Category Archives: Writing

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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My SWF 2018 Author Schedule

SWF logo

In just a few weeks, the festivities for the 2018 Singapore Writers Festival will kick off, and I’m happy to have been invited as a featured author once again (this will make the seventh year in a row). I’ll be around for much of the festival, but here are the events that I’m directly involved with.

1. Panel: Achieving Utopia
with Patrick Williams (mod), Thea Lim and Rachel Heng
The Arts House, Gallery II, 02 Nov, 800-900pm

2. Launch: Short Stories About Home (moderator)
Lion City by Ng Yi-Sheng & Marriage and Mutton Curry by Dato’ M. Shanmughalingam
The Arts House, Gallery II, 03 Nov, 130-230pm

3. Reading: Alluvium: The Journal of Literary Shanghai
with Tina Kanagaratnam (mod), Chua Chee Lay, Daryl Lim, Xiangyun Lim, Lynette Tan, Tse Hao Guang and Cyril Wong
The Arts House, Gallery II, 05 Nov, 730-900pm

4. Panel: LONTAR Retrospective
with Michelle Martin (mod), Victor Fernando R. Ocampo and Christina Sng
The Arts House, Festival Bookstore, 08 Nov, 730-830pm

5. Panel: The Uncanny (moderator)
with Han Yujoo, Intan Paramaditha and Jon Gresham
The Arts House, Blue Room, 10 Nov, 200-300pm

My author page is incomplete, and the LONTAR event will not be on the programme (since it’s being organised by BooksActually for the festival bookstore), so please refer to this page for the most complete information.

So yeah, I’m going to be pretty busy with my own events, and I’m super excited to attend David Sedaris’ SWF lecture, “Love, Death and Family Life: Postcards from David Sedaris,” and I’ll be taking Anya to some of the SWF3 (SWF For Families) events, but do please say hello if you see me (likely looking a bit dazed).

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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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My Books Available at Indie Shops

We’re barrelling headlong towards Xmas, and I just wanted to give a holiday reminder of where you can find my books (if you felt inclined to give them as gifts), with a special focus on independent bookshops, which are the heart and soul of bookselling worldwide.

USA: Quail Ridge Books* | Books Are Magic | Elliott Bay

Penang: Gerakbudaya Bookshop

Singapore: Kinokuniya** | BooksActually

 
* My titles from Infinity Plus are available for order at any bookstore in the IndieBound network, but I wanted to emphasise these three in particular, and especially Quail Ridge, which is my favourite bookshop in all of the USA.

** I recognise that Kinokuniya is a chain with stores all over the world, but the main Singaporean store on Orchard Road has been extraordinarily supportive of me and my career, and the folks who work there are so knowledgeable that it feels like an indie.

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GTLF 2017 Moderator Schedule

GTLF logo

This weekend, I’ll be returning to Penang for the 2017 George Town Literary Festival, and I’m delighted to have been asked back as a moderator. And after the almost overwhelming craziness of SWF, it’ll be nice to discuss books and writing in a more intimate setting. I’ll be attending a bunch of panels and readings, as well as the award ceremony for the inaugural Penang Monthly Book Prize (for which Bernice Chauly’s novel Once We Were There, which I edited, is shortlisted), but here are the events that I’m directly involved with:
 

Panel: Braver Worlds: Visions of the Future/Past (moderator)
with Zen Cho, Intan Paramaditha, Dorothy Tse, and Felicia Yap
Bangunan UAB, Heaven (Level 2), 25 Nov, 315–415pm

Speculative, dystopian and fantastical genres have always been a challenge for some, but not for others. These four writers have defined and re-defined the genres they work in and continue to create worlds that defy our imaginations. How do they revision the future and the past? How does the writer act as an agent for the in-between of what is real, plausible and fantastical? And is this the way of writing the future?
 

