SWF 2017 Author Schedule

SWF logo

Tonight, the festivities for the 2017 Singapore Writers Festival will kick off, and I’m happy to have been invited as a featured author again this year. I’ll be around for most of the festival, but here are the events that I’m directly involved with.

Launch: New Titles by Epigram Books (Launch Pad and Regrettable Things That Happened Yesterday [ FB event ] (moderator)
with Shelly Bryant and Jennani Durai
The Arts House, Gallery II, 05 Nov, 400-500pm

Panel: The Evolution of the Singapore Short Story
with Koh Tai Ann (mod) Clara Chow and Ovidia Yu
The Arts House, Blue Room, 10 Nov, 700-800pm

Panel: Writing Between the Genre Lines
This session is part of the Speculative Fiction focus.
with Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé (mod), Aliette De Bodard and O Thiam Chin
The Arts House, Blue Room, 11 Nov, 830-930pm

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Surreal Worlds of Southeast Asia

Worldcon-SEApanel

Photo courtesy of Patricia Mulles

On 11 August at 10:00 in the morning, I moderated a panel at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, called “Surreal Worlds of Southeast Asia“. Joining me were Aliette de Bodard and Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, two great writers whom I admire, and we had a fascinating discussion about speculative fiction in and about Southeast Asia; they also discussed their work and I talked a bit about LONTAR (which needs your help right now).

The audience was a decent size for a 10am event, and I discovered afterward that all the copies of Red Dot Irreal and LONTAR that I brought sold out at the convention. I was very happy to see that we had spread the word, and hopefully folks will go looking for more Southeast Asian speculative writing in the future.

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BNSSSv3 Honourable Mentions

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Three is now at the printers, and will be available in bookstores next month; we’ll launch the anthology at Kinokuniya in the afternoon of October 28th. In case you missed it, here is the table of contents.

As with Volumes One and Two, a list Honourable Mentions appears in the back of the book; these were stories that guest editor Cyril Wong and I thought had merit, and even though they didn’t make the anthology, they are very much still worth reading:

  1. Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, “Fits and Starts,” adda (Aug 2016), http://www.addastories.org/fits-and-starts/
  2. Alice Bianchi-Clark, “Rosemary,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 14, No. 4 (Oct 2015), http://qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1215
  3. Shelly Bryant, “Case Study: Training Programme,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 14, No. 3 (Jul 2015), http://qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1194
  4. Charmaine Chan, “From ‘The Magic Circle’,” We Are a Website No. 2 (Oct 2015), http://www.weareawebsite.com/charmaine-chan.html
  5. Agnes Chew, “Between Us, an Infinite Distance,” Junoesq Literary Journal No. 3 (Feb 2015), http://www.junoesq.com/?p=1083
  6. Grace Chia, The Cuckoo Conundrum (The NTU Residencies Chapbooks) (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2016).
  7. Clara Chow, “Ida Abandons Ship,” Blunderbuss Magazine (6 Jan 2015), http://www.blunderbussmag.com/ida-abandons-ship
  8. Chua Yini, “The Changeling,” We R Family: An Anthology, ed. Grace Chia (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2016), 37-53
  9. Noelle Q. de Jesus, “First Love,” Blood: Collected Stories (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015), 193-194
  10. ———, “Polar Vortex,” Blood: Collected Stories (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015), 195-216
  11. Melissa De Silva, “The Adventures of Bear Man,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 15, No. 2 (Apr 2016), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1259
  12. Daniel Emlyn-Jones, “The Last City,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 14, No. 1 (Jan 2015), http://qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1155
  13. Clarissa Goenawan, “The Visit,” Esquire (Singapore) (Jun/Jul 2016), “Montblanc Fiction Writing Project,” 152-153
  14. Jon Gresham, “The Model,” Esquire (Singapore) (Apr 2016), 131
  15. Heng Siok Tian, “An Apsara in Her Lotus Pond,” The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015), 55-67
  16. Balli Kaur Jaswal, “Private Places,” BooksActually’s Gold Standard 2016, ed. Julie Koh (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2016), 165-181
  17. Joseph Ng Zhen Ye, “Looking for the Moon,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 14, No. 1 (Jan 2015), http://qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1153
  18. Ng Yi-Sheng, “No Other City,” LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction No. 4 (Spring 2015): 51-59
  19. ———, “The Boy, the Swordfish, the Bleeding Island,” LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction No. 6 (Spring 2016): 19-34
  20. O Thiam Chin, “Exes,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 14, No. 3 (Jul 2015), http://qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1196
  21. Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, “Brother to Space, Sister to Time,” LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction No. 6 (Spring 2016): 91-116
  22. Phan Ming Yen, “Lux Aeterna,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 14, No. 2 (Apr 2015), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1173
  23. ———, “The Mother,” The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015), 89-99
  24. Quek Shin Yi, “Before,” Drunken Boat No. 21, “Union” folio (2015), http://www.drunkenboat.com/db21/singapore-arts/quek-shin-yi
  25. Vinita Ramani, “Junk,” Esquire (Singapore) (Sep 2015), 107
  26. Ivan Lim Sheng, “Redemption,” Esquire (Singapore) (Aug 2016), “Montblanc Fiction Writing Project,” 104-105
  27. Inez Tan, “Crawling,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 14, No. 4 (Oct 2015), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1214
  28. Simon Tay, “Grandmother: A Horror Story,” Middle and First: Stories (Singapore: Landmark Books, 2016), 181-215
  29. Verena Tay, “The Building,” Spaces: People/Places (Singapore: Math Paper Press, 2016), 79-85
  30. Shaista Tayabali, “PSSU,” We Are a Website No. 3 (Feb 2016), http://www.weareawebsite.com/shaista-tayabali.html
  31. Jeremy Tiang, “Meatpacking,” Drunken Boat No. 21, “Union” folio (2015), http://www.drunkenboat.com/db21/singapore-arts/jeremy-tiang
  32. ———, “1997,” The Brooklyn Rail No. 9 (Sep 2015), http://brooklynrail.org/2015/09/fiction/1997
  33. Maximilian Wong Wei Han, “Born in the wrong time, under the wrong star, in love with the moon,” Esquire (Singapore) (Jun/Jul 2016), “Montblanc Fiction Writing Project,” 150-151
  34. Daryl Qilin Yam, “Ichi-e, or, One Soup, Three Side Dishes,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 15, No. 3 (Jul 2016), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1271
  35. JY Yang, “Her Majesty’s Lamborghini and the Girl with the Fish Tank,” LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction No. 6 (Spring 2016): 75-90
  36. Yeo Wei Wei, “Branch,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore Vol. 14, No. 3 (Jul 2015), http://qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1171
  37. ———, “The Art of Being Naked,” These Foolish Things & Other Stories (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015), 47-65
  38. Yeow Kai Chai, “Flash Point,” The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015), 123-131
  39. ———, “Red Dust,” The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015), 161-169
  40. Yong Shu Hoong, “Suspended Animation,” The Adopted: Stories from Angkor (Singapore: Ethos Books, 2015), 35-43

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Announcing Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Three

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories V3

Cover design by Yong Wen Yeu


I am very proud to announce the contents and cover design for the third volume of the Best New Singaporean Short Stories anthology series, guest edited by Cyril Wong, to be published in October 2017 by Epigram Books, and launched at Kinokuniya later that month.

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Three gathers the finest Singaporean stories published in 2015 and 2016, selected from hundreds published in journals, magazines, anthologies and single-author collections. Accompanying the stories are the editor’s preface and an extensive list of honourable mentions for further reading.

