I’ve stolen the headline of the Locus piece for this post because it makes me feel so weird and official. I am the Cho that has won the Crawford Award! It’s for Spirits Abroad, tied with Stephanie Feldman for her novel The Angel of Losses. (Which sounds super cool, and I can think of several people on my friends list who might be interested in it. If they haven’t already read it!)
I’m unbelievably chuffed to be in a list of winners including Karen Lord, Sofia Samatar and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. And Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy! Imagine Spirits Abroad being on the same list as the Black Jewels books. What more is there to say!
An Alphabet of Embers
Editor Rose Lemberg has published the Table of Contents for An Alphabet of Embers! An Alphabet of Embers is an anthology of lyrical/surreal speculative flash fiction, poetry and unclassifiables. I’m delighted to be in the ToC with the first short I have completed in a while, Everything Under One Roof. And I’m absolutely thrilled that the multi-talented writer and artist M Sereno, who did the cover for the Spirits Abroad ebook, will be illustrating the anthology.
Sightings in the wild
I’m super pleased about Sofia Samatar’s shout-out for Spirits Abroad in the Strange Horizons 2014 in Review post. Also nice to see Sorcerer to the Crown pop up on a couple of “anticipated in 2015″ lists. Sort of makes it feel more real!
Links about publishing
I read a few interesting posts about publishing recently, which I gather here in case it is of interest to people other than myself:
Sherwood Smith talks about why she and co-author Rachel Manija Brown decided to self-publish the sequel to their traditionally-published YA novel Stranger. Stranger was just published in November. The sequel Hostage is out now.
Kameron Hurley posted about the ups and downs of her writing career in 2014, giving some honest publishing numbers.
Jim Hines also posted about how much he earned from his books in 2014, with some helpful context from previous years.
I read Emily Gould’s essay about earning a US$200,000 advance and then running out of money with some skepticism, not assisted by the clickbaity title and subtitle, but it provides a couple of useful data-points.
And a fascinating and bizarre look at author Helen DeWitt, who wrote a book called The Last Samurai (not the Tom Cruise one), and then things got weird. You really need to read the whole thing to get the full effect!
I had a really interesting (and long!) email exchange with Daphne Lee of local, a reviews/opinion site focusing on Malaysian and Southeast Asian literature. We talked about writing fantasy, finding a voice in which to write Malaysian stories, how your reading influences your writing, Western/Malaysian publishing, and a bunch of other things. Read the interview at the link below!
A couple of other small updates:
There are 12 whole copies of SPIRITS ABROAD in stock at Amazon! Small victories, but after months of its either being out of stock or having only 2-3 copies available for sale on Amazon, this is very pleasing. (If you would like to buy the dead tree version of SPIRITS ABROAD but don’t want to give Amazon your money, friendly indie Big Green Bookshop should have a couple of copies for sale. They haven’t got it up on the website, but you can email them for details. And of course, there is always the ebook!)
Submissions for CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA have closed. Thanks to everyone who sent in a story. We’ve received 99 submissions and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into reading them and putting together the anthology.
I tell a lie. My agent Caitlin Blasdell sold my book to Ace/Roc Books in the US, and they sold it to Pan Macmillan/Tor in the UK. I didn’t do any selling myself, just fingernail-biting and jumping around in excitement. The book’s called SORCERER TO THE CROWN, and I’m to write two more in the same world.
SORCERER TO THE CROWN is set in London in the early 1800s and it’s about Zacharias Wythe, England’s first black Sorcerer Royal. (As in, he’s a black guy. Not as in black magic. Zacharias is very virtuous!) But his life sucks. England is running out of magic, his colleagues are mean and racist, and everyone thinks he killed his predecessor.
When ambitious (and inconveniently magical) orphan Prunella Gentleman demands that he take her away from the school where she’s drudged all her life, Zacharias refuses, of course. But Prunella’s stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries, and things are about to get a whole lot more complicated for the both of them.
This is, of course,
postcolonial fluff for book nerds (or rather, fluff for postcolonial book nerds) (made-up genre of my heart!). It’s what happened when I mashed up Wodehouse and Heyer and my childhood puzzlement about people in books who were described as “dark” when they were clearly white. It’s got secret dragons and schoolgirl hijinks and confrontations at balls and bossy witch aunties. It’s even got pontianak, because why not.
