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The Man Who Sold the World

Mystery writer Chan Ho Kei from Hong Kong talks about his winning novel and the writers who influenced him. Now published in Taiwan, China, Japan and Italy, Chan’s novel won the Second Soji Shimada Award.

The Man Who Sold the World is the title of Chan Ho Kei’s winning novel in the second Soji Shimada Award in 2011. Held annually by Crown Publishing Company Ltd, Taiwan, the award aims to encourage creative writing in the field of mystery writing and to discover new talents.

 

The award was named after the famed Japanese mystery or hankaku writer, Soji Shimada. In presenting the second Soji Shimada Award to Chan Ho Kei, Soji Shimada commented:

“The merit of this novel was especially shown in its intricate plot. When the protagonist seems close to the truth, twists emerged and the story is turned upside down. The author used scientific knowledge and insight skillfully and deftly to support the structure of the story.

A writer must have good writing skills to lead readers into believing twists in the story and this author has the ability to persuade readers at every turn. The plot moved on magically and the author manipulated every expectation and surprised the readers.”

Born in Hong Kong in 1975, Chan majored in Computer Science at university. He worked as a web designer, a web programmer, a software engineer, a game designer, a script writer, an editor of a comic magazine, and a lecturer teaching game design and fundamental game programming techniques. 

In 2008, Chan made his debut as a writer with his short story, “The Murder Case of Jack and the Beanstalk” which was one of the four finalists of the 6th Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award.

There was no looking back for Chan after that. In 2009, he received the 7th Mystery Writers of Taiwan Award with his work "The Locked Room of Bluebeard".  

In 2010, his novel "Justifiable Deduction" got the third place in Comic Ritz Movie Novel Award in Taiwan. Within the same year, he also received the third place of 10th Ni Kuang Science Fiction Award with the short story "Time is Money".

His winning entry for the second Soji Shimada Award, The Man Who Sold the World, has been published not only in Taiwan but also in China, Japan, Italy, Thailand and Malaysia.

“Hong Kong is a very interesting city," said Chan commnenting on his book. "It was a British colony, filled with English lifestyle but it also has Chinese traditions. In my story, you may notice a lot of British elements such as English soccer, snooker, BBC drama, or David Bowie. One of the minor characters (a psychiatric doctor) is an English old lady who had a Chinese name. On the other hand, the reader will read about Chinese martial arts, the Hong Kong movies and stunt men.”

“When I was a kid, I loved to read fairy tales and "classics for children" such as Wizard of Oz, Treasure Island, Round the World in Eighty Days, and others,” said Chan.But one character changed my reading habits. That was Sherlock Holmes. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's amazing works drew all my attention when I was 11. It was so amazing and interesting. When I grew older, I loved Maurice Leblanc's Arsene Lupin. I think it opened my eyes, knowing that mystery and crime fiction could be designed in a very different way. These two magnificent writers influenced me a lot.”

Alfred Hitchcock was also Chan’s hero. “Hitchcock’s movies are entertaining with great twists and unexpected plots. He knew how to grab hold of the audience’s attention.”

Other favourites include Tim Burton (Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attack, Big Fish), Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi, Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn), David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club, Zodiac). 

Chan writes not only crime mystery novels but also science fiction (SF) and horror stories. 

 

 

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