Category Archives: Publishing

On the Radio, and a Clarification

Yesterday morning, I was delighted to once again appear on Read with Michelle Martin—a short periodic segment in Michelle’s daily radio show on Money FM 89.3 in Singapore—to discuss A Fickle and Restless Weapon. (I previously came on as part of the promotion for Most Excellent and Lamentable, Diary of One Who Disappeared and LONTAR #10.)

Over the course of the interview, we talk about world-building, Tinhau, alternate universes, swees, Singlish, surveillance, exposition and telling details, the influence of Singaporean food and culture, and the Vertigo Tarot. And as you can see in the video, I’m wearing my Nine Inch Nails hoodie and cap, which I only bust out on special occasions.

I also realise now that I never exactly answered Michelle’s question on when I felt it was appropriate to use Singlish in the book (I talked more about the mechanics of using it instead). And the best answer I can think of is: it depends. The characters who largely use colloquial English* in the book tend to be of an older generation, though not all (one character who speaks this way is only in her twenties).

The way I thought about it while writing is that these are people who were educated locally; the ones who use what’s typically called “Standard English” (problematic as this term is) have spent significant time in the US or UK, and their speech patterns reflect this. But then again, one of my protagonists who has lived in the UK for over a decade slips back into colloquial English when talking with the aforementioned woman in her twenties. It is not a differentiation of class or race or economic status because, as has been my observational experience over 13 years in Singapore, people across the spectrum in those categories speak colloquial English at different times, and code-switch at others.

As I say in the interview, I wanted to make sure I got it as correct as possible, since this is not my natural way of expressing myself, and I depended on the kindness of my Singaporean friends and readers for helping me when I didn’t get the details right; of course, any mistakes in the book are my own.

* It’s obviously not called Singlish within my fictional country of Tinhau, since “Singlish” is a portmanteau of “Singaporean English”; nor is it called “Tinglish”, which would seem to have other connotations.

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A Quick PSA on Buying My Books

I’ve had several people contact me privately about buying a copy of A Fickle and Restless Weapon directly from me because they’d like to help me out, presumably so that I would get a larger cut of the sale. And while this is a sweet thought and I appreciate the sentiment, it’s actually better for everyone concerned (including me) if you can purchase the book through your preferred bookstore or ebook provider.

The sales show up on my royalty statement, and are a visible representation of public interest in the novel, which goes a long way towards encouraging Epigram Books to reprint after the first print run sells out, as well as to seriously consider more books from me in the future. (I’m now working on the third book in the Tinhau Sequence, called One Nine Eight Six, and it would be great to continue with the same publisher.)

Plus, you’d be supporting not only me, but the publisher and bookstores too, which have all taken a huge financial hit during the pandemic. I should add that this goes for all my books as well, whether they’re published by Epigram Books or other publishers; I like the relationship that I have with them as one of their authors, and want to make sure we all benefit from it.

So thank your dear hearts for wanting to do me a solid, but I’d much prefer you purchase the book via the buy links below. And if you do want a signed/personalised paperback copy, I recommend ordering directly from Epigram Books and including a note in the comment field; they’ll hold off delivering until I can come back in to the office and sign your book. 😊

Buy the Paperback

Epigram BooksLocal BooksHuggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop

Buy the Ebook

Amazon [ USA | UK | Germany | India | Spain | Italy ] • Barnes & NobleApple iTunesGoogle PlayKoboScribdAngus & RobertsonE-Sentral

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Tinhau: A Cartographic Appreciation

One of the cool things about all the worldbuilding that goes into creating a fictional country is coming up with a map to go along with it. I love maps in books, regardless of whether the subject matter is fantastical, because there’s something about seeing the geography of a place that makes it all the more real in the mind.

Way back when I first started working on A Fickle and Restless Weapon in 2004, I hand-drew a map of Tinhau in my Moleskine notebook with everything I’d need to keep me grounded in the geography. Epigram Books designer Jael Ng did a phenomenal job adapting this map into its finished form, which can be found at the beginning of the published book (she also did a wonderful job on the typesetting and layout). We worked together to update the map (since the book went through eight drafts, and names changed along the way) and add significant landmarks. Both maps are displayed below.

Tinhau Map - Drawn

Tinhau Map - FINAL

A Fickle and Restless Weapon is now available to purchase as a paperback and ebook; buy links can be found here (scroll to the bottom). Buy early and buy often!

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A Fickle and Restless Weapon: Now Available

A Fickle and Restless WeaponMy brand new novel, A Fickle and Restless Weapon, is now available for sale: in paperback in Singapore, and in ebook internationally (links can be found by clicking the cover image to the right). This book has been a labour of love for more than 15 years, and I’m incredibly excited that it’s now out and ready for readers to pick it up. It is, without hyperbole, the best thing I have ever written, and I’m very proud of what I accomplished with it. I collected my author copies earlier this week, and you can see the unboxing video above (with videography by Anya).