Here is the table of contents:

  1. Cyril Wong | Preface
  2. Jason Erik Lundberg | Introduction
  3. Yeo Wei Wei | These Foolish Things
  4. Yeoh Jo-Ann | The Thing
  5. Jennifer Anne Champion | See It Coming
  6. Jon Gresham | Walking Backwards Up Bukit Timah Hill
  7. Ovidia Yu | Salvation Solution
  8. Andrew Cheah | A Century of Loneliness
  9. Daryl Qilin Yam | Thing Language
  10. Jason Wee | The City Beneath the City
  11. Amanda Lee Koe | Last Night I Dreamt That Harry Was In Love With Me
  12. Sam Ng | Prices
  13. Yeow Kai Chai | Dark Shades
  14. Andrew Yuen | Love in a Time of Dying
  15. Joelyn Alexandra | Junk Mail
  16. Leonora Liow | Falling Water
  17. SC Gordon | Claire
  18. Nuraliah Norasid | Madam Jamilah’s Family Portrait
  19. Jollin Tan | Better Places
  20. Noelle Q. de Jesus | In the End
  21. Su Leong | Peelings
  22. Verena Tay | The Sensualist
  23. Eva Aldea | Baba Ganoush
  24. Melissa De Silva | It Happened at Mount Pleasant
  25. O Thiam Chin | Campfire
  26. Clara Chow | Want Less
  27. Philip Holden | Library
  28. Manish Melwani | The Tigers of Bengal

Please join us for the book launch at Kinokuniya Neo SIMS (the main store on Orchard Road) on 28 October at 2:30pm. Cyril and I will be co-moderating, and the event will feature contributors Nuraliah Norasid, Clara Chow and Melissa De Silva.

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Worldcon-Bound

In about 32 hours, I will be on a plane bound for Worldcon 75 in Helsinki! The previous (and only) World Science Fiction Convention I attended was in Baltimore in 1998, nearly 20 years ago, and I haven’t been able to attend any conventions in the 10 years since moving to Singapore, so I’m very excited to throw myself into sf fandom once again. I’ve also never traveled to any of the Nordic countries, despite being one-quarter Swedish; the closest I’ve gotten is IKEA in Singapore (which ain’t the same). I’m also beside myself with anticipation at Helsinki’s autumnal weather right now, which will be a welcome break from the tropical heat and humidity of my adopted home.

I’m only participating in one programming event, which I’m moderating; here are the details:

Panel: Surreal Worlds of Southeast Asia (moderator)
with Aliette de Bodard and Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Centre, Room 204, 1000-1100am
Southeast Asia—a subregion of the world made up of 11 countries and over 620 million people—is undergoing a renaissance in speculative fiction. More and more authors from the region are spreading their strange stories to the rest of the world, aided by publications such as the long-running Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology series and LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction. In this panel moderated by LONTAR‘s founding editor, Jason Erik Lundberg, two authors from Southeast Asia and its diaspora, Aliette de Bodard (France/Vietnam) and Victor Fernando R. Ocampo (Philippines), discuss their works in the context of worldwide speculative fiction in English, and the challenges that come with bringing their authentic voices to a global audience.

Otherwise, I’ll be wandering through the dealers’ room (and likely buying too many books), checking out the art show, attending panels and readings and kaffeeklatsches and the Hugo Awards ceremony, catching up with friends, and also exploring Helsinki itself. This is the first actual vacation I’ve had in years, and I’ll be taking full advantage of it.

I’m also bringing copies of Fish Eats Lion, several (though not all) issues of LONTAR, and the now out-of-print first edition of Red Dot Irreal, for sale at the Independent Authors table in the Trade Hall. Because I have to haul them myself all the way from Singapore, I won’t be bringing many copies, so they might go fast; better to snag them sooner than later.

I still have some last-minute things to take care of today and tomorrow, and then I’ll be flying to Finland! Yay Worldcon!

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POP AYE in Theatres (But Not For Long)

POP AYE, the first feature film by Singaporean auteur Kirsten Tan, is out now in theatres in Singapore for what will likely be a limited run. It has already won a Special Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, and the VPRO Big Screen Award at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in the Netherlands. It’s gotten a lot of international attention; the Hollywood Reporter called it “an assured and noteworthy feature debut”.

Here’s the synopsis:

POP AYE is a road movie with an elephant set in Thailand. It tells the story of Thana, a disenchanted architect, who bumps into Popeye, his long-lost childhood elephant, on the streets of Bangkok. Dissatisfied with his current life in the city, Thana takes his elephant on a road trip across Thailand, in search of the rural farm where they grew up together.

Along the way, they meet a host of characters—a fortune-telling vagabond, a pokerfaced policeman, a crematorium monk, a lonely transsexual karaoke singer—who colour their journey, as various mishaps (sometimes absurd, sometimes poignant, sometimes both absurd and poignant at once) befall them on the road.

I saw the film on opening night last Thursday, and it blew me away. Tan’s voice as an independent filmmaker is assured and empathetic, and she coaxed incredible performances from her cast of non-professional actors (including one very expressive elephant). She did a Q&A for the night, and the discussion about her writing and development process was fascinating; it took her three years of just working on the script before filming a single scene, and she worked incredibly closely with several Thai translators to make sure that the dialogue worked in both English and Thai.

Because this is an indie film, it won’t stay in theatres here for very long, but attendance right now can help to prolog the run. If you’re in Singapore, it’s playing right now at Golden Village cinemas at Plaza Singapura and VivoCity, but I recommend seeing it at The Projector (Singapore’s only art-house theatre) if you can.

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EB Authors at Kino for World Book Day!

If I could put on my editor’s hat for a moment, four of my authors at Epigram Books, as well as your humble narrator, will be appearing this Saturday afternoon at Kinokuniya’s Singapore main store as part of their World Book Day celebrations!

At 2pm, I will be moderating a panel on “Worlds Beyond Words” with our #EBFP2015-longlisted authors: Daryl Qilin Yam, Imran Hashim and Kevin Martens Wong. All three of their first novels (Kappa Quartet, Annabelle Thong and Altered Straits) go beyond Singapore’s shores to other places (and in Kevin’s case, to parallel worlds), so the discussion should be a fascinating one.

And at 4pm, Balli Kaur Jaswal will be appearing for a meet-the-author session to promote her new novel Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, recently published by HarperCollins UK! (And although the session will focus on the new novel, copies of Inheritance and Sugarbread will be available for sale.)

So come celebrate World Book Day with us Saturday, and get some fantastic books signed!

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A Taste of My Long-Form Fiction

My agent, Kristopher O’Higgins (Scribe Agency), is currently shopping around two pieces of my long-form fiction, and I realized recently that there’s almost no trace of them here at my website (aside from a brief mention in my bio). So I’ve decided to put up a preview of each work, just a few thousand words, to give y’all a taste, and hopefully whet your appetite for more:

A Fickle and Restless Weapon — a 130,000-word Calvino-esque psychological novel about transnational characters using varied art forms to struggle against a Southeast Asian surveillance state. With explosions.

Quek Zhou Ma (who goes under the stage name Zed), an internationally successful dramatist, arrives home in the equatorial island-nation of Tinhau after a long absence in order to attend the funeral of his older sister, who has committed suicide by train. As he deals with conflicting feelings about a homeland he hardly recognizes, and the lingering questions surrounding his sister’s death, he decides to produce a lavish spare-no-expense production in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture, but opening night is marred by a nearby bombing attributed to a local resistance group calling themselves PAKATAN.

Tara, a transplanted Indian by way of America, works for the Ministry of Culture as a graphic designer, and leads Buddhist meditation circles on the weekends, which is where she first meets Zed. With an uncanny knack for both reading and influencing the behavior of others, she has found herself uneasily associated with PAKATAN, and despite her stance on non-violence she is charged with bringing Zed over to the cause. But as the pair begin to grow closer, she has doubts about whether she can complete her task.

