FLAME OF THE FOREST PUBLISHING has been focused on entertaining readers since its founding in 1989. Its very first book, Russell Lee’s “True Singapore Ghost Stories Book 1”, was an instant hit not only in Singapore but also across Southeast Asia. Now, 32 years and 27 books later, Russell Lee is an icon in Singapore and Malaysia and his “True Singapore Ghost Stories” series has sold over 1.5 million copies!
True Singapore Ghost Stories, First Ed. Published in 1989.
Russell Lee and Flame Of The Forest have helped to radically transform Singapore publishing. For the first time, books published in Singapore struck a chord with the majority of Singaporeans. Before the appearance of Flame, books were considered bestsellers if they could sell a mere 3,000 copies. Lee’s sales of 30,000 copies in three months sent hearts racing and observers gasping in disbelief.
Another work, “Excuse Me, Are You A Model?” by 21-year-old model-turned-author Bonny Hicks, also defied received wisdom. Hicks and her book became the biggest sensation ever in the annals of Singapore publishing, creating countless news stories. Bonny passed on suddenly in 1997, a victim of a plane crash.
Having developed an almost uncanny ability to publish bestsellers, Flame set its sights at a larger audience, and in 1998, launched “Mr Midnight”, a horror-fiction series for children by James Lee. The books even outsold Harry Potter in Singapore and Malaysia. Since its launch, “Mr Midnight” has sold more than 3 million copies! Besides Singapore, Mr Midnight fever has spread across Asia. Mr Midnight is now available in just about every corner of the globe. Spurred by the overwhelming demand, a new series by James Lee, “Mr Mystery”, was launched in 2006. James Lee is now Asia’s top children’s author.
Flame Of The Forest has launched the careers of many new authors. Damien Sin wrote the “Classic Singapore Horror Stories” series and received critical acclaim from world media such as Time and The Asian Wall Street Journal. Sin also wrote the screenplay to “Mee Pok Man”, the film that sparked a revival of the film industry in Singapore. When George Nonis did a book of political cartoons, “Hello Chok Tong, Goodbye Kuan Yew” in 1991, bookshops refused to stock the title because of its political content, a taboo topic in Singapore. It was only after the then Prime Minister, Mr Goh Chok Tong, said he thought George had “a sense of humour” and that the book was “rather perceptive, rather good” that the title began to appear on the shelves!
Illustrations from the Mr Midnight series.
“Daughters of Asia” by Dawn Tan broke new ground in publishing: Women leaders from 10 Asean countries contributed to a book detailing their life journeys with inspiring accounts of hope, courage and a determination to survive against the odds of social oppression, war, imprisonment and even torture. Her other books are “Broken Mirror”, “Awakenings” and “Khameleon”.
Other authors who have made their mark include Thomas Koh and Titian (“Twinkletoes”), Jonathan Holburt (“Kyuden”), David Brazil (“No Money, No Honey!”), Colin Goh (“Coxford Singlish Dictionary”), and Gail Chua (“Cassandra”).
Flame Of The Forest’s books are a uniquely Singaporean phenomenon that is spreading in ever-increasing circles in Asia and beyond, with Singapore as its epicentre. The company has built on its humble beginnings and grown from strength to strength. It’s now one of the biggest independent book publishers in Singapore and Malaysia and is on its way to becoming a significant player in Asia and the world.
Flame Of The Forest publishes mainly through its imprint, Angsana Books.
True to its roots and its very soul, Flame Of The Forest Publishing (Angsana Books) continues to be “a people’s publisher”.
Timeless Angsana classics.