It’s exceedingly strange to announce a book release while the world is still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic, and protests against systemic racism and police brutality are ongoing in every state of my home country and in nations around the globe. So if you have money to spare, please donate to those causes since a lot of people are hurting right now. However, if you have a bit left over and would like to escape your current daily existence for a while, do consider ordering my novel and giving it a little love on Goodreads. It does have something to say about resistance to authoritarianism and the ubiquity of surveillance, but it’s also a helluva fun story, and just might take your mind off your troubles for a spell.

Epigram Books has some marketing and publicity lined up soon, so keep posted here, and follow me at Facebook and Instagram.

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Transcript of Radio Interview with Melanie Oliveiro

Most Excellent and LamentableOn 16 October 2019, I went on the air with radio host Melanie Oliveiro to discuss my “greatest hits” collection, Most Excellent and Lamentable. For whatever reason, Channel NewsAsia doesn’t archive their audio content online like other radio stations, but I was provided with the interview for personal use. Below is my transcription (only slightly cleaned up to remove the “um”s and “uh”s and repetitions in speech), for those who were not able to catch the conversation when it aired.

 
Singapore Today with Melanie Oliveiro
CNA938, 16 Oct 2019, 800-830pm

Melanie Oliveiro: Keeping me company for the next fifteen minutes or so is an American, who was born in New York, grew up in North Carolina, and is now an author, editor and doting dad in Singapore. I’m with Jason Erik Lundberg, who’s been calling Singapore home since 2007. Jason’s a fiction editor at local publisher Epigram Books, and Epigram Books has published his latest volume, Most Excellent and Lamentable. It’s a collection of short stories selected from Lundberg’s first three collections, and this new book also includes a brand new novelette titled “Slowly Slowly Slowly”. Let’s quickly bring on Jason Erik Lundberg so he can tell us more.

Jason, is the title of your book a reference to the title of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?

Jason Erik Lundberg: It is actually, indeed. It’s the title of one of the stories in the book as well. It comes from the full title of Romeo and Juliet, which is: The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedie of Romeo and Juliet. I always liked that interesting juxtaposition between “excellent” and “lamentable”. So when I wrote that story, it introduces elements from Romeo and Juliet, but in a very different way. It’s not exactly a retelling, but it’s instead taking characters who are in that play and using them almost like archetypes to tell the very strange story that I’m telling.

MO: I’m sure that many students of Shakespeare would immediately have this resonance with the book when they come across the title.

So how did you go about choosing the stories from your previous collections? What was the criteria, and was it really like choosing your favourite child?

JEL: [laughs] A bit, yeah. So as you mentioned, I have three previous short story collections; the first one was published here in Singapore, but the other two were published by my UK publisher, Infinity Plus. The first one, Red Dot Irreal, went out of print recently, and so all three of them were hard to find here anyway. After some back and forth with Epigram Books, it was decided that we’d take a more comprehensive look at my short fiction, at this sixteen-year career in writing that I’ve had so far. So it was very much about picking the most emotionally resonant and interesting stories from those three collections, and then we included a new one as well. As you said, I’ve written a novelette specifically just for this book.

MO: So something new for your fans too.

Did you rewrite any of them? Some of the stories are labelled “author’s preferred text”.

JEL: Yeah, the two stories that bookend the collection. For the very first one, called “The Stargirl and the Potter”, the online venue that originally published it asked me to trim it down. So it was about five hundred words shorter than the version that appears in the book. [Actually, it was a thousand words shorter. —JEL] I was fine with the version that was published, but I also wanted the full one to be out there as well.

And then with the very last story in the book, called “Ikan Berbudi (Wise Fish)”, my friend Gemma Pereira, who is a wonderful writer herself, made me aware that there were some details that were problematic and some that I’d frankly gotten wrong. With her help, I was able to go through and realise that maybe the way that I was naming the characters and presenting some of the circumstances needed to change. So those two stories I revised more heavily than the other ones in the collection, which were only slightly tweaked to make them consistent throughout the book.

MO: I found your stories otherworldly; sometimes I got sucked into their surreal themes. Were you always escaping into strange worlds as a boy, which is something you still indulge in today?

JEL: [laughs] Pretty much. It all started with my love of fantastical fiction—science fiction, fantasy, things like that—when I was a boy, and it shows no signs of stopping. I think that, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to change the way I approach it and the way that it influences how I look at the world. Because this is a very strange world that we live in; writing strictly realist fiction sometimes doesn’t incorporate the world that we’re really living in, especially right now. So it’s always been the mode that I gravitate towards the most and I’m very happy to keep going with it.

MO: You grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and that’s not near the coast, so did you look to escaping into different worlds because you maybe secretly wanted to get out of Raleigh?