Vahid Nabizadeh, Zed’s creative partner and a master puppeteer, stays in Tinhau after the end of their production. An Iranian Briton, already once removed from his native country, he finds a home in the culture and cuisine of Tinhau, and an unlikely friendship with Kelvin de Vries, an Indo-Dutch son of Tinhau’s most successful business magnate. As Vahid comes to grips with his new life, he inadvertently becomes embroiled in political and financial intrigue that threatens to unbalance the stability of the government itself.

A Fickle and Restless Weapon explores the relationships between these characters, and the ways that they deal with their disaffected identities, as well as the disruption and chaos that occurs when Tinhau is abruptly attacked by the Range, a mysterious cloud formation that appears without warning and destroys without mercy, a weapon as fickle and restless as the human mind.

***

 
The Diary of One Who Disappeared — a 30,000-word novella that takes place 25 years after the events of A Fickle and Restless Weapon, and shares the same fantastical milieu (but can be read as a standalone piece).

Peak oil, the climate crisis, and the economic collapse of the USA in the late 20th century have impacted Tinhau, one of many countries that has depended heavily on the American capitalist engine; yet Tinhau’s government not only has survived the shock, but appears to be thriving.

Lucas Lehrer is a minor functionary in the Department of Economic and Spiritual Development, headquartered at the North American Union’s capitol in New York City. He is tasked with traveling from the NAU to Tinhau via airship to liaise with officials there and extend the offer of partnership. Lucas’s immediate supervisor on the mission is his estranged wife Ailene, and he hopes that the trip will also reinvigorate their failing marriage.

After arriving at their destination, they are met with religious and cultural differences that cause negotiations to break down. Ailene announces her intention of divorce as soon as they return to NYC, and in an act of rebellion Lucas decides to request asylum to stay in Tinhau. As he begins his new job at Tinhau’s Ministry of Stability, he encounters an odd series of coincidences, in which his deep-seated desires start coming true. He also befriends an emerging Chinese-language poet named Yu-Wei, a young woman who is not what she seems, and who may not be from our universe at all.

***

 
Hope you enjoy!

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Read The Question of Red for free

I was recently asked by Gareth Richards of Gerakbudaya Bookshop in Penang to pick the three best books I read that were published in 2016. It was a real challenge narrowing it down to only three (I could have easily listed 20 or 30), but in the end I chose one graphic novel / collected comics volume (Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening by Marjorie Liu & Sana Takeda), one short fiction collection (The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu), and one novel (The Question of Red by Laksmi Pamuntjak), the last of which I want to talk just a bit more about.

US edition of The Question of Red

Laksmi Pamuntjak has published collections of verse and short stories, and five editions of the Jakarta Good Food Guide. She is proficiently bilingual in both Indonesian and English, and has translated two works of Indonesian poet and essayist Goenawan Mohamad. The Question of Red was first published in Indonesian in 2012 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama, and became an instant hit. The German edition did so as well, winning the LiBeraturpreis in 2016, appearing on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Top 8 list of the best books of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2015, and being named best work of fiction from Asia, America, Latin America, and the Caribbean translated into German on the Weltempfaenger (Receivers of the World) list.

An English translation was hurriedly produced by Gramedia in 2013, but Laksmi later did a ground-up revisiting of the text, transcreating the novel in English, and this is the edition published earlier this year by AmazonCrossing in the US and by Speaking Tiger in the Indian Subcontinent.

I met Laksmi when she was a featured author at the 2015 Singapore Writers Festival, and she signed my copy of the Indonesia-only limited English edition (which may now be a collector’s item, as it’s now out of print), but urged me to find the new edition in 2016 and read it instead. Which is what I did. And no other novel I read this year came even close to what an amazing book this is. You can find the description and effusive blurbs on the author’s official book page, so I won’t rehash them here, except to say that I LOVED this novel. It took me two months to read, which is a long time for me, even for a book of this size, because I kept stopping to savour the writing and the imagery and the depth of feeling that infuses every page. I’m just in awe of how epic and heartbreaking it is, and written so beautifully. The Question of Red is an amazing work of art, tackling darkness and redemption and love, and it inspires me to get back to my own writing pronto.

Indian Subcontinent edition of The Question of Red

And I was puzzled that the novel has frankly received little attention in the American book world. It’s gotten a few reviews, but none yet in mainstream literary publications. It is unfortunately entirely possible that it has been overlooked by review venues and bookstores because of its Amazonian association (which, if true, is an incredible shame). I am no fan of Amazon myself, but I’m quite willing to put that aside in order to help shine a bigger light on this incredible novel.

The list price of the book on Amazon is $14.95, but it’s marked down to $8.67, which is already an incredible deal. However, starting now and continuing for the next three months, the book is absolutely free to read as part of the Prime Reading program in the US. Meaning that until the end of March, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can read the book for zero dollars (you should automatically see the “Read for Free” option).

You owe it to yourself to read this remarkable book, and with prices so low (or free), there’s really no reason not to. And once you’ve read it, do leave a review on the Amazon page. Go on, make this one of your New Year’s resolutions.

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The 2016 George Town Literary Festival

This past weekend, I flew up to Penang for the 2016 George Town Literary Festival. It was my first time in Penang, and I definitely want to go back when I actually have the time to check the place out. George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and so many beautiful old buildings are protected, including Wisma Yeap Chor Ee (WYCE), which was the main GTLF venue. (Although this meant no air-conditioning during some very sweltering days.)

I had a wonderful time seeing some familiar faces (Marc de Faoite, Sharon Bakar, Amanda Lee Koe, Tash Aw, Darryl Whetter), as well as making new friends (James Scudamore, Tishani Doshi, Jérôme Bouchaud, Faisal Tehrani, Ismail Gareth Richards, Amir Muhammad). I was also happy to finally meet the indefatigable Bernice Chauly in person; we’ve been Facebook friends for years, and I’ll be editing her first novel for Epigram Books in 2017.

The festival theme, Hiraeth, was threaded throughout the many panels and readings over the weekend, in explorations of longing, homelands, identity, and the role of fiction. It was a privilege to hear from such thoughtful writers who’d come from all over the world to talk about their work in the context of this framework.

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Carol the Coral: My New Picture Book!

Carol the Coral cover

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Goodstuph, a brand manager and advertising agency in Singapore, about writing a new children’s picture book for a campaign they were doing with development company Keppel Land, concerning marine ecosystem conservation in Keppel Bay. As part of their “Homes in the Sea” initiative, they’ve been growing young coral in a nursery and then transplanting them to an existing coral reef at King’s Dock.

After meeting and discussing the idea, I came up with Carol the Coral, a story about a feisty young coral who discovers King’s Dock while looking for a new home, and who must contend with a grumpy clam who wants the spot that she has claimed. The book was to consist of four chapters, all of which had to be approved by the client, and after a bit of fumbling at the beginning while trying to understand what they were looking for, I sent them a plot summary for each chapter, and then got to work on breaking these down on the page level.

Once the text was written, artist Annabella Goh went to work on adapting it visually and laying out the text on each page. And she did such an amazing job enhancing the story through her whimsical art style. Carol is incredibly cute (while also quite capable of handling herself), and there were even some surprises that made me laugh out loud (such as seeing the pistol shrimp henchmen in chapter 3 really look like gangsters; one has a missing eye, and the other wears a trilby).

Chapter 1 was released at the Keppel Land Live FB page on 28 May, and each subsequent chapter every three or four days later; the final chapter went up today! Each chapter is introduced with a question to the viewer, and if you answer correctly, you’re put in the running to win to tickets to the new Pixar film, Finding Dory! (Which I’m totally taking Anya to see in the theatre.) The contest ends on 12 June 2016, 11.59pm UTC+08:00, so don’t delay!

