An interview with R.S. Vern

An interview with R.S.Vern

1 June 2012

Haee interviews R.S. Vern in a rare sitting at home. This is one of the first few times they communicate. Otherwise, they pretty much ignore each other most of the time.

Minuted by Middling Industries

Haee: Why do you write a book on middlings?
R.S. Vern
: I live in a small country where majority of the population is middle class. Many of us work hard in pursuit of a better livelihood, or migrate in search of a dream/ career. Sometimes, we end up feeling bored, confused, alone, unattached and unachieved. But I would like to think this is perfectly all right and a lot of us feel the same way. After all, life is not about having that perfect ending, but having that extraordinary journey.

Haee: What’s your definition of middlings?
R.S. Vern: Middlings live in the city. They have a comfortable standard of living and rely on their own expertise to sustain themselves. They place great emphasis on independence and have great concerns for the environment. Whilst they appear well rounded and established, they often have insecurities locked within.

Haee: When did you start writing this series?
R.S. Vern
: I started conceptualising this series in 2008 during one of my trips to Japan. I was sitting at a café on a weekday afternoon and I saw Japanese salary men in their work suits and brief cases, gazing out of the window listlessly, seemingly waiting for time. When it was six o’clock, many of them stood up and left as if it was time to go home. I later realised many of these men were unemployed and simply needed to either pretend they were going to work so that their families wouldn’t judge them as incompetent or follow a routine which they had become so familiar with. I thought that was rather peculiar and yet, so poignant in this society we live in.

Haee: Why do you constantly have rules that your characters are being subjected to?
R.S. Vern
: Whilst we are all free to make our own choices, we also need a set of rules to live by. And that is the dilemma most of us face. We hate being caged in by rules and regulations and yet, we feel lost and aimless without them. In new environment, all the more we need a set of rules to discipline our thoughts and make sense of the new. We are always conditioned to adapt at the end of the day.

Haee: Why do you use me as the protagonist in your series?
R.S. Vern
: This series is about middling lives and it is something that is quite close to my heart. I feel it is less brutal to see life through the eyes of a cat.

Haee: So are you writing you as me, if you know what I mean?
R.S. Vern
: Actually yes, I know what you mean. The answer is yes and no. Yes, because I am somewhat very much like you, independent, restless and free-spirited. No, because I think I am somewhat like Tom and Jane too as I am often bounded by the demands and realities of living in the city I am in.

Haee: In Book 1 “Haee The cat with a crooked tail”, Tom and Jane are portrayed as middling characters that constantly wish they were doing something else. Is there an underlying message behind this?
R.S. Vern
: Middlings often ask themselves this question: “Are we not as happy as those who are much better off in this world?” We often find ourselves doing something we may not enjoy best because of the realities and demands of living in the city. But I think most of us have a secret desire to live a life that is less demanding and more frivolous.

Haee: Just for the record, I do not have a long and crooked tail. Why does my character in your book have a long and crooked tail?
R.S. Vern
: Middlings are never perfect people. All the characters in this series have physical imperfections about them. You have a long and crooked tail. Tom has claw-like hands. Jane has chronic hives. Whie has a big red nose that almost covers her face. It is fiction after all.

Haee: Thanks for the session. Look forward to Book 2. Chill.
R.S. Vern
: Ok. Chill.

An interview with Haee by R.S. Vern

 

An interview with Cat Haee
An interview with Cat Haee

17 October 2012

This is an interview with Haee by R.S. Vern. Haee is a middling cat from book series “Haee and the other middlings” created by R.S. Vern. Silent and pensive most of the time, this is the first time he has granted an interview with a human being. After the interview, R.S. Vern revealed she thought she knew Haee, but actually, she does not now. The interview ended abruptly with Haee walking away.

Minuted by Middling Industries

R.S. Vern: So how do you feel now that people are reading about you?
Haee: *blink *blink *purr….  Life goes on. I still eat, sleep, poo, daydream, wait for death.