JEL: I don’t think it was that. By the time I got to Raleigh, I was about twelve years old, so it wasn’t that I was really escaping that. And by the way, the coast was not too terribly far away, about an hour and a half drive—

MO: That’s a long way for Singaporeans! [laughs]

JEL: [laughs] Maybe, but for Americans, that’s nothing.

MO: Right.

JEL: That’s a day trip to the beach. [laughs] And it wasn’t always about escaping either. This is one role that fantastical writing does have, but it has always helped me to understand the world as well. When you can look at things at a slanted point of view, you can ask questions and you can think, “Okay, the narrative that I’m being given on whatever topic might be: is that actually the real thing, or is somebody trying to spin it their way?” And by literalising metaphors and doing other things with fantastical fiction that are a bit out of the ordinary, it jolts you out of just blindly assuming whatever someone says is true. You can look at things where you might not have seen them before in that way and think, “Maybe I’m not seeing the full truth of them, but I’m still seeing it from a different point of view.”

MO: Okay, that makes sense.

I enjoyed reading the first story in the book, “The Stargirl and the Potter”; it’ll appeal to the romantics in all of us. But I couldn’t get my head around “Wombat Fishbone”. Do you get people writing to you, not just asking you to explain concepts in your storylines, but also to tell you how much a story resonated with them?

JEL: I have, actually, and it’s always really, really lovely to hear, in email or in person or whatever. It’s always fantastic to be able to hear that something I’ve written actually connected with someone else. That’s one of the reasons I do this. Not so much of people asking me to explain things in my stories, although there are a few of those as well; that particular story you mentioned, “Wombat Fishbone”, is one of the stranger ones in the book. [laughs] And in it I go full-on into a surreal farce; it was a reaction to this short film that I saw during that time which was also funny and surreal. [“A Heap of Trouble” by Steve Sullivan (NSFW); probably worth a Google. —JEL]

I think the thing I really like about this type of writing is that I don’t explain things, and the strange events that happen just happen; it’s not like we can justify them or show that they’re intruding into our real world. They’re just part of the world of the story. I really like writing that makes you feel very strange. The standard label for this type of writing is “slipstream”. I like being able to affect somebody who’s reading my work and make them feel a bit off about what’s going on in the world.

MO: Once you put a book out there, it’s not yours anymore. It’s open to interpretation by anyone who picks it up.

JEL: That’s absolutely true. Though I do feel like it’s still partly mine. [laughs] But you’re right, I’m sharing it with the reader now. I don’t subscribe to the idea that once you put a piece of writing out there, it’s not yours at all anymore. It’s a conversation now with the reader who’s picked up my book, whether that conversation is a clear one, or whether it results in confusion, or whether it results in epiphany and connection. I like that this is a way that I can communicate with other people, through these squiggles on paper.

MO: You’re the first author who has told me his book is a conversation with the reader! That’s quite a concept for me to think about. And it is true.

Which short story was the hardest to complete, and do you have a reason for that?

JEL: I’m not sure, actually. They were…

MO: So they just flowed out of you.

JEL: Some of them did. Some were a little easier than others. For the title story, “Most Excellent and Lamentable”, I basically wrote the entire thing in one afternoon in a café. It was one of those gifts that, as a writer, you get very few of, where the process is so easy that it feels like you’re channelling some other kind of force. And the version that is published is nearly exactly the one that I wrote as is.

MO: Almost like stream of consciousness.

JEL: Almost, yeah. So there was very little editing to do for that story. But then there were others that required more work and thought. The story that is original to this collection, “Slowly Slowly Slowly”, is a bit longer than most of the ones in the book; it’s at novelette length, a bit longer than a standard short story. I originally thought it was going to be a novella, but some of the logical issues in the story made me realise that this was going to be shorter than that. But because I’m dealing with concepts like elder care and how we deal with degenerative diseases, things that are a bit more weighty than some of the other pieces in the book that are lighter in tone, I did feel like I needed to think through a lot of it. So it wasn’t so much that it was “difficult” to get through, but it did take more thought and I had to be very careful about how I approached the story.

MO: So no writer’s block in any of them then.

At the end of a few of the stories, you credit literary greats like Pablo Neruda and Jack Kerouac; why openly acknowledge them? Isn’t it a “talent borrows and genius steals” kind of situation?

JEL: I’ve always believed that we’re standing on the shoulders of the people who came before us. There were a number of stories in this collection that are very deliberate responses to other writers and artists. There’s a short piece in the book called “Great Responsibility”, which is a response to a couple of photographs by the photographer Nguan. [As well as the notable phrase by Stan Lee to encapsulate Spider-Man’s ethos. —JEL] I’ve been influenced by creators since I started reading. If anybody who says they’re a writer claims they have no influences, they’re lying. So I wanted to make it very explicit and open, to acknowledge these influences in the first place and to give thanks as well; if these previous writers and artists had not committed their art, I would have no story responding to it.

