Some chicken soup for the creative soul is brewing…

I know. It’s been more than a couple of weeks, and I did promise I’d blog at least fortnightly, if not weekly. But in between a back sprain and nonstop events for work, it’s only now that I managed to squeeze in some blogging time.

It’s been two week of aches and pains (which means I have to do everything slightly slower now so I don’t aggravate my back – this is torturous for someone who typically walks at 6.5km/h), and with all the work piling up in the office, I’ve been completely overwhelmed. Well okay, I got to attend a movie premier and a couple of makeup launches which weren’t quite so bad but man, the day job just doesn’t quit (pun intended)!
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#friyay #tgifridays #onassignment

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I’ve only been able to snatch a few moments here and there to work on the manuscript , but at least I’ve got some inkling of where it’s going. I’m at page 186 now so things are gaining speed, as they should. If only I can devote the time to write! As it is, I’m still trying to catch up on work and finish up a report (UGH, Excel. UGH, number-crunching)
Still, the plus side of my job is that I get to write about the things I like, such as:
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So there’s that, at least.
Also, I’m preparing to launch a series of interviews with creative types called Create Your Life.
The name for the interview series came about from the quote above. We’ve got a lot of storytellers in our midst – writers, artists, songwriters, musicians, and people who champion the arts – who have a lot to share about their own creative processes, inspirations and hangups. And as a writer myself, I am fascinated with how others find their stories. How they carve out a path for themselves as they venture into the unknown. How they satisfy their imagination and curiosity. How they overcome all the odds to make their dreams a reality.
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#qotd for the dream chasers @yuyanpeng

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I think this is one of the main reasons why I like Eddie so much. Not just because he’s a pretty face – there are many pretty faces around, but what makes me relate to Eddie on another level is because he is someone who is incredibly passionate about acting. He’s not just a celebrity – he’s an artist. He revels in the process of delving into his characters’ psyches, experiencing the world from their shoes, and presenting it on the screen. To him, the process of understanding and portraying his characters is what brings meaning to his job. He gets to experience life from various points of view. To him, the outcome (box office success, awards, etc) doesn’t matters as much as the process.
As writers, we aim to do the same. We want to view life through different lenses, from different perspectives, and create characters that readers can relate to, root for, and find solidarity in.
And sometimes, when it seems like the manuscript is never going to be done, or that I will never be able to find the time I need to finish it or devote more of myself to my craft, I turn to Eddie-isms, his quotes on fighting for your dreams. He’s suffered setbacks before in his career (he even considered quitting before), but through sheer grit and hard work, the willingness to take risks and to devote himself entirely to his one true passion, he has now made a name for himself and is able to do what he loves for a living.
Here are some that I return to every time I feel stranded on the same spot:
The places you’ve been, the things you’ve seen, will shape your life. If you get stuck along the way, never let yourself remain stuck. Tell yourself this is what you have to go through now so that you will come to cherish the fruits of your labour even more.
Some dreams start off very far away from us. But the more you strive to achieve them, the closer you get to them.
Stay grateful for everything you have experienced and you will find the road to your dreams a lot easier to endure.
This is the reason why I’m doing the Create Your Life series. It’s to understand other artists’ journeys towards their dreams, their struggles, their fears, what drives them, what defeats them (temporarily). Hopefully it will awaken the dreamer in the rest of us and inspire us to make something good out of our one wild and precious life 🙂
Joyce x
[Psst! You may like to read more quotes here: Writing Inspiration for the Week]

Cold War 2 Gala Premier from a Fangirl’s POV

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I’ve been busy all week preparing for this major event at work. Encore Films invited us to cover the gala premier of Cold War 2, which stars Taiwanese-Canadian hottie Eddie Peng (whom I’ve gushed about here, here, and here), veteran actor Tony Leung, the legendary Chow Yun Fat, and Aaron Kwok, one of the four “Heavenly Kings” of Hong Kong.

With a star-studded cast and high-octane scenes, Cold War 2, the sequel to the 2012 box-office hit, is set to be this season’s blockbuster movie. The highly anticipated police action-thriller picks up where Cold War left off, and is certainly not shy about pulling out all the stops in terms of cinematography, production, and scripting.

