As a thriller novelist, I always look for a unique, real setting for my stories. Unquestionably, I don’t want those stories set in the middle of nowhere, because it would seem lame. I’m not comfortable either with the stories set overseas. My focus is always Indonesia: from Sabang to Merauke. Let’s say, this is part of my gratitude for the gift of being born in a cultural-rich country like Indonesia.
So far, I published novels set in Surabaya, Bandung, and Kerinci. I plan my fourth novel to set in Eastern Indonesia. Luckily, I heard a cultural festival in Jailolo, North Moluccas, will come on May 16th-18th. Annual Teluk Jailolo Festival is held to promote the potential for tourism, natural resources, culture and business in the area of Jailolo, West Halmahera Regency.
Cool. Seriously! I checked the activities in schedule: Sigofi Ngolo (a sea rite), plant and adopt shells, Cakalele Dance, watch sunrise on Hill of Senyum Lima Ribu, visit Gamtala Village to see the making of handicrafts, sail through mangrove forest, spice trip, historical tour of Jailolo, and a lot more exotic activities. Wow! That’s all I need to write a thriller!
Imagine there is astonish fact behind the Sultanate building of Jailolo. Imagine a romance scene in Buabua Island. Imagine a chase scene between antagonist and protagonist deep under the clean water of Jailolo, with a range of beautiful coral reefs view. I’ve already had a raw plot. I just need to go see the ambiance myself.
I’m pretty sure every cultural festival, including this 5th Teluk Jailolo Festival, is a summary of the culture formed for centuries in the community. So it’s really saving time for us, the tourists and the writers. Through a festival, I can figure out the local culture, nature and social circumstance, enough to build some fancy plot, characters and conflicts.
And after being published, the novel is automatically promoting Jailolo. See how Bangka Belitung were promoted through Laskar Pelangi. Then 5 cm, which inspired the hikers to climb Mount Semeru. My friend whose hobby is mountaineering complained about Mount Semeru (Mahameru) that nowadays has been crowded. “Thanks to 5 cm,” he said satirically.
This is easy to understand. Entertainment like fiction will always find a way to audience’s ego and subconscious. That’s why some people exploit fiction as propaganda tools. However, some people also use it for positive purpose, such as education, information, etc. Using the hidden power of fiction to promote Jailolo, I think, belongs to the positive purpose.
If the novel is well-liked, or being adapted to a wide-screen movie, or even being published abroad, there will be a lot more people who notice Jailolo sexiness. How if the novel is not that great? Well, at least, Jailolo will remain in the heart of my loyal readers. [Video source: Teluk Jailolo’s Youtube]