Panel: When Immortals Walked Among Us (moderator)
with Arshia Sattar, Gerður Kristný, Paul McVeigh, and Zen Cho
Bangunan UAB, Heaven (Level 2), 26 Nov, 1115am–1215pm

There are many commonalities in the world’s mythologies and cosmologies. Greek legends, Norse and Celtic sagas, and Hindu epics all had gods and goddesses who were anthropomorphic and therefore resistant to Joseph Campbell’s argument – ‘that the secret cause of all suffering is mortality itself, which is the prime condition of life.’ Did the immortals deny humans the right to live uninterrupted, guilt-free lives? What is the notion of ‘god’ and its mythos in literature? We examine some of our most enduring myths, the power they still wield in our everyday lives and narratives, and how these stories have evolved from then until now.

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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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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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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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Where You Can Find Me in NYC

Next month, I’ll be flying from Singapore to New York City to be part of the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival in NYC, alongside a baker’s dozen other remarkable fiction writers, poets, and dramatists. I’m only there for a week, sadly, and it’s looking like that week will be jam-packed; when I’m not involved in the festival itself, I’ll also be spending some time with family and friends (and meeting with Juliet Ulman to discuss my novella, The Diary of One Who Disappeared). So if you want to catch me while I’m in town, your best bet is to check out one of the events I’m participating in.

So here’s my schedule:

SFWA Annual Reception for Industry Professionals
(SFWA Members and Guests Only)
The Manhattan Penthouse, 06 Oct, 700-1100pm

PEN American Center Members Mingle
(PEN Members and Guests Only)
Prohibition, 503 Columbus Avenue, 08 Oct, 630-830pm

What Writing Means in Singapore
(SLF Related Event—Free and Open to All)
WORD Bookstore (Brooklyn), 09 Oct, 700-830pm

The Local Cosmopolitan
(SLF Opening Party—By Invitation Only)
Book Culture, 10 Oct, 700-900pm

Book Signing
(Entry by ticket to one of the 92Y events)
92nd Street Y, 11 Oct, 600-630pm

Reading Culture
(Free and Open to All)
Book Culture, 12 Oct, 200-400pm

Encore
(SLF Closing Party—By Invitation Only)
McNally Jackson Books, 12 Oct, 700-900pm

More details at the full SLF programming schedule.

As mentioned above, the events at WORD on the 9th and Book Culture on the 12th are free, but all the ones scheduled at the 92nd Street Y are ticketed. Also, I’m likely to be at all the events on Saturday the 11th from 2pm onward, in the audience, so please do come up and say hi (and don’t worry that you’ll be bothering me, because meeting folks is a big part of the whole trip). I’m also happy to sign books at any point, not just during the official signing slot on the 11th.

Hope to see some friendly faces there!

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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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Filed under Awards, Lit Festivals, LONTAR, Publishing, Singapore, Writing

NYC-Bound in October!

I’ve been sitting on some exciting news, and have just been given the go-ahead to announce it: I will be in New York City in early October as part of the inaugural Singapore Literature Festival! So excite!

The festival takes place on 10-12 October at the 92nd Street Y, and is being organized by Paul Rozario-Falcone and Jee Leong Koh. It is a “community-led, grassroots event that aims to build awareness of Singaporean writing among readers, editors, and publishing professionals in New York; connect Singaporean and other writers; and offer a platform for regular readings of Singaporean literature in New York during the rest of the year.”

I’m joined by a fantastic array of Singaporean authors, in whose company I am honored and flattered to be included: Alfian Sa’at, Kirstin Chen, Christine Chia, Tania De Rozario, Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen, Haresh Sharma, Joshua Ip, Isa Kamari, Pooja Nansi, Alvin Pang, Wena Poon, and Cyril Wong.

In addition to the festival proper, I’ll also be appearing at a bookstore event along with Alvin Pang and Cyril Wong at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn on 9 October. Kinda like a pre-festival fringe event. We’ll be discussing Singaporean prose and all kinds of other stuff.

I’m meeting with Juliet Ulman to go over the edits to my novella The Diary of a Man Who Disappeared (recipient of a NAC Creation Grant), and would love to be able to meet up with other NYC-based peeps as well; just shoot me a message via email or Facebook, and we’ll see if we can’t make it happen during the limited time when I’m there.

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AGENTED!

Apologies for the lack of updates here, but I’ve been working hard on a number of big projects lately, which has occupied most of my writing headspace. However, I now have some big news to share.

