Tag Archives: sff

My publishing journey: Networking, part 2 — thoughts on conventions

I wrote a very earnest post about my feelings about conventions, in the vein of my last Publishing Journey post about social media and community, and then I realised I couldn’t post it, because I haven’t actually worked out my feelings about conventions. So the post had that scattered, evasive quality writing has when you either don’t know how you feel about a subject or don’t want to say it.

So here are a few rather simpler thoughts about conventions, as bulletpoints. They are about science fiction and fantasy conventions because those are what I know, but some of the thoughts probably also apply to literary/publishing events/meetups in general. Buttonhole me at a con some time if you’d like to hear the more complicated version — that comes in paragraphs!

  • SFF writers tend to think conventions matter in terms of meeting editors, agents, other writers and potential readers. But they probably matter less than you might think. You’re not going to reach that many readers at a convention, and nowadays it is perfectly possible to get an agent and sell a book to a publisher without meeting them in person, much less showing your face at a con. In fact, that’s probably how most people do it.
  • That said, conventions can be fun if you are a nerd who likes to be around fellow nerds. They are a nice way to feel part of the community. (SFF is a community, or rather a group of overlapping communities, as well as an industry. These communities are not perfect, but there are benefits to participating in them actively — some of them emotional, some of them professional.)
  • A great upside to conventions is getting to meet people you have only known via the Internet. People are often even better in real life than on the Internet. It’s like how most people aren’t nearly as horrible trolls in real life as they might be in the comments of a Guardian article. In the vast majority of cases, if you meet someone who seems brilliant and nice and funny online, they are generally like that in real life, only even more so.
  • A great downside to conventions is often also that you meet people, in kind of a weird pressurised environment where your personal/social decisions can have professional implications.

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Malaysian SFF writers and projects: a directory

I’ve been conscious for a while that I’m no longer able to keep up the list of Malaysian SFF writers in English that I put up awhile ago — because I’m busy, but also because there are more of us than ever! I think it is helpful to have a directory for interested readers and people who want to connect with other local writers, but it needs to be updated regularly if it’s to be of use.

So I have now set up a Google doc which people can update themselves to add their own details and projects:

Malaysian Science Fiction and Fantasy: A Directory

There are two worksheets — one for authors and one for projects. Guidelines for contributions are at the top of each worksheet. People should feel free to add writers or projects they’re aware of as well as the things they’ve done. Also, this directory differs from the original post, as people working in languages other than English should feel welcome to add their stuff to it. I only limited the original post to English because that’s the main language I read in.

The original post will stay up, but once the directory has been populated a bit more I will change the link in my sidebar so that it goes to the Google doc rather than the blog post, and the post will no longer be updated. I will be monitoring the directory and editing from time to time for formatting, etc., as well as deleting anything that seems inappropriate. Please comment on this post or email me if you have any questions or suggestions.

On postcolonial fluff for booknerds, made-up genre of my heart

atropinesulfate: I would love to hear about postcolonial fluff for booknerds, and any plans for a sequel to Jade Yeo/her descendants.

O postcolonial fluff for booknerds, made-up genre of my heart! Postcolonial is a big term and maybe not that accurate, but I use it because I think of this imaginary genre as being a reactive one, a thing that I am producing as part of a long slow recovery process. What I am doing with it is, I am processing my childhood reading — all the stuff that was really influential and enjoyable, but also kind of secretly toxic — and I am trying to extract the poison from it while preserving the things I loved. Jade is a reaction to Wodehouse and Daddy-Long-Legs and I Capture The Castle. The novel I am working on is a reaction to Georgette Heyer and Susanna Clarke.

It is questionable how much you can do to save a trope. There have been times when I have reflected that a Regency novel is going to be dodgy whichever way you slice it. You can’t get away from the fact that the original of this delightful fictionalised polite society was built on the proceeds of slavery and conquest. I think it’s important to recognise that.

But there’s this idea that fiction by or about people who are traditionally underrepresented in Western literature is kind of innately worthy and dull. Things are getting better obviously, but you know how if you are looking for an Asian-American book you’ll get 8 out of 10 that are memoirs of cultural conflict or immigration or whatever, and if you are looking for a LGBT book a lot of them are about coming out and whatnot, and you throw up your hands and say, Can’t I just read about PIRATES?

Don’t get me wrong, I like reading the serious things as well, but PIRATES have their place. I think people constitute themselves through stories and it’s really important to have trashy enjoyable fiction about you, as well as worthy epics. Anyway, that is what postcolonial fluff for booknerds is partly about. It is mostly about having fun!

I probably shouldn’t say too much about sequels to Jade Yeo, because I don’t really know what they will look like yet. But what I’d like to do is write three or four more novellas for self-publication. Each will be romance and revolve around one of her female descendants/relations. I have really only thought about the next one, about her daughter, but I want to use a very similar voice for all of them. I will need to capture that sort of private cackling mood of self-indulgence in which I wrote Jade to do it — but first I’ve got to finish my book!