MO: You work in publishing at Epigram Books, and you’re an author. Are there any conflicts of interest of the creative kind? Sometimes you’ve got to put on your editor hat and edit someone else’s piece of work, but does the writer role in you say, “No, I shouldn’t touch that because it is raw and real”?

JEL: My whole position on being an editor is that I am trying to take whatever text it might be, whether a short fiction collection or a novel, and help it become the best version of itself. I’m much more of a midwife than somebody involved in the creative process itself. It’s changing word choices, it’s making the writing flow smoother; it’s questioning different parts of the text, including character consistency and whether they would behave in a certain way.

It’s also a matter of looking at the writer’s style, and really trying not to mess with that too much. There are a number of writers I’ve worked with who have a very distinctive style, and I was tempted at times to try and smoothen that out a bit, but that roughness of their style is part of what makes them who they are. It’s always a balancing act between wanting to impose my own vision on the text and staying faithful to what the writer was originally trying to create.

MO: So who edited your stories, and did you have a good relationship with that person?

JEL: Absolutely. My editor is my Epigram Books colleague and our managing editor, Eldes Tran.

MO: So she’s the boss!

JEL: Well, she’s the boss of me! [laughs] Not the head boss, which is Edmund Wee, but she’s my boss and she’s a fantastic editor. I really trusted her and enjoyed working with her on my previous book, Diary of One Who Disappeared, and appreciated seeing how she thinks and approaches a text. So it was a very smooth process working on Most Excellent and Lamentable as well. She’s someone I really enjoy hashing things out with and getting into the nitty-gritty of what makes a story good, what makes it work and what is the best thing for it.

MO: So it sounds like a good creative relationship.

I know you love your daughter very, very much. If she wants to be a full-time writer in Singapore when she gets older, what would you say to her?

JEL: Well, first of all, she just turned ten years old yesterday, so Happy Birthday, Anya! It’s very difficult to be a full-time writer in Singapore, even if you’re writing non-fiction. It can be done, but it’s hard to do, especially if you’re writing fiction. Unfortunately, the publishing ecosystem here doesn’t quite support that yet, and that’s kind of where the rest of the world is now too, even in the US and the UK, which have long traditions of supporting their writers. Unless you’re one of the top-tier consistently bestselling authors, it’s really hard to make a living it at it. So you have to do other things, like teach or edit, to support your income.

I would very much encourage her if she expressed the desire to be a full-time writer, but I would also be very realistic with her, and just let her know that these are the things to think about and be aware of when you try to have a career in writing.

MO: Jason, thank you so much for your time. That was American author and fiction editor based in Singapore, Jason Erik Lundberg. Grab his latest volume of short stories, Most Excellent and Lamentable, published by Epigram Books. It’s now out on bookstore shelves at places like Kinokuniya, Times and other great bookstores in Singapore. This is CNA938, and I am Melanie Oliveiro.

 

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Decade in Review

So tomorrow is the last day of the decade, and I’ve been thinking about how much has changed for me in the last ten years. As you can see in the photo above, I published a hell of a lot of books: seven picture books, five anthologies, ten issues of a literary journal, one chapbook, four fiction collections, and a novella. I must once again thank Kenny Leck at Math Paper Press, Keith Brooke at Infinity Plus Books, and Edmund Wee at Epigram Books for believing in these titles enough to bring them out into the world to play nice with readers. The first of these was Red Dot Irreal in 2011, the little collection that could, and a book that I’m still very proud of.

I left my teaching job at the end of 2011, and started as Epigram Books’ first and only fiction editor in September 2012. Since then I have edited more than 50 books, many of which went on to appear on year’s best lists and win accolades of the Singapore Literature Prize and Singapore Book Awards. I’ve now been at the company for a little over seven years, and it has been the most fulfilling job of my adult working life.

I started getting invited to festivals this decade, which was a nice validation of my writing and editing capabilities. I appeared at the Singapore Writers Festival (2012-2019), George Town Literary Festival (2016, 2017, 2019), Singapore International Festival of Arts (2018), Asian Festival of Children’s Content (2016), AWP Conference & Bookfair (2015), Singapore Literature Festival in NYC (2014), Singapore International Translation Symposium (2014), and All In! Young Writers Media Festival (2013). The fact that I continue to get asked about my opinion on a variety of issues is a good indication that I’m doing something right.

After my marriage broke down, I went through a painful and protracted divorce, which was both emotionally traumatic and financially depleting, and also resulted in having to sell my previous flat co-owned with my ex-wife and buy a new flat on my own. All of this contributed to the most stress I have ever felt in my life, and there are days still that it weighs on my mind; I recently watched the Noah Baumbach film Marriage Story, and it dredged up a lot of the pain and sadness I felt during this period. But not only did I get through it, I now have a civil and respectful relationship with my ex, and have lived in a home that feels all my own for the past three years. Things are not exactly hunky dory, but they get better every day.