I am thrilled, no, make that piss-my-pants ecstatic, that I now have a literary agent for everything except for my children’s fiction.

You guys, I have an agent! AN AGENT!

Henceforth, I’ll be represented by Kristopher O’Higgins at Scribe Agency. I’ve been a big fan of Scribe since they started hosting parties at WisCon years ago, and they also represent a bunch of authors whom I greatly respect and consider friends: Darin Bradley, Mark Teppo, Forrest Aguirre, Berrien C. Henderson, and Marguerite Reed (you can see the full list here). I’m also jazzed that I’ve signed with Scribe during the year of its tin anniversary.

Kris has my 130,000-word novel, A Fickle and Restless Weapon, and will be working with me to tighten it up, and then shop it around. I really feel that this is my breakout work, and I look forward to seeing what he does with it.

SUPER YAY! SNOOPY DANCE!

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A Very Belated Update (With Pictures!)

Today is Chinese New Year in Singapore, and so I thought I’d finally update this blog after being so negligent for the past few months. (Although I do have the excuse that the last few months have been freakishly busy, but still, I was feeling bad about it.) By its nature, this will be quite long, and in chronological order, but at least you’ll have some pictures with which to break it up.

Back at the beginning of November, I was once again a featured author at the Singapore Writers Festival. This year seemed even more packed than previous ones, and I was exhausted by the end of it, but had such a fantastic time. Some of the highlights:

Launching three books I edited for Epigram Books: The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza by Cyril Wong, Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe, and The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume One.

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(L to R: me, Amanda Lee Koe, Cyril Wong)

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(BNSSS contributors, L to R: Stephanie Ye, Wei Fen Lee, Alvin Pang, Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, Alfian Sa’at, me. Photo by Ann Ang.)

Being on the “Alternate Realities” panel with Dean Francis Alfar, who is even more handsome and charming in person.

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(L to R: me, Rajeev Patke (mod), Dean Francis Alfar. Photo by David Seow.)

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(Dean and me goofing around afterward at the signing table. My brother from another mother.)

Hanging out with Terri Windling, one of my literary heroes, and one of the biggest influences on me as an editor.

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(L to R: me, Terri Windling, Jasmine Ann Cooray)

windling-autograph
(I still spazz a bit when I look at this signature.)

Participating in the SWF Fringe debate, “Fairy Tales Screw Us Up“, even though it took place in the old Parliament chambers at The Arts House, because that wasn’t intimidating at all.

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(I was on the opposition team, and led my argument with the epigraph by G.K. Chesterton that appears at the beginning of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.)

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(Audience Q&A, L to R: Felicia Low-Jimenez, Adan Jimenez, Josephine Chia, Sjón. I was totally freaking out that Sjón was there, because I’m such a big fan of his work; I got to meet him several days later, after one of his panels, and talk to him just for a bit before he had to rush off.)

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(L to R: Harris Jahim (prop), Verena Tay (prop), Charlene Shepherdson (prop), Margaret Supramaniam (opp), Carolyn Camoens (mod), Paolo Chikiamco (opp), me (opp), and William Phuan (director of TAH). It was great to see Paolo in action (he won the “best debater” award), and to spend a bit of time with him as well, something that doesn’t happen often enough.)

Meeting Mohsin Hamid after his lecture “I Don’t Believe in Reality”, and having him sign my copy of How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia (one of my favorite books from 2013).

swf-memohsin

There were many other events I attended as well, including the Epigram Books launch of The Tower by Isa Kamari and Confrontation by Mohamed Latiff Mohamed (which I edited, and which was listed as one of the Most Satisfying Reads of 2013 by The Business Times), and I got to hang out quite a lot with Jasmine Cooray (an all-around wonderful person and amazing poet; look for her new collection from Math Paper Press this March). It was such a whirlwind event, and the organizers really outdid themselves.

***

For Christmas, Anya and I flew 30 hours from Singapore to the US to spend the holiday with my family. It was a wonderful two and half weeks back in my home country, and I felt reconnected to a part of myself that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. Even though I Skype with my parents every weekend, and my sister every few weeks, I hadn’t seen them in person in two years, and I just can’t explain how good that made me feel, to be in their presence once again, and how sad I was when it came time to leave. It was also so great to visit (even if briefly) with my dear friend Heather Dye-Frink and her husband David, and have Anya play with their two girls, who are around the same age.

