Middlesex Creative Writing Alumni, Ivy Ngeow, was the recipient of a literary prize award at the 2016 Proverse ceremony in Hong Kong for her latest work, titled Cry of the Flying Rhino. She studied Creative Writing at MDX and started her first novel at Middlesex as a postgraduate student.
On April 19, Ivy visited MDX to give a talk to current postgraduate about her journey from Middlesex to her prize-acceptance speech in Hong Kong. At the end of her talk, she granted Adam Taylor (a member of staff) a short interview and here are excerpts from the meeting:
What course did you study during your time at Middlesex?
“I studied an M.A in Creative Writing here at Middlesex. The course had a very varied subject matter which really interested me. I wanted my writing to be perfect, to be polished, so I enrolled on the course here. I would wake up every Wednesday looking forward to spending my day at Middlesex. “In my time here I was given a chance to read books that I would never have dreamt of reading in a million years.”
What were some of the challenges you faced while writing this book?
“I think through my book I was raising a lot of uneasy concepts, I was talking about poverty, greed and post-colonialisation in South-East Asia. I was rejected by many publishers but I guess it was like a rite of passage thing, when you write about something so difficult. When it was accepted by Proverse Hong Kong, I knew they understood what I was trying to say; I was highlighting the problems of modern Asia like capitalism, global destruction and environmental problems.”
How has MDX helped you in becoming who you are today?
“I think Middlesex play an important part in raising authors because it addresses all the important issues of culture and diversity. The stuff we were reading and writing at Middlesex really encapsulated the multi-cultural experience of being in London - 145 Nationalities, 19,000 students. Middlesex really valued me as a minority, as an immigrant and as a woman. I was somebody who was writing from my own diverse experiences and the difficulties that come with it. Middlesex did not only recognised that but valued it. I found my voice and my individuality. I wasn’t pushed to fit in, I was pushed to stand out.”
What will you say to a student who feels writing generally is a difficult task?
“It is ignorance that makes it really difficult to write and so if you do read, you will be able to develop your ideas. As an author, ideas come from books, whether it’s books that we write or ones we read. Read anything and everything.
My advice is to work hard, read a lot, and don’t be afraid to get rejections. Mature and learn from rejections if you want to be a writer. Crack on and tell the story you want told.”
Watch out for Ivy’s second novel Heart of Glass, which will be released on 5 June 2018. It is set in Chicago and Macau.