In addition, Keppel Land will be producing a limited-edition print book that publishes the entire story. As much as I wish it would be available in bookstores along with my other books, they’re not interested in becoming a publisher, and will only be using the book for giveaways. So really, the best way for you to see it is online.

I have to say that this has been a great experience, and I’ve learned a lot from it. I had the preconceived notion that doing corporate work would be soul-deadening, but the collaboration with Anna, and the working relationship with the folks at both Keppel Land and Goodstuph, has been quite fulfilling! Also, since Bo Bo and Cha Cha is currently on hiatus, I’m especially glad to have a new picture book come out this year.

So please enjoy the adventures of Carol the Coral!

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Bowie’s Outside and the Lost Contamination

We lost David Bowie earlier this week. I caught the news in my Facebook feed, and sat there in mute shock for five seconds before screaming, “No!” (luckily I was home at the time). When I was able to recover my wits, I wrote this:

David Bowie is one of those artists you think will always be there. He reinvented himself again and again, and I really didn’t think he would ever stop, he’d just keep on going, like a never-ending regeneration of himself, outliving us all, becoming post-human, then post-post-human, bringing his music to other worlds, other universes.

He was in the background of my musical tastes for a long time, but I got big into his music in the mid-90s, with his contribution to the soundtrack of David Lynch’s film Lost Highway, and the release of the albums Outside and Earthling, and his collaborations with Nine Inch Nails. I was encouraged by a friend to explore his post-Ziggy Berlin Trilogy—Low, “Heroes” and Lodger—which became some of my favourite albums.

His death hits especially hard since his new album, ★ (aka Blackstar, which I’m listening to right now), just came out a few days ago, and he looked just as full of life in the pre-release music videos for it. I’m sad that he won’t get to fully enjoy the accolades for ★, many of which are calling it one of Bowie’s best in years, but as an artist, I am very glad that he was able to witness its release, his final work of art.

Bowie OutsideAll this week, I have come back again and again to Bowie, to his music, to his interviews, to his list of favourite books, to his acting roles. I haven’t been able to work up to watching Labyrinth, because I just don’t know if I could handle it yet. Like so very many of his fans and friends, his death took me by complete surprise (although there is much supposition that ★ was purposefully created as his final goodbye), and I’ve been in mourning. I’ve listened to the new album almost a dozen times. But it wasn’t until today, when I was scanning his discography and Wikipedia entries once again, that I found out something interesting about probably my favourite Bowie album, Outside (released in 1995): he and Brian Eno had planned on revisiting it. And not only that, it was originally planned as the first of five albums “to chronicle the final five years of the millennium” (which is why the title is listed as 1.Outside on the cover art, something I always wondered about).

According to Wikipedia, the proposed second album was to be called Contamination (or 2.Contamination), and this has set my imagination ablaze, especially since neither this, nor the other three albums in the series, was ever made, despite over 20 hours of improvised studio material. (Bowie’s follow-up was the 1997 drum-and-bass electronic extravaganza Earthling.)

In case you’re unaware, Outside is a concept album, like many of Bowie’s albums, but unlike The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars or others, the concept exists beyond the songs themselves and bleeds onto the liner notes in the form of a short story, “The Diary of Nathan Adler“, which reveals a murder mystery investigated by a noirish (or maybe “noird” or “weirdboiled”) detective who specialises in “Art-Crime”. Nathan interacts throughout the album with an eclectic cast of Pynchonesque characters, including ex-convict Leon Blank, underground art-crime dealer Ramona A. Stone (who is also Nathan’s former lover), supposed “broken man” Algeria Touchshriek, and teenage art-crime victim ‘Baby’ Grace Blue. A serial killer referred to only as The Minotaur is the object of Nathan’s quest, and at various points Leon, Ramona and Algeria are considered either suspects or accomplices, before it’s revealed that Nathan himself is The Minotaur (in “I’m Deranged”, my favourite song on the album).

What I love so much about this album, besides the mid-90s industrial musical style Bowie largely employs, and the collaboration with Brian Eno, is this narrative throughline (which is examined in detail at Concept Album Corner). A work of speculative crime fiction (since it takes place in the then near future of 1999), with hints at the larger story, and some truly disturbing visual and aural details (the description of ‘Baby’ Grace Blue’s evisceration and dismemberment as a work of Art still makes me shudder). And I can only imagine the story of Contamination. Nathan is caught at the end of Outside and arrested as The Minotaur, but does his story end there? Is he destroyed by the state, or does he escape his confinement? Would Leon, Ramona or Algeria have returned, or would there have been an entirely new cast of characters?

In some alternate universe out there, Bowie and Eno succeeded in making Contamination and the rest of the series. I can only mourn the loss of those innovative and disruptive albums, just as I mourn the loss of that innovative and disruptive musician today.

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Big D

A Thanksgiving announcement: the paperwork has just been finalized, and I am now officially divorced.

This may come as a shock to some of you, and to others it may be no big surprise at all. I have not posted any updates about or photos of Janet here at the blog or on Facebook for a very long time, and that could have been seen as wanting to respect her privacy or a symptom that we were no longer together (it was both).

We’ve been physically separated for several years now, but emotionally separated for far longer. This resolution was a long time in coming, and both of us are much happier living apart and sharing custody of Anya than living in tension-filled deeply uncomfortable togetherness. We’re even working slowly toward becoming friends again.

So yeah. I’ve taken many cues from Louis C.K. in this area, as he is very wise on the subject:

“Divorce is always good news. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce. It’s really that simple. That would be sad; if two people were married and they were really happy and they just had a great thing, and then they got divorced, that would be really sad. But that has happened zero times. Literally zero.”

For the curious, I do plan to stay in Singapore for the foreseeable future. I’ve made a life here now independent of my ex-wife, and Anya is starting primary school in January. Over the eight and a half years that I’ve lived here, I’ve really come to appreciate the intrinsic sense of stability and safety, and feel like I’m making a genuine contribution to the literary scene both as an author and editor.

This is a new phase of my life, but I’ll be fine. The destabilizing months (and years) are for the most part behind me, and things have settled into a manageable pattern. I’ve got a brilliant little girl and some wonderful friends keeping me honest and sane and able to laugh at life’s absurdities, which is something definitely to be thankful for. Onward.

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BBCC6 Mini-Whistlestop Tour on 14 Nov

If you missed the recent launch of A Curious Bundle for Bo Bo and Cha Cha at the Singapore Writers Festival, you have another chance to see me publicly launch the book and do a storytelling session from it. I’ll be conducting a mini-whistlestop tour this Saturday the 14th at Woods in the Books‘ two locations: at their flagship store in Tiong Bahru at 1130am, and then at Books Ahoy! (on level 2 of the Orchard FORUM) at 300pm.

As with the SWF launch, my daughter Anya will be along to help me out, and to voice the little baby animal in the story (which is beyond cute, so you have to come). See you there!

BBCC6 launch2 poster

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Where I’ll Be At #SWF2015

SWF2015-image

The Singapore Writers Festival is once again upon us, and I will be participating heavily once again (although not as a featured writer this time). If you want to catch me during the festival, I’ll be around with Anya in tow, but I’ll definitely be at the following events:

Brand New Books: Epigram Books Children’s Picture Books
(Launch of A Curious Bundle for Bo Bo and Cha Cha)
(SWF link | FB event)
Asian Civilisations Museum, River Room, 01 Nov, 1100am-1200pm

Brand New Books: UNION: 15 Years of Drunken Boat, 50 Years of Writing From Singapore edited by Ravi Shankar and Alvin Pang
(SWF link)
The Arts House, Gallery, 01 Nov, 230-330pm

Brand New Books: It Never Rains on National Day by Jeremy Tiang
(SWF link | FB event)
The Arts House, Gallery, 01 Nov, 400-500pm

Brand New Books: Epigram Books Anthologies (moderator)
(Launch of The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two and LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction issues #4 and #5)
(SWF link | FB event)
The Arts House, Gallery, 01 Nov, 700-800pm

Brand New Books: Big Mole by Ming Cher (moderator)
(SWF link | FB event)
The Arts House, Gallery, 04 Nov, 700-800pm

Panel: Aliens At Home (moderator)
(SWF link)
The Arts House, Blue Room, 08 Nov, 400-500pm

See you there!