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(Anya is deep into a pink phase, and loved this outfit to pieces.)

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(Anya coloring with her Auntie Kristin on my parents’ covered porch.)

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(Anya helping out her Papa with a sudoku puzzle.)

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(Me, Anya, and Kristin at a playground near my parents’ house. It was cold enough for heavy coats, but not for snow.)

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(Anya playing with her Yiayia.)

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(The Christmas tree, and the dining room table set for Christmas dinner.)

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(Anya playing Santa’s helper, and handing out presents on Christmas morning. She did so well!)

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(Me and my little girl, near the end of the trip. Photo by Mike Oniffrey.)

***

At the beginning of January, Theophilus Kwek and I launched our new Babette’s Feast chapbooks at BooksActually, and Embracing the Strange made its official way out into the world. I’m very proud of this odd little hybrid essay/memoir/metafiction, and I hope that readers get something out of it.

***

To my absolute and utterly delight, Strange Mammals was favorably reviewed in The Guardian by Eric Brown. “Jason Erik Lundberg’s third collection, Strange Mammals, gathers 25 short stories in which literary naturalism gives way to the surreal, the absurd and the magical. […] Lundberg has the enviable talent of achieving emotionally resonant effects within just a few pages.” This has made my month.

***

I was one of the judges in the 2013 Quantum Shorts competition organized by the NUS Centre for Quantum Technologies, and sponsored by Scientific American, Tor Books and Tor.com. The winners were recently announced, and I was pleased to see that two of my three choices took home the top prizes in the Open International category. Congrats to everyone!

***

I have a reprint (“Ikan Berbudi (Wise Fish)”) in the just-released ebook anthology Outpouring: Typhoon Yolanda Relief Anthology, edited by the always fantastic Dean Francis Alfar. Proceeds from sales will go toward the ongoing efforts of the Philippine Red Cross, and I’m very proud to be a part of this book, and to share a table of contents with folks like Jeffrey Ford, Ken Scholes, Nikki Alfar, Kate Osias, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Berrien C. Henderson, and many others.

The book is now available for Kindle and Kobo, and soon on the Flipside, Weightless, Wizard, and iTunes ebook stores. It’s for a very good cause, so pick up your copy today.

outpouring

***

Red Dot Irreal and A Field Guide to Surreal Botany are once again available in North America, thanks to the efforts of my spiritual big brother and good friend James Artimus Owen. They’re part of the Coppervale Showcase, which was created “to shine a light on exceptional books created by even more exceptional people, to hopefully increase their readership while giving readers a wonderful experience of discovering books they may otherwise have missed.”

If you have been wanting a copy of one of these books (or both), but didn’t want to pay the shipping from Singapore, you can now order them directly from him; quantities are limited, so I’d recommend getting them sooner rather than later. And while you’re there, do yourself a favor and also pick up an issue of Argosy or a book or art print by James himself; the man is crazy talented and has a really big heart, and deserves your support.

***

New information on the release of Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the New Year Gift, but I’ll put that in a separate post after this. Whew.

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Interview in I-S Magazine

I was recently interviewed by Clara Lim for the November issue of I-S Magazine, which should be out soon if it isn’t already (my favorite café, which normally stocks the magazine, doesn’t have any copies yet).

They posted some “grabber” lines from the interview on the website, which make me look far more decisive and pithy than I actually am. And while I appreciate it, this extracting also removes the nuances from my actual answers; they feel a bit like contextless non-sequiturs. I don’t know if the interview in the print magazine is also like this, or if my full answers were used, but regardless, I feel that it’s important to have the full thing out there. So here you go.


Tell us about your new book.

I’ve actually got four new books out right now: a hybrid-essay chapbook, Embracing the Strange (Math Paper Press); the first volume of a new anthology series, The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories (Epigram Books); the first issue of a new literary journal, LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction (Math Paper Press); and a new collection of short fiction, Strange Mammals (Infinity Plus Books). The first item is a small offering at 14,000 words, and the second and third were projects on which I was the editor, so I’ll talk a bit more about the fourth.

