Bright Landscapes: A Short Story Collection

Ten stories that drift between the bright landscapes of our world
and the shadowy depths of myth, legend and supernatural fantasy.
 

After the Funeral

A ghost story incorporating the idea of the child ghost, also known as kwee kia (in Hokkien) and toyol (Malay), and exploring the themes of religious belief and hypocrisy. It was previously published in Black and Whites and Other New Short Stories from Malaysia [CCC Press, University of Nottingham], now out of print.


All Was Still

This story is inspired by the belief in tiger spirits and the practice of summoning them by casting a spell. As there are YouTube videos that recite these spells, I wondered what would happen if a tiger spirit was summoned accidentally. In this tale, a whole family of tigers end up in a Malaysian suburb.


Endless Night

This tale reimagines the legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang and the impossible demands she made of the Sultan of Melaka. It was previously published in Malaysian Tales: Retold and Remixed [ZI Publications], now out of print.


On Jugra Hill

A group of friends spend the night in a house on Jugra Hill and have various terrifying experiences that none of them can put into words. This story references spirit tigers, the alternative legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang, and the terrifying Malay vampire called the penanggalan.


Orang Minyak

Who is the orang minyak? Is he a supernatural being, or just a slippery trickster of flesh and blood? Does he inspire fear or desire? The myth of this local spectre is viewed through the eyes of a young married couple in a small town in 1970s Malaysia.


Perhaps She

What is the womb but a prison, keeping women locked down, forcing them to stay when they would rather roam free? Or could a womb be a refuge, a cave to retreat into, away from the world and its expectations? A woman struggles with motherhood and is tempted to leave it all behind. This story is inspired by the Malay folktale Batu Belah, Batu Bertangkup.


Pontianak

That infamous female spirit, the Pontianak, is re-evaluated in the light of 21st century ideas of female desire and agency.


Princess

Another look at Puteri Gunung Ledang, this time focusing on the legend of her marriage to Nakhoda Ragam and the creation of her second fairy court on Jugra Hill.


The Dead

This one is based on the idea of an afterlife being an actual physical place that the dead are conscious of transitioning into and must make a new ‘life’ in. It is inspired by Daoist folk religion.


The Tiger Bridegroom

A traditional Brahmin folktale inspired this story about a tiger who acquires a taste for human food and takes on human form so that he may win himself a wife who can cook for him. I have moved the setting of the story from India to Johor, and given my tiger a kinder fate.

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