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A Curious Bundle for Bo Bo and Cha Cha

BBCC6-cover

Book 6 in my panda picture book series, A Curious Bundle for Bo Bo and Cha Cha, has just arrived from the printers! It can be ordered right now online directly from Epigram Books, and will be stocked in bookstores all over Singapore within a couple of weeks.

I know I say this with every new BB&CC book, but this one is probably my favourite. Back when I thought that this would be the final one*, I decided that it would call back to the previous books in the series, so you’ll find many, many characters you’ve encountered already. It was a challenge to do this without confusing potential readers (especially the little ones), but editor Sheri Tan and I came up with a smooth way to do so that works quite well. Also, I’m quite proud with the pacing and rhythm; a lot happens, but it’s a page-turner.

So I’m very proud that this story is now a fully realised book, and that it will be available for kids everywhere very very soon. If you would like to review it for a newspaper, magazine or litblog, please contact Sophia Susanto, the Sales & Marketing Executive at Epigram Books. Again, you can sample the book here and/or order a copy right now from the Epigram Books website, and rate/review it on Goodreads.

Yay!

BBCC6 Arrived!

* A Curious Bundle for Bo Bo and Cha Cha is the last book currently under contract with Epigram Books, although my publisher has already said informally that he’d be happy to sign me up for two more.

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BNSSSv2 Honourable Mentions

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two is now at the printers, and will be available in bookstores later this month; we’ll launch the anthology at the 2015 Singapore Writers Festival on the evening of November 1st. In case you missed it, here is the table of contents.

As with Volume One, I’m happy to reveal the Honourable Mentions listed in the back of the book; congratulations to all of the authors below:

  1. Alfian Sa’at, “A Penunggu Story,” Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore, ed. Amanda Lee Koe & Ng Yi-Sheng (Ethos Books, 2013).
  2. Ann Ang, “Gedong Gold,” Balik Kampung 2B: Contemplations, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  3. Anurak Saelaow Hao, “Left Behind,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 13:1 (2014), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1070.
  4. Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, “Grandmother,” Starry Island: New Writing From Singapore, Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing 26:1 (2014).
  5. Shelly Bryant, “Enough,” Balik Kampung 2A: People and Places, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  6. ———, “Sila,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 13:2 (2014), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1098.
  7. ———, “Tan Swee Nee, Barber,” Junoesq no. 1 (2014), http://www.junoesq.com/?p=559.
  8. Colin Cheong, “Smile, Singapore,” Singapore Noir, ed. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (Akashic Books, 2014).
  9. Clara Chow, “Buying a Wig,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 13:3 (2014), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1115.
  10. ———, “The Golden Ball,” Junoesq no. 2 (2014), http://www.junoesq.com/?p=790.
  11. Damon Chua, “Saiful and the Pink Edward VII,” Singapore Noir, ed. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (Akashic Books, 2014).
  12. Dave Chua, “Bedok Reservoir,” Singapore Noir, ed. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (Akashic Books, 2014).
  13. ———, “The God of Cats,” From the Belly of the Cat, ed. Stephanie Ye (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  14. ———, “The Zookeeper,” Passages: Stories of Unspoken Journeys, ed. Yong Shu Hoong (Ethos Books, 2013).
  15. Ian Chung, “The Faithful Leap,” The Cadaverine Collection: New Writing From Under 30s (The Cadaverine, 2014).
  16. Tania De Rozario, “Reasons for the Rain,” The Substation Fairytales: Stories in The End, ed. Christopher Ong (The Substation, 2013).
  17. Ashwini Devare, “Batik Rain,” Batik Rain and Other Stories (Haranand Publications, 2014).
  18. Colin Goh, “Last Time,” Singapore Noir, ed. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (Akashic Books, 2014).
  19. Jon Gresham, “A Girl and a Guy in a Kijang in Kemang,” Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore, ed. Amanda Lee Koe & Ng Yi-Sheng (Ethos Books, 2013).
  20. Han Han, “Low-Class Animals,” trans. Jeremy Tiang, Passages: Stories of Unspoken Journeys, ed. Yong Shu Hoong (Ethos Books, 2013).
  21. Philip Holden, “Penguins on the Perimeter,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 13:4 (2014), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1130.
  22. Joshua Ip, “Peace is a Foot Reflexology Parlour,” Balik Kampung 2A: People and Places, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  23. ———, “Robotz Attacks Teh Citeh,” From the Belly of the Cat, ed. Stephanie Ye (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  24. Philip Jeyaretnam, “Strangler Fig,” Singapore Noir, ed. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (Akashic Books, 2014).
  25. Justin Ker, “The Forgetting Shop,” The Space Between the Raindrops (Epigram Books, 2014).
  26. Jinny Koh, “Fish Head,” The Conium Review, Nov 2014, http://coniumreview.com/blog/fish-head/.
  27. Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé, “The Draughtman’s Snow Globe,” Starry Island: New Writing From Singapore, Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing 26:1 (2014).
  28. ———, “Flying in the Face of Denouement,” Balik Kampung 2B: Contemplations, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  29. Lydia Kwa, “Speaking in Tongues,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 13:2 (2014), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1097.
  30. Dana Lam, “Mother,” Body Boundaries: The First EtiquetteSG Anthology of Women’s Writing, ed. Tania De Rozario, Zarina Muhammad & Krishna Udayasankar (The Literary Centre, 2014).
  31. Wei Fen Lee, “Cure Us of Prayers,” Balik Kampung 2B: Contemplations, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  32. Amanda Lee Koe, “Mint,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 12:3 (2013), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1025.
  33. ———, “Panda Cunt, Bear Gall,” Starry Island: New Writing From Singapore, Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing 26:1 (2014).
  34. Daryl Li, “A Secret Literature: The Literature of Ong Hwee Teng and the Possibilities of Disappearance,” Second Prize Winner of the 2013 Golden Point Award, English Short Story category, https://www.nac.gov.sg/docs/default-document-library/sse_2nd_lizhenhongdaryl.pdf.
  35. Li Huijia, “First Weave,” Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore, ed. Amanda Lee Koe & Ng Yi-Sheng (Ethos Books, 2013).
  36. Sharon Lim, “Amy’s Story,” Balik Kampung 2A: People and Places, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  37. Eric Low, “Jack & Alice,” The Substation Fairytales: Stories in The End, ed. Christopher Ong (The Substation, 2013).
  38. Susheela Menon, “Driftwood,” Life is a Roller Coaster, ed. AJ Huffman & April Salzano (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014).
  39. Marc Nair, “Soon,” Passages: Stories of Unspoken Journeys, ed. Yong Shu Hoong (Ethos Books, 2013).
  40. Ng Yi-Sheng, “Baby Shoes,” The Storygraph, 20 Feb 2014, http://thestorygraph.com/baby-shoes/.
  41. ———, “Lion City,” Starry Island: New Writing From Singapore, Mānoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing 26:1 (2014).
  42. Nurul H, “Unravelled,” Body Boundaries: The First EtiquetteSG Anthology of Women’s Writing, ed. Tania De Rozario, Zarina Muhammad & Krishna Udayasankar (The Literary Centre, 2014).
  43. O Thiam Chin, “At the Suvarnabhumi Airport,” Asiatic 7:1 (2013).
  44. ———, “Swordsman,” Love, or Something Like Love (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  45. ———, “The Verdict,” Esquire (Singapore), Sep 2013.
  46. Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, “Blessed Are the Hungry,” Apex Magazine no. 62, Jul 2014.
  47. ———, “Entanglement,” LONTAR no. 2 (2014).
  48. ———, “How My Sister Leonora Brought Home a Wife,” Lakeside Circus, Feb 2014.
  49. ———, “A Secret Map of Shanghai”, Strange Horizons, Nov 2013.
  50. Wayne Rée, “The Flying Man,” Tales From a Tiny Room (Math Paper Press, 2014).
  51. ———, “Water Bombs,” Tales From a Tiny Room (Math Paper Press, 2014).
  52. Stephanie Scott, “Pulau Brani,” First Prize Winner of the Summer 2014 Writers Village “Best Writing” Award, http://www.writers-village.org/14-1-scott.php.
  53. Ben Slater, “Resort Time,” LONTAR no. 3 (2014).
  54. Dora Tan, “The Only Time I Wished I Could Read,” Junoesq no. 2 (2014), http://www.junoesq.com/?p=783.
  55. Jonathan Tan Ghee Tiong, “The City in a Pinstripe Suit,” New Asian Writing, Feb 2014, http://www.new-asian-writing.com/the-city-in-a-pinstripe-suit-by-jonathan-tan-ghee-tiong/.
  56. Paul Tan, “The Cat Auntie of Lengkok Bahru,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 12:2 (2013), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1004.
  57. Tan Sihan, “The Immigrant,” Ceriph no. 6 (2013).
  58. Verena Tay, “The Building” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 12:4 (2013), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1046
  59. Sharlene Teo, “Molasse,” The Bohemyth, Mar 2014, http://thebohemyth.com/2014/03/05/sharlene-teo/.
  60. ———, “Volunteers,” Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts 1:2 (2013).
  61. Teoh Ren Jie, “Purple Lights,” Ceriph no. 6 (2013).
  62. Jeremy Tiang, “Lifeplan,” Esquire (Singapore), Jun 2013.
  63. ———, “National Day,” Ambit no. 216 (2014).
  64. ———, “Sophia’s Party,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 12:4 (2013), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1047.
  65. Samantha Toh, “Handsome,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 13:1 (2014), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1067.
  66. ———, “The Jump,” From the Belly of the Cat, ed. Stephanie Ye (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  67. Tiffany Tsao, “What Is Being Erased,” LONTAR no. 2 (2014).
  68. Jemimah James Wei, “George,” From the Belly of the Cat, ed. Stephanie Ye (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  69. Kane Wheatley-Holder, “Space, Time and Chicken Rice,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 13:4 (2014), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1128.
  70. Cyril Wong, “Cinema,” Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and Other Stories (Epigram Books, 2014).
  71. Woon Chet Choon, “The Bush,” Balik Kampung 2A: People and Places, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  72. Daryl Yam, “The Anus is the Centre of the Soul,” We Are Losing Inertia, ed. Wong Bing Hao (2014), http://issuu.com/binghao5/docs/we_are_losing_inertia_-_issuu.
  73. ———, “The Wolves, or, Have You Ever Read Tao Lin?” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 13:4 (2014), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1133.
  74. JY Yang, “Arachnophobia,” Body Boundaries: The First EtiquetteSG Anthology of Women’s Writing, ed. Tania De Rozario, Zarina Muhammad & Krishna Udayasankar (The Literary Centre, 2014).
  75. ———, “Mother’s Day,” LONTAR no. 3 (2014).
  76. ———, “Old Domes,” We See a Different Frontier, ed. Fabio Fernandes & Djibril al-Ayad (Futurefire.net Publishing, 2013).
  77. ———, “Storytelling for the Night Clerk,” Strange Horizons, 16 Jun 2014, http://www.strangehorizons.com/2014/20140616/storytelling-f.shtml.
  78. ———, “Tiger Baby,” From the Belly of the Cat, ed. Stephanie Ye (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  79. Stephanie Ye, “Foreign Land” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 12:2 (2013), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1001.
  80. Robert Yeo, “Something to Remember,” Balik Kampung 2A: People and Places, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).
  81. Zhang Ruihe, “The Calling,” Quarterly Literary Review Singapore 12:4 (2013), http://www.qlrs.com/story.asp?id=1043.
  82. Zizi Azah, “Such Great Heights,” Balik Kampung 2B: Contemplations, ed. Verena Tay (Math Paper Press, 2013).

