By: Melissa Lin
Julya Oui loves a good story, and writes to appease her imagination and reaffirm her sanity. She loves dreaming up things and making them come alive with the stroke of her pen. Gazing at the night skies, listening to trees, and taking long walks are just some of the things she enjoys doing when she is not lost in the alternate realm
Her collection of horror stories, Bedtime stories from the Dead of the Night has just been released by MPH.
Her stories bring us on a journey into the minds of twisted psyches, and leads us into those in between spaces inhabited by those very creepy things that fill us with dread and fascination. We find in her book, a priest who laments his flock’s disinterest in confessing their sins gets more than he bargains for when a prominent, well-respected member of society walks into the confession booth and opens up about his terrible hidden sin.
A thunderstorm traps a quarrelsome quartet in a mansion with a sprawling front yard filled with derelict vehicles. However, it soon becomes evident that there’s something sentient – and sinister – about the roof over their heads.
For a reclusive unfortunate, the shadows between the trees ringing his home harbour a darkness from a violent war-torn past. Elsewhere, an overworked executive is haunted by the scarred, grotesque figure of a laughing vagrant.
Bedtime Stories from the Dead of Nigh
MPH Group Publishing (2011)
Hallo Julya, congratulations of the release of Bedtime stories from the Dead of the night. Can you tell us a little about how you first came to write horror stories? Where do your stories emerge from, and what do you find best inspires a good horror story?
During my formative years I grew up with The Twilight Zone, The Night Stalker, Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, Pan Book of Horror Stories and many more tales that go bump in the night. I guess I am the product of those influences. Back then the supernatural takes precedence over many other beliefs unlike today where almost everything can be explained and debunked (but not according to some).
My stories come from all sorts of places like little pieces of jigsaw puzzles. When I sit down to write I dig into my pile of one liners, a paragraph of outline or even a word that I love to toy with. I then put them together to build the story or sometimes everything falls into place when the characters whisper stories in my ear.
A good horror story is best inspired by an inquisitive and an over imaginative mind. I can take a very innocent situation and turn it inside out to get to the horror of it all by just exploring the possibilities.
Why do you think we human beings have such a fascination for those very things that scare us?
Most people are afraid of what they don’t know or don’t understand and yet they have this morbidity to want to more; like watching an accident, reading horrific news about death or murder and going for dangerous things that thrill and chill them. Doesn’t that sound like something inborn rather than acquired? As for me I prefer psychological horror rather than gore fest stories because there’s so much a mind can imagine.
Do you find yourself in a different sort of space, in your imagination or in fantasy while you are writing and coming out with these stories?
When I am in the writing mood, whether typing away on the laptop or just figuring out the plot in my head, I go into the far recesses of my psyche. If my mind was a movie you would be watching snippets of horror, romance, spiritual enlightenment and a bizarre mingle mangle of words. So if I look spaced out, that’s usually my head going into full speed.
Is there a particular sort of effect that you wish to evoke in your readers?
I just want to entertain people like how I want to be entertained by good stories. I like it when people react to the words I write when they tell me it is creepy or sad or disgusting because I know I must have hit the right spot somewhere.
Our Malaysian culture is rich with myths dealing with the supernatural, spirits, ghosts and other entities, and most of us grew up with warnings and stories from our elders, and instructions on how to behave so as to not incur the wrath of spirits. Do you feel as if you have a connection to these myths and traditional ghost stories and have they shaped the way you approach and write your horror stories?
I remember going camping those days and my godfather (whom to me is the best storyteller) would scare us with stories of hauntings based on true stories. Although the local culture and beliefs of the supernatural did shape some of my ideas I was more affected by other sources as mentioned above. But I am in the midst of writing a children’s series based on the local superstitions, taboos and beliefs.
Please share with us a little about your background and tell us more about what you do. Apart from writing stories you also write poetry, and articles and stories full of insight and wisdom of life experiences. You are also an artist. Tell us a little about your creative processes and what you feel fuels creativity and your work.
When I was younger all I ever wanted to do was to write. I started by writing poems because I was inspired by John Keats, William Blake, C.C. Cummings, Emily Dickinson and others. And then I moved on to short stories and then to novels, plays, scripts and so on. I once showed a friend of mine loads of papers where I jot down handwritten stories and ideas. I told him this was either garbage or something that will make me a writer someday. He recently reminded me of the incident and although I am ‘the’ writer yet I guess the pieces of papers weren’t garbage after all. What I do, even until now, is to write down or sketch everything that I feel has potential to be something. My niece saw my scrapbook once and told me it looked like a journal of an insane person. In other words, if I didn’t put my ideas on a piece of paper I may actually live in an asylum. I always feel you have to be a little mad to be creative or is it vice versa?
Tell us a little about being a writer in Malaysia, and your experience of the local literary world. Do you have any favourite local writers?
It’s not easy to be a writer in Malaysia because the avenues are pretty limited. I have been peddling my short stories for about 20 years or so before they finally found a publisher who believed in them. But these days, a lot of us (writers & artists) are coming up with zines, self-published books, e-books and whatever it takes to get our works out there. I can’t really say I have a favourite local writer because I haven’t read too many local writings so it wouldn’t be fair to those whom I haven’t read from yet.
You are a self taught writer, can you tell us a little about your own journey and learning as a writer? What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I was basically self-taught because there were no schools or colleges that taught creative writing during my time. And the other thing was my parents weren’t rich enough to send me anywhere else that offered such courses. I wrote to Stephen King and Sidney Sheldon who replied my letters and gave me some advices and inspiration once but the main thing a writer has to do is to write, write, write. That’s the only way to go. Even if your language is horrendous, you can’t structure a proper sentence or have no ideas on what to write you still have to do it. I told my co-script writers once that I will die writing and they laughed at me. But I told them I was serious and if I hadn’t finished writing (whatever) I will come back as a ghost to complete it before I go into the light. That’s how much you have to love it to want to go all the way, no compromise, no backing down, and no slacking off.
What are you currently working on now and what projects are in the pipeline for you?
I am working on the next feature film script with a director whom I worked with on the first one. Watch the trailer for the first feature film here:
I am also compiling my next collection of mystery & crime stories under An Inspector Dore’s Mystery, working on a series of children’s books (Supernatural Sleuths), working on a series of Black & White paintings and plotting out other possible stuff. If I stop writing or painting I would probably go insane or spontaneously combust because of the over activity in my head.
Please share with us your other creative projects, works and writing, where can we find them online?
You can check out some of my stuff at:
www.scribd.com/vergilya (a free zine with 3 short stories & a nonfiction ebook)
www.vergilya.blogspot.com (my blog of insane ideologies that will lead you to other blogs)
www.vergilya.deviantart.com (my art)
www.mphonline.com/books/nsearchdetails.aspx?&pcode=9789675222641 (to order Bedtime Stories from the Dead of Night)
http://bpbites.blogspot.com/2011/09/bedtime-stories-from-dead-of-night.html (Bedtime Stories reviewed by my editor)
http://shockawemedia.wordpress.com/category/shock-awe-zine/ (my articles from issue 3 onwards)
Always believe that you are not alone, that dreams do come true, that things will get better once you set your heart to it.