I had all these great plans to write more Publishing Journey posts around this time but er I’m a bit busy at the moment. Once I’ve emerged from the haze of book 2 rewrites and day job stuff I’ll do more! In September it’ll be a year since Sorcerer came out so that might be a good time. Do leave a comment, email or let me know on Twitter or Facebook if there’s anything in particular you’d like to hear about my experiences of writing and publishing.
I keep meaning to post about things that have happened … but then more things happen and I forget to do it. But never mind my dilatory blogging. Look, it’s a
~*~*~*~SORCERER TO THE CROWN PAPERBACK PREORDER GIVEAWAY!~*~*~*~
Aren’t they cute? I love my Coryographies Regency bookshelf necklace, which I ordered when Sorcerer first came out in hardcover:
It’s pretty sturdy, but you can tell you shouldn’t be banging it about. And I sort of do, because I take it along whenever I travel for cons or book events and also I’m a terminal fidgeter. Finally the letters on the top shelf fell off in protest1 and I sent the pendant back to Coryographies for repairs — and she sent me the earrings as a gift when she returned it!
Tragically, I can’t wear earrings. But perhaps you can, or know someone who can and would love these! If you tick either of those boxes, plus you love Regency hijinks in conveniently portable paperback form, this is the perfect giveaway for you.
Here’s the deal:
- You preorder the Sorcerer to the Crown paperback and email me, providing valid proof of purchase, your name and address. (Make sure you email me at the address at the link!)
- I put your name in a hat.
- I choose someone at random out of that hat and they win the earrings! It might be you. And then you will look like this!
If that sounds good to you, here are sites where you can place your preorder. Once you’ve done that, contact me with proof of purchase, plus your name and address. Don’t forget to take a look at the Terms and Conditions at the end of this post!
Step 1: Preorder the book!
You can still participate if you preorder the book somewhere else — just send me your valid proof of purchase.
Step 2: Let me know!
Email me at zenchogiveaways AT gmail DOT com, with the subject line “Sorcerer to the Crown PB preorder giveaway”. Please provide proof of purchase, your name and address.
Step 3: ???
This is the part where I process entries using a magical randomiser I will find on the Internet!
Step 4: Profit!
By winning a pair of earrings! Maybe. Only one of you will win them. Everyone who has preordered gets a nice new book, though. And you can always buy the earrings directly from the creator if you can’t be bothered with all this giveaway hassle!
- Open worldwide.
- Giveaway starts at 12 noon on Friday, 17 June 2016 and closes at the end of the day on Monday, 11 July 2016 (British Summer Time). Any entries received after 12 midnight (British Summer Time) on 11 July 2016 will not be counted.
- 1 winner will receive 1 pair of the Coryographies Stack of Books Earrings as pictured in this blog post.
- In order to participate, you must preorder the paperback of Sorcerer to the Crown and email me, providing valid proof of purchase, your name and address. I will not disclose the personal information you provide me to anyone else, and I will use it only for the purposes of this giveaway.
- The winner will be chosen at random.
- I will inform the winner by email within 7 days of the closing date and may also announce their name on social media. The winner must respond within 14 days of notification to claim their prize and I will dispatch the prize within 14 days after that.
Let me know if you’ve got any questions by leaving a comment below!
1 Just to be clear, if you’re reasonably careful with your possessions you should have no problems. I am pretty rough and even then the letters were only coming away a bit — I pulled them off the rest of the way because I didn’t want them to get detached while I wasn’t looking and be lost forever.
I’ve already squeaked about this on social media, but I’m thrilled that Sorcerer to the Crown is on the 2015 Tiptree Award longlist! The Tiptree is the coolest SFF award IMO, and they’ve highlighted an awesome range of novels, short stories, comics and nonfiction this year.
I’m particularly delighted to see the shout-out for Kuzhali Manickavel’s Things We Found During The Autopsy.
Mancunicon was a roaring success on almost every level — thanks to the con comm for a great event, Guest of Honour Aliette de Bodard for letting me tag along and make her mugs of bad green tea, and everyone who came for dim sum.
(And I did indeed eat a grilled mac and cheese sandwich with pulled pork from the amazing grilled cheese sandwich place. They’re on Deliveroo! Amazing grilled cheese sandwiches AT YOUR FINGERTIPS. If you live in Manchester.)
Now here’s what I’ll be doing in April and May!
Event: Zen Cho in conversation with Anita Sethi
Date and time: Thursday 14 April, 1 pm
Venue: Level one of Olympia, opposite Foyles Bookshop
I’ll be “in conversation” as part of the English PEN Literary Salon series, which I’m terribly impressed by mostly because I come before Judith Kerr. Judith Kerr!!!
Apart from watching her talk, I’m hoping to swing by the Malaysia booth — it’s the first time Malaysia is having a booth and it’s being run by scrappy indies without any government or big corporate funding — as well as to catch Amir Muhammad’s talk: A Basket Is Not Just a Swear Word.
In Malaysia, ‘basket’ is a slightly more refined way to refer to a ruder word which technically means a male of illegitimate birth. It’s one of those quirky byproducts of English colonialism.
But here in the LBF, a Malaysian publisher talks about the state of reading, writing and publishing in his country.
He will do this while launching the first of an annual anthology, Little Basket, that aims to highlight Anglophone writing from Malaysia. He does not plan on using words like ‘Anglophone’ during his talk.
You will be able to get Little Basket 2016 during this session, so if the talk gets a bit boring you may just flip through it.
(The event page doesn’t say it’s Amir, but as you can see, it is obviously Amir.)
Given the timing it’s less likely that I’ll be able to catch the Chinese Science Fiction panel with Xiaolu Guo, moderated by Malaysian writer Yen Ooi, but you should go for that if the timing works for you!