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Four, Oh!

This past Saturday, I celebrated my 40th trip around the sun. This birthday kinda snuck up on me; for some odd reason, it doesn’t invoke nearly the magnitude of momentous anxiety as my 30th birthday did, possibly because that occasion felt like a funeral for my twenties. This one, despite society’s arbitrary assignation as the peak of one’s life, is more of a relief. I’ve now made it through my thirties, a decade both contentious and thrilling, full of the most extreme highs and lows in my life, and I’m still in one piece. I’m ready to get on with the rest of it.

The day itself was probably the best that it could have been, despite the noxious haze that still continues to plague Singapore. Adan and Felicia, two of my best friends in my adopted home, treated me and my daughter Anya to brunch at Batter Fluffy Flaps, a great pancake restaurant in Katong (I had Eggs Benedict, but with a pancake instead of English muffin, so good). Afterward, the four us went by bus into town to Kinokuniya, for an event featuring Felisa H. Batacan’s Philippine crime novel Smaller and Smaller Circles. Dinner that evening was sushi from Cold Storage; dessert was black forest cake from the neighbourhood bakery, and I even managed to find a birthday candle to stick on top.

JEL-40th-bday-cake

Anya sang “Happy Birthday to You,” and the fact that the song is now in the public domain made it doubly sweet.

It was a low-key day, but I’m now finding that those are the best kind. Even so, I got to spend it with some my favourite people (including my favourite person in the world), eat some of my favourite foods, and be surrounded by books. All things considered, I couldn’t have imagined a better way to mark this particular milestone.

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Announcing The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories V2

Cover design by Lydia Wong
Cover photograph by Malvin Ng


I am very proud to announce the contents and cover design for the second volume of The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories anthology series, to be published in October 2015 by Epigram Books, and officially launched at the Singapore Writers Festival along with LONTAR issues #4 and 5. This instalment is almost 20% bigger than its predecessor, and the number of female contributors jumped from 50% to 67%.

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two gathers twenty-four of the finest stories from Singaporean writers published in 2013 and 2014, selected from hundreds published in journals, magazines, anthologies and single-author collections. These pieces examine life in Singapore, beyond its borders to Toronto, California, Shanghai, Andhra Pradesh, Pyongchon and Paris, as well as to the distant past and the far future. Accompanying the stories are the editor’s introduction and an extensive list of honourable mentions for further reading.

Here is the table of contents:

  1. Jason Erik Lundberg | Introduction
  2. Evan Adam Ang | A Day In The Death
  3. O Thiam Chin | The Cat That Disappeared
  4. JY Yang | Patterns of a Murmuration, in Billions of Data Points
  5. Jeremy Tiang | Toronto
  6. Tania De Rozario | Certainty
  7. Samantha Toh | White Noise
  8. Yu-Mei Balasingamchow | Visiting
  9. Cheryl Julia Lee | A Red Meteor in the Margins
  10. Amanda Lee Koe | Why Do Chinese People Have Slanted Eyes?
  11. Gemma Pereira | Mama at Owen Road
  12. Andrew Cheah | Anaesthesia
  13. Kirstin Chen | Foreign and Domestic
  14. Victor Fernando R. Ocampo | I m d 1 in 10
  15. Wong Shu Yun | A Short History of the Sun
  16. Ng Yi-Sheng | The Crocodile Prince
  17. Jennani Durai | Tenali Raman Redux
  18. Jinny Koh | Off Duty
  19. Daryl Yam | A Dream in Pyongchon
  20. Stephanie Ye | Meat Bone Tea
  21. Karen Kwek | The Moral Support of Presence
  22. Sharlene Teo | Coast
  23. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Reel
  24. Joshua Ip | The Man Who Turned Into a Photocopier
  25. Claire Tham | The Judge

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Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the Lost Child

bbcc5-cover-lg

Book 5 in my panda picture book series, Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the Lost Child, has arrived from the printers and can be ordered online directly from Epigram Books; it’ll be stocked in bookstores all over Singapore within a couple of weeks.

