• Vivian Teo

5 fun facts about My BFF is an Alien: Sabotage

Updated: Jan 12

5 fun facts about My BFF is an Alien: Sabotage, including the places and experiences that were inspired and based on real-life events!

I just realised it's only a few more months before Turbulence, the third book of My BFF is an Alien, will be published. In May to be exact! Well, not that I only realise that now; my publisher and I have a schedule we are working on for book 3 and 4. It's just that I really haven't been doing much work over the school holidays as I wanted to spend quality time with my kids and the first week of school this year had been a little chaotic, what with school administrative matters and migraines on my part. So it is only today when I submitted the first draft of book four to my editor, I thought with a clear mind and perspective - it's really just a few more months before we publish Turbulence!


So ahead of that, I wanted to share some fun facts about Sabotage, the second book of the series, which hopefully you have already read. There are likely to be spoilers ahead if you haven't already read Sabotage (I consider any details to do with the book as spoilers no matter how minor they are!) but I will try to keep major spoilers to a minimal here. So, here goes!


1) The space probes Voyager One and Voyager Two are real

In Sabotage, General Bin talks about Earth launching the space probes, Voyager One and Voyager Two forty years ago, which was how Viridians came to know about Earth. While the latter part about Viridians coming across the probe is obviously fiction, much of what was described - that is, the probes broadcasting Earth’s coordinates and greetings in multiple languages - is true.


Voyager One and Two were space probes launched by NASA in the 1970s to explore outer space and these probes are still transmitting data they collect on space back to Earth as they continue their journey till this day. I remember when I read about these probes years ago, I had thought it doesn't seem very wise to be broadcasting Earth's location in outer space. Even if the chances of the probes encountering alien beings are almost minute, but what if they do and what if the alien species they come across are hostile?


I supposed back in the 70s, scientists may have thought aliens were more likely to be friendly than anything else but since then I have watched movies and read fiction stories that say otherwise (ahem, Independence Day, War of the Worlds, anyone?), so I can't help being paranoid 😆. And history has proven that sometimes, truth can be stranger than fiction, no?


2) Abri's memories of gymnastics were mine

By now, you'd already know Abri is not quite the athlete. Some of her disastrous experiences in sports were really mine when I just started in Secondary school. In particular, I was an absolute fail in gymnastics when I first started on it and it's mainly because I was fearful of the sport and I lacked confidence then.


I can't exactly remember what sparked off a change in me but I recall not wanting to suck at gymnastics anymore, so I started practising on my own at home. In no time, I was doing splits, handstands and backbends effortlessly, and I realised I could actually be good at gymnastics. In my later years in secondary school, I went on to choreograph and perform Chinese dance and cheerleading - which incorporated gymnastics elements - in school events.


Abri never got better at gymnastics but in the first book, she did realise she could do well in the obstacle courses. As Abri and I found out, sometimes all you need to do is to get out of your comfort zone and just try. It's with that, I hope children who read My BFF is an Alien can see that if Abri and I can succeed in something that we once think we are hopeless at, so can everyone else.


3) Wild boar attack incidents have happened in real life

In Sabotage, Octavia and Abri encounter a wild boar which charged at them for no apparent reason (or in this story, was there a reason? 😁) and Abri recalls a news article of something similar. Well, something similar did happen in real life. In 2018, a woman was injured by a wild boar in Punggol, and only recently in November, another woman was attacked by a wild boar at Sungei Api Api Park. Both victims had said the attacks, which had happened out of a sudden, were unprovoked. In one of the articles, a National Parks Board staff said that wild boars which had experiences of being fed by humans, might associate humans with food providers and therefore approach them, and this in turn could lead to aggressive behaviour towards people.


Wildlife is a sight to behold especially in our city-state where sightings of wildlife like otters, wild boars, and hornbills often get us all excited. The thing with wildlife sightings in Singapore is that the animals usually mind their own business and if you don't get too up close or appear threatening to them, they just go about their own thing and there's no need for observers to be overly concerned. But given reports of unprovoked attacks like the above, I reckon it might still be better - if you're able to - to keep a safe distance during such sightings.


4) Some of the the journalistic skills Abri used were my own experience

In this book series, you see Abri often using her journalistic smarts, some taught by her Dad. Most of these came from my own experiences when I was on the job. If you don't already know, I had worked as a financial journalist and editor at major trade publications covering Asia's commodities market for 14 years.


Sometimes I think there is a mismatch between my former career and my character. I've always been an introvert and a highly-sensitive individual, so I have never liked to feel like I'm annoying people or I'm being intrusive. But when you're a reporter, you need to approach people and ask questions - even if they are questions that people might not like. I remember on the first day of my job as a reporter, my editor then (who is a dear friend to me now) told me that "so long as your namecard says ‘reporter’, then it is your job to ask questions." That gave me a new perspective and confidence and I no longer saw myself as a bother when on the job. This was what Abri remembered her Dad as saying when she had to approach the mean girls in a scene in Sabotage.


In Sabotage, Abri also tried to ferret out the truth from Naomi with journalistic aptitude. In my former line of work, we often get leads from sources - it could be rumours or hearsay - which sometimes do or do not check out. If it's a lead worth chasing, you throw it out to sources and see what they have to say about it and if it leads to somewhere. So yes, Abri and her Dad got their journalistic smarts from me!


5) The hill town in the Italy epilogue was inspired by Montepulciano

Before I had children, I travelled a lot, especially for work and sometimes on my own. Touring Italy was one of the most memorable solo trips I had made and I still fondly remember the towns I had visited, that including Montepulciano, a medieval hill town in southern Tuscany. Sharing some pics below!

It sits on a 605-metre limestone ridge, so the shops and cafes are built on a slope.

Though it has been more than a decade, I can still vividly remember huffing and puffing my way up the narrow streets of the quaint town to reach the piazza at the top.

The town in the book is, of course, not exactly the same as the real town (the restaurant doesn't exist). But I had wanted the epilogue to be set on the other side of the world and at the same time, be able to show the drama and impact of the weather event. Hence, Montepulciano came to mind. I think the impact of the weather event in the Italian town does give a nice contrast to the impact of the weather events that are to happen in Singapore in book 3 and 4. So yup, more exciting weather events to look forward to in Turbulence and book 4!


And in case you missed it, here are the behind-the-scenes for book one including how names and places in the story came about 😉.


Is there anything more you'd like to know about My BFF is an Alien? If so, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message and I'd try my best to answer your questions!


Note: My BFF is an Alien is a four-book series published by Epigram Books. The first and second book of the series is now available from Epigram Books, Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop, and leading Singapore bookstores including Popular Bookstore, Kinokuniya and Times Bookstore. The third book of the series titled Turbulence is scheduled for release in May 2021.


Disclaimer: My opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.


©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified.


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