I should also say that I was invited to do this as a direct result of Bare Lit. So huge thanks to the festival organisers for the opportunity. I’ll do my best to pass it on.
Signing in Stockholm
Event: Sorcerer to the Crown signing (I’ll sign copies of Spirits Abroad and Cyberpunk: Malaysia as well if you’ve got them, but sadly they’re quite hard to get outside Malaysia)
Date and time: Friday 29 April, 5 pm
Venue: SF-Bokhandeln, Stockholm
What it says on the tin really! After reading Ann Leckie’s blog post about her Scandinavian mini-tour, it occurred to me that since I was going to Stockholm, it might be worth checking if the bookshop she mentioned (1) stocked my book and (2) would like me to sign it. They did and they did! It’s open to the public so do pop by and say hi.
Event: Guest of Honour at Åcon 8
Date and time: Thursday 5 May to Sunday 8 May
Venue: Mariehamn, Åland Islands
I don’t really know why I keep posting about this since memberships have sold out and everyone who would care must already know I’m going … but anyway I am going! Super looking forward to it — I am spending a whole week at Åland and have been warned I might run out of things to do, but as I have a book to rewrite I am sure that can only be good for me.
I haven’t written my Guest of Honour speech yet though /o\ I’ve never done one before. Crowdsourcing ideas now! What should I say?
Here’s how the question goes, more or less:
Do you think you would be as successful if you didn’t write about Asian/Malaysian characters/myths/folklore/beliefs/spirits?
I don’t blame people for asking. It’s a natural question, in a way. It’s one of those questions white Westerners don’t get asked, though. (“You’re American, do you think you would be as successful if you weren’t writing about American characters?”) And to be totally honest, it is annoying, because the lurking question it implies is:
Are you writing about your culture because it sells?
Here’s what I ask back:
What’s the alternative? What else would I be writing?
But I know what they mean. They’re asking about the fact that I’ve strayed outside the unmarked default. In English-language fiction, this is writing about white Westerners — if you’re a fantasy writer, drawing on their ideas and images of vampires, fairies and ghosts. If you do that you’re just writing fantasy. Throw in a bunian or pontianak and suddenly it’s Cultural Heritage Day.
I always struggle to answer, partly because I want to flip the question over and examine its insides, but also because the answer is complicated. Here’s an attempt.
Yes. I think I’m quite a good writer. If I was persevering and worked hard, I think I could have written exclusively about non-Malaysian characters in non-Malaysian settings and eventually been published and slowly built up a readership, as I am doing now. (Sorcerer to the Crown is set in Britain and primarily about non-Malaysian characters, of course, but I suppose it’s outside that unmarked default and so doesn’t count for the purposes of the people who ask this question.)
There are plenty of examples of non-white people who write (or wrote) successfully about white people. To take just a few:
Here’s a post by bestselling thriller writer Tess Gerritsen about why she spent much of her career not writing about Asians: “Your English is so good!”
Sherry Thomas writes hugely popular historical romances set in England in English, her second language.
The majority of successful romance author Courtney Milan‘s backlist features white people on the covers. She’s talked on Twitter about realising she could write about people of colour like herself, but I haven’t found a blog post to link to on the subject.
One advantage of doing it this way is that people would probably ask me about things other than diversity once in a while. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s something I think about a lot and am genuinely interested in, but it’s not my ONLY THING.)
Another advantage is that it might be, well, easier to sell stuff. Consider, for example, YA author Natalie Whipple‘s experiences trying to sell books with PoC main characters: Diversity As Trend? Please. Or Cindy Pon’s Guide to Writing Non-Commercial YA Fantasy (tip #1: put in too many Asians).
But here’s another answer
No. For two reasons:
1) Writing, for me, is not about selling books or being popular. (Both of those things are great. I wouldn’t say no. But they’re not really what it’s about.) It’s about doing something that feels important with the limited time I have on this earth. It’s about articulating a worldview. It’s about cheering, soothing, uplifting, enlightening — all those great things art can do. If I wrote only or mostly about white people, Western settings, Western mythologies, etc. I would feel that I was not really doing the best I could do.
I’m not nearly as successful in this regard as I’d like to be, and of course my writing will never be as good as I would like, but I am trying.
2) I think readers recognise truth when they see it. For me, to write using local myths and beliefs is a form of accessing a deep truth. Something like the Regency voice is pure performance — I am doing something sort of serious with it, but it’s mostly play. Writing in Manglish is something else.
I think a book that captures truth is going to be better than one that doesn’t. And I believe that better books have a better chance of being read, of being loved, of helping people, of lasting.
People always talk about wanting universal stories. I don’t think universal means mainstream (meaning white or Western). I think the universal lies in the specific, and we each have our own specific truth. It’s the best resource we’ve got as writers — so we should use it.
I’ve been fairly quiet on the Publishing Journey front as I’ve been busy, er, journeying. But epic fantasy author Juliet McKenna kindly invited me to write a guest post for her blog, so I wrote about identifying with Jonathan Strange for the first time and learning to say no:
It’s nice to be wanted, of course, and it was a refreshing novelty. As with most writers, rejection is the backing track of my life, so it was nice for once to hear “please will you?” instead of “no, thank you”. But it meant I had more demands on my time than ever before, when I had less time than ever before.
Come to think of it, it follows on quite nicely from my last Publishing Journey post on love and resource. Unplanned thematic continuity \o/
On a totally separate note, Sorcerer to the Crown is in the first round of DABWAHA! If you vote for it it might WIN and BEAT THE OTHER BOOKS (or at least it may not FLAME OUT and DIE A DEATH instantly). Vote, vote!