Most importantly, I grew as a parent and as a person while raising my daughter, Anya. She was born in October of 2009, so she did nearly all of her growing up this past decade, and I got to see her transform from an utterly dependent yet utterly adorable tiny human into an intelligent, funny, kind, creative, remarkable girl. I have been reminded again and again through my interactions with her what is truly important in life, and how to let the little things go. I’m a far more generous and thoughtful person because of simply being around her and enjoying the world through her eyes, and it’s my forever privilege to be her daddy.

The next decade is already off to a good start: my first novel (and 25th book), A Fickle and Restless Weapon, will be released in June 2020, and I’ll likely be starting up a Patreon sometime early in the year (I previously ran one for LONTAR, but this will be focused on my new novel-in-progress, One Nine Eight Six). I also have two books coming out through the Epigram Books UK imprint next year: Diary of One Who Disappeared and Best Singaporean Short Stories 1. I’ll also endeavour to be even kinder toward others and especially myself, to establish some habits to improve my health and well-being, to make more time for dating and other social situations, to remain open to new experiences, and to guide Anya through her pre-teen and teenage years with compassion and patience. I hope y’all will be along for the ride.

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MEAL Publicity/Events for the rest of October

MEAL-BOTW

October is release month for Most Excellent and Lamentable, and so the marketing and publicity has kicked into high gear in order to promote it. In addition to the featured listing in the Epigram Books October Newsletter, and being singled out by The Straits Times as the only fiction title in “6 reads for October“, we’ve got the following lined up:

1. Book of the Week. This week only, if you order MEAL through the Epigram Books site or buy it at Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop, you’ll get a 10% discount! You can of course buy it elsewhere (and by now, it should be in bookshops all over Singapore; ask your favourite store to order it if they don’t have it in stock), but this is the only way to get it a wee bit cheaper. Offer ends at midnight on 20 October.

2. Author-in-Attendance, Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop. Tomorrow and Wednesday (15-16 Oct), I will be stationed once again at Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop, in case you would like to chat and/or get an autograph (and drink some delicious coffee). What better deal can you get: if you buy the book while I’m there, you’ll not only get the discount, but I’ll sign it for you too!

3. Radio Interview, CNA938. On Wednesday evening (16 Oct) after my Author-in-Attendance stint is over, I’ll be heading over to the Mediacorp offices for a radio interview with Melanie Oliveiro on CNA938 at 8:00-8:30pm! I’m acquaintances with Melanie on Facebook, but this will be the first time meeting in person and appearing on her show. Be sure to tune in to 93.8FM to listen to the interview live, or stream it via CNA938 or the MeRadio app.

Holy crow, all of that is happening this week alone! But I’ve got two more items this month:

4. Radio Interview, Money FM 89.3. On 29 Oct, I’ll be talking once again with Michelle Martin on Money FM 89.3. This will be an early-morning interview, at 9:00-9:30am, so I’ll need to slam some coffee beforehand, but Michelle is always an engaging interlocutor, which will easily keep me alert. As above, you can listen live or stream the interview online, and it’ll be archived in the station’s podcast afterward for those who missed it the first time.

5. Interview with Robert Wood, Singapore Hot Takes, Centre for Stories. I was asked a number of readerly and writerly questions for the Australian org Centre for Stories, and my answers should be posted by the end of the month. To get an idea of the questions asked, check out the first eight authors interviewed for Singapore Hot Takes (all of whom I know; I’ve also edited six of them).

So that’s it for October! Whew! In November, I’m launching the book at the Singapore Writers Festival (8 Nov) along with Barrie Sherwood, and the two of us will be doing additional book events at Kinokuniya (16 Nov) and BooksActually (TBD). You can keep updated on all of these things here on the website via my Events page, and at my Facebook page, and please do buy the book! 😀

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A Fickle and Restless Weapon: First Novel Accepted for Publication!

Publication Agreement for A Fickle and Restless Weapon

Some very excellent news to announce: yesterday the contract was signed for my novel, A Fickle and Restless Weapon! It’s my 25th book but my very first novel, and it’ll be released in June 2020 from Epigram Books. I could not be more excited! I started work on this book in my final semester of graduate school, way back in 2005; there was a lot of worldbuilding and character development and experiments in tone, but once I had the first line, I knew that there was something special here:

It was late morning when Zed arrived, incognito.

(I ended up adding a prologue later, so this is no longer the first line, but I still love it and its nod to Kafka.)

I worked on it off and on for the next few years, but then got stuck at about 30,000 words and didn’t know where to go from there. Something was holding the novel back; something fundamental wasn’t working. This was around the time that I started teaching secondary school in Singapore, which was more than a full-time job and required all of my mental capacity, so I put the book aside for a couple of years. And as frustrated as I was that I wasn’t able to write the book during that period (though I did create flash fiction regularly to keep my hand in), I needed that time for my brain to subconsciously identify the problem and come up with a solution.

