500 Words From...is a series of guest posts from authors. Here, Judy Chapman talks about her newly published first novel, My Singapore Lover - a compelling story of love and infidelity between a Western woman and her Chinese lover, set in contemporary Singapore.
Australian-born Judy Chapman is the former editor of Spa Asia magazine, an established journalist writing for Australian and Asian publications, and the author of four best-selling books on spas and aromatherapy. She has lived and worked all over Asia, in Bali, Malaysia, India, and Singapore. In My Singapore Lover she writes about finding soul and spirituality in unexpected places, and having the courage to follow the truth wherever that may lead.
So: 500 words from Judy Chapman...My motivation for writing this story was to show a young woman’s experience working within a corporate hierarchy and her struggle between external pleasures and temptations and listening to her inner voice. It can be challenging to have the courage to say no and walk away from situations – work, relationships - and this story is essentially about a girl's growth and journey - and how even though following your truth can often look like a less exciting path in life on the outside, ultimately it is the path that brings us so much fulfilment and inner richness.
I wanted to explore what drives us to make decisions against our inner truth (and we all know what this is but so often we go against that feeling inside of ourselves). In the case of Sara, the young woman at the centre of my novel, it was obviously growing up without a father figure that motivated her to seek success in life and surround herself with strong masculine characters when that was not what she truly desired.
The love affair Sara has with a married man may be a challenging subject for many readers. Even though the characters do in their own ways redeem themselves, I wanted to present the infidelity in a different light - to show that sometimes what is traditionally considered to be wrong can be sacred and what is expected of us such as career and success can feel corrupt.
My own experience of living and working in South East Asia for the last decade provided me with a fantastic backdrop and Singapore is a major character in this story. I felt passionate about showing the beauty, culture, festivities, heat and weather of this diverse city.
As my day job involves setting up spas in luxury hotels I was inspired about telling the story mostly from inside a hotel suite as I have personally spent a lot of time living and working out of hotel suites around the world so it was an easy backdrop for me to write about.
The journey of actually writing this novel has been incredible. I wrote the first draft in three weeks (in a hotel, of course) and then spent a year refining, culling, editing, drafting. The publishing deal with Monsoon Books was definitely a dream come true, as I had been wanting to write a novel since I was eight years old when I experienced a moment and knew in my heart that writing was what I wanted to do with my life. Whilst I have published four non-fiction books and written for magazines for many years, it has taken me a long time to realise a novel. Like most of us I have been on many detours, but of course they have provided excellent material for my writing.
My goal is for readers to feel and connect with the theme of having the courage to follow your own intuition and if readers do connect with this then I will be so proud as for me this is the most important theme in My Singapore Lover.