Surprise story publication day!
I actually dreamed about the butter-daughters sometime in 2009. I woke up around dawn a bit scared of the dream because it was so totally vivid and surreal. So I typed out as much as I could remember in a notepad. This was before I had read Borges’s Fictions. I knew I wanted it to have the kind of first-person account you get in thick compendiums of supernatural sightings. When I returned to the story in 2014, it became a planetary romance but with that same folkloric kind of slant. Since this was post-my reading and rereading Borges, that was an influence. I really love this story and am very happy that I can now share it with the world. This is now my third Sesen story to be published this year. Squee!
Butter-Daughters, The Sockdolager, Fall 2016, Issue 7, 20 October 2016.
So, I’m all caught up with my Publication Day posts now. I decided not to post about the three reprints (3 for fiction, 2 for poetry) because that would be a bit much. The things I’ve been in have been mentioned on various media however, which was nice.
I’ve got a couple of acceptances but I have a new policy of not spelling out where, even after I’ve signed the contract. Just consider me superstitious! They’re both semipro acceptances and hopefully you’ll all be hearing about that sometime in the not so distant future.
What else? There have been a couple of poetry readings, which were good practice for me, I suppose. Doubt there’ll be anymore. I’m basically just focusing on finishing up my novel right now, so am lying low. Despite all the publications, I’ve been pretty low profile in other ways. And I’m not going to be shilling myself for various things. Seems futile and I’d rather just focus on writing better stories. My game plan? Craft and Grace. Craft and Grace.
Hope everyone is fine.
This issue went live sometime in July. I am still trying to catch up on my publication day posts but I’ve decided not to have individual posts for the reprints (I’ve had about 2-3), so this is basically it for now!
Moult was essentially written in a single sitting, sent out and got accepted a few weeks later. It is a story about transformation, about shedding your skin and becoming something else — either metaphorically, or literally. At its root however, it is a story about language and what it does to us. This is one of my stories that uses both English and Malay.
Moult, An Alphabet of Embers, Stone Bird Press, July 2016
This issue came out on the 1st of June. I am still trying to catch up on my publication day posts.
“Morning Cravings” is the second of my Sesen stories to be published this year. “Morning Cravings” is an intimate kind of story, and is relatively smaller in scale. I like writing small, intimate vignettes set in complex worlds. I was very influenced by Italo Calvino’s literary phantastic aesthetic when it came to science fiction (see his Cosmicomics) as well as a more literary story of his depicting a couple. However, that was just a passing influence. The actual story is based on the idea of taboos and the intersection of cultures. In this case, that of the Dvenri, and of the Barlishya, one of the peoples native (in a sense) to Sesen. Derthye is actually the protagonist of the second book of the unfinished Yrole Triptych so in a small way this story is a bit of a spoiler, but I am glad to be able to share the haunting tale of her life with Ycliss. It’s been one that’s haunted my brain for a few years now.
Morning Cravings, People of Colour Destroy Science Fiction, Lightspeed, 1 June 2016.
Trash, along with the other Urban South-East Asian books was actually launched in April, 2016. However I’ve had a terrifyingly packed 2016 and the times when I wasn’t bogged down, I was staring in space trying to regain energy and marbles lost during the hectic period. So, this is the first of my “belated” Publication Day posts.
“Auto-Rejection: An Outro” started life as an actual outro for the collection that never happened: Rejection Songs aka #allofthebirdshavebeenreleased. They were to be a set of Bunian Empire stories that were more urban, more surreal, more literary and with cyberpunk-noir elements in them. My premise for this particular story during revisions was “What if I retooled the Little Mermaid as a penanggalan-in-training story?” but the actual story was drafted in an indie/hipster outlet while waiting for a Russian punk-rock band to play (“I Am Waiting For You Last Summer”), a few hours after I discovered I had to go for a biopsy for the lumps in my breast.