The House of Aunts in audio at PodCastle

PodCastle did a podcast of The House of Aunts! Hooray. You can listen to it, or download it to listen to later, at the link below:

PodCastle 266, Giant Episode: The House of Aunts
Rated R, contains vampires and their extended families.

It is called a Giant Episode because it is 1 hour 37 minutes long. :O

The reader is my talented friend Nina Shaharuddin, who betters the world for a living and does stand-up comedy on the side. She’ll be appearing with the Bright Club at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August, and you should check her out if you are there!

Short story sales

End of the Road

I sold a couple of short stories!

Balik Kampung will be appearing in Solaris Books’ End of the Road, edited by Jonathan Oliver. It’s a New Weird road trip anthology, and (I gather from Twitter) will feature stories by Lavie Tidhar, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Benjanun Sriduangkaew, among others. My story is about a ghost who, while heading home during the Hungry Ghost Festival, a) discovers things she didn’t know about her life, and b) eats Kampar curry chicken bread.

(I haven’t had Kampar curry chicken bread — I put it in just because it sounded intriguing. Nice ah?)

And The Fish Bowl will be in The Alchemy Press Book of  Urban Mythic, edited by Jan Edwards and Jenny Barber — an urban fantasy anthology “blending modern life with the traditions of folklore from around the world”. The Fish Bowl is a grim story about maths tuition and being sixteen.

I think both anthologies are due out in autumn 2013. I will post when they are available for purchase!

Campbell — not just a soup!

I have just emerged from a 13-hour flight into a brilliantly cold Easter Sunday morning — and the public announcement of this year’s Hugo and Campbell award nominations. So, um, I’ve been nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer! The other nominees are:

Max Gladstone
Mur Lafferty
Stina Leicht
Chuck Wendig

I am terrifically pleased and honoured to be part of this list, and to be part of a longer list of past nominees which includes (to mention only names from recent years) Naomi Novik, Aliette de Bodard, Tony Pi and Karen Lord. Among others! (Jo Walton is, of course, also a prevous winner ….)

But more than anything else I value the nomination for what it implies — i.e. that a number of people valued my work enough to put me on their ballot. I’m pretty sure I know who some of you are! Thank you for that, and thanks to everyone who recommended my stories and linked to my awards eligibility post. I feel very undeserving, but will do my best to produce good work and retrospectively justify the nomination!

I’m also gonna hazard a guess that I’m the first Malaysian to have been nominated for the Campbell (though I’d be delighted to be contradicted, haha). That’s pretty cool! TBH though it was only officially announced yesterday I have been telling friends and family since I found out a week ago, because, as I said to my BFF Max, never mind six degrees of separation, it would take like twenty degrees before anybody I knew IRL would link through to somebody who actually knew or cared what the Campbell Award was. (It is a bit difficult to explain to people whose primary association with “Campbell” is likely to be soup. I start by saying, “Do you know what the Hugos are? Well, it’s not a Hugo! :D”, but my loved ones seem to find this singularly unenlightening.)

***

On another pleasing note, I am informed that I should have a short story in the April “Brilliant Malaysians” issue of Esquire Malaysia! If I sound uncertain about this point, it is because I am: I do not even know what Esquire ended up calling the story (I offered a couple of different titles, since the original — “The Many Deaths of Hang Jebat” — was too long).

It is basically a “Four Ways Hang Jebat Died, And One Way He Didn’t” story (see this Fanlore entry about Five Things for background regarding the format). Except I had to cut one of the ways Jebat died because, again, it was too long! So it’s more of a Four Things story.

Anyway, Hang Tuah fanfic is the best. You should buy Esquire Malaysia and let me know if the story IS in the magazine, and if so whether I should have included the “Tuah and the Hangs are a time-travelling boyband” scenario. (I suspect the answer to the second question is yes. You can never go wrong with a story that posits Tuah as the floppy-haired caramel-voiced lead singer of a boyband.)

ETA: Confirmation! The story is in Esquire under the name JEBAT DIES: see pictorial evidence.

Awards eligibility

Aliette de Bodard’s kind inclusion of me in her awards eligibility post reminded me that I should probably make one myself. It will not be as generous as Aliette’s because I’m not very good at keeping up with new stuff in sff — for the past two weeks I have been sailing along blissfully in the lovely Surprise, troubled only by Stephen’s laudanum habit — but I do recommend having a look at her post because she has lots of interesting recommendations.

Published short stories this year were:

The First Witch of Damansara in Bloody Fabulous, ed. Ekaterina Sedia, Prime Books (October 2012). 6,100 words.

The Earth Spirit’s Favourite Anecdote in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine #54 (Table of Contents and link to purchase — you’ve got to scroll a fair way down) (May 2012). 5,500 words.

I’m also in my second year of eligibility for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, as Aliette observes.

I’m happy to provide copies of these stories for anyone who’d like to read them for awards-related purposes — just comment with your email address, or drop me a line via the contact form.