R.S. Vern: What’s your favourite drink?
Haee: Root – beer. Preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

R.S. Vern: What’s your favourite food?
Haee: Chopped chicken liver is my all time favourite. Occasionally, I like nibbling on prickly plants… just to tickle my throat.

R.S. Vern: Favourite song?
Haee: Currently, it’s “As long as you love me” by Justin Bieber.

R.S. Vern: What’s your favourite TV channel?
Haee: MTV.

R.S. Vern: Do you have an all time favourite book?
Haee: “The Outsider” by Albert Camus. I am intrigued by the character of Meursault. I respect anyone who would die for truth, even if the truth is hard to bear or accept.
When Meursault was sentenced to death at the end, he told the chaplain he had naturally wished for another life sometime. But it meant nothing more than wishing he was rich or could swim faster. It was the same thing and he said finally, “One which would remind me of this life.”
That’s an intriguing statement.

R.S. Vern: Any literary hero?
Haee: Quasimodo, the tragic hero from Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo. He’s romantically humane beneath that totally deformed outer body.

R.S. Vern: Is there a particular book you enjoy reading during rainy days?
Haee: “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn. Reading it always reminds me the importance of simple things like a piece of bread, a book, a match, a string and most importantly, what freedom means.

R.S. Vern: What do you plan to read next?
Haee: I was just picking up “Down and out in Paris and London” by George Orwell.

R.S. Vern: Ok. Getting back to favourites. Do you have a favourite colour?
Haee: Are you trying to be funny? I’m colour blind.

R.S. Vern: Em… ok. Sorry… (Embarrassed)
Haee: Don’t be sorry. There’s nothing to be sorry about. I’m still alive.

R.S. Vern: Oh… ok. Yes. So you have any favourite food?
Haee: You asked me that earlier.

R.S. Vern: Oh… sorry…
Haee: Stop saying sorry.

R.S. Vern: (Clears throat) If there’s one thing you can change about the world, what would it be?
Haee: To have better and cleaner air in the city.

R.S. Vern: Have you ever wished you could be something else other than a cat?
Haee: I don’t mind being a cat. But sometimes I wish I could walk on 2 legs and not 4. Like you.

R.S. Vern: Why is that?
Haee: Then I can be a bit more normal and perhaps taller.

R.S. Vern: Huh?
Haee: (Rolls eyes)

The interview ended abruptly here as Haee walked away.

A book review on The Unconventional Life of Haee, 2nd Book from trilogy series “Haee and the other middlings”

How does one leave a middling – that is, average – life behind? And what does an unconventional existence look like?

In the second installment of a three-part series, local author R.S. Vern explores these questions and continues the story of Haee, a cat which is pretty average in every way, save for his exceptionally long tail. The first book in this illustrated series, Haee: The Cat with a Crooked Tail, saw the titular feline leaving behind a comfortable and routine life with his owners, Tom and Jane, to experience life on the streets.

Like the first book, The Unconventional Life of Haee features appealing illustrations which are whimsical but tempered with a dash of quirky, Edward Gorey-style grimness. As the story opens, Haee’s explorations have taken him to the back alley behind the neighbourhood. Here, he befriends a motley crew of cats, including Whie, who is ostracised by the others because of her “unusually big red nose”.

Unlike the others, Haee is attracted to Whie, who he finds “really special and interesting”, and not just because of her oversize schnoz. For starters, the latter is vegetarian – her way of “saving the world and making it a better and more harmonious place to live in”.

Whie’s “queer eating habit” befuddles all the other cats, except Haee. (It’s easy to see the parallel to the human world here: As a once-vegetarian, I can honestly say that few things perplex omnivores more than someone who won’t eat anything which once had a pulse.) Fascinated, Haee learns to eat leftover pizza discarded in the alley instead of the usual roaches and rats. He even goes so far as to implement a set of rules forbidding the alley cats from eating any living creature.

As with many noble New Year’s resolutions and good intentions, things go according to plan for a while. However, it doesn’t take too long before the cats tire of their new lifestyles and revert to their old, roach-hunting ways. Disillusioned, Haee decides to move on without Whie, who is perfectly “comfortable with her life” in the alley.

Ending on an inconclusive note, this book sets the stage for book three, where we’ll (hopefully) find out the answers to questions such as: Will Haee return to a safe and comfortable life with Tom and Jane? Will he see Whie again? And will he ever find the different life he is looking for? Then again, as the author notes, perhaps life is not about achieving that perfect ending, but “having that extraordinary journey”, where dreaming and searching never stops.

The Unconventional Life of Haee, Tuesday, September 18, 2012
By Lynette Koh, Senior Writer, ilovebooks.com

To buy the book or download a sample chapter, please go to http://www.ilovebooks.com/ebooks/home/D1ABC7BD-D378-4CD7-AE59-57015B118FAF/The_unconventional_life_of_Haee .

A bittersweet book review on “Haee The cat with a crooked tail”

Book review from ilovebooks.com

What does it mean to be “middling”? The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as being of “middle, medium, or moderate size, degree, or quality”. In other words, average. In this charming illustrated book for children and adults, local author R.S. Vern explores the middling life through the eyes of Haee, a cat which is pretty ordinary save for its unusually long and crooked tail.

The first installment in a planned trilogy, the story sees Haee leaving his comfy home to explore the world. After losing his way, he is adopted by Tom Stuck and Jane Fruss, a very ordinary sort of couple. Haee gets used to leading a routine life with his new owners, but eventually gets bored and heads for the streets, where he befriends the alley cats, including Whie, a cat with an unnaturally big nose.

Bittersweet and seemingly simple, this story embodies the ambivalence the author feels about an average, middle-class existence – possibly mundane, yes, but reassuring in its certainties and not without its own joys.

So, on one hand, you have Tom and Jane, a middling couple who always “wake up early for work, go for evening jogs and sleep early at night”. They do have secret dreams: Organic food-loving Tom fantasises about moving away from the city, while Jane wishes she could fly away and see the world. However, they continue going about their routine lives, never acting on these inner desires.

On the other hand, there are also moments in the book where the author hints at the possibility that the things which prevent us from making major life changes may actually be much less frightening than we think.

Early in the story, for example, Haee gets lost after he enters a black hole he comes upon after leaving home. “Alone and terribly frightened”, he regrets his earlier curiosity and swears never to “act so foolishly and recklessly again”.  At this moment, he is petrified when he sees “a pair of huge claws coming at him” in the darkness, but the claws turn out to be the (skinny) hands of Tom Stuck, who rescues Haee from the black hole.

By making it apparent to the reader that the things which frightened Haee so greatly are actually pretty harmless, Vern slips in an important point: Perhaps it isn’t that scary or difficult to create a life less ordinary.

Haee: The Cat with a Crooked Tail, Wednesday, August 08, 2012
By Lynette Koh, Senior Writer, Mediacorp Pte Ltd http://www.ilovebooks.com

[Scrib.b.b.bles by Haee]. Now available on Wattpad!

Middling Industries launches Scrib.b.b.bles by Haee on Wattpad…. with monthly notes updates!

Haee loves to scribble when he is bored. Although he is just a cat, Haee is remarkably in touch with his inner self-conscious. He spends most of his time alone, daydreaming and sunbathing. That gives him plenty of time to contemplate on life. Haee has a street education with a major in Humanities. His favourite color is white and his favourite book is The Outsider by Albert Camus. Haee spends a lot of time wondering about what happens when he is alone and dying.

Scrib.b.b.bles
is a collection of short writings written by Haee. We encourage you to read only when you are alone.

To start reading Scrib.b.b.bles by Haee, simply login to http://www.wattpad.com or download the Wattpad app on your mobile device.
Locate Scrib.b.b.bles by Haee at http://www.wattpad.com/story/1655450-scrib-b-b-bles-by-haee or  use code 5659737 .

About Wattpad
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