What can I say about this?
It will be my first published novel. It’s due to release in autumn 2015.
It feels like I’ve worked harder on this book than I’ve worked on anything else in my liiife, but that’s probably not true. I probably worked harder in Chinese school. (Nothing in my life so far has managed to beat Chinese school. If you wish to make your children
traumatised strong, send them to Chinese school!)
Anyway, I am SO READY to do more of this work. I was thinking about something I saw on my dwircle yesterday — “the reward for good work is more work” — and gosh, if I could be so lucky! The best thing would be to be able to work hard on dragon hijinks forever.
To be able to share those dragon hijinks with other people is the next best thing. I hope the book comes out. (I am of course convinced that the Earth is going to be hit by an asteroid just in time to prevent actual publication.) I hope people read it and like it. :O
My new release mailing list
If you would like to receive an email notification when the book is out, you can sign up to my brand spanking new mailing list! I’m planning only to send out emails when I’ve published a new thing that you can buy and/or read. So you’ll get an email when this book is out, and also when other projects I’ve got in the works are published.
I’m also considering possibly sending out mailing list extras in future — the occasional free short story, say, or deleted scenes from the book. But otherwise I will be silent! I won’t spam you or give your address to anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The official press release(s)
ETA: Press releases from the publishers!
(Though I should say that my book can only suffer from juxtaposition with the incomparable JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL. Clarke was definitely an influence (and Stephen Black and Arabella Strange, MY FAVOURITES), but SORCERER is, let us say, an homage. Though it’s also a lot of other things!)
If you liked Likhain‘s cover for the SPIRITS ABROAD ebook, you can now download it as a desktop wallpaper at her website:
I’ve got it on my desktop now and I gotta say, it’s pretty intense. I like to think that unflinching gaze is keeping me honest.
And the SPIRITS ABROAD paperback is now available at Big Green Bookshop, a friendly North London indie bookshop. I met Simon at Loncon, where Big Green had a stall in the dealer’s room where they’d sell any random’s book. There isn’t a webpage for SPIRITS ABROAD at the moment, but they have got it, they’ll sell it to you for £7.99, and they ship worldwide — contact them for details.
A few Spirits Abroad-related updates ….
Fixi has sold (most of) the first print run, so the book has gone into a second printing! Really delighted about this. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy.
The book’s back in stock on Amazon, so you can order it here if you would like the paperback: Spirits Abroad at Amazon.
(If you want to order the book on Amazon, don’t worry if it looks as though it’s out of stock — the reason for this is that Amazon is conservative and only orders as many copies as it needs to fulfill customer orders, plus a few extra. But Amazon always orders enough to fulfill orders placed by customers, and Fixi has plenty of copies going spare, so if you place an order you’ll definitely get the book — it may just mean you’ll take a little while to receive it.)
And there’s always the ebook version, of course. Most of the Fixi Novo books are now available on Smashwords, if you’re interested in trying out Malaysian pulp: Fixi Novo at Smashwords.
Spirits Abroad is kind of the odd duck out, as I’ve now hiked up the price to a princely US$3.99, plus of course the lavish detail of Likhain‘s cover is very different from sleek Fixi Novo house style.
Speaking of which, Likhain’s posted about the process of creating the piece that became the cover: Call it abundance.
I want to say there are voices and stories that cradle our hearts when we’re at our most fragile and closest to breaking, and it’s these voices that we return to time and time again — we can trust them with our pain, our bodies, our selves.
She’s sending me the painting! So excited. We have just moved, and I dream of colours on our walls. (Er, leant against the walls rather than affixed to them in any way that would breach the terms of our lease, of course).
Likhain’s also a brilliant writer, and her poem has just appeared in Strange Horizons: Seeds by M Sereno.
Swallow a seed and it will sprout within you,
becoming your veins, invading your bones.
Those poets and conquerors knew this. Knew the mouth is an altar.
It’s about a lot of stuff. Do read it.
I’m super excited about this!
