Vampires get their bite back

Chris Lau

Kathryn Chua felt today's blood-sucking novels are not scary enough - so she published her own

Chris Lau |

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Kathryn Chua says she decided to write her horror story as a little experiment.
Vampires used to be scary. But today's pop culture has revamped them into romantic lovers. The soulless, blood-sucking monster no longer exists. Today's vampires have become secondary school heartthrobs, who would rather date a girl than drink her blood.

So Hong Kong-born student Kathryn Chua Min-xi, 17, wrote a novel to bring back the horrors. "What happened to the good old vampire that just wants to suck out your soul?" she says.

Her book, Midnight Walking, begins with a teenage girl, Lucy, mistakenly hitting a crow with a baseball bat. She decides to take the crow home to look after it.

Unfortunately, the crow is not what it seems. It turns out to be a cunning vampire that feeds on young girls' blood. "This is what should happen [in vampire stories]," Kathryn says.

She deliberately based her story in a Western setting, in a town resembling suburban life in North Carolina, in the United States. But she uses elements from both the East, as well as the West, to try to relate to all readers. "I don't want people to think that it is always Chinese girls writing about Chinese people," she says.

Writing a successful story that appeals to all cultures is not easy. But Kathryn believes her multicultural background gives her an edge.

Kathryn left Hong Kong for Kuala Lumpur with her Malaysian parents when she was two. They moved to Beijing when she was 13 and, although the family live back in Hong Kong, she still attends an international school in Beijing. "[My background] does help because I think writers have to observe more," she says.

Kathryn believes that there are two types of writers: those that focus on a certain culture or topic and write specifically about it; and those that open themselves up to any opportunity and write about different things. Kathryn considers herself to be the second type.

Already she has spent a lot of time considering her future. "Not only do I want to become a writer, but I want to become a good writer," she says. "I want to be someone that writes literature, as opposed to someone who just writes."

She decided to write her horror story as a little experiment, to see if she could restore some traditional darkness to a vampire story and get away from what she regards as books with cheesy, adolescent-focused storylines, Kathryn says.

Kathryn admits that sometimes she felt discouraged. One of her best friends told her she had made a bad decision to publish a book because she might lose all creative control over it. "My friend did not even congratulate me in the end," she says.

Yet Kathryn is glad to have had her family's full support. "I remember that I locked myself away in my bedroom so I could finish the final two chapters of my book during Chinese New Year."

The festival normally involves people visiting one another's homes, with lots of socialising and family gatherings. Locking herself away could have been considered impolite, but Kathryn's parents did not force her to leave her room; they fully supported her plans to finish her book.

The gifted writer, who finishes her secondary education next year, hopes to go to New York, possibly the University of New York, to further her writing ambitions.

Midnight Walking, published in Hong Kong by Blacksmith Books, is on sale at Bookazine, in Central, and Dymocks.

Young Post has five copies to give away. For a copy, e-mail your name, age, contact details and address to [email protected], with "Midnight" in the subject line.

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