By: Revanche

The Malayan Series, Book 2: A review and giveaway

July 18, 2017

When the Future Comes Too Soon (The Malayan Series Book 2)
by Selina Siak Chin Yoke

I had the pleasure of reading Selina Siak Chin Yoke’s first book in this series several months ago: The Women Who Breathed Two Worlds.

She invited me to read her second book in anticipation of the book’s release today. It was wonderful to be able to squeeze that in some of my rare good moments, and arrange a review and giveaway.

She was gracious enough to give us a bit of an interview, and a giveaway. We’re all winners, here!

Selina Siak Chin Yoke's Malayan Series

Her first novel, The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds, followed the the life of Chye Hoon, an incredible woman who built a business to support her family, embracing her heritage, and trying to pass that on to her own children.

This second novel picks up after Chye Hoon passes, and evoked an entirely different set of feelings as we followed a woman from the next generation, Mei Foong, through the political and cultural changes wrought by the Japanese occupation.

Selina grew up listening to family stories and ancient legends, like I did, speaking four languages, double my childhood repertoire. She always knew that some day she would write but it wasn’t until after she’d spent time as a physicist, banker and trader in London that Selina received the message loud and clear to get on with it. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. As she beat the cancer, she realized it was time to start writing.

I’m so glad she didn’t wait. Her first novel was nothing but an inspiration. Well, an inspiration and a touch intimidating – I’m not sure if I can do my family’s legends justice as she did hers.

Raised in Ipoh, Petaling Jaya (near Kuala Lumpur), Malaysia, Selina later went to school in Kent, England. I had some personal questions to ask her:

Q: Who was your childhood family storyteller?
A: My maternal grandmother, to whom I dedicated When the Future Comes Too Soon. She lived in another town; each time she visited I would pester her for stories. She told me a huge amount and I forgot most of the details – I have an awful memory. Fortunately, I wrote some of it down. On my last visit to my parents’ house, my mother found sheets of handwritten notes that I had made while talking to my grandmother. She told me an astonishing amount! I really wish she were alive – I think she would enjoy my books.

Q: Which stories stuck the most with you, and why, did any of them resonate enough to guide your life choices?
A: My great grandmother’s life story – that of an uneducated woman who started a business and raised children with her earnings – was fascinating because it was so unusual. She was also such a larger-than-life character: people remember being terrified of her even after seventy years! Her story did not guide my life choices, but the protagonist in my first novel is drawn from what I heard about her.

Q: What was your and your family’s relationship with money as you were growing up, a young adult, a fully fledged adult?
A: My attitudes to money and business were, in many ways, formed when I was a child. The Chinese diaspora in South-East Asia is known for its entrepreneurialism. I grew up hearing business being discussed, and I was taught the importance of both earning money and saving it. I was given a piggy bank at the age of three! But I also understood that risks presented opportunities. Many people start business in Malaysia and also invest in stocks. Because our immigrant ancestors began afresh with very little, we celebrate those who have made successes of their lives through hard work and risk-taking.

Q: I said in my first review of The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds that this was the story I have always wanted to write but wasn’t sure how. I’ve saved several unfinished drafts. My grandmother was the woman who raised ten children, supported her village through the war, and met her grandchildren from America only a few times late in life. But her life story that I grew up hearing is part of my soul and the undisputed source of my grit. She and I lived thousands of miles apart but we had similar tempers, similar determination, and similar love of useful containers.

Was there any person in particular that, in writing the Malayan series, you felt that kind of connection to?
A: I have felt a connection to all the strong women in my family. Fortunately, there have been many and they’ve provided me with role models on which I’ve been able to base wonderful stories!

Q: In this second book, you move the lens from one strong woman boldly facing the changes in the world over to a woman of the next generation, learning her strength as she faces a changing world but, it seems she doesn’t quite grasp it until perhaps the very end. I felt so much sadness at the close of When The Future Comes Too Soon. Perhaps I would have felt them even before having children of my own, because I’d come to understand the love my mother bore for her children and how she suffered with that love. Truth be told, that sadness was the biggest reason I needed more time to write this review – I had to sit with it for some time!

Often, authors say that may have intended to take their characters one direction and find them headed in another. Did you have that sense with Mei Foong at all, or was her character consistent in your mind and the story?
A: I’m always touched when I hear how much readers are moved by the stories I’ve written. It’s absolutely true that sometimes, my characters have insisted on doing things I’d never envisaged for them! I anchor my stories on milestone events, and then I write outlines for every chapter. When a character just goes against the grain of my outline no matter what I do, I have no choice but change it. With Mei Foong, this did not happen; she stayed more or less consistent.

While you can read Book 2 without having read Book 1, I do highly recommend you try both.

Now for a chance to read it yourself – please enter to win a copy of Selina’s latest book!

WAYS TO ENTER – Please leave a comment for each item.

1. Add the book to your Want to Read shelf on GoodReads.
2. Please leave a comment sharing who your childhood storyteller was, or who you most admired in your family when growing up. Make sure that you include your name and email address with your comment so we can reach the winner.
3. Bonus! Please share this with your friends who are interested in awesome books and have them include your name with their comment as an extra entry.

Who knows, if we have enough entrants, we’ll see if we can’t negotiate a second winner. 😉

The Fine Print: The winner will be picked by a random number generator on Thursday July 27th. Entries are accepted until Wednesday July 26th, 11:59 pm PST. Open to US readers only this time, sorry international friends!

7 Responses to “The Malayan Series, Book 2: A review and giveaway”

  1. My mother and her mother were my childhood storytellers. I grew up on tales of their childhoods in the Philippines, as well as stories of my mother’s college years.

  2. And listed on Goodreads!

  3. Hedy says:

    Added to Goodreads

  4. Hedy says:

    Storyteller would have been my maternal grandmother.

  5. Kristen says:

    My grandmother was the family storyteller, and my childhood was full of the oral history of our immigrant family. (also added to Goodreads)

  6. Linda says:

    Added to Goodreads
    Linda recently posted…Today I turn 50My Profile

  7. Linda says:

    I’m not sure we really had a family storyteller. I used to hear family stories at family reunions from many of the adults present, but once those reunions stopped happening in my early 30s there weren’t any more stories. 🙁
    Linda recently posted…Today I turn 50My Profile

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