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New publishing initiative for aspiring writers and illustrators

Dated: 15 September 2005

Aspiring writers and illustrators in Singapore will now have a chance to see their works published. The First-Time Writers &Illustrators Publishing Initiative by the Media Development Authority (MDA) and the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS), aims to nurture aspiring local writers/illustrators and develop fresh talents for the local publishing industry.

Jumpstarting the Initiative, the focus for this year's submissions will be on children's genre. A panel of judges comprising representatives from the MDA, NBDCS and industry practitioners (Annex A) will shortlist ten applicants, who will each receive up to S$8,000 for their selected works. These selected applicants will also be invited to attend a Manuscript Assessment session specially organised for them by the MDA to help them refine their works and fine-tune their marketing plans.

All copyrights to the completed work will be vested with the recipients who will be encouraged to market their works to distributors.

Chairman of the NBDCS, Mr R Ramachandran says the Initiative involves more than just identifying new writers and illustrators. ""We will also address their concerns as many of them currently face difficulties in getting their works noticed, let alone see them published. This is not a one-off effort -- it will be organised on a regular basis. Over time, we hope to see new benchmarks in creative writing, which will contribute significantly to the growth of the Singapore publishing industry.""

Mr Seto Lok Yin, the MDA's Director of Industry Development, says, ""While there were previous attempts to nurture talents for the industry, it was not on such a scale. The MDA hopes to groom first-time writers and illustrators, whom we hope will eventually go on to pursue a rewarding career in publishing. We also hope to create and showcase a pipeline of local works that can be exported.""

This Initiative is open to all Singaporeans or Permanent Residents. Applications will be assessed on originality and quality of manuscript;potential for intellectual properties right optimization as well as the applicant's ability and commitment to deliver the project.

Commented Mr Phan Ming Yen, Director, Artistic Development, The Arts House,“This initiative is certainly an important step for not just the literary scene here in Singapore but also for the creative industry as a whole. We hope that this initiative would serve as a stimulant and encouragement for aspiring writers and add to the diversity and variety of art works available for the public. As a space which aims to provide a platform for Singapore literature, we are a glad to be able to support and work with MDA on this initiative.” Mr David Seow, author of several children's books and one of the judges encourages those with an aptitude for children's fiction to come forward with their unpublished works. ""Every story ever written/illustrated deserves to be read and enjoyed. This Initiative offers tremendous opportunity for our talented writers and illustrators to take their first steps towards hopefully long and successful careers in children's literature. I look forward to reading the treasure trove of stories from their imagination. I wish such encouragement was available when I started writing.""

Applications for the First-Time Writers &Illustrators Publishing Initiative should reach the National Book Development Council of Singapore NBDCS by 16 December 2005. More details are attached as Annex B and on the MDA website at

The First-Time Writers &Illustrators Publishing Initiative is supported by the National Library Board (NLB), Bookaburra Books, EarShot and The Society for Reading and Literacy (SRL). It is among a slate of MDA initiatives to grow the local publishing industry, which has been identified as a key creative sector which contributed $283 million to the GDP and created nearly 5,000 jobs in 2002. The MDA also provides many other schemes to support the film, television, animation and digital media sectors.

__________________________________________________________________ Media contacts:

Ms Tan Poh Cheng
Asst Director, Corporate &Marketing Communications
Communications Division
Tel : +65 6837 9369
Cell : 9029 7390

R. Ramachandran (Mr)
Executive Director
National Book Development Council of Singapore
DID: (65) 6848 8291
Fax: (65) 6742 9466
Hp: 9459 7154


1. David Seow:
David Seow was born and raised in Singapore. He studied at Anglo-Chinese School, Oregon Episcopal School and the University of Portland, Oregon. After a stint as a sitcom writer with an award-winning television series, he embarked on a career in children’s literature. David is the author of twenty-three well-received children’s books, including The Sam, Sebbie and Di-Di-Di Series (12 books), Alexander's Adventure Machine and The Littlest Emperor. His latest book is Monkey: The Classic Chinese Adventure Tale about the mischievous Monkey King.

2. Chitra Soundar:
Chitra Soundar is a writer whose work is enriched and inspired by the ethnic culture of India. Chitra has diverse professional experience in education, information systems and finance and has ten books in print.

She continuously strives to write books that would inspire young readers to become trailblazers. She has worked with curriculum content creation and editing, test preparation, course planning and lesson plan preparation and writes for a variety of juvenile and educational magazines. Chitra Soundar also runs Creative Writing Workshops for primary school children in Singapore and is the Assistant Regional Advisor of the South Asia chapter Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

3. Rosemarie Somaiah:
A teacher, storyteller and writer, Rosemarie Somaiah has taught, led workshops and told stories in local and international schools, over the radio, in the libraries, and even on the MRT! She has performed at The Arts House, the Asian Civilizations Museum, the the Substation, the Singapore Art Museum, and at festivals like Kidsfest and The Asian Children’s Festival. In October 2004, she attended the Scottish Storytelling Festival in Edinburgh, where apart from adult performances;she was invited to tell stories in kindergartens, schools and libraries.

Rosemarie currently leads The Storytellers’ Circle of the Society for Reading and Literacy (SRL) and has produced Chapter One to Four of ‘New and Old, Read and Told’, a series of family-oriented public performances that include storytelling and reading aloud. She is a member of Wordwrights, another SRL Special Interest Group of the SRL and Secretary of the Singapore Drama Educators Association (SDEA).