Q&A With Ivy Ngeow

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Q&A With Ivy Ngeow 

Today my Q&A is with multi award winning author of literary psychological suspense thriller novels Ivy Negow. Ivy has written short stories and novels, some of which are Asian Anthology, Cry of the Flying Rhino, White Crane Strikes, Overboard & coming on July 25th latest novel The American Boyfriend. 


Q: So Ivy would you care to share a little bit about your upcoming release The American Boyfriend with the readers of the blog and I?

A: The American Boyfriend is an Asian domestic psychological thriller about a London single mum who crosses the ocean to meet her online lover in Key West but gets trapped in a messy crime scene. Sunsets, tacos and margaritas all sound perfect to an exhausted single mum with a dead-end job in London. When her long distance boyfriend in New York invites her to meet him in Florida, she can’t wait. Robbed on her first night, she is now trapped in a messy murder case.

Q: When did you know that your calling was to be an author & why did you choose to write psychological suspense thrillers to be precise? 

A: I have always written and I started the moment I could write, at probably 8 years old. I had the urge to invent stories after I’d just read a story. I had no idea that it was creative writing, and thought everybody did that, and it didn’t matter, and no one needed to talk about it. Like it was something automatic and natural, for example, after eating, you brush your teeth.

The psychological thriller genre is like the ocean: it allows us to deep-dive into the mysteries within us, most of which are unknown even to ourselves. Through my characters, I study the complexities of the human mind, the motivations behind our actions, and the exploration of the darker aspects of human nature. 

Tension and mounting excitement are main features of the thriller genre, through unexpected twists and building conflict and suspense, like a rollercoaster edge-of-the-seat ride. The reader has no idea what to expect except unease and thrill and wants to be held captive until the ride is over.

The psychological thriller genre gives me an opportunity to write about and raise themes in modern society: social injustice, power dynamics, poverty, morality, family, race, violence, multiculturalism, just to name a few. These are all rich, thought-provoking themes which will fascinate and draw a reader in, because to all of them, there are and will be consequences. Through exploring these ideas, I want to challenge a reader’s preconceptions and foster greater empathy and understanding.


Q: What advice would you give aspiring authors on writing great psychological suspense thrillers? 

A: My best advice on writing great psychological thrillers is to read, read, read. Read as many books as you can in the genre. Reading is the best teacher, and it is also brain food. How can you write if you don’t feed the brain? Through reading, you absorb different narrative structures, character developments, and pacing techniques that can inspire and inform your own writing. 

My next best advice is to develop your characters well with all their flaws and strengths. You want real, ordinary people who have no superpowers, who are just like you and I, and just like the reader. If everybody is rich, cute, thin, smart and most of all happy, that would make a pretty boring story.

My third top tip is to master the art of plotting and storytelling. Plan the entire structure out. If it is not long enough to be a novel (with a subplot) then it should be a novella or short story. Too many writers stretch out a thin idea that cannot carry over 70,000 words and land readers who DNF (did not finish). The reason is because if the idea is thin, then the pacing will lag and sag, and therefore it cannot engage a reader from start to finish. Think of your manuscript as a tough, taut, woven muscular rope, which the reader grips onto, like a handrail, rather than a flimsy length of elastic which is almost see-through. How will it go the length?

Q: In your amazon bio you talk about being born and raised in Malaysia and traveling to places such as Singapore and Sydney and you currently live in London. Would you say traveling to these places has helped you write great psychological thrillers? They always say write what you know. 

A: Most if not all my writing of not just psychological thrillers but literary short stories or crime short stories, are influenced by my travel experience. The places I had been to and lived in have exposed me to architecture, history, diversity and culture. Just the mundane and intricate tasks of taking a bus or ordering a meal in a foreign place have helped me shape my thought processes and create realistic and intelligent characters. 

I have met and observed people of many races and cultures and they’ve broadened my perspective of the world. We are all more similar than different. It’s that cliché: the human condition. There are universal values which transcend all cultures. 

I weave my firsthand knowledge and inspiration into my storytelling to give it an intense and authentic edge, such as giving my thrillers an atmospheric layer or a creepy vibe. 

Q: If you were to write different genres that weren’t psychological thrillers, which genres would they be and why? 

A: If I wasn’t writing psychological thrillers, I would write literary fiction because it is artistic, and first and foremost, I am still an artist. It allows me to explore in-depth character development and the complexities of human engagement, emotions and growth. Next, it also allows for language and word play which is not found in the commercial genre of thriller writing. I would be able to craft evocative descriptions, employ unique narrative techniques and explore experimental styles which use the sheer power of words to engage a reader.

Literary fiction often tackles societal, philosophical, and existential questions, encouraging readers to contemplate the human condition and the complexities of the world. The main problem with literary fiction is the lack of a satisfying ending, or the popularity of an ambiguous ending. You could say that sounds like life itself. In that sense, it reflects our anticlimactic existence.

As the demand for literary fiction is very small, I write literary short stories, some of which have won prizes and many of which have been published. As short stories are short, both the reader and the writer are only invested for a small amount of time, the little space in which the storytelling can provoke thoughtful reflection and encourage readers to explore deeper meanings. 

Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to your work? The entertainment industry is in desperate need of originality again. 

A: No, but I am interested in talking to producers, not just Hollywood but TV too. I am a big fan of TV and movies. They have shaped my settings, narratives and characterization. The BIPOC are still under-represented in the entertainment industry which is why I am writing characters that are diverse and international. If you are a producer and you’re reading this, please get in touch.

Q: If you’re writing a new novel right now, can you reveal any details about it?

A: It is an Asian psychological domestic thriller set in London about a prodigal daughter who returns to her wealthy father for help only to find out that he has a new domineering and attractive housekeeper. I am about 40% into the first draft, probably the hardest draft! It is the draft that begins with a blank page each day.