The clinic nurse who called me gave me the wrong dimensions for the lumps so those are what’s given in the short story — but it spooled out from there. It came from a place of pain and regrets, but spooled out into its own storyverse, anchored in Brickfields, where I used to work. Brickfields to me used to be quintessentially Kuala Lumpur in a wonderfully multicultural way. But with KL Sentral and various other newer buildings there, the landscape has changed quite a bit. I wanted to capture that tension in this story, as well as the tension between old colonial values and the trauma of everyday living. What do we keep? What do we throw out?
I think this is one of my most emotional stories — with only some autobiographical instances in it. For example, there was no crushbird during the night when the story was drafted. I kind of imagined myself as the protagonist and what she would write during the setting. It’s what I do a lot when I write stories, a kind of literary performance utilising the same strategies I use when I teach the Stanislavski System to performance students.
Auto-Rejection: An Outro, 11 April 2016, Trash (Fixi Novo) (Print/ebook).
Gosh, it’s been some months since I updated this! Mostly it was because I was simply terrified at the number of “Publication Day” posts I needed to do, and I told myself I would wait until everything I was in for the year was out!
It’s been a pretty fruitful year as far as publications go. I’ve had reprint requests as well!
Here’s a picture of all the print anthologies I am in thusfar for this year (excluding Up-and-Coming, which was in ebook format only):
I am grateful to everyone who has reviewed and read my short stories. I am pleased about being in all of the publications you see in that picture.
Individual belated “Publication Day” posts will happen eventually.
For now, know that I am hard at work at finishing Watermyth, and am still actively sending out short stories and academic articles. I’m also still working on my academic monograph on Helen Oyeyemi.
I’ve had an acceptance towards the end of August. I’m really pleased about this because it’s a Borgesian planetary romance culinary flash fiction piece with a soupçon of body horror, set on Sesen. I was really worried it was too odd for most markets, but the editors who bought it apparently really liked it, so yay! 🙂
In many other ways, it’s been a pretty challenging year for me. There have been nonstop deadlines, and two deaths in my family. I’ve also had health issues and have been adjusting to life with insulin. But I can’t complain about the amount of publications I have this year. It’s just getting to the next level that’s been incredibly challenging, lately.
I hope everyone who reads this website is doing well, and that you’ve all had a fruitful and happy few months.
Till the next update!
This is just a general news and “catch-up” post. Hope everyone’s doing well. I’m trying to get my ducks in a row as usual, as I have many deadlines and things I want to do before the new semester starts in February. I’m almost (phew!) done with grading, thank goodness so that’s a load off my mind. I also submitted a chapter to an academic book and am trying to finish various other bits of academic writing. But, onwards to more creative stuff!
(1) My speculative poem Reversed Polarities was nominated for the Rhysling Awards (long poems). My thanks to whoever nominated me, and to my awesome editor Adrienne J. Odasso who is also a candidate! Good luck to everyone who is in the running! I’m still gobsmacked and happy people actually thought of me and my poem.
(2) K. Tempest Bradford listed “Your Right Arm” as an honorable mention on io9’s newsstand in the December edition.
(3) Charles Payseur reviews “Tower of the Rosewater Goblet” over at Quick Sip Reviews. I am still a newbie pro writer so it really makes my day when people discuss and actually understand what my fiction is trying to do!
(4) I was also on A.C. Wise’s December edition of “A.C Wise Recommends Women to Read” over at SF Signal. I was incredibly pleased, especially since it includes a review of “Sang Rimau and the Medicine Woman”.
(5) Rashida J. Smith, the editor of Giganotosaurus has compiled a list of the stories she published in 2015, inclusive of my “The Faerie-Maker”. Do check it out. It’s an excellent publication and I am proud to be published there.
Do note that there are other reviews, mentions and recommendations for my stories, but I am listing the most pertinent. My thanks to everyone who took the time to read, think about, discuss and review my stories.
(1) (a) Mythic Folk was hacked, alas. And in my attempt to fix things I bungled up and deleted the whole site without making backups (shamefaced look). Fortunately I had the layout saved but that is about it. This means the Mythic Folk Community
is no more, but I’m slowly working out what I want to do with the domain, since I have it and the design will need to be rebuilt from the ground up. I will likely be using it for media reviews and for my Aural Chambers posts but I have happily also found some of the missing posts so am in the process of reconstruction! (ETA: Not giving up on this community yet! But the new Mythic Folk Community blog will be focused on articles, reviews and posts. No poetry or fiction. I think this will make it a stronger blog as it will be more focused.)
