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Tim Many: From voracious reader to prolific author

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Tim Many and the cover of his book Ronoch Khe Pleu, or Waning Phase of the Moon. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Tim Many: From voracious reader to prolific author

Thanks to his gifts, Tim Many was an excellent student of the Khmer language when he was in high school. Always a voracious reader, he was encouraged by his friends to write short stories as a young man. He began composing his first novella in 1972, when he was just 20 years old, and has continued to this day.

The 76-year-old retired as a deputy inspector of the Ministry of Environment. Although he ceased to work, he never ceased to write.

Born on November 9, 1946, in Phnom Penh, Many attended Nouk Nor Primary School between 1952-1965 and continued his high school education from 1958-1965 at Indra Devi High School in Phnom Penh.

He is a Cambodian intellectual who received a high level of education both in Cambodia and abroad, having earned two bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees.

“In 1966-1971, I graduated with a Bachelor of laws from the Faculty of Law, Royal University of Law and Economics in Cambodia. In 1981-1984, I graduated from the Faculty of Construction in Kyiv city, Ukraine,” he said.

“In 1984-1987, I completed my Master of Laws at university in Lyon, France, and in 1987-1989, I completed a master’s degree in palm oil at university in Johor Bahru, Malaysia,” he added.

Despite studying – both in the Kingdom and abroad – or his commitment to his role as a ministry official, Many never stopped writing, employing every piece of spare time he got to share his stories with the public.

Many, who refers to himself only as “scribe” in his novels, has published 306 works as of 2022.

“To put it simply, I never felt like I had the soul of an artist or a poet. However, I was a good student of the Khmer language. With the help and motivation of my friends, I began writing my first novel, Baksei Chak Mek, in 1972. When it was published in 1973, it became a best seller,” he said.

“I think my reputation as a great story teller hinges on my love of reading. I have always read as much as possible, whether in Khmer or foreign languages. My own background is less literary. I am the eldest son of a family of naval officers and my grandparents were all civil servants,” he added.

He said that following the terrible years of the Pol Pot regime, he began writing again, often by hand. He began publishing and selling his novels in 1982, and has never stopped.

With almost half a century of experience and diligence in coming up with ideas that fit with contemporary society, Many decided to share his wisdom with up-and-coming writers and those who would like to refine their storytelling abilities.

“It is my habit to read a lot of books and analyse their ideas. I am always wondering which ideas I can refine and adapt into new stories. I always try to ensure my work is 50 per cent reality and 50 per cent creativity. In this way, my novels will resonate with the reader and describe present day society,” he said.

With the aim of bringing together personal ideas combined with experience as a lesson for the next generation of authors to practice writing novels, Many wrote and published Art of Writing Novels. The 123 page, seven chapter tome was first published in 2018.

He said the chapters included concept, story planning, description, sentiment, title planning and other useful feedback.

The book received a lot of support from budding authors of all ages and has been published up to 10 times, with total of 10,000 copies.

“Of my 306 published novels, I have five favourites. Khlok Lich Ambeng Antet, Kavey Phsaang Sne, Pous Sak Sraka, Akkhara Duongchet, and Mae remain huge sources of pride to me,” said Many.

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