Category Archives: About

Link roundup: SORCERER TO THE CROWN &c.

Sorcerer to the Crown UK cover Sorcerer to the Crown US cover

I was interviewed by Australian fantasy blog Smash Dragons! I talk about Sorcerer to the Crown, explain what measures I’d institute as Empress of the Earth, and quote Diana Wynne Jones and S. I. Rosenbaum on historical novels and writing respectively.

Smash Dragons interview – Zen Cho

A couple of nice mentions of Sorcerer to the Crown in the book press:

It was one of Publishers Weekly’s top 10 SFF picks for Fall 2015, along with such fabulous books as Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Shattered Wings and Fran Wilde’s exciting-sounding Updraft. You need a PW subscription to read the piece, but it calls Sorcerer a “glorious debut”. :D

And it showed up in Kirkus‘s feature on What to Read in the Second Half of 2015. Again, Sorcerer is in fabulous company, cited alongside, among others, Cindy Pon’s Serpentine and Kate Elliott’s two (!) new books this year, The Black Wolves and her YA debut Court of Fives.

An excerpt of Sorcerer will also be included in Apex Magazine’s special world-themed issue this September, guest-edited by Cristina Jurado. There’ll be interviews with me and Escape from Baghdad author Saad Hossain.

Finally, a new pro-rate SFF magazine from the fine folks behind Rosarium Publishing: Shattered Prism will open to submissions in August for its first issue, due out in November. Check it out! Write! Submit!

Interview with Kitaab

Singapore writer and bookseller Felicia Low-Jimenez kindly interviewed me for Kitaab, a website for Asian writing in English. I talked about Sorcerer to the Crown, how I’m not any of the immigrant Chang Es in The Four Generations of Chang E, how writing made me better at being a lawyer (and vice versa), and more. You can read it here:

Kitaab interview with Zen Cho: “I write stories as a way of asking questions”

New publishing journey post going up soon! I’m going to be werry organised and schedule a post every week on Friday. *crosses fingers* In the meantime, don’t forget to enter my Sorcerer to the Crown ARC giveaway before it closes on Sunday!

Sofia Samatar, Stephanie Feldman and me!

crawford-covers

Sofia Samatar interviewed me and Crawford Award co-winner Stephanie Feldman about fantasy, family, history and diaspora over at Electric Lit. We did the interview in a Google Doc, and it was really interesting to me how Stephanie’s answers and mine reflected each other, often unintentionally. Here’s an extract!

Samatar: Spirits Abroad and The Angel of Losses are such different books: Spirits is a short story collection, Angel a novel; Spirits uses quite a bit of humor, while Angel is written in a more melancholy mode. Yet they share an interest in fantasy and diaspora. What’s going on there? How does the fantastic relate to diasporic experiences?

Cho: As with many Malaysian writers in English, it actually took me a while to figure out how to populate the sort of fantasy stories I liked with the sort of people I knew in life. So there wasn’t an immediate connection between culture and fantasy, for me.

But I think there is something there. Diaspora involves such a huge disruption, an interruption in continuity. Fantasy or mythology or folk stories, the stories of the improbable that everyone tells, are one means of maintaining continuity, and also of reinforcing connection. As a Chinese person, what claim can I lay to being Malaysian except that I was born there, I absorbed the stories of the local hantu, the English I speak is a Malaysian English? As a Malaysian, what claim do I have to being Chinese, except that I grew up on stories of monkey gods and magpie bridges and rabbits on the moon?

So maybe magic — the fantastic — is the thing that survives all that travel from the original point, that loosening of ties to land and people and languages. …

Feldman: Fantasy was my way of talking about one aspect of diaspora: displacement, whether it results from immigration, war, or even one generation unable (or unwilling) to communicate with the next. In each of these cases, there’s a gap, something missing. In my case—personally, and in The Angel of Losses—what’s missing is Jewish Eastern Europe.

The novel uses fairy tales to recreate that world and its legacy. It never occurred to me to use strict realism. Magical realism comes easily to me, and here it gave me the freedom to follow emotional truth, instead of adhering entirely to research. It also reminds the reader that my Europe is an invention; it’s a huge responsibility, after all, to tell another person’s story, and I want the reader to be mindful of where my voice begins and ends.

But most important: Fantasy let me explore how the stories we choose to tell are as much about us—our questions, our needs—as they are about our subjects.

Read the rest here: Fantasies that Bind: a conversation with Zen Cho & Stephanie Feldman.

The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic

Here is an interview with me about The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic!

Urban Mythic: Zen Cho Interviewed

I talk about my story THE FISH BOWL and refuse to play favourites among the writers on my Malaysian SFF in English list.

The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic was launched at World Fantasy Con last weekend, so you can now buy it at Amazon and Amazon UK. My story is about a stressed out teenage girl who is granted three wishes by a mysterious fish possessed of ill intentions.

The koi’s mouth opened and closed, an intermittent surprised O. Its white skin was so smooth it seemed scaleless. It would feel like silken tofu if you touched it. Seen from above, the fish’s one eye looked heavy-lidded and wise.

“Are you a magical fish or a door-to-door salesman?” Su Yin whispered.

Trigger warning for self-harm. I don’t usually put trigger warnings on my stories (though let me know if you think I should on any of the others!), but this story contains depictions of actions that read like self-harm, though there’s probably room for differing interpretations.

After this I only have a “meet cute” story in Fixi Novo’s Love in Penang anthology, and then I don’t have any new individual short stories coming out anywhere for a couple of years lor. Which is a natural consequence of shifting my focus to longer stories, but I dunno if that’s a good strategy or not. Only time will tell, I guess!

First post

I’ve set up a website with my own domain name and everything! It’s just meant to be a convenient place to collect links to my stories that’ve been published, but … it has not been so convenient setting it up. We soldier on. In the meantime, please ignore any cracks in the plaster!