that the general public might not be aware of. The author, Krisan, is a doctor herself, so in the first draft, she explained the terms in the narration. As we all know, this helps the general reader understand the terms, but it takes a lot away from the flow of the story. In order to keep both objectives, I suggested to Krisan to adopt what Kevin Kwan does in his series Crazy Rich Asians.

If you’ve read that series, its full of slangs and terms that’s very Singaporean, so Kevin Kwan moves all the explanation to the footnotes. He keeps the footnotes interesting by taking a different narrative approach – its sarcastic and snappy. I think this style works well for Alasan Alin, so that’s what we did for the final draft.

Alin’s Character Arc

My second contribution is the plot twist at the end. This is crucial to Alin’s personality and her whole character arc, thus Krisan and I discussed it back and forth. I don’t want to spoil things, so will just hint mysteriously (HA). Upon my first reading, I got the impression that the author (Krisan) had wanted to take it a certain way, but then shied away in the end. In so doing, the original intent built throughout the draft seems compromised. I suggested a plot twist that feels like it really was there all along – so Alin can really be Alin, with all her imperfection, flaws, and also fiery spirit.

…so Alin can really be Alin, with all her imperfection, flaws, and also fiery spirit.

Editing Alasan Alin was a completely new experience for me, but I loved it. The book can be ordered here. I do hope you enjoy her story!

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Book Review: If I Stay

If I Stay is an Indonesian chick-lit – the first Indonesian book I read this year! I don’t read in Indonesian that well, but I will take up the challenge for special people. Last year I read Perempuan yang Dihapus Namanya (Women Whose Names Were Erased) by Avianti Armand, poet and also Cung’s (my second husband) partner in many architectural projects. This year, when Sherry, fellow co-founder of the Mad Tea Book Club sent me her novel, I decided to give it a go. Spoiler Alerts!

First of all, the structure of the book is so poetic, with titles inspired by musical terms and even excerpts of songs weaved into the narrative. You can tell this book is a project of love from the young author. She has even produced it into an indie film on her youtube channel.

Second, the premise is so relevant to this day and age. Karina is a high school girl who is in a happy relationship with her boyfriend Lintang. She also has an anonymous social media account by the name of snowfairy which has 18M followers on the platform called Art & Pages. These days many people of the younger generation go anonymous on social media to protect their identities. This would never have crossed my mind or anyone from my generation. We went on social media to connect with our friends – not to “disconnect”. How interesting. 

Phantom Stalkers

One day, one of Karina’s anonymous followers starts to stalk and send her threatening notes. Think Phantom of the Opera. He threatens her with one of her private secrets, and with that knowledge manipulates Karina to do things she does not want to do. As someone who has received hate speech on social media, I’ll tell you that this fear is real. It makes me rethink the model of influencers and personal branding.

So how do Karina, Lintang, and her friends (online and offline) deal with this phantom? Don’t worry, it’s an almost happy ending. If there is anything I can change, I’d wish for much heavier punishment for the stalker. For me, this is bordering harassment! I do wish our country has a better justice system, especially when it comes to cyber-harassment or bullying.

All in all, If I Stay was an enjoyable read. Thanks again to Sherry for sending me the book!