One of my protagonists, Zed, was supposed to experience a fall from grace that would push him out of his relatively comfortable life and propel him into the obstacles I set up for him. And to dramatise this fall, I portrayed him as an arrogant asshole who actually had his life transformation coming to him. But since the first part of the story is from his POV, I realised that this was alienating to the reader. Zed needed to be more accessible from the start, so that when his fall comes at the end of that section, we’re compelled to turn the page to find out what happens to him next.

So I reconceptualised his character from scratch and rewrote those first 30,000 words, and that momentum allowed me to continue on and on until I eventually reached the end. As a sort of bookend, I crafted the final 30,000 words during the 2012 Write-a-Thon for the Clarion Writers Workshop. A few months later, I started my job as Fiction Editor at Epigram Books, and came back to the manuscript for editing. I engaged a number of trusted first readers, who gave me excellent feedback, which I used for the next draft.

At that point, I sent the novel off to a literary agent who had apparently been following my short fiction career up to that point, and he agreed to represent me. I was thrilled to work with him, but after an initial flurry of submissions to publishers, he unfortunately sat on the book for the next five years and became less and less communicative. In early 2018, I broke off our association; earlier this year, I pitched the book to my boss at Epigram Books, since it shares a fictional universe and timeline with Diary of One Who Disappeared, and it was accepted, at last, 14 years after I first imagined the story (and 7 years to the day after I first started work at Epigram Books).

I’m incredibly excited to be able to share this novel with readers next year, and I feel that it’s some of my best work. So yay! I’m officially a novelist! 😀

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Now Available for Preorder: Two New Books!

     

In October, I will have two new books out: Most Excellent and Lamentable: Selected Stories, a “greatest hits” fiction collection that draws from my 18-year career thus far; and Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Four guest edited by Pooja Nansi, the latest instalment of the definitive anthology series of current Singaporean fiction writing.

Very likely, Epigram Books will be launching both titles this November at the 2019 Singapore Writers Festival, but you can also preorder both titles now directly from the publisher (and get them mailed to you as soon as they arrive from the printers)! Short stories galore!

I’m so excited for the release of both these books, and I can’t wait for y’all to read them. If you are a book reviewer for a legitimate venue, email me so we can get a review copy to you ASAP.

Praise for Most Excellent and Lamentable

“This is a superb collection of beautifully crafted stories. They range from exquisite miniatures that render entire worlds within a few words to longer stories rich with the complexities of human interactions with the Other—where the Other might be a foreign tourist, a shaman, a fish that speaks or a wombat. Infused with a Southeast Asian sensibility, these tales transcend boundaries in the best tradition of speculative fiction.”
Vandana Singh, author of Ambiguity Machines and Other Stories

“Phlogiston (I am assured by usually reliable sources) does not exist…and yet something rare is powering these shimmering, surprising, infinitely combustible stories. Strange energies crackle throughout this most excellent collection.”
Andy Duncan, author of An Agent of Utopia and three-time World Fantasy Award winner

“In Lundberg’s narratives, endings are transformations, a change from one state to another: from ignorance to knowledge, from pain to understanding, from confusion to bliss. Death is a primary instigator, but it is not alone. Epiphanies and sad wisdom inhabit endings as well, and reveal the seeds of continuance. ‘What comes after’ and ‘what happens next’ are concerns of the author’s work, and he shares his take on karmic cycles and serpentine circles as he reveals the tantalising ever-afters. It is love that happens afterwards. Love continues. Identity continues. Remembrance continues. The story continues for it never truly ends, with each ending offering a new beginning, or a continuation, after profound changes. It is this insight, this narrative truth, that creates impact—that hope is never truly lost, and what is now is only for now.”
Dean Francis Alfar, Palanca Grand Prize-winning author of Salamanca and The Field Guide to the Roads of Manila (from the introduction)

From the preface of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Four

“Our stories are everywhere we look, and those stories matter; they are as varied and as manifold as we are. The pieces here are by student writers, full-time writers, hobbyists—some of the writers are based in Singapore, some are away from the city, and others call this city home, however momentarily. But all these stories speak to the very human truths of loss and desire in one way or another.”
Pooja Nansi, author of Love Is an Empty Barstool
 

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Diary of One Who Disappeared E-book Available for Preorder

The book launch for Diary of One Who Disappeared is fast approaching, so mark your calendars! All of Singapore is invited!

  1. What: Launch of Diary of One Who Disappeared
  2. Where: Books Kinokuniya main store (Orchard Road), Takashimaya SC
  3. When: 6 April 2019, 2-3pm
  4. Why: To listen to a discussion of adaptation, superpowers, politics and parallel universes
  5. How: Moderated by Cyril Wong

It’s important to have a big showing at the launch, in order to boost sales for the first week, and to encourage Kino to stock the book well. And I’d love for y’all to be there to help me celebrate a work that took five and a half years from conception to publication.

