About Me

© 2015 Darren Johnson

© 2015 Darren Johnson / IDJ Photography

I was born and raised in Malaysia, and currently live in England.

I mostly write speculative fiction, with the occasional foray into romance. I am represented by Caitlin Blasdell of Liza Dawson Associates. My ideal book would probably be a version of Anne of Green Gables, set in Asia. With dragons!

My short story collection Spirits Abroad was published by Buku Fixi in summer 2014. You can find out more about it here: Spirits Abroad.

I edited a Malaysian cyberpunk anthology for Buku Fixi called Cyberpunk: Malaysia, which came out in summer 2015.

My debut novel Sorcerer to the Crown is forthcoming from Ace Books (US) and Pan Macmillan (UK) in September 2015. Find out more about it here!


Spirits Abroad was a joint winner of the Crawford Award, along with Stephanie Feldman’s novel The Angel of Losses.

I have not won any other awards, so that heading should really be in the singular. But here are some other occasions on which my name was mentioned in proximity to an award!

  • My short story First National Forum on the Position of Minorities in Malaysia was a finalist in the Selangor Young Talent Awards 2011, and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
  • My novelette The House of Aunts and short story 起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion — The Lion Bows) were listed among the Carl Brandon Society Awards 2011 Honors.
  • I was nominated for the 2013 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
  • Spirits Abroad is a finalist in the Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards 2015.


Interview with Zen Cho: I write stories as a way of asking questions

Interview with Kitaab on how living overseas has affected my writing, why being a writer has made me a better lawyer (and vice versa), and other things!

The Star: Is genre fiction picking up steam with Malaysian readers?

The Star interviews Malaysian genre authors, including me, about the increasing popularity of genre fiction in Malaysia.

The Star: Malaysian author Zen Cho is making waves abroad

Interview with The Star about Spirits Abroad, winning the Crawford Award, and Sorcerer to the Crown.

Fantasies that Bind: a conversation with Zen Cho & Stephanie Feldman

I talk with awardwinning novelists Sofia Samatar and Stephanie Feldman about fantasy, family, history and diaspora, focusing on Spirits Abroad and Stephanie’s novel The Angel of Losses.

Q&A with local: Zen Cho

Q&A with Daphne Lee of local, a reviews site for Malaysian literature.

BFM Bookmark: Sci-Fi in Print, with Umapagan Ampikaipakan

Interview with BFM’s Umapagan Ampikaipakan for his radio show Bookmark. Listen to the podcast or download it at the link!

Interview at Bristol Book Blog

Interview with Bristol Festival of Literature organiser Peter Sutton.

Urban Mythic: Zen Cho Interviewed

Interview by co-editor Jenny Barber for the release of The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic, which features my story The Fish Bowl.

World SF Blog: Interview with Zen Cho

Interview with Charles Tan of World SF Blog.

Outer Alliance Podcast #14: Steampunk December

Julia Rios of the Outer Alliance interviews me, Shveta Thakrar and Patty Templeton about our stories in Steam-Powered II: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories. You can also listen to my reading of an excerpt of my story The Terracotta Bride.