Amir posted about how he came to decide to do a cyberpunk anthology on Facebook: Amir’s Facebook post. Very cute! The originator actually provided a list of examples of the genre, so here it is in case you find it helpful:
Blade Runner, Total Recall, Johnny Mnemonic, The Matrix, Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Neo-Tokyo, Dredd
Amir decided pretty quickly, because on the same day, 14 August, I received an email from him asking if I’d like to edit a cyberpunk anthology. I was at Loncon, gearing up for a long weekend of approx. 9,000 panels, while also doing my bazillionth revision of a novel and drowning in work from actual job. I’ve never edited anything other than school magazines, plus I am not super familiar with the genre. I was like omg ////o\\\\
But the answer was yes, definitely. Of course la!
Working with Fixi is very humbling. You spend a couple of days crafting a perfectly balanced call for entries and then Amir says, “Can you cut it down? It needs to fit on Instagram.” And he removes your full stop after your ellipsis!
What I’m looking for
I read a review the other day that made me realise, with shock, that cyberpunk is kind of retro. I hadn’t quite registered that Neuromancer was literally published before I was born. The Matrix was made within living memory, of course, but even so, that was 15 years ago!
But the more I thought about it the more ideal it felt. It’s an old genre that is forward-looking, which is perfect in a weird way for a modern society suffused with nostalgia for an imagined ideal past. It’s all about living inside the Internet and being owned by corporations, which is maybe not an entirely inaccurate description of urban Malaysiana. It also works, obviously, because it’s basically KL NOIR 5 … NOW WITH SPACESHIPS!
So what am I looking for? I’m looking for stories (or creative non-fiction) that explore what cyberpunk can reveal about Malaysia (or vice versa). Stories that show convincingly what Cowboy Bebop would be like if it was set in Alor Setar. No black leather trenchcoats (too hot la), and if we could skip the tired sexism that is so often a hallmark of noir, that would be great. I’d be happy to read both stories that inhabited and played with the tropes of the genre, and stories that tried to do something new with those tropes.
Because cyberpunk was what people thought about the future, and a lot of it was produced in what is now the past, it got stuff wrong. It is an incomplete vision. I’m really interested in what the cyberpunk of now would look like — now that we really do live in the Internet and corporations own our souls. (You could write about separatist farmers! I would love to publish a cyberpunk story that was all about separatist farmers.)
So: cities, systems, cool outfits, robotic or bioengineered enhancements, near-future technology, fighting against The Man. Maybe even optimism? Maybe even that.
The SPIRITS ABROAD ebook is now available! I meant to have it out a lot earlier, but it was delayed by novel, and conventions, and then family stuff … but now it is here!
I’m all the more excited about it because now I can share the absolutely stunning ebook cover.
I commissioned the cover from the amazing queer Filipina artist Likhain, and I love it omg. It’s so lush and vivid and colour-drenched and rich with gorgeous detail. And it has a dragon, and eyes peering suspiciously out at you, and hibiscuses! *____* If you like it, I believe she’s currently open to commissions — check out her website for information.
As well as a shiny alternative cover, the ebook has an extra five previously-published stories, plus author commentary on all the stories in the collection. Scroll down to the end of the post for the Table of Contents.
For the first week of release I am pricing the ebook at US$2.99. I am planning to put it up in time, so if you have been intending to get the ebook, get it soon! You can buy it at the following retailers:
For people who’ve bought the print version, I’m offering a free ebook for a limited time. Email me with proof of purchase and I will send you a link to download the SPIRITS ABROAD ebook for free. (Proof of purchase can be a receipt or even a photo of the book. If you bought the book directly from me, there’s no need for proof of purchase, of course.) This offer is only valid if I receive your request by Sunday, 12 October, 12 noon British Summer Time.
If you bought the print version on Amazon, you should be able to benefit from the Kindle Matchbook service to get a free Kindle ebook (again, it’ll only be free for a limited time). If you’d like an ebook in a different format, though, just contact me.
After the initial offer period I’ll probably put up the ebook price by a dollar or so. I’m planning to offer a discount on the ebook to purchasers of the paperback indefinitely. If you’d like a review copy (ebook only), email me with a link to your review site.
Spirits Abroad ebook — Table of Contents […]