(b) I am slowly moving my poetry back here. There may be a *small* poetry gift next month!
(2) Still working on Truancy 2. Sorry for the delay, the roundtable is still happening!
(3) Domus Exsulis is now back up on the internets.
(4) What to expect on this blog in the future:
(a) More fiction and SFF recommendations, when I have the time. In keeping with my policy on my now retired book blog, I will only write about things I like, and will not be posting negative reviews. I leave that to professional reviewers as it’s a part of my life I have no desire to return to. When I was reviewing for other publications, I felt like I’d murdered a kitten every time I had to write a negative review so I clearly do not have the stomach for it. However, I would like to amplify voices and stories I think deserve more notice. So those will be a part of (hopefully) Arthropod Trails in 2016.
(b) Poetry! Things I have published on this domain in the past will be published here again because I can’t submit them to magazines anyway, so might as well keep an archive here.
(c) Apart from my literary hypertext project Domus Exsulis, 2016 may be the year when Thresholds finally goes live.
It’s been a rather hectic week so this is actually 3 days late, given that publication day was on the 4th of January, 2016.
Every story I write is special to me in a different way. This story had its genesis in a very dark place I was in, during the “Annus horribilis” of 2009 when I suffered a major injustice that I knew would never be redressed. It had me questioning the nature of storytelling, and of originality. Anyone who has ever read or worked on TS Eliot’s Tradition and the Individual Talent (I wrote a paper about his essays during my MA days, back in 1999) will know that old saw about “there’s nothing new under the sun”. But there are other complicated questions, questions about ethics, questions about what some of us simply will not do and what others will do without guilt or shame. As I asked in the old Arbitrator story I wrote in 2009–how does any storyteller accuse another of this when all that we are is made out of stories and the ideas of others?
Tower of the Rosewater Goblet began as a sort of meditation on that, but I set it in Sesen, and the story grew into a meditation into various other intersecting concerns: appropriation, colonization, autonomy. But that sounds very political, doesn’t it? It started that way, it didn’t end up that way, once I got to know Erheani and her family, and then Madame Li-Yan, and started to care for these characters. They dictated the story. The pamphlets did the rest. I was and remain passionate about pamphlets and pamphleteering culture. While working on Nigerian-English Literature for my PhD dissertation I did some side-research on the Onitsha pamphlets, and last year I did some pretty intense research on the Early Gothic Revival pamphlets. I wanted to capture some of that freewheeling grandiosity in this story, and the romance/love of printing presses and how they’ve been integral to the blossoming of more than one post-colonial nation.
One of my long-lost uncles was a newspaper man back in the 60s-80s in Ipoh, Perak. He died a few weeks ago. I’m thinking of that, and the history of the press in my country as well. And how fragile all of these apparatuses for voicing ourselves and telling our stories are. How vulnerable we are to censure, and sometimes worse than that, erasure.
If this story was political, it’s political because it is a story I wrote to deal with my own demons and vulnerabilities. I wish I was as strong as Erheani, but maybe that’s why I wrote her. I wrote her for people like me, for the kind of heroes I want to read about, and I hope she’ll mean to you what she means to me. If even a little bit. Because this story is my antidote for all of those inner demons that tell me I cannot write, that I’m never going to amount to anything, that I’ll always be this fat, this ugly, this worthless. But inner demons are like that, aren’ they? They’re the internalization of all of the ugliness we endure in life, the things that are said to us, the things we are made to believe, because they reflect the self-hatred and the fear of others.
This story I wrote so I could laugh in the face of all of those inner demons. But I can share this medicine, this anti-demon spell. It helped me. If you need it, I hope it’ll help you as well.
Tower of the Rosewater Goblet, 4 January 2016, Strange Horizons.
