Category Archives: My Stories

Preorder SORCERER TO THE CROWN in paperback & win Coryographies earrings!

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_front mech.indd Sorcerer to the Crown UK PB
 Sorcerer to the Crown is out in paperback on 12 July in the US and 28 July in the UK. (In other countries you should get the respective editions more or less on the same dates, but check with your friendly local bookshop to be sure.) If you preorder and let me know, you’ll get a chance to win these amazing earrings:

Image of earrings made of tiny stacks of books

Tiny awesome book earrings by Coryographies! They retail for £15!

Aren’t they cute? I love my Coryographies Regency bookshelf necklace, which I ordered when Sorcerer first came out in hardcover:


Look at the tiny quill! The tiny letters! The tiny perfume bottle!

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!
Picture of me holding an earring up to my ear

Except you will not have to hold the earrings up to your ear because hopefully you will have pierced ears that will hold up the earrings themselves.


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!

Penguin Random House
Barnes & Noble
Hudson Booksellers

Pan Macmillan
WH Smith
Amazon UK

These sites offer free shipping worldwide
Book Depository (US and UK editions available)
Wordery (UK edition only)

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!

Giveaway Terms and Conditions

  • 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.



SORCERER TO THE CROWN on the Tiptree Award longlist

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.

The winners and honor list look very cool. You can find out more about them at the Tiptree Award website here: 2015 Winners, Honor List and Long List.



My publishing journey: The Year of No

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:

My year of saying 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!

Fantasy novelette THE TERRACOTTA BRIDE out now!

I’m self-publishing an ebook reprint of my novelette THE TERRACOTTA BRIDE, which first appeared in Torquere Press’s Steampowered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk. Check out the gorgeous cover, commissioned from Likhain!

z-terracotta-azI love the vivid colours, the interplay of light and dark, the red hellscape, the melancholy white chrysanthemums, and Yonghua’s face, beautiful and stark. If you were to accuse me of self-publishing THE TERRACOTTA BRIDE largely to have an excuse to commission art from Likhain … well, I won’t deny it!

As for the story, it takes place in the Chinese afterlife and was a good faith but unsuccessful attempt at writing steampunk in a setting that isn’t Victorian England. (It’s really a vaguely gothic queer fantasy with retrofuturistic flourishes.) It’s one of my coming of age stories where the protagonist is already dead. It’s mostly about loneliness and love. Here’s the summary:

In the tenth court of hell, spirits wealthy enough to bribe the bureaucrats of the underworld can avoid both the torments of hell and the irreversible change of reincarnation.

It’s a comfortable undeath … even for Siew Tsin. She didn’t choose to be married to the richest man in hell, but she’s reconciled. Until her husband brings home a new bride.

Yonghua is an artificial woman crafted from terracotta. What she is may change hell for good. Who she is will transform Siew Tsin. And as they grow closer, the mystery of Yonghua’s creation will draw Siew Tsin into a conspiracy where the stakes are eternal life – or a very final death.

It’s 11,000 words, so a quick but not insubstantial read. Here’s where you can get it:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Google Play

SORCERER TO THE CROWN UK paperback cover reveal

My UK publisher Macmillan/Tor UK have just put up the UK paperback cover of SORCERER TO THE CROWN! It’s like the hardcover, but also different: much more red, just as foiled.

STTC PB excerpt

Admire it in its full glory at the Tor Books blog:

Crowning Glory: Unveiling Zen Cho’s paperback cover

The paperback is out on 28 July 2016 and you can pre-order now (link to Amazon, but you can ask your friendly local indie for it too!). I’ll put up other purchase links closer to the time.

Rambling about writing at Kinokuniya KL: a report

As I mentioned in my previous post about my event at Kinokuniya KL last Saturday, Kino is the bookshop of my teenage years, because it was so huge and had what was at the time an unmatchable selection — not only of SFF, but YA/MG, manga, Asian literature, etc. etc. etc.

Then later a giant Borders or two opened closer to home in PJ, rendering the long trek to KLCC unnecessary, so my memories of Kino are really crystallised in time. It was nice to go back, especially as I got to admire the World SF table they’d kindly let me curate in person. (I didn’t put my own books on the list lah obviously. They added those themselves.)

Photo 13-02-2016, 08 54 42

To my left (your right) there used to be an excellent Japanese stationery section. I didn’t go there that often because I’d’ve spent all my money on books by the time I got there.

A closer look at the selection, from Nigerians in space through Paris in the wake of a magical war to Hitler as a PI!

Photo 13-02-2016, 05 10 13

As for the event itself, it was really fun! I’d planned to fill up one hour but ended up taking around two. It was nice of Kino not to chase us out!

Photo 13-02-2016, 08 55 03

Here’s me holding forth

I was really worried that people would do that Malaysian thing of being too shy to raise their hands, and then only creeping round to ask questions afterwards one-on-one. (I mean, I can raise my hand as one of the people who does this. Except I wouldn’t raise my hand, of course.) I even prepped a friend to keep the chat going if no one volunteered questions: “Ask me about law! I can tell them about EU directives!”

But fortunately everyone was awesome and there were lots of questions! Thanks to everyone who asked — you are my hero and I am eternally grateful.

The only specific thing I remember saying was my explanation of the importance of plot. It goes like this: I used to think I didn’t really care about plot as a reader, but I’ve since learnt a bit more about how stories are made, and I now think that plot is to story like bones are to a person you fancy. You might say, “I’m not attracted to people based on their bones, I’m really more interested in their personality or whether they have a full head of lush hair.” But if you met someone who had no bones, at all, whatsoever, you might rapidly reconsider how important bones are to their attractiveness.

Anyway, so I’m still trying to figure out the bones of story.

Photo 13-02-2016, 08 54 52

My Stormtrooper ring is so photogenic! Nowadays I pretend John Boyega is secretly inside it.

The highlight of the event for me was meeting readers, obvs, but a close runner-up is the fact that illustrator Charis Loke gave me what, as far as I know, is the first piece of fanart for Sorcerer to the Crown!

Photo 13-02-2016, 08 42 42

I love it. I am so happy.

A close-up:

Photo 13-02-2016, 09 51 35

There really is nothing like seeing the figments of your imagination being brought to life by another so sympathetically. I’m going to sleep with it under my pillow eat it so it becomes a part of me frame it and put it on my wall and admire it forever.

I also signed some stock for Kino, so if you missed the event you can still pick up an autographed copy there! If you’re not that fussed about autographed copies or a 20% discount on your second item (also available in-store), you can buy the books online: they stock the US hardcover and the trade paperback with the UK cover, both RM75.

Photos are by me, Daphne Lee, Aaron Lim and my BFF Maxine Lim, who combines with all other ideal qualities of a best friend that of taking only flattering pictures of me.