LOCAL writer Malcolm Mejin is back with a new book ‘Diary of a Rich Kid’ launched recently as a tribute to his hometown Kuching.
He had previously written a novel titled ‘Cool Diary’, which was published in 2012.
Malcolm isn’t as wealthy as the character Robin Jin in his new book, but he has had lavish experiences in the past which, he said, partly inspired him to write his second book.
“‘Diary of a Rich Kid’ is a feel-good novel with humorous elements, allowing readers to have a good laugh, at the same time fantasising what it’s like to be so excessively rich that it totally boggles the mind,” he said.
Asked if he owned luxury goods, Malcolm replied he does have a Louis Vuitton bag but pointed out that although he owned some luxury items, he doesn’t obsess about them.
“Owning branded items is a huge financial responsibility. My Louis Vuitton bag is equivalent to the sum total of three laptops,” he said.
Malcolm explained he used to hobnob with wealthy friends, who influenced his lifestyle, adding that most of them owned luxury goods from brands such as Bottega Veneta, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès.
“When you are around brand-conscious people, their tastes tend to rub off on you in some way.
“In my latest novel, the cast of wealthy characters owns branded designer clothing and shoes, from Louis Vuitton to Prada. But there’s one character who’s certainly not brand-conscious or that extravagant like Robin and another character Charlie. He’s pretty contented with non-branded items.”
Balance of extravagance
Malcolm said he created the character of Ken to help keep the balance of extravagance in the novel.
“Ken is Robin and Charlie’s best friend. He attends the same private school as they do. But he’s more ‘normal’ in the sense that he doesn’t obsess about owning luxury goods. Ken comes from a middle-class family, and his parents sent him to a prestigious private school in the hope he will get a well-rounded education.”
According to Malcolm, although Robin is a very rich kid, he is not without a good side.
“He’s humble and doesn’t overly obsess about luxury goods like Charlie does. Robin and Charlie are like rivals but at the same time, they are best friends. So they are what I call ‘frenemies.’ It’s pretty fun to watch the two of them sometimes in their own little drama.”
On some of the lavish things he himself had done in the past, Malcolm said he had been on board private luxury yachts and stayed at one of the most desirable and expensive postcodes at Sentosa Cove in Singapore.
He also had the chance to ride in a Ferrari, having hung out with the ‘Ritchie Riches’ of the world.
“I’d definitely say being part of this circle has inspired me to write the novel,” he added.
In the novel, the rich kids have the most expensive cars – from Ferraris to Lamborghinis – as well as their own private chauffeurs.
“I think most of us have fantasised about taking a spin in luxury cars and this novel provides the escape to that. Readers can step into Robin’s shoes and experience his affluent lifestyle.”
Musicals and fine dining
One of Malcolm’s favourite pastimes is catching Broadway musicals.
“Watching these musicals isn’t cheap. It’s not like buying a movie ticket in the cinema. A Broadway ticket can cost around RM300 to RM600, whereas a movie ticket is about RM30? There’s a huge difference.”
Malcolm has also experienced fine dining at Michelin-starred restaurants – a few of them at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands Singapore.
“I’d say having the opportunity to dine at Michelin-starred restaurants has sort of inspired me to incorporate some Michelin elements in my novel.
“But at the end of the day, I’m seriously not as rich as Robin. I don’t own a private jet like him. I don’t live in a humongous bungalow with maids and servants,” he said.
According to Malcolm, Robin is the epitome of extravagance but even though he is filthy rich, he is also very down-to-earth and relatable.
“He has a good heart and treasures his circle of friends although they can be annoying sometimes. Robin’s human just like the rest of us, and he makes mistakes too.”
On his favourite food, Malcolm said Sarawak Laksa is one of them, adding, “I’ve loved Sarawak Laksa since like forever.”
In the novel, Robin has an affinity with Sarawak Laksa as well, and throughout the story, he expresses his unbridled cravings for the famous local dish.
“People may think Robin is actually me – he’s not. He’s distinctly different from me and has his own quirky personalities. I tried not to make Robin too much like me.
“I tried to incorporate something universal that we share – like a love for Sarawak Laksa.”
Malcolm also incorporated some real-life issues into the novel to which people could relate like parents getting divorced or a divorcee marrying another person.
“These are real issues. Kids of divorced parents often suffer the most, and being able to relate to the characters in the novel going through the same thing helps some people to know they’re not going through it alone. It definitely helps with some comedy sprinkled throughout the novel to lighten the mood.”
In the novel, the character, who plays the mother of Charlie is anguished when her husband leaves her for a beautiful model from China.
“This is not made up or fiction. These things happen in life and I try to weave something with a bit of substance into the novel to give it a more realistic feel, at the same time, trying to keep the story mood light and humorous,” he explained.
Botox and plastic surgery
Some of the rich parents in the novel have also undergone Botox and other forms of plastic surgery to maintain their youthful looks.
“Don’t be surprised when I tell you I know several friends who have undergone plastic surgeries in Bangkok and South Korea.
“I used to have a friend who had plastic surgeries to enlarge his eyes but it made his eyes so big they looked like popping out the sockets. This is true story.
“His entire family is obsessed with plastic surgeries. He came home from Bangkok one day to discover his mother had a bandaged nose or eyes, or whatever. It was clear she just had a plastic surgery to enhance her nose or eyelids.
“I don’t know if you would call that a dysfunctional family, but all of them do it because they are very rich and can afford it,” he said.
Asked if he would go for plastic surgery, Malcolm paused for a while, then laughed, “I’m not sure at the moment. If I had the money, maybe I’d enhance my nose or eyes. But honestly, I like the way I look, so I don’t think going for any plastic surgery is necessary unless I’m in a life-threatening situation that requires one.”
In the novel, the rich kids also have their own credit cards.
Malcolm said he also has a credit card but doesn’t splurge like Robin, adding in a light vein, “If I were to spend like him, I think I’d go bankrupt in less than a month.”
‘Diary of a Rich Kid’ is available online and soon in MPH bookstores. Malcolm will launch it in Singapore this month.