Since I won’t have any more publications in 2015 (but look out for me in 2016, as there will be both online AND print publications), here’s a list of what was published this year. I’ve had an epic year for acceptances. My first professional publication was on the 2nd of November 2015, which means that I will be eligible for the John W Campbell award in 2016 and 2017. I am also eligible for various other things for both poetry (Rhysling) and fiction (Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy) although I post this with the knowledge that eligibility is no guarantee of anything. There is a HUGE number of excellent writings in the genres at this point by very brilliant authors.
I’ve been writing for a very long time, most of my stories take years to craft, and it’s only in 2014 that I got my act together and gained the courage to start finishing most of the stories, and started submitting them.
My Bunian Empire milieu stories straddle genres. Some stories are straight-up fantasy/alternate history, others are steampunk, and towards the space opera/planetary romance tales, they’re more SFnal than fantasy. This particular tale is alternate history and fantasy, and is the basis of the rest of the tales. The Medicine Woman started out as a tale within a tale in what was going to be my grand Malaysian mythic road-novel, Abeyance, but she needed her own story, so I started working on it around 2005-2006. It’s gotten some pretty decent reviews, and I’ll always cherish what Lois Tilton of Locus Magazine and Charles Payseur of Quick Sip Review said about it. A.C. Wise has also written a very thoughtful review about this story in the A. C. Wise Recommends Women to Read column over at SFSignal.
This one quietly came out in October but wasn’t really noticed. It’s an urban fantasy desipunk tale set in Brisbane. It took me seven years to write. It’s one of my stories in which I grapple with culture, identity, what it is like to be marginalized, and what it is to mourn, written when I was away from home and grappling with my multiple identities. It is the first of my two bereavement tales to come out this year. There’s been no reviews thusfar for this tale.
This is my Bunian Empire milieu space opera, in which I talk about humanity, the problem of consciousness and sentience (part of my ongoing issue with the Consciousness problem as written about by the philosophers of mind: Dennett and Chalmers amongst other), and yes, it is my most romantic story. Charles Payseur wrote a lovely review about it here, Lois Tilton was not very impressed with the narrative, but I still enjoyed her write-up of it. I personally call it my “Waiting for Godot” in space, because it’s meant to be heard as well as read. It also received an honorable mention from K. Tempest Bradford over at the io9 newsstand, and was reviewed over at Tangent (where it was called “a very cool story”), SFRevu, and RocketStackRank.
This is also my first professional publication in one of my dream publication venues, the story that has now made me eligible for the John W. Campbell award.
Merlusine in Liminality Magazine, Spring 2015, edited by Shira Lipkin and Mat Joiner, 2015.
Reversed Polarities in Strange Horizons, edited by Adrienne J. Odasso and Sonya Taafe, 2015.(This has now been nominated for the 2016 Rhysling Awards for long poems).
I have a new short story up, “Your Right Arm” in Clarkesworld Magazine, for Issue #110. It is a very solid issue with some really lovely tales, I’ve read through three of them and am eager to read the rest! That cover art is also incredibly gorgeous and I need to figure out how I can enlarge it, print it and get it framed. A Julie Dillon art print with my name on it! OMG!
I am really happy to be published on one of the most prestigious magazines in SFF but putting out a publication of this calibre every month takes a lot of toil and funding, so if you can, do support Clarkesworld Magazine so that we can have many more years of publications from them!
Here’s what I posted on my FB page about it this morning:
I am beyond thrilled to be in Issue 110 of Clarkesworld Magazine along with Naomi Kritzer, Sara Saab, Krista Hoeppner Leahy, Xia Jia, Tim Sullivan, and last but not least, my personal SFF hero Ellen Kushner who writes with Ysabeau S. Wilce in this issue! This is my Bunian Empire space opera, featuring the last human, cybernetic apsaras, and my philosophy of mind/qualia noodlings. So thrilled someone bought it, and that someone was Neil Clarke (and Sean Wallace)! I wrote this the day (and night) Eugie Foster moved on to the next world and after I read her piece in Daily Science Fiction and cried for about an hour. I wanted to write a story that conveyed the sense of loss I felt for the genre, and that had the kind of heart and soul I found in her works. I’m still not sure I got there, but I am truly humbled to be a part of this really awesome issue. There are really solid tales in here! And check out that gorgeous cover!