Former lawyer turned West End clothes shop owner and now author Marc Roberts is getting ready to launch his debut novel in Australia later this year.
Mister Lee’s Fantastic Football Dream is a young adult novel which tells the story of a Singaporean teenager who dreams of becoming a professional footballer. Marc wrote the book with his brother, PJ, drawing on many of their personal experiences for inspiration.
Growing up in Canberra, Marc and PJ played a range of sports, but had a particular love for football. Marc’s football playing came to an end in his mid teens due to knee problems, but PJ continued to play, winning a football scholarship to the University of Nevada in Las Vegas and then playing professionally in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. Now retired from playing, PJ still lives in Singapore where he works in finance and is a TV football presenter and pundit on Singapore’s ESPN and SingTel TV stations.
Marc was visiting his brother in Singapore when the idea for the story came about. “We were talking about how lucky we’d been growing up in Canberra where there are football fields everywhere and comparing that to Singapore where even when there’s a space with a wall, there’ll be a sign up saying ‘do not kick your football here’, or something like that. Also because of the Singaporean culture, the emphasis on education begins quite young and mostly to the detriment of everything else. The kids are pushed from high school age to forget about sport and concentrate just on the academic, whereas PJ and I, we’re both pretty successful academically, you know. He’s got a couple of degrees and an MBA, I’ve got a couple of degrees and practised as a lawyer. We thought we were a pretty good example of being able to balance both.”
The brothers decided to have a crack at writing the book together and did so over long distance, over many months. “We’d workshop a chapter over Skype and what would happen in it, then I’d knock it up and send it over. Then we’d talk about it and refine it and we’d workshop the next one and then I’d send that over in draft form and he’d change bits and then we’d talk about that.”
Eventually it all came together, and they launched the book in Singapore in December with Marc travelling over to take part in book signings and media interviews. Already available as an e-book in Australia, the print version is due to be published here in May, and all going well, there will be more Mister Lee books on the way. “The reception to it has been pretty good so far so the indications are that there will probably be another couple of sequels.”
In the meantime, Marc will be busy running his Kipanddan fashion store and working on his other writing projects, including another novel. “It’s one for adults, a thriller. Now that this one’s published, I’ll be spending some quality time bringing that up to scratch.”
Words by Leah Carri | Images supplied and by Darlia Argyris