Strange Mammals is a representative collection of my short fiction published over the past decade, which didn’t already appear in either of my previous two collections, Red Dot Irreal and The Alchemy of Happiness. It’s what is called a “kitchen-sink” collection, in that the stories are not linked by theme or character, and gathers together twenty-five of my short stories published in various literary journals, magazines and anthologies since 2003, including some pieces original to the book.

All of the stories are what could be thought of as literary speculative fiction, which is set in a place that looks an awful lot like our world, but one that is slightly off-kilter or sidewise, so that the fantastic is possible and metaphors can become literalized. Other names for this type of writing include slipstream, irrealism and interstitial fiction; it is very much in the vein of writers like Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, Aimee Bender, Haruki Murakami and Ursula K. Le Guin (although I fully recognize the presumption inherent in putting my work in their company).

Who and what influence you? Or do you write under the influence?

When I was a bit younger, I tried writing under the influence a few times, but upon later examination the prose just didn’t make much sense, and was far less shiny in the sober light of day. It was a lot like dictating a dream, which may make complete sense within the internal dream world, but reads like utter nonsense once fully awake.

I’m naturally influenced by other writers, and make a habit of keeping up my relentless reading schedule even when working on something long-form, like a novel or novella. But I’m also very much influenced by visual art and music; I’m a bit busy now to make regular museum trips, but the Internet is fantastic for finding a wealth of visual stimuli. Often, I write while listening to the music of Nine Inch Nails, and Trent Reznor’s other sonic projects; his songs often put in me into a sort of in-between dream state that facilitates creative thinking.

What are your dreams like? Describe a recent one—it can be bizarre or silly or just incredibly mundane.

I actually don’t remember my dreams as much now as when I was younger. However, I did have a dream recently where I was in my bedroom and my four-year-old daughter came in and slept on the floor at the foot of my bed. In the dream, I got out of bed and tried to pick her up to carry her back into her room, but she was as heavy and immovable as a boulder. She said, “Daddy, I like it here,” and so I shrugged and got back into bed. I’m not sure if it means anything, other than to remind me that she has her own preferences that sometimes differ from mine, and that I need to respect that difference.

What things/hobbies (esoteric and otherwise) are you into?

The typical content consumption: reading, watching movies, listening to music. I’ve recently gotten back into console video games after a gap of about seven years; at the recommendation of some trusted friends, I bought a PS3, and have so far finished L.A. Noire, Sleeping Dogs, Red Dead Redemption, Uncharted 3, LEGO Batman 2, and Rocketbirds. I’ve got Bioshock Infinite and the Mass Effect trilogy on deck, but won’t get to them until after I’ve finished revising my novel. [N.B. I did crack open Bioshock Infinite a couple of weeks ago, and am quite loving it so far.]

How do you spend a typical Friday or Saturday night?

Having a small child, most weekend nights are spent at home, although every so often, I’ll drag her along to a reading or literary event at BooksActually or The Arts House.

What were you like as a kid? Any childhood dreams?

My path in life has been fairly linear: from the time I was about seven years old, I wanted to be a writer, and most of my choices since then have been in support of this goal.

What’s funny to you that other people don’t seem to get?

I like to think of myself as a classy, reasonably sophisticated guy, but fart jokes just crack me the hell up. I saw the South Park movie on opening weekend in 1999, and was sore all over for a week afterward for all the laughing.

What turns you on?

Besides the obvious things, intelligence. I have little patience for stupidity (and even less for purposeful stupidity), so people who display intelligence are almost immediately attractive to me, and I try to surround myself with as many of them as possible. An example of someone I haven’t actually met yet is Junot Díaz, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and recipient of a MacArthur Genius Grant; he’s so effortlessly smart about any number of topics, and I could just listen to him talk all day on YouTube.

Describe your day job.

