DR. MEL'S MESSAGE - From my novels to my other projects, no telling what you will read. This is the only place you will get to read about how I developed a screenplay into a novel and what is the driving force. I will talk about many things from films to books to acting to producing. It really will depend on where my mind takes me. I hope you will join me on this journey.
Tell your readers a little about yourself, where you grew
up, where you live now, where you went to school etc. Let them get to know the
I was born, raised, and am still situated in Malaysia with
no plans to ever move abroad (as of yet) because I simply love it here, even
though I am not fluent in the Malay language, the reason being that I have only
attended international schools (Fairview and then Sayfol), primarily spoke and
wrote in English, and always struggled with the Malay language.
Due to my inability to conform to conventional methods of
learning at schools, I was eventually homeschooled and have completed my
O-levels, Diploma, and Degree in business studies.
Growing up as the youngest among three brothers, I feel like
I’ve always been kind of an outsider. And as such, I spent a lot of time
observing people, wondering a lot about their state of mind despite their
outward appearances. Are they truly happy when they smile? Sad when they’re as
quiet as I am?
So, as a kid, I was somewhat reclusive and relished my time
alone… barely had friends, dreaded parties, and gatherings. Somewhere along the
line, I developed a fascination for strange, dark places like dead malls,
abandoned houses, dingy stairwells… even boring parking lots.
I have literally spent an hour or so sitting in a parking
lot alone, doing absolutely nothing, for no reason. There’s something about the
ambiance of such places that’s so enchanting to me. It got me thinking about
the empty places in our mind, and this is partly what inspired me to write
Aside from my fascination with strange places, the human psyche
is a subject that I have a consistent interest in, and yet, I feel it is
impossible to grasp fully. There were images and concepts on my mind that were yelling
at me, compelling me to write them out. That’s when I conceptualized the story about the journey of an offbeat, introverted fellow who spends too much time in his
own wonderful, broken head filled with butterflies, and about the adversity
that will creep and crawl its way to him.
I feel that all of us face hardships, and we all deal with
them differently; the important thing is to learn from them because it is when
we are faced with adversity that we truly grow. For Nolan Reed, it is about
developing a relationship with Elin Erynnis, a colleague with severe facial
disfigurement, and discovering who she really is.
No matter how withdrawn and overwhelmed one may be, though, the
ability to be in a state of a connection is a powerful phenomenon that can motivate
the most broken of us. It is then about how much you can give and at what cost.
Where did you get the inspiration for your book’s cover?
There were so many elements that I wanted to capture in the
cover art. To be honest, I probably lost too many brain cells overthinking it.
Eventually, I figured that simplicity is best, and that I just needed to clear
my head. That’s when I found it through this psychedelic, retro art-style. It
symbolized so many aspects of the story, including the mysterious setting, Nolan’s
eccentricity, and what could be his descent into utter madness.
Who has been the most significant influence on you
personally and as a writer?
There are actually two figures that I look up to in terms of
creative work. They often have an influence on many elements of the stories I
write, and sometimes even have an influence on the way I behave.
Favorite film and book, Let The Right One In, (The
Swedish film, not the Hollywood remake), written by John Ajvide Lindqvist. In
his book, he managed to capture a quiet, sleepy, dreamlike atmosphere so well
that he quickly became my favorite author.
Favorite videogame/gamebook: Doki Doki Literature Club
(DDLC), written by Dan Salvato. Don’t be fooled by what looks like an Anime
dating simulator because Dan Salvato wove into this bittersweet story something
so magnificently twisted—that’s all I will say about DDLC without giving away
too much for those who might want to play/read it. Dan Salvato has helped me
understand that creativity is not a straightforward path.
What were your struggles or obstacles you had to overcome
to get this book written?
There were actually two other stories that I was working on for
years when I was a teenager until I was a young adult. Still, I was struggling
with perfectionism and writer’s block and eventually lost interest in
completing them at the time (I now have plans to pick them back up).
From then on, I made it a habit to have fun writing stories
and not let perfectionism congest the process too much. As for the obstacles I
faced while writing “Butterflies,” I was sometimes having too much fun, so I
had to remind myself to get a grip and really look into where the story was
heading without too much faffing about.
And aside from that, there were parts of the book that were
pretty depressing for me to write, but I had to push through these to deliver
the story I wanted to tell.
Tell your readers about your book.
Nolan Reed is a strange man, to say the least. There are
these butterflies living inside him, and they continuously hustle and bustle in
his tummy and head. And then there’s Elin Erynnis, a colleague with a severe
facial disfigurement who Nolan has an unhealthy obsession for. When she enters
Nolan’s erratic life, they get off to a good start, but then he endeavors to
uncover her mysterious circumstances, unveiling a broken, twisted and tragic
What secrets are derived from a relationship between two
lonely souls? Does this winding path lead only to unnerving madness? What
happens when the thoughts in your head begin to seep into reality? Nolan delves
deep into the rabbit hole to find out for himself.
Particularly for Butterflies: young adult readers of
horror/psychological thrillers who can digest and enjoy the unconventional flow
of the storytelling and style of narrative, who can pick up on the symbolism without
getting lost in the madness.
What do you consider your greatest success in life?
The experiences I’ve had, whether good or bad, whether they’ve
been overcome or overwhelmed me. I feel that they’ve all had a part in making
me who I am and who I’m proud to be.
What one unique thing sets you apart from other writers in
As mentioned before, the narrative style of Butterflies is
unconventional, and intentionally so, because I wanted to steer clear of
clichés and explore a storytelling route less traveled.