Support a JB writer's book project

I recently received a message from Ivy Ngeow, a London-based girl from Johor Baru who’s also a mother, musician and award-winning writer.  She not only writes in a second language, she also writes about immigrants and aims to promote culture, diversity and of course, women writers.

Banner design for Heart of Glass, a novel by Ivy Ngeow
Ivy is seeking more support in crowdfunding her Heart of Glass book project with her publisher, Unbound, an imprint of Penguin Random House.  The campaign is ongoing and so far, 90 people from all over the world are backing this project, including herself. 

There is still time yet to support her project and every pledge promotes this non-English, non-white writer, who is writing in English.

Ivy was born at Johor Baru’s Hospital Sultanah Aminah and her family lived at Jalan Ah Siang, in the Stulang Laut area.  She went to primary school at the HIJ Convent JB in 1977 and her family then lived at Jalan Chengai in Melodies Garden. 

Ivy Ngeow, a JB writer, based in London
They moved to the Straits View area when she attended Raffles Girls School in Singapore in her secondary years but she commuted every day from JB and still remembers having to wake up at 5am to get on the bas sekolah

When she finished school, Ivy had no idea one could become a professional musician as music was her very top subject in school.  In those days there was zero career guidance.

Ivy did not choose writing but writing chose her.  She started to write at age eight.  She remembers just loving to tell stories, and that it was an urge, an instinct.  She did not know then that one could write professionally either. Ivy just thought it would come one day.

Her mother was a school teacher and every week she brought home books from her school library.  Ivy would read all those and all the books that were already in the house.

At 16, Ivy won a writing competition run by the New Straits Times and even went to Jalan Riong in Kuala Lumpur to receive the prize, which was a whole writing weekend.  She does not remember what happened in detail as she was only 16 and just wanted to have fun on her first trip to KL alone!

Ivy was 18 years old when she finished her A levels. She excelled at art, mathematics and music but didn't know how to marry the three subjects as she felt that she was no good at the arts or the sciences per se.  But she instinctively knew that she had to do something technical and vocational.

Her uncle was an architect in Melbourne, Australia and influenced her decision to go to University and study Architecture. So she went to Uni in Australia where she lived for almost eight years in Sydney and did a very long degree in architecture.  She then decided to work there for a while to gain work experience. 

Ivy's short story, Funny Mountain, was among the
15 short stories in the book, Hungry in Ipoh, launched
at Knight Webb Gallery, Brixton, London, in 2016
Upon her return, Ivy got a job in Singapore but was utterly miserable by the time she was 26.  Even when she worked there, Ivy returned home to JB for the weekends to the closeness of her loving family.

Ivy left for Europe to go Inter-railing and youth hosteling, to something like eight different countries on a budget.  Eventually she settled in London, got a job straightaway and then met the man who would become her husband.

She has been in London since, except for two years around six years ago when she moved back to Penang with her husband and son, where her husband worked there while she wrote Heart of Glass.  She was then pregnant with her daughter.

Now her children are nine (the boy) and six (the girl).  Ivy has worked in the Caribbean, Singapore, Malaysia, Sydney and London, doing architecture for 23 years.

She took time off to write the novel Heart of Glass in Penang and also did a Masters of Arts in Writing (2005-06) in London before she had children.  In 2005, Ivy won the Literary Prize out of almost 1500 entrants worldwide when she was at Middlesex University.  This was also when she was doing music professionally and touring.

Ivy Ngeow, at the book launch
event for Hungry in Ipoh, 2016
Her short story Funny Mountain was published in Hungry in Ipoh, a compilation of 15 short stories, during Chinese New Year 2016 at Knight Webb Gallery in Brixton, London.

Heart of Glass is a unique international story of immigration, bravery, crime, currency exchange, art, music, culture, the big city, love, murder, redemption.  The story is set in the Reagan era of the 1980s in Chicago and Macau.

The book cover is still being designed but there is a banner design which is being used for marketing and publicity.  Check it out here: unbound.com/books/heart-of-glass

Although Ivy lives in London now, her entire family is in JB.  Her mother is Kong Dee Ha, who taught at both SIGS and SETA.  Her father is Dr Ngeow Took Fah.

In the early days he was in a partnership and worked at the People's Dispensary at 41 Jalan Ibrahim (which is still there!). He had his own practice for the last thirty years in Century Garden. They are both retired now.

Ivy plans to do a book tour/launch back home in JB, if and when the campaign is successful and Heart of Glass comes out. 

For more info and to make your pledge, visit: https://unbound.com/books/heart-of-glass

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