Magician Ning Cai set to release first book in new young adult trilogy
Magician Ning Cai is releasing her first solo work of fiction, Misdirection, the first in a planned young adult series called The Savant Trilogy.
The book was inspired by the experience of a friend of Cai's, pastry chef Janice Wong, who was injured in a car accident more than 10 years ago.
Cai said: "Afterwards, she suddenly had a compulsion to paint. That was how I learnt what a savant was."
A savant is a person who has a development disorder such as autism but also shows exceptional ability in a limited area. Such cases are rare.
There have also been cases in which a brain injury unlocks dormant savant skills.
Ms Wong suffered trauma on the left side of her brain from the accident and her memory was impaired, but she said in previous interviews that the incident awakened her artistic side, which led to her success as a pastry chef.
Cai said: "Savants are people born with extraordinary skills, like a really good memory. There are also acquired savants. After a head trauma, they suddenly have new skills."
The protaganist in Cai's new book, Maxine, is a Singaporean teenager who emerges from a three-year coma to discover she has a photographic memory.
Cai fell in love with writing after a poem she wrote was published in a magazine when she was in primary school.
"I was so excited and I showed the editor's letter to my mum. I could see myself doing it for a lifetime."
Cai juggles writing with her job as a mentalist - performing mind-reading and tricks involving psychological manipulation. The 35-year-old quit magic in 2014 but picked it up again last year.
While Misdirection is her first solo work of fiction, it is also Cai's fifth book.
She wrote the Singapore Literature Prize-shortlisted memoir, Who is Magic Babe Ning? in 2014 and co-authored three other books, travelogue Adventures Of 2 Girls with Pamela Ho in 2012, children's novel Magicienne with Don Bosco in 2016, and a creativity self-help guide Game Of Thoughts with John Teo last year.
When writing Misdirection, she got into her character's head by listening to Maxine's favourite songs by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran.
"I get into that zone and I am able to think like her."
Misdirection will be launched on April 14 at 2pm at Books Kinokuniya in Ngee Ann City.