Aliette de Bodard’s HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS cover reveal

18 Mar

Ahhh, I am so excited about this book! Aliette de Bodard unveiled the US cover for her post-war Paris urban fantasy THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS today:

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard - US cover

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard – US cover

 

It’s so pretty *_____*

THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is a murder mystery set in a Paris reeling from the impact of a war in Heaven, featuring (in the author’s words) Fallen angels, Vietnamese dragons and entirely too many dead bodies.

The cover is just how I imagine the book, and the book looks amazing. It’s out in August — you can find out more about it at Aliette’s website: The House of Shattered Wings. Can’t wait!

Remembering Terry Pratchett

13 Mar

We knew it was coming, but it was still a shock to read that Terry Pratchett died yesterday.

Pratchett’s work had a huge impact on me, as it did for a lot of people. My Twitter feed has been full of writers, editors and readers attesting to that fact. I was thinking about this, and as I thought about PTerry, the characters he created and imbued with such extraordinary life came to mind as well – it felt like I was remembering a group of friends, of people I had once known in real life. Vimes, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat, Agnes/Perdita, Carrot, Angua, Cheery, Om, Brutha, Johnny, Yo-less, Kirsty, DEATH, Susan, the Amazing Maurice, and and and …

His books shaped my moral sense and my understanding of the world. Discworld has something that, to me, represents the very best of speculative fiction – this particular secular, inquisitive, compassionate, humorous, humanist worldview that I find in so many of the friends I have met in SFF. Pratchett used Discworld as a vehicle to express a lasting fascination with our world; a conviction that this life, our life right now, is as incredible and interesting as anything we could invent. His world felt real because he was all too aware of what assholes people can be. But he believed in us as well.

I first came to his books as a young teenager – when I was 13 my parents started taking me to the British Council library, because I’d pretty much exhausted the delights of Perpustakaan Kanak-Kanak KL. I started with The Last Continent (a Rincewind romp in Discworld’s version of Australia, nearly incomprehensible to someone unfamiliar with Discworld, and a terrible one to start with!). But I persisted through that and Maskerade (not, I have to say, one of my favourites), and got to Guards! Guards! That, and the rest of the Watch books, sealed the deal. Vimes’s boots blew my tiny mind!

The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.

— Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms

A lot of people seem to have come to Pratchett at a similar age, and been influenced by him in a similar way. I was thinking about why this was, and I think it’s because his style and his books are so fun and accessible, but they also take the reader seriously — they respect the reader, and they’re not afraid to tackle big ideas.

When I started reading Pratchett I’d already found Jerome K. Jerome and P. G. Wodehouse. I was delighted to find that books were allowed to be as fun as Jerome and Wodehouse’s books were – you could quote Keats and make it funny! You could have entire scenes featuring someone throwing flowerpots at a window, or an entire book about losers having hijinks in a boat! But I wanted something more as well. I didn’t know what it was I was looking for, until I found Discworld.

I stopped reading Pratchett’s new novels a couple of years ago. I think, honestly, he went a bit too easy on his characters towards the end – Vimes is a signal example – and that made them less interesting. But I would not write or think the way that I do now if not for Pratchett. His books were – and will continue be – a source of joy and comfort and enlightenment for me. He taught me about economic injustice, and he made Death a friend.

Thank you, Terry. I hope you receive the judgment you deserve, at the end of the desert.

Early praise for SORCERER TO THE CROWN

6 Mar

I have been quietly bashing out a (very first draftish) first draft of the second book in the SORCERER ROYAL trilogy, but have put it aside briefly to work on copy-edits to SORCERER TO THE CROWN, which came in last week. It’s early days yet, but the book feels realer and realer!

We’re starting to get a couple of sightings in the wild. Earlier this week SORCERER TO THE CROWN showed up on the Barnes & Noble SFF Blog in a list of 5 Awesome Alternate Earth Stories Coming in 2015. And blurbs have been coming in for the book — check out these awesome things awesome people have said about SORCERER TO THE CROWN!

“An enchanting cross between Georgette Heyer and Susannah Clarke, full of delights and surprises. Zen Cho unpins the edges of the canvas and throws them wide.”

–Naomi Novik, New York Times bestselling author of the Temeraire novels

“A warm, funny debut novel by a brilliant new talent.”

–Charles Stross

“Fabulous! If you like Austen or Patrick O’Brian, or magic and humor like Susanna Clarke, or simply a very fun read, you will really, really, enjoy this!”

–Ann Leckie, Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Award winning author of Ancillary Justice

“Zen Cho’s SORCERER TO THE CROWN is inventive, dangerous, brilliant, unsettling, and adorable, all at the same time.

It shatters as many rules as its characters do. Historical Britain will never be the same again, and I can’t wait for the next book.”

–Courtney Milan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author

“A deliciously true tale of politics and power in a charming, cruel world — it demands and deserves to be read again and again. Cho has humor and flair to match Pratchett and Heyer plus her own marvelous style.”

–Karen Lord, author of The Best of All Possible Worlds

“A delightful and enchanting novel that uses sly wit and assured style to subvert expectations while it always, unfailingly, entertains. I loved it!”

–Kate Elliott, author of the Spiritwalker series

Also the fabulous Aliette de Bodard (whose book THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS is coming out with the same US publisher, at practically the same time! we are publishing buddies!) has left the first substantive review of the book on GoodReads. (Not, you know, that I object to GIF reviews. More GIFs for everyone, I say. With a soft g!) Aliette says it’s:

Magic, manners and dragons in Regency England–this alone would be awesome, but Zen Cho adds a veneer of comment on English colonial politics …. Like a mix of Jane Austen, PG Wodehouse, and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and all its own thing. Glorious.

\o/

Cho and Feldman win Crawford Award

28 Jan

z-amazoncover-updatedIMG_20140613_084549

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 and some other things

7 Jan

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!

Q&A with Daphne Lee

5 Jan

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!

Q&A: Zen Cho

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 SOLD MY BOOK!!!!!

18 Dec

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.

The book

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.

My feels

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!

Ace Books to publish an all-new historical fantasy trilogy from John W. Campbell nominated author Zen Cho

Pan Macmillan buys new trilogy in the tradition of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

(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!)

SPIRITS ABROAD: desktop wallpapers and indie bookshops

17 Nov

If you liked Likhain‘s cover for the SPIRITS ABROAD ebook, you can now download it as a desktop wallpaper at her website:

We Are Forests — downloadable wallpapers

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.

 

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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.