Everyone was perfectly cast, and the script is intelligent and well-paced, with lots of room for dramatic tension. The actors also interpreted their characters well, and delivered very nuanced impressions that gave the story more depth so that it was more than just a movie with cars and explosions (and exploding cars) and corrupt policemen.

I didn’t catch Cold War back in 2012, but knew that there was a lot of buzz surrounding it. It was the highest grossing Hong Kong film in 2012, and raked in US$50 million worldwide. It also swept away nine awards at the 2012 Hong Kong Film Awards, including Best Film, Best Director (Longman Leung, Sunny Luk), Best Actor (Tony Leung), Best New Performer (Alex Tsui), and Best Screenplay.


I was STOKED to be invited to the press conference, not just because Eddie was going to be there (but yes, OMG TO BE IN THE SAME ROOM AS HIM, TO HAVE HIM RIGHT BEFORE ME IN THE FLESH), but also because I really wanted to experience being in a press conference! It’s good research material too, for a book I’m working on. *hint, hint*
So on 5 July at Marina Bay Sands, I sat in on a super-fun and lighthearted press conference, where Chow, Aaron, and Eddie shared hilarious behind-the-scenes anecdotes, answered questions from reporters and took countless selfies with us.


Chow: “Eddie Peng is representative of the next generation of superstars.”


Looking at Peng, Chow lauded the next generation of actors as promising. “They are exceptionally talented, full of energy, and good-looking. I think they’re ready to be the next batch of successors.”

*insert proud beam here*

Eddie, who at 34 boasts a whole list of accolades with award-winning films like To the Fore (2015), Rise of the Legend (2014), and A Wedding Invitation (2013), in turn said that working with Chow was a dream come true.

He reprises his role in Cold War 2 as a high-IQ villain who works with a mysterious kingpin to foil Aaron’s character.

If you thought Eddie’s acting was impressive, his performance in this movie will BLOW YOU AWAY. Every gaze, every gesture, every intonation is solidly in character. He made the character of Joe so compelling, he practically stole every scene!

Eddie said he studied the movie A Clockwork Orange, Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Night, Anthony Hopkins’ in Silence Of The Lambs and Edward Norton’s in Primal Fear in preparation for his role. And evidently his efforts paid off.

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Eddie is a long-time fan of Chow Yun Fat


Eddie also shared a particularly poignant childhood memory about his grandmother bringing him to watch Chow’s movies at the cinema across the street from his old house. Like, how cute is that! UGH.

When asked what he learned from Chow, Eddie replied, “There’s so much to learn. You guys can see how easy-going he is. More than anything, I learned from him how to get along with everyone by always being polite and humble.”


Chow Yun Fat: the King of Selfies

And indeed, despite achieving superstar status with Hollywood movies like Anna and the King (1999) and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), Chow remains incredibly down-to-earth and good-natured.

He even lived up to his recent title of “King of Selfies” by demonstrating his selfie-taking skills with the 50 or so reporters present.

In fact, he declared that he could take a selfie with everyone in the room in three minutes before proceeding to leap off the stage. Even the moderator was left flummoxed!


Selfie with the King!


Aaron and Eddie automatically rushed to take a selfie with Chow as soon as the latter had his camera up!


Eddie enjoys playing the villain!

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As one of Asia’s fastest-rising stars (to quote someone I overheard, he’s “hot stuff these days with all the high-profile movies and endorsements”), Eddie said he is grateful for his role in the series as he got to learn from several of the biggest Asian actors in the world. He particularly embraces the challenge of playing a smart, manipulative villain.

“Playing a villain, I get to do (illegal) things regular people won’t do,” he said earnestly. “A villain can be charismatic and human, and when played well he can evoke empathy in the audience.”

And he wants to keep his audience guessing.

“It’s like a boxing game. You want to throw a jab, you want to throw a hook, to surprise the audience. You don’t want people to know what’s your next move. The only pressure being in this role is making sure I don’t become invisible next to so many great actors.”

