Tag Archives: spirits abroad

Nine Worlds 2015 update + book preorders

Nine Worldzzzz

On top of my three panels and a reading, I’ll now also be on Paul Cornell’s Only A Moment quiz panel on Saturday night at Nine Worlds. It’s a take-off of a well-known British radio and TV show. You’re supposed to talk for one minute on a topic given to you without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Those are my three greatest strengths in conversation! Updated full schedule here — do come and watch my inevitable downfall.

Thanks to everyone who’s ordered copies of SPIRITS ABROAD and CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA for receipt at Nine Worlds. I’ll be there from Friday and will try to set aside some time per day to just sit in the lobby or another easy-to-find public area with the books, so people can come pick them up from me. I’ll say where I am on Twitter, so keep an eye on that. I’ll also contact pre-orderers directly.

The books will be available in the dealers’ room for those who haven’t pre-ordered. Each will come with a SORCERER TO THE CROWN postcard inside it, like this:

A photo posted by Zen (@zenaldehyde) on

I haven’t got that many of these, but if you catch me at the con and would like a postcard, just ask — I might have a few left!

Sorcerer to the Crown limited first editions

Fabulous first edition bookshop Goldsboro Books is going to be stocking a limited edition of SORCERER TO THE CROWN! It will be hardcover, signed and numbered and will have SPRAYED EDGES. (If you don’t know what sprayed edges are, this great Hodderscape post on the physical make-up of a book will tell you.)

I have to say that I am personally a practical ebook/mass market paperback sort of person: small, affordable, portable paperbacks are the books I grew up on, and I’ve only started buying hardcovers recently to support people I know. It’s kind of dumb because I then end up not reading them, since my only real reading time nowadays is on my commute and I am already mean enough to my back and shoulders, not to haul around the sort of tome my friends and acquaintances produce. (THANKS, KEN LIU.)

But it is very exciting to think that SORCERER will have sprayed edges, and having seen the cover proof, I can tell you with confidence that the book is going to be a beautiful object — whatever you think of its contents! There will be only 250 copies of the limited edition. You can pre-order one here.

SPIRITS ABROAD and CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA at Nine Worlds

I am going to have copies of the super rare and totally awesome SPIRITS ABROAD and CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA paperbacks at Nine Worlds! A few of them are already reserved:

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I KNEW I was going to find a retrospective excuse for having bought these incredibly cute post-it notes at Daiso.

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And here’s what CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA looks like in the flesh. Shiny and chrome!

I’m hoping the books will be available at the Nine Worlds dealers’ room, but I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to arrange that. However, you can place an order for the books now and/or buy them from me directly at the con!

I am selling the books for £5.00 each, and I am happy to sign and personalise them for you. You can even ask me to do a doodle! I can only draw friendly elephants, though. Also, there will be ultra secret, super exclusive SORCERER TO THE CROWN swag, which I will totally give you FOR FREE. (I mean, I don’t want to inflate expectations. It’s just stationery. But I think it’s going to be nice stationery!)

If you think you’d like to buy them from me in person, I will beg you now to bring a £5 note if at all possible. Of course, it’s easiest if you pre-order using the form below — that will enable me to put aside a copy for you, as stocks are limited. And also it means I don’t have scrounge up £5 bills!

RESERVE YOUR BOOKS

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My publishing journey: How I published a short story collection

Spirits Abroad

I have been meaning to write a post about this ever since I spoke with an author friend about how I got my short story collection Spirits Abroad published and realised how opaque the process is. This is an author who is way more established than me and has published a bazillion short stories, and yet I don’t think it had occurred to them to do what I’d done.

Mind you, this is because they operate in the US/UK market and I was focused on another market altogether. After I broke through the Block, I wrote about 20 short stories, felt I’d got a bit of a handle on how to do them, and decided I wanted to shift my focus. What I really like in stories is character, and short stories don’t give you a whole lot of space to explore your characters. I wanted to write novels: it was the one thing I felt I couldn’t do, and it was the one thing I felt I had to do in order to be a Real Writer.

I know this is a complete lie and directly contradicts #1 of my mission statement. (The thing that really drove in the fact that it is a lie for me, by the way, was reading a Dorothy Parker biography and finding out that she felt the same about novel-writing — that she had to do it, or she wouldn’t count as a writer. But the novel just didn’t seem to be her form. Like so many others, I’ve rejoiced in Parker’s scathing wit and perfect turns of phrase, and she didn’t need a novel to persuade me she was a writer for the ages.)

Unfortunately I have yet to work out how to make my feelings line up 100% with my opinions, and anyway I did want to know how to write novels for the sake of it, leaving aside all status-related insecurities. So I decided I’d try to get rid of my short stories at one go, as a collection, so I wouldn’t be worrying about editing them, submitting them, etc. while focusing on the longer-form stuff. At least I would be getting rejections at much longer intervals!

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SPIRITS ABROAD is a Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards finalist!

SpiritsAbroad-final-faceonlyEvery year Popular, jointly with The Star, picks out its 10 bestselling titles for fiction and nonfiction respectively and lets readers vote for their three favourites for the Readers’ Choice Awards. This year Spirits Abroad is on the list!

You can read The Star‘s coverage of the English-language nominees list here:

Support local books by voting in the Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards

and vote for the winners online here:

Click to vote in the Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards

You can also check out and vote on the Malay-language nominees.

There doesn’t appear to be any express restriction on voters’ backgrounds, but I’d think you’d want to be a Malaysian or someone living in Malaysia really! It’s to encourage local support for local books ma.

The awards will be presented on 11 July at BookFest 2015 in KL.

Me and Spirits Abroad in the press

I was in The Star on Tuesday! Sharmilla Ganesan interviewed me for an article: Malaysian author Zen Cho is making waves abroad. The online title is more SEO-friendly, but in print it was called “Keeping Zen”, which is kinda cute!

Over at Strange Horizons, SPIRITS ABROAD got a really kind (and interesting) review: SPIRITS ABROAD, reviewed by Abigail Nussbaum.

No matter how fantastical the events of Cho’s stories—or how romantic their proceedings—her characters are standing on a solid foundation of good sense, which reminds them that love is great, but what about getting good grades?

Characters who obsess about their grades are my favourite kind of characters. :D:

This weekend I’ll be at Eastercon — from today, actually, but I’ll be going for dimsum with my mates first so will probably arrive, ahem, later in the day. I have NO PANELS (\o/), so will probably be hanging out at the bar or something. I am planning to chitchat, catch up on my CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA edits (I always think I’m going to be super productive when I’m on holiday, and then … I’m not …) and also reading Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED (which has done that thing her stories often do of starting with a few apparently innocuous premises which all come together in an early chapter and then suddenly you see the whole story in a new light and everything is super exciting). Come say hello if you’ll be there!

Sofia Samatar, Stephanie Feldman and me!

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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.

Cho and Feldman win Crawford Award

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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!