2021 #2

Novel updates, 'story behind the story' for my scifi short in Clarkesworld, panel appearances, and morsels of good news (I wrote a poem?!)...

Hello, my wee and merry band of subscribers!

It’s coming to the end of winter here in Melbourne/Naarm. We are in the thick of lockdown 6.0 with no clear end in sight. Time has become rather warpy. Here are some writerly updates for you!

Finishing second round edits for Every Version of You

Over the past two months, I’ve been working on edits for Every Version of You. I finally handed them back to my excellent editor last week. This round was focused on paring back the story to let the key elements shine. The manuscript went from 98,000 words to just under 75,000 words—an impressive amount of trimming, in hindsight. Cutting the excess was difficult, especially as I’d put a great deal of thought and feeling into writing back stories for various characters. But I’m satisfied. I think the process has helped me to return to the core of Tao-Yi’s story.

PS. How many times can you rewrite the opening paragraph of your novel before you utterly destroy it? *wry smile*

Every Version of You is due for publication in early 2022 with Affirm Press.

He Leaps for the Stars, He Leaps for the Stars: Clarkesworld Issue #178

My science fiction short story, He Leaps for the Stars, He Leaps for the Stars, was published in the July 2021 issue of Clarkesworld. You can read it online here. If you prefer audio, you can listen directly from the website, or on the Clarkesworld podcast through Youtube, Spotify, or any of your regular podcast apps.

Image above: the issue’s cover features a beautiful artwork called Garden, by Alejandro Burdisio. The graceful, camoflauge-striped machines working with humans in a futuristic, nature-filled landscape feels very hopepunk. I love it!

Story Behind the Story (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ

For a long time now I’ve wanted to write a story about a K-pop star of the future, isolated on a Saturnian moon, trapped by a profit-hungry corporation into a hollow life of endless training, sponsorship, performance, and fandom. Nothing is private for our picture-perfect, desperately lonely idol—every day, a new fan beams into his mind through a neural piggyback.

I wanted to write a subtle, clever escape story, where the escape would be driven both by the main character and an unexpected friend or two.

It took me a while to figure out the nuts and bolts of how the actual escape would work (spoiler: there’s some trickery in the form of deepfakes). Halfway through, I realised that my whole story would fall apart if I didn’t have a technology for instantaneous transfer of consciousness across half the solar system—luckily, quantum entanglement was the solution! Gradually, the rest fell into place. I had so much fun playing with the slow reveals in this story.

I also wanted to play, albeit quietly, with presentations of gender (I oscillated about Yennie’s gender for a while) and romance.

A mish-mash of inspirations for this one: the K-pop and C-pop industries, Street Dance of China, the BLACKPINK documentary, and, of course, deepfake technology. I hope you enjoy the end result.

Emerging Writers’ Festival: Writing Across Genre

In June, I was lucky enough to appear on the Writing Across Genre panel at the Emerging Writers’ Festival, with writer-artist-musician Jamie Marina Lau and critic and writer Declay Fry. We chatted before, during, and after the panel—in a freeform manner about speculative and literary fiction and breaking down the boundaries between genre in our writing and reading. There were probably other topics in there too, but in my nervous haze, I’ve forgotten! It was a great experience, and I learnt so much from Jamie and Declan’s knowledge of literature and industry.

You can watch a recording of the panel here.

Panel appearance and reading: online launch of Zou Mat Je zine

I’ll be appearing at the online launch of Zou Mat Je zine, on Sun 19 Sep 11am AEST (9am AWST)! I’ll do a reading of my piece, Sparks from Stone Guts, and join in a panel discussion as well.

Sparks from Stone Guts, will be published in the inaugural digital issue of the zine. Sparks is my first ever creative non-fic work and my attempt to explore my cultural identity through my relationships with languages—my primal, wordless, intimate knowledge of Cantonese, my yearning to belong through loving other languages, my grief about loss of language and cultural knowledge.

Zou Mat Je is a very exciting new bilingual zine featuring poetry, stories, and art from people of the Cantonese diaspora. I have no doubt there’ll be super cool things coming from this zine in the near future.

You can grab tickets to the online launch here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/zou-mat-je-cantonese-poetry-and-art-zine-online-launch-tickets-168367801627. If you’re Perth-based, they’re also doing an in-person launch on Fri 17 Sep at Rabble Books and Games.

Image credit: Zou Mat Je Banner by Alina Tang.

Last bits of good news ✌.ʕʘ‿ʘʔ.✌

I was featured in Writers Unearthed in Andromeda Spaceways June 2021! I got a bit excited and waffled on about my terrible childhood novels, writerly crushes, oscillating on the plotter-pantser continuum, and why I write speculative fiction. I have a soft spot for Andromeda Spaceways, who published my story, The Ethnographer, in 2020. They always have gorgeous covers and a diverse, astonishing range of speculative fiction.

Plus, a couple of acceptances:

  • My first poem, Inertness, to Going Down Swinging. This will be illustrated (yes, illustrated!) and appear online.

  • Nobody Ever Goes Home to Zhenzhu - a far-future space adventure featuring my bounty hunter Orin and mechanic Calam, to Lightspeed Magazine. A dream market!

And more good news about Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women: it has recently won both the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Edited Anthology and the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology. If you haven’t yet checked out this horror anthology by Asian women writers, you can grab a paperback here or an e-book through Amazon. I have two dark tales in there, if you dare!

What’s coming up?

Take a quick breather. Carve out time for short fiction again. Keep on with the poetry! Attempt to post more regularly on social media, which I find both invigorating and overwhelming in equal measure.

When I’m not writing, I’ll be tackling that TBR pile with renewed gusto, reclaiming my backyard from winter wilderness, experimenting in the kitchen, toddling along to the day job, and getting back into learning Chinese.

I’ll be attending FIYAHCON 2021 and BonFIYAH (previously Fringe) on 16-19 September—looking forward to a big dose of inspo from it. I’ve been a bit MIA from online spaces these past couple of months, but I’m hoping to reconnect with the writing community. Drop me a line and say hello if we cross paths!

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