You? Invisible?! I don’t think so, honey.



Up-close and personal with Eddie Peng

After the press con, we had a more intimate interview with Eddie, who was rushed from room to room to be interviewed by various reporters in the hour and a half space between the press con and the gala premier.

He looked worn out by the time he got to us. Despite that, he was unfailingly polite and professional, friendly and candid. He toggled fluently between English and Mandarin as he answered questions about his upcoming movies and awkward fan encounters!



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彭于晏 本人不仅又高又帅 而且谦虚 大方 友善 活泼! He graciously obliged to taking selfies with each of us in the room even though he was evidently tired after a string of interviews. (Too bad for his shaky hand and my overeager grin though LOL) His answers were introspective and insightful, and he toggled fluently between English and Chinese. My fangirl – ahem, journalist – dreams are complete. Couldn't help but recall this quote of his: "有些事本来离你很远。你争取 它就会离你愈来愈近." (Some dreams start off very far away, but they become closer when you strive for them.) When speaking with him, it's hard not to notice his unrelenting drive and passion for acting in those big bright eyes. @yuyanpeng

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THAT GIANT GAP BETWEEN US IS MOCKING ME. WHY did I not dare to go closer? He was already leaning in!!! It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to snuggle close!!!

But everyone was in a mad rush (because the press conference ended late, which delayed the rest of the subsequent interview) to make it in time for the gala premier, and I was too shy to ask to retake the photo. And just like that, Eddie was whisked away from me by his bodyguards.

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Good game, Joyce. *cries a river*

Still, that aside, I was really honoured to have been given the chance to meet with this inspiring actor. He is a really introspective guy with big dreams and a humble heart. Here is someone who is really passionate about what he does, who goes the extra mile to perfect his role and deliver his best performance every single time. Here is someone who keeps his head down and works his ass off, pays his dues and persists in his dream even when the going gets tough.


5 to 6 thousand people showed up at the red carpet event that evening!

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eddie peng fans

The afternoon press conference was followed by the gala premier in the evening. Scores of fans who hail from all around the world (including a girl from California – see her face-splitting grin?) flew in specially to see their idols! Members of the audience got to take photos with the stars onstage, and some contest winners even walked away with prizes including a Longines watch and Cold War 2 paraphernalia!


Can you blame those security girls for being so starstruck!


So, yes. I’ve been busy fangirling working all week. Now it’s back to reality, and the manuscripts! Need to catch up on all the emails and word count.
One last article before I go. Have a good weekend!  :0)

Oh Eddie, you slayed in Sound of the Desert

Excuse the radio silence. I’ve been preoccupied for the past couple of weeks with the aforementioned period drama, Sound of the Desert. And when I say preoccupied, I mean I am entirely consumed by this addictive series.

I can’t remember the last Chinese period drama I’ve watched. They had always put me off with their tacky acting, overdone plots, terrible makeup and gaudy dressing. Plus, palace politics get boring after a while.

But Sound of the Desert is quite something. It has beautiful cinematography, characters with depth and fully fleshed out backstory, credible acting, character development, and loads of swoon-worthy moments that makes a girl like me squeal.

(And of course, there’s Eddie Peng.


I always thought he was just a pretty face, but this show made me a huge fan of his acting!)

Essentially, Sound of the Desert is a love story based on a book series by a renowned Chinese author called Tong Hua, who also wrote Scarlet Heart, another popular drama series that everyone was obsessed with about a year or so ago.

The story centres around Jin Yu (played by Liu Shi Shi), a girl who lived among a pack of wolves in the desert until her adoptive father found her. Her father brought her up to live among humans and regaled her with magnificent stories about the city of Jian An, so she has always wanted to visit the place.

After her father is murdered, she goes to the city to start a new life and changes her name to Xin Yue. Along the way, she meets this handsome, disabled young man called Jiu Ye (played by Hu Ge), who has links with the royal family and is in charge of Shi Enterprises, the biggest commercial player in Jian An. She tries to steal some new clothes and salt from him and his entourage, but is caught. Jiu Ye lets her go but gives her this STUNNING BLUE DRESS that looks like something out of a fairy tale.