ALSØ, the e-book edition of the novella is now available for preorder (yay!) at the following places:

ALSØ ALSØ, the print edition is available for purchase RIGHT NOW at these places:

Exciting times! WØØT!

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Event Schedule: Diary of One Who Disappeared

Diary at Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop, photo by Christopher TohDiary of One Who Disappeared is now back from the printers, and I’ve gotten my author copies (check out my Facebook page for the unboxing), yay! The paperback will be available in fine Singaporean bookshops by start of April (and, as you can see from the photo, it’s actually already for sale at the new Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop), and the ebook will be available on all major platforms as well (more on this later).

So, now that the novella exists (plusyay!), it’s time to post my upcoming event schedule in support of the book’s release. If you’ll be in Singapore for the month of April, or in Penang during Star Wars Day, please come on down to the below events to help me celebrate!

2 April, 640-700pm
Radio Interview
Money FM 89.3: The Curve with Michelle Martin & Bernard Lim

Michelle had me on her show last year to talk about LONTAR issue 10, and then graciously agreed to moderate a LONTAR retrospective panel at the 2018 Singapore Writers Festival, so I’m very excited to talk with her again, this time about my own fiction.

6 April, 200-300pm
Official Book Launch
with Cyril Wong (mod)
Books Kinokuniya Neo SIMS (Orchard Road)

This will be the official launch for the book, so if you can come to any event, come to this one. Sales for this weekend are very important, and can determine whether the novella makes Kino’s bestseller list, not to mention national bestseller lists (for which I can only hope). A big jump-start at the beginning can also result in healthy regular sales months and years afterward. Kino has been a wonderful partner with Epigram Books, and I’m very grateful that they’re allowing us the space to launch the book there.

22–23 April, 1030am–530pm
Artist-in-Attendence
Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop (URA Centre)

If you’ve read Singaporean news lately, you know that the Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop (a collaboration between Epigram and Huggs Coffee) has just opened its doors, the only bookstore in the country right now selling books that exclusively focus on Singapore and Singaporean writers. As a continued part of that grand opening, the Artist-in-Attendence programme has been established to give Singaporean writers and artists an exclusive table to work on their art. “If you’ve always wanted to know how authors work or gain inspiration, or simply wanted to thank your favourite author—here’s your chance. Don’t be shy, come and say hi.” Also, the coffee is pretty damn tasty.

4 May, 400-600pm
Bookstore Event
Gerakbudaya Bookshop @ Hikayat (Beach Street)
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Since my first invitation to the George Town Literary Festival in 2016, I have been welcomed by Gerakbudaya’s director Gareth Richards and his wonderful staff, and made to feel seen. So I was especially excited when they agreed to bring me in to their sister store, Hikayat, to launch the book in Penang. As I mentioned above, the event will take place the day before Ramadan starts, i.e. Star Wars Day (May the 4th…), so expect me in my Empire Strikes Back shirt.

Thanks in advance for showing up and allowing my fiction some space in your life (doubleplusyay!).

If you’re unable to attend either the Kinokuniya or Gerakbudaya launches, you can still order the book from either store, or direct from Epigram Books or Local Books; be sure to indicate whether you would like a signed copy.

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Now Available for Preorder: My New Novella!

Diary of One Who DisappearedLast month on social media, I shared the cover art for my brand new novella, Diary of One Who Disappeared (being released in April 2019), and now the book is available for preorder from Epigram Books!

I’m so excited that this slim book will finally be seeing the light of day, and I can’t wait for y’all to read it. I’m a bit burned out on doorstoppers at the moment, so in case you’re the same, this is perfect for you, a compelling story that can be (conceivably) finished in one sitting.

If you are a book reviewer for a legitimate venue, email me so we can get a review copy to you straight away (most likely PDF, but we might be printing some ARCs for local reviewers).

We’ve gotten some lovely praise quotes in already (and are expecting even more):

“A fantastic tale of the possibility of revolution—both personal and political—inherent in every moment.”
—Ken Liu, multi-award-winning author of The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

“Through communiqués, missives and the common email, relationships unfold and splinter within a futuristic world ruled by religiosity and prejudice, mirroring our present-day political climate in terrifying but revelatory ways. Diary of One Who Disappeared also convincingly offers a morality tale about how the ramifications of our actions and thoughts, even our unconscious desires, extend beyond the realm of our known universe.”
—Cyril Wong, Singapore Literature Prize-winning author of Ten Things My Father Never Taught Me

“A story of interpersonal and international politics, a haunting exploration of how one defines and redefines oneself, a thriller and a human tale of personal growth. If you are looking for intelligent, thought-provoking speculative fiction, board the airship from the repressive North American Union to cosmopolitan Tinhau. Readers of thoughtful, humane fiction are in for a treat.”
—John Kessel, Nebula Award-winning author of The Moon and the Other

I’ll be presenting the novella this coming Friday at the Epigram Books biannual sales conference (which this year we’re calling First Look Showcase: Stories About Stories) for industry professionals. If they like what I have to say, there’s a good chance that they’ll order bunches of copies for their bookshops, or devote some page space in newspapers and magazines. Wish me luck!

And also go preorder the book! 😀

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Introducing BNSSSv4 Guest Editor Pooja Nansi!

Pooja Nansi and Jason Erik Lundberg, guest editor and series editor of
Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Four.
Photo copyright © 2015 by Jason Erik Lundberg.

The contract has been signed, and so I am elated to announce that Pooja Nansi will be the guest editor of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume Four! Yay, w00t and huzzah!

I’ve long wanted to work with Pooja on a project, and I’m so delighted that she’s agreed to curate our fourth volume of BNSSS (to be released by Epigram Books in October 2019). I’m a great admirer of her poetry and performance (Love is an Empty Barstool is one of my all-time favourite Singaporean poetry collections), her commitment as an educator (both as a teacher and as Singapore’s first Youth Poet Ambassador), and her eagerness to pay it forward by spearheading the incredible spoken word / reading series Speakeasy. And though she’s known primarily as a Young Artist Award-winning poet, she has a finely discerning eye for prose as well, and I can’t wait to see what stories she selects for the anthology.

As before, we are only considering previously published short stories by Singaporean writers. We will be already looking at notable lit journals as well anthologies and single-author collections by major Singaporean publishers. However, if you would like to recommend a published short story under 10,000 words, you can shoot me an email, and I’ll pass it along.

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Two New Books Coming Out in 2019

The contracts have at last been signed, so I can officially announce that Epigram Books will be publishing two books by me next year, scheduled for March and October, respectively: a novella called The Diary of One Who Disappeared (recipient of the 2013 NAC Creation Grant), and a “greatest hits” short story collection called Most Excellent and Lamentable (with an introduction by Dean Francis Alfar). Yay!

I’ve resisted submitting my own fiction to Epigram Books for a long time, because it felt a bit strange publishing fiction at the company where I’m the fiction editor. But I’m glad that it’ll be happening, and that I’ll be working with my colleague Eldes Tran to shape both of these manuscripts.

This all came about when I proposed reprinting Red Dot Irreal to my publisher, Edmund Wee, since the first edition is now out of print in Singapore (even if you can still find the Infinity Plus edition online). He countered with putting together a new collection, and I came up with the idea of doing a Selected Stories book that draws from my three previous collections, as well as one uncollected story and a brand new one written specifically for this book. Here are the contents:

  • The Stargirl and the Potter
  • Always a Risk
  • Wombat Fishbone
  • King of Hearts
  • Strange Mammals
  • Great Responsibility
  • The Time Traveller’s Son
  • Slowly Slowly Slowly
  • Kopi Luwak
  • Complications of the Flesh
  • Most Excellent and Lamentable
  • Bodhisattva at the Heat Death of the Universe
  • Bogeymen
  • Ikan Berbudi (Wise Fish)

At the same, I pitched my long-languishing novella, which my (now ex-)agent had not done anything with for four years, and thankfully Edmund agreed to take it as well. But after receiving some additional feedback, I realised that it didn’t address the world that we’re living in now, which is very different from the optimism and openness of four years ago. So I’m currently revising the manuscript to make it more relevant (and, frankly, better), and aiming at a mid-August deadline to turn it in.

So yeah, two new works of fiction by me out next year. It’s nice to be out in front of my own writing again. 🙂

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A Stargirl for Your Consideration

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.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Happy Friday the 13th! Just in case you missed it, or if you don’t regularly follow my Facebook feed, I released a LOT of announcements this week:

1) Fish Eats Lion is now available as an ebook from Infinity Plus Books, at all major ebook stores [full post].

2) My next picture book, Bo Bo and Cha Cha Cook Up a Storm, will be released in October from Epigram Books [photo proof].

3) LONTAR issues #1 and #2 took the top bestselling spots at Weightless Books for May 2014, and are also now up at the Nook and iTunes stores [full post].

4) The contents for LONTAR issue #3 were finalized, and the journal will hereon be published by Epigram Books [full post].

5) My story “Taxi Ride” appears in the Summer 2014 “Starry Island” issue of MANOA Journal, which will be available at Kinokuniya near the end of July, and can be pre-ordered now [press release | order page].

6) Amanda Lee Koe’s fiction collection, Ministry of Moral Panic (which I edited), made the 2014 longlist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award [award site].

7) I will be in New York City in early October, appearing at a WORD Bookstore event in Brooklyn and at the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival at the 92nd Street Y [full post].

A very fortuitous week, the best in some time, career-wise. I am doing my best to be grateful for the influx of good news, rather than expecting a falling anvil from the sky at any moment.

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