New book puts former newsman in the news

Former Straits Times deputy editor Alan John (left) with attendees at the launch of his book at Shanghai Dolly in River Valley Road last night. More than 110 people attended the Singapore Press Club event. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

After an illustrious 39-year career as a reporter and editor, Mr Alan John retired last year.

Last night, he discovered what it was like being on the other side, as he took questions from a room full of journalists.

"It's much less stressful being a newspaper editor," said the former Straits Times deputy editor, who had covered or edited some of the biggest stories in Singapore and the region, including the 1987 Marxist conspiracy, the 2003 Sars outbreak and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

At a Singapore Press Club event last night, the 62-year-old shared stories of how he wooed his wife, and discussed his Catholic faith, his passion for social work and life as a newsman.

He also spoke about what made him run his first full marathon at the age of 58 - eight years after suffering a heart attack.

He began going for slow runs before participating in races, and eventually took on the full 42km marathon. "This was despite my doctor's best efforts to say, 'don't be crazy'," he said. He finished it in 6hr 19mins.

Glimpses of his life are detailed in his new book Good Grief! Everything I Know About Love, Life And Loss I Wish Someone Had Told Me Sooner.

The book, which is now on sale, is a collection of about 40 columns he wrote over the last 40 years, as well as new ones penned since his retirement.

After an initial print run of 1,500, publisher Straits Times Press has ordered a second.

"I'm most delighted that people want to pick up a new book, because it shows that reading as a worthwhile pastime is still alive and well," said Mr John, who headed various sections of the broadsheet before becoming deputy editor.

At the Singapore Press Club Connexion venue at Mandopop club Shanghai Dolly in River Valley Road, he also took questions from an audience of over 110 people.

This is his second book, after Unholy Trinity, which was published in 1989 and described the sensational case of self-styled medium Adrian Lim who, along with his wife and mistress, was hanged for the ritual murders of two children in 1981.

Later this month, a reprint of Unholy Trinity will be available in bookstores here.

Good Grief! is on sale at $22 at all major bookstores and at

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 05, 2016, with the headline New book puts former newsman in the news. Subscribe