This is probably my favourite of the Bo Bo and Cha Cha books to date (although each new one seems to be my favourite, but never mind). Each of these books has been written with my daughter Anya in mind, to be something that she’ll enjoy and also learn from. Book 1 is about having two different homes, but feeling safe and welcome in each one. Book 2 is about some less obvious but still fun things to do in Singapore. Book 3 is about tolerance and friendship. Book 4 is about having fun with cooking. And Book 5 is about self-reliance and spatial intelligence. (Yes, this is reductive, and the books do much more besides, but if you want to ascribe lessons, here they are.)

photo 1

The other books have things that Anya can relate to, especially in terms of the female characters, but I wanted Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the Lost Child to be a bit more on the nose. It features a little Sikh girl who gets lost while visiting the zoo with her daddy (which, for any parent, is a terribly frightening prospect), but she meets the pandas, and learns how to read a map, and befriends an orangutan girl her age named Saloma (last seen in Book 3), and shows courage and resourcefulness in finding her way back to her appa. I made the little girl, named Kavi, of Indian ethnicity for two reasons: 1) the other books in the series feature a number of ethnic Chinese characters, and although Malays and South Asians appear in the background, none were featured as main characters, which was a practice that needed to change; and 2) Anya has expressed her wish that she could be Indian (even though I’ve tried explaining genetics and ancestry to her), so Kavi is the closest that she can get vicariously to this wish. I even based Kavi’s outfit in the book on one of Anya’s, modelled above.

So I’m very proud that this story is now a fully realised book, and that it will be available for kids everywhere very very soon. If you would like to review it for a newspaper, magazine or litblog, please contact Sophia Susanto, the Sales & Marketing Executive at Epigram Books. Again, you can sample the book here and/or order a copy right now from the Epigram Books website, and rate/review it on Goodreads.

Yay!

photo 2

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Books Published Since 2011

In 2010, Kenny Leck and Karen Wai took a chance on my work, and bought my very first book, Red Dot Irreal, for their bourgeoning publishing house Math Paper Press, publishing it the following year. And I just realized the other day that I’ve had new books (and new editions) come out every year since then, which is kind of remarkable. No wonder I’m so tired all the time!

Every book and version is still in print, and the links below are for where you can buy each individual edition, so you can get exactly what you want.

2011

Red Dot IrrealMath Paper Press, Oct 2011 (paperback)

2012

Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction (editor), Math Paper Press, Nov 2012 (paperback)

Red Dot Irreal, Revised Second Edition, Infinity Plus Books, Dec 2012 (ebook)

The Alchemy of HappinessInfinity Plus Books, Dec 2012 (ebook)

A New Home For Bo Bo and Cha Cha (Illustrated by Patrick Yee), Epigram Books, Dec 2012 (paperback)

2013

Bo Bo and Cha Cha’s Big Day Out (Illustrated by Patrick Yee), Epigram Books, May 2013 (paperback)

Embracing the Strange: The Transformative Impact of Speculative FictionMath Paper Press, Sep 2013 (chapbook)

LONTAR issue #1 (editor), Math Paper Press, Sep 2013 (paperback)

Red Dot Irreal, Revised Second Edition, Infinity Plus Books, Oct 2013 (paperback)

The Alchemy of HappinessInfinity Plus Books, Oct 2013 (paperback)

Strange MammalsInfinity Plus Books, Oct 2013 (paperback & ebook)

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume One (editor), Epigram Books, Oct 2013 (paperback)

2014

Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the New Year Gift (Illustrated by Patrick Yee), Epigram Books, Jan 2014 (paperback)

LONTAR issue #1 (editor), Math Paper Press, Feb 2014 (ebook)

LONTAR issue #2 (editor), Math Paper Press, Apr 2014 (ebook)

Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction (editor), Infinity Plus Books, Jun 2014 (ebook)

Bo Bo and Cha Cha Cook Up a Storm (Illustrated by Patrick Yee), Epigram Books, Oct 2014 (paperback)

Fish Eats Lion: New Singaporean Speculative Fiction (editor), Infinity Plus Books, Nov 2014 (paperback)

LONTAR issue #2 (editor), Math Paper Press, Nov 2014 (paperback)

LONTAR issue #3 (editor), Epigram Books, Nov 2014 (paperback)

2015

LONTAR issue #3 (editor), Epigram Books, Mar 2015 (ebook)

Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the Lost Child (Illustrated by Patrick Yee), Epigram Books, Apr 2015 (paperback)

LONTAR issue #4 (editor), Epigram Books, May 2015 (paperback and ebook)

The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two (editor), Epigram Books, Oct 2015 (paperback)

A Close Encounter With Bo Bo and Cha Cha (Illustrated by Patrick Yee), Epigram Books, Oct 2015 (paperback)

LONTAR issue #5 (editor), Epigram Books, Oct 2015 (paperback and ebook)

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Fiction Accolades for Epigram Books in 2014

To toot my own editing horn for a moment, 2014 was quite a year for fiction at Epigram Books. In addition to publishing works by debut authors (A Certain Exposure by Jolene Tan and The Space Between the Raindrops by Justin Ker), translations by award-winning authors (The Goddess in the Living Room by Latha and Trivialities About Me and Myself by Yeng Pway Ngon), a new short story collection by one of my favorite poets (Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and Other Stories by Cyril Wong), and the third issue of LONTAR, we also received the following accolades:

1. The 2014 Singapore Literature Prize for English Fiction (Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe);

2. 2014 Year’s Best list, The Business Times and The Straits Times (A Certain ExposureTrivialities About Me and Myself and Last Train from Tanjong Pagar by Koh Hong Teng (graphic novel)*)

3. Top 10 English Singapore Books from 1965-2014, The Business Times (Ministry of Moral Panic);

4. Longlist for the 2014 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award (Ministry of Moral Panic);

5. Six of our titles picked as “Book of the Year” on the Singapore Poetry website** (The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume One, Ministry of Moral Panic***, The Wayang at Eight Milestone by Gregory Nalpon, A Certain Exposure, Trivialities About Me and Myself, and Last Train from Tanjong Pagar).

We must be doing something right over here. 😀

2015 is already shaping up to be an interesting year, with Big Mole by Ming Cher (the long-awaited sequel to his smash hit Spider Boys), translations by Cultural Medallion winners You Jin and Mohamed Latiff Mohamed, LONTAR #4 and #5, and The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Two. I’m hoping to fill a few more slots in the second half of the year, so do keep those manuscripts coming!

 

* Tangentially related, as it is a hybrid of memoir and fiction; the editor on this book was Aditi Shivaramakrishnan.

** My chapbook Embracing the Strange also made this list, to my delight.

*** Ministry of Moral Panic was chosen four separate times for this list.

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Fish Eats Lion I+ Print Edition Now Available

Fish Eats LionIn June, the ebook edition of Fish Eats Lion was published by Infinity Plus Books with a brand new cover (one that fully took advantage of the alien-looking appearance of the lionfish). And now, just in time for Christmas, the print edition has been released! Order it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Amazon UK, and CreateSpace. Nearly 300 pages of chewy speculative goodness from the Lion City.

(The electronic version is of course still available in the ebook stores at Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UKAmazon CANook, Kobo, and iTunes.)

“Lundberg combines accessibility with a uniquely Singaporean flavor in his selections. SF readers looking to expand their horizons will enjoy visiting new worlds from an unaccustomed point of view.” —Publishers Weekly

“I doubt I’ll read a more engaging collection this year. […] There’s a rich optimism to be found here that speaks of lesser-known spec-fic writers rising to a challenge, and that challenge being more than adequately met.” —Pete Young, Big Sky

“Entertaining in this post-colonial era, it hints at how storytellers can become mythmakers, with the power to change the world.” —Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times

(Please note that this edition does not include Stephanie Ye’s “The Story of the Kiss,” at the request of the author. So if you have a hankering to read Stephanie’s piece, you’ll need to seek out the original print edition from Math Paper Press.)

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Where You Can Find Me at the Singapore Writers Festival

It hasn’t even been two weeks since I got back from New York, but I already need to gear up for the 2014 Singapore Writers Festival. Once again, I’ll be heavily involved this year; Anya’s also old enough now that I think she’ll enjoy the Little Lit events, so we’ll be hitting quite a few of those as well.

So here’s my schedule, including events in which I’ll just be in the audience, if you’d like to catch me:

SWF 2014 Opening Ceremony
(By Invitation Only)
SMU Campus Green, Makeover Tent, 31 Oct, 530-730pm

Little Lit: Storytelling for Little Ones
(Free and Open to All)
National Museum of Singapore, Children’s Wing, Explore, 01 Nov, 1200-1230pm

Little Lit: Guided Craft: Dinosaur Art
(Free and Open to All)
National Museum of Singapore, Platform, 01 Nov, 300-400pm

Panel: Worthy Failure vs Mediocre Success (panelist)
(Festival Pass Event)
Singapore Art Museum, Glass Hall, 01 Nov, 530-630pm

Brand New Books: Trivialities About Me and Myself by Yeng Pway Ngon
(Free and Open to All)
SMU Campus Green, Festival Pavilion, 02 Nov, 1000-1100am

Brand New Books: Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me and Other Stories by Cyril Wong and The Space Between the Raindrops by Justin Ker (moderator)
(Free and Open to All)
SMU Campus Green, Festival Pavilion, 02 Nov, 1000-1100am

SWF Makan
(By Invitation Only)
Food For Thought, National Museum of Singapore, 02 Nov, 1230-130pm

Panel: Superheroes Aren’t Everything
(Festival Pass Event)
SMU, Campus Green, Makeover Tent, 02 Nov, 530-630pm

Brand New Books: Junoesq Literary Journal edited by Grace Chia Kraković
(Free and Open to All)
SMU Campus Green, Festival Pavilion, 05 Nov, 700-800pm

Kirstin Chen in Conversation with Alvin Pang
(Free and Open to All; Non-SWF Event)
BooksActually, 07 Nov, 730-900pm

Meet the Author: Karen Joy Fowler (moderator)
(Festival Pass Event)
National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre, 08 Nov, 1000-1100am
(For those unable to make this session, Karen is doing another MTA event at Kinokuniya Neo SIMS at 430pm.)

Brand New Books: Tibby and Duckie by Emily Lim, Bo Bo and Cha Cha Cook Up a Storm by Jason Erik Lundberg and A Boy Named Harry by Patrick Yee (panelist)
(Free and Open to All)
SMU Campus Green, Festival Pavilion, 08 Nov, 230-330pm

SWF Lecture: “Words Are Not Paint: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Cultural References” by Jonathan Lethem
(Ticketed Event)
National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre, 08 Nov, 500-600pm

Panel: The State of Literature
(Festival Pass Event)
SMU, Campus Green, Makeover Tent, 09 Nov, 1130am-100pm

Meet the Author: Paul Theroux
(Festival Pass Event)
National Museum of Singapore, Gallery Theatre, 09 Nov, 230-330pm

Panel: Writing for the Global Audience
(Festival Pass Event)
SMU, Campus Green, Makeover Tent, 09 Nov, 400-500pm

Whew!

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New York, October 2014, A Week in Pictures

The trip was insanely busy, and so much fun that I didn’t want to leave when it was over. Warning: selfies abound. (Photo credits can be found on my Facebook profile.)


5 Oct:

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Arrival in NYC, greeted with a big smile and bigger hug from my sister Kristin.


6 Oct:

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First New York breakfast, at Café Bene in Washington Heights

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SFWA Reception at The Manhattan Penthouse, where I got to see some old friends, including the very talented Eugene “E.C.” Myers.


7 Oct:

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Visit to Forbidden Planet; this little comic zine was about the Friday the 13th baddie, but I couldn’t resist the chance to be a narcissistic twit. (Later, I also visited Midtown Comics, as well as the Avenger’s S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at Times Square, but didn’t get any photos.)

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Visit to The Strand, one of my favorite bookstores in the world; I found an out-of-print hardcover of Milorad Pavić’s novel The Dictionary of the Khazars (Female Edition).

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Lunch at The Hummus & Pita Co. with good friend (and awesome writer) Jonathan Wood.

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Belated birthday dinner with Kristin at Uncle Nick’s Greek Cuisine; we of course had to order the saganaki.


8 Oct:

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Morning critique session at Books of Wonder with Juliet Ulman, who gave me such insightful editorial feedback on my novella The Diary of One Who Disappeared that I’m still absorbing it.

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PEN Member Mingle at Prohibition, where I chatted to novelist Daniel Akst, and Kristin was a huge hit.


9 Oct:

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Visit with my Aunt Elise; we had dinner at Vamos al Tequila in Brooklyn before my reading at WORD.

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Front display at WORD Brooklyn, featuring books by me, Alvin Pang, and Cyril Wong.

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“What Writing Means in Singapore” at WORD Brooklyn; Alvin, me, Cyril.

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Reading “Occupy: An Exhibition” from Red Dot Irreal.

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Post-reading group pic: The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Maker (according to Alvin).


10 Oct:

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Visit to the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, where I found a cape, mask, “energy-boosting” bracelet, and Jovian-fronted tee-shirt for Anya.

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“The Local Cosmopolitan” at Book Culture, which doubled as the Singapore Literature Festival opening party; I read “Taxi Ride” from Red Dot Irreal.

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Post-event photo by Tim Tomlinson; this is what relief and exhaustion looks like.


11 Oct:

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Talking to Cyril before the start of the day of panels at the 92nd Street Y, where I was thankfully only an audience member.

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The packed, and quite diverse, audience at 92Y; here’s poet Eric Thomas Norris asking a profound question.

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The book signing/mingling at the end of the day; me, Kirstin Chen and Christine Chia.


12 Oct:

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“Reading Culture” at Book Culture (again, but what a great store); I read from “Always a Risk” from The Alchemy of Happiness.

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“Encore” at McNally Jackson Books, which doubled as the closing party. I read (and mostly avoided stumbling over my words in) “Bachy Soletanche” from Red Dot Irreal. This is a post-event group photo with the festival authors who were left (some had to leave early), as well as the organizers, Jee and Paul.

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Got to finally connect with Amanda Lee Koe after this event and talk to her about her MFA program at Columbia, and her Singapore Literature Prize shortlisted collection Ministry of Moral Panic. Above: Amanda, Sarah Tang, Joshua Ip; Below: me, Amanda, Cyril.


13 Oct:

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Washington Heights on my last day in NYC, a fantastic neighborhood on Manhattan’s upper west side. I left late that night from JFK.


14 Oct:

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In transit, at Hamad International Airport in Doha, during a seven-hour layover. It was a looooooong flight home.

So, yeah, it was an amazing experience, and I had an incredible blast in the city of my birth. I really hope I’ll be able to get back there again soon.

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