I’m the literary fiction editor at Epigram Books, so my mornings are filled with editing manuscripts that we’ll be publishing, communicating with authors about contracts and reviews and book launches, liaising with the in-house designers on interior and cover design, reading submitted manuscripts and deciding whether to acquire them, managing the books under my care on Goodreads and our own website, applying for arts grants, and discussing publicity strategy with our marketing department.

Of course, I don’t do all of these things every day, but it’s sometimes surprising how many things I have to juggle at once. I only work there part-time, and often the most difficult part of my job is actually finding the time to read the manuscripts, both the ones I’ve already acquired and those I’m considering.

In the afternoons, I typically head to a café with my laptop and either work on my own writing, read submissions for LONTAR, or focus on publicity for my book(s) that have just come out or are coming out soon (of which I’ve had to do a lot lately).

What do you do when you want a break?

Sadly, writers never get a break. The times when I’m not directly writing or revising, I’m still constantly thinking about the current work-in-progress, and counting the minutes until I can get back to it.

What annoys you?

People who are inconsiderate. If your head is so far up your ass that you can’t bother to show the slightest shred of human empathy or kindness, then you are utterly wasting your time on this earth.

What makes you sick to the stomach?

Violence against children, whether it is physical, sexual, or emotional. It always bothered me, but now that I have a young daughter, any news of this type reduces me to a blubbering mess. I honestly cannot think of a worse thing a person could do than assault a child, who is by nature defenseless and at the complete mercy of the world around them.

When was the last time you committed a sin or a crime?

I consider myself a law-abiding citizen; however, a few years ago, I did receive over email an MP3 of a song I did not pay for: “Home” by Nine Inch Nails. It was released on international versions of the album With Teeth, and was very difficult to get ahold of; it was also, at that point, the only NIN song I didn’t have in my collection (the rest of which I did buy), and its absence was driving me a bit batty. A friend had a copy and emailed it to me, and it has since become one of my favorite NIN tracks.

Do you have any political or religious persuasion?

I’m a Humanistic Buddhist, in that I treat Buddhism more as a life philosophy than a religion. This follows the Mahayana tradition in the optimistic belief that human beings are at their core good people, and that harmful thoughts or acts are the result of unawareness of the true nature of reality. I don’t necessarily do a lot of chanting of mantras or meditation, but I do try to carry this attitude into every facet of my life.

In terms of politics, I’m very concerned with social justice and civil liberties, so I definitely lean leftward. I’m not affiliated with any specific party, but for a while I was a member of the Green Party of the USA.

What do you live for?

The moments spent playing with or just being in the presence of my daughter. She’s in preschool now, and is a brilliant little person. She’ll say things that are unexpected, which show incredible empathy and understanding for someone so young, and which just blow me away. She also has a wonderful sense of humor, so we laugh a lot together as well.

Wax poetic about a topic of your choice.

So the café in which I do much of my writing is in the CBD, which means that it attracts customers who work at the nearby financial institutions. I typically write with headphones on, but every so often I’ll eavesdrop on their conversations, which are full of corporatespeak and euphemistic buzzwords and all are concerned with either the acquisition or retention of wealth. And I’ve discovered that I’ve developed a nigh-pathological revulsion for this type of interlocution.

This persistent emphasis on money money money at the expense of almost everything else, including happiness, is anathema to my sensibilities. I taught at an independent secondary school in Singapore for four years, and my principal was shocked into silence when I turned down a promotion in favor of fewer working hours. I now make enough money to live on, and a bit more for the occasional nice dinner out or movie or new books or toy for my daughter, and that’s enough for now. To strive for so much more than that just doesn’t make sense to me; I have much more useful and fulfilling ways of spending my time.

Famous last words.

“I hope I left the world better than how I found it.”

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Guest Blogging for Strange Mammals

This past week I got paperback author copies of my three Infinity Plus titles, and have done a couple of guest blogs in the service of promoting my new kitchen-sink collection Strange Mammals.

The first was for the “Story Behind” feature at Upcoming4.me:

Kitchen-sink collections are bizarre beasts. There’s not a single unifying theme that connects the stories, nor are they linked with characters that continue throughout the book. What they are instead is a representative gathering of an author’s output over a given period of time, and they present a wider sense of the writer’s thematic and philosophical preoccupations. My