Everyone Knows was published by OMBak Magazine, a new Southeast Asian SF&F publication. You can read it in Issue Two of the magazine here [x]. It’s about ghosts, high performing schools in Singapore, and the way life narrows down when you’re young and growing up in a pressure cooker. People from my secondary school might recognise the urban legend that inspired this story. I couldn’t really identify with American high school stories while I was still studying in Singapore. The system felt completely alien to me: a life without uniforms, with kids concerned about boyfriends and cheerleading or whatever instead of study, study, study. Maybe it was the schools I was in, maybe not. Life felt like it slowed down considerably for me when I got to Australia.
I’ve always felt that any ghost story was really about a tragedy. More so, if the ghost is a kid. My mum liked to tell me that my grandma had the Third Eye and could see ghosts – that she wasn’t afraid of ghosts, because people were worse. She’d been through WWII, so I could see why. That aside, it felt sad to me that there could be people who would linger on after death. So weighed down by their regrets that they couldn’t move on. If that was what ghosts really are, they’re more to be pitied than feared. That’s the core idea behind this story.
As to my school, I heard it’s moved on to another newer location. It was a formative place for me as a writer. I was part of the school newsletter, but more than that, the school library was amazing. Douglas Adams, Janny Wurts, Pratchett — the library had a big collection of SF&F, and since the school was near Orchard Road, that meant I was a stone’s throw away from Borders and 2 great National Libraries. I used to borrow my mom’s and my brother’s National Library cards so I could borrow six books at a go. I miss having so much time and energy to read. Even through the Singapore education system’s pressure cooker. I loved that school, and always wanted to set a story in it. Hope you like it!
Stats for Everyone Knows
Submitted: Sep 13 2019
Acceptance and Contract: Oct 2 2019 (Offer got lost in spam folder)
First and Second Edits: Oct 8 and Oct 14 2019
Published: December 2 2019