She also meets the confident, charismatic, hot, cocky young general Wei Wuji (played by Eddie Peng).

The scene where they meet is so perfect and momentous, and everything unspoken lies in their gazes.

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Xin Yue rescues Wuji and his crew from a bunch of desert bandits and helps them return to Jian An, where they then go their separate ways.

Wuji is bewitched by Xin Yue upon their first meeting, and you can see his cold exterior stripped away whenever he interacts with her. While he’s all intense, piercing gaze and clenched, chiselled jaw with his comrades and soldiers, around her he’s all puppy smiles and bright twinkly eyes (yes, the author included that description in the book).

Eddieeeee you slay me! He has such expressive eyes and the cutest smile.

Anyway, so Xin Yue goes to Jian An, is roped into being a dancer in a dance parlour before Jiu Ye finds her (Shi Enterprises owns the dance parlour), offers her a place to stay as well as a job managing the dance parlour instead of performing there. Meanwhile, Wuji searches high and low for the exotic, mysterious girl he met in the desert.

A love triangle develops, where Xin Yue falls head over heels for Jiu Ye, who is calm, collected, beautiful, but detached from everyone. Xin Yue is a shy and uncertain thing around him, and she always has to second-guess her behaviour. Like some lovesick schoolgirl.

Around Wuji, though, she is entirely, freely herself. The way you would be around your best friend, even though you know he’s in love with you. Wuji doesn’t bother hiding the fact that he is smitten with her, even when he’s around his soldiers.

He’s attentive,

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He looks at her like she’s his world,

He openly flirts with her,

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So many cute moments between them! Is there any wonder why this pairing launched a thousand ships (and new fans of Eddie)? 


He’s there by her side to cheer her up when she gets rejected TIME AND AGAIN by Jiu Ye (although I don’t know what she sees in him),

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Look around you, you dolt! Here’s a hot, sweet, charming, brave young general who is willing to lay down his life for you and do everything within his power to make you happy! Why chase a cold, reserved guy who has rejected you harshly thrice in a row because he’s too busy feeling inferior due to his disability? All he does is play the flute, read, and stare out the snowy window in deep thought. YAWN. Wuji, though, is passion, fire, fun.

And Eddie has so much on-screen presence, he commands every scene he’s in. The casting director did goooood with him. I bet Tong Hua is pleased with the decision to cast Eddie as Wuji too, because he doesn’t just play Wei Wuji. He IS Wei Wuji. He fully embraces and revels in the role. In other words, he slaaaayed (the girls over at My Drama Tea feel so too!), and he’s the main reason why I watched the show.

Also, he has set impossible standards for all guys out there.

On the battlefield he’s like,

When he sees her he’s like,

Don’t you just love a guy who is fierce and driven when it comes to serious matters, but lets down his defences around you?

There’s palace politics and other subplots in the show that I could care less about, but the main focus is on this lovely OTP. It’s total “shippy heaven”, according to Dreaming Snowflake, another fan I found on Tumblr who does greater justice to the show in her elaborate and insightful episode reviews. Tong Hua must have been projecting her fantasies with General Wei when she wrote her books. In fact, she did mention that she wrote Ballad of the Desert FOR this character, based on a real-life general called Huo Qu Bing, a young general who has never lost a single battle in all of his 26 years.


Those sparkling wide eyes!

Wei Wuji doesn’t die in the show – the characters get their happy ending (okay, at least the important ones do) – but there’s a twist at the end that helps the story tie in with historical records. I’m not spoiling it for you, so go watch it! In the meantime, I’m going to go catch up on all of Eddie’s other movies.

Wow. That turned out to be a long post. And most of it was spent gushing about Eddie. Excuse the fangirling. It’s just been a long while since I’ve fallen head over heels for a character that makes me grin to myself like a fool and itch to write another in his likeness.

If you watched the show and are now, like me, irrevocably in love with General Wei and Eddie Peng, let’s spaz together I’d love to hear your thoughts!