Even though Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Three and LONTAR issue #8 and issue #9 were published last year, as well as my introduction to The Infinite Library and Other Stories by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo, only one of my own original* fiction works also appeared, although it’s one I have some definite fondness for. And since awards season is coming up once again, I thought I’d present it here for your consideration.
“The Stargirl and the Potter” was published last July in Daily Science Fiction. Thank you again to editors Michele-Lee Barasso and Jonathan Laden for taking the story and giving it such a nice home. Here’s how it starts:
I tell you this tale as it was told to me so very long ago.
She appeared one day in the town. Nobody knew where she had come from, or who her family might be, or what she was called, or why her skin glowed ever-so-slightly with a sparkling luminescence. Nobody saw her enter the town from the main road, or alight from a carriage, or dismount from the back of a horse. One moment she was not there, and the next she was. Although she had a laugh that filled the air with musicality, she did not speak; after some time, most came to the conclusion that she simply did not wish to. She kept her thoughts to herself, and so the townspeople collectively named her the Stargirl.
And here’s the author’s note I wrote to accompany it:
“The Stargirl and the Potter” had three sources of inspiration: 1) Pablo Neruda’s love poem “The Potter” (from the collection The Captain’s Verses), 2) Gabriel García Márquez’s short story “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” (about a very different kind of stranger who comes to town), and 3) a former lover with a celestial nickname. Having lived in Singapore for over a decade, I’ve written about the island-nation and the wider region for quite some time, but I needed to depart from that focus with this story; it felt more “Wild West” to me, a calm tale set in a steampunk frontier (although the locale is purposefully ambiguous). It was written as a Christmas gift, and as an optimistic expression of love, which I was pleasantly surprised still existed after my divorce. It is also about acceptance, respect, and healing, and is almost gleefully free from conflict. It is a gentle story, an urban legend, a fairy tale. All of it is true, except the parts that are not.
Read the story here, and if you feel moved to nominate it for something, that’s awesome. If not, that’s cool too. I’m just glad it’s out there.
* Two other of my stories also appeared last year in Alluvium: The Journal of Literary Shanghai, “Bodhisattva at the Heat Death of the Universe” and “Occupy: An Exhibition“, but they were reprinted from my collections Strange Mammals and Red Dot Irreal (Revised Edition), respectively, and are therefore not eligible for awards consideration for 2018.