"Selfie" taken by Tiara Jacquelina!
When I began researching and writing Pursuit of the Golden Lily, I was seeking connections to my father's life in post war Malaysia. Daddy often spoke about a good friend called Eddie Eu Eng Hock - they shared a love of jazz music. On a whim, I decided to Google Datuk Eddie Eu Eng Hock - sadly he had already passed away. However, imagine my surprise when I discovered that his granddaughter, Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina Eu Effendi turned out to be a famous Malaysian actress and film producer. (Perfect inspiration for a character in my novel!) Tiara won two "Best Actress" awards for her lead role in the epic fantasy period film Puteri Gunung Ledang. The film was chosen as Malaysia's entry for the 2004 Academy Awards.
In addition to her acting roles, Tiara Jacquelina is the Founder and President of Enfiniti Vision Media, Malaysia's foremost production company specializing in musical theater, film, TV and live multi-media performances. Needless to say, she is a busy woman. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to reach out and see if I could connect to someone distantly related to my father's life in K.L. So I wrote her a message on FaceBook. To my delight, she responded and invited me to contact her when I had my trip dates finalized. As it turned out, Tiara and her husband Dato Seri Mohd Effendi Norwawi were speaking at a Lean In Malaysia summit on December 5th - just when we would be in Kuala Lumpur! She invited us to join her at the summit, so we did!
Afterwards, despite their hectic schedules (they were leaving for Australia the next day to accompany their son and daughter to universities there), this wonderful family made time to take us out for dinner. It was fun - not only did we get to experience some wonderful Malaysian cuisine, but we got to creative mind-jam with the Enfiniti Team on Tiara and Effendi's next great venture. I think the two 'Eddies' - my father (Eddie) and his dear friend Eddie (Eu Eng Hock), would have been smiling in heaven! Amazing how life can be so magical!
PS - when you read Pursuit of the Golden Lily, see if you can guess which character Tiara inspired! Here's a hint - she doesn't appear until the second half of the story.