AUTHOR Ridhwan Saidi first heard about the mysterious internet ‘sensation’ Babyrina in his younger days. It was 1996 and this ‘mythical’ star was said to have started a website where she had posted risque pictures of herself. At that time, the internet was at its infancy and Babyrina was said to be studying in the United States. The story goes that when Babyrina wanted to come to Malaysia in 2001, she was allegedly turned back. According to some sources, she went on to the United Kingdom instead, and soon, disappeared from the public radar and was never heard of again. Piqued by her story, Ridhwan decided to write a crime thriller about a serial killer who arranged his dead victims in the same poses that Babyrina had purportedly appeared on her website. He then decided to name this novel after her. “I chose to name my novel after her as she is an enigmatic and mysterious character,” says the 29-year-old local boy. “Till today, we are not certain if there is any truth to her story. Some said Babyrina might not even be a Malaysian. They claimed she could be a Latin American. “Now, we do not hear any more stories about her. She has completely disappeared. That made her even more enigmatic and mysterious.” Ridhwan said his novel is not a biography on Babyrina. He also denied claims of naming his book after this risque ‘artiste’ to sell more copies of his novel. “The young generation of Malaysians today do not know who she is,” he says. “So the title will not help to boost the sale of my book. “In the past, some of my books have titles such as Stereo Genmai and Mautopia which can be a little avant-garde and people find difficulty in relating to them. “So this time around, I decided to use a simpler title.” He believes Babyrina had more to offer than just her pretty face and her sexy poses. He said he stumbled upon an ‘interview’ where Babyrina purportedly answered queries from her fans and he found her answers carry a sense of humour. Ridhwan also added a scene where Babyrina has a conversation with one of the characters in the novel. But of course, spilling the beans on this particular scene will only spoil the readers’ fun. There are also many turns and twists in the novel that will keep readers turning the page. Ridhwan likes to dabble in dark themes and characters such as serial killers, porn stars, incest, violent murders and eccentric personalities in his books. He released his first novel, Cekik – a suspense thriller about a gory murder case – in 2011. After Cekik, he started his own publication firm, Moka Mocha Ink, where he published his own works as well as those of other writers. Babyrina is his fifth work of fiction. “Writers like to explore what is good and what is bad,” he explains about his penchant for writing crime thrillers. “If I write a story about goodness, my novel will not sound sincere. “I am keen to explore chaos, brutality and violence. I’m curious to know what goes on in the mind of a serial killer. “Obsession and perversion make for a strong energy.” Surprisingly, Ridhwan had no desire to be an author when young. He was more attracted to images than words. He dabbled in photography and directed a few shorts. Like everyone who makes short films, he also harbours dreams of directing a feature film. Still, he feels he is too young now to direct a feature film. “I will only direct my first feature film when I am 40 or 50. I want to collect more life experience before sitting in the director’s chair.” Meanwhile, his next project will see him writing a fiction novel for Fixi, the publishing house that gave him his first break by publishing Cekik. The novel is due sometime next year. Since it will be called Brazil, Fixi will be sponsoring him for a trip to that country to watch the Fifa World Cup from June 12 to July 12. He will only start on the book after his return. Babyrina, priced at RM20, will be launched at KL Alternative Bookfest (KLAB) and Arts For Grabs on March 29 at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market, in Kuala Lumpur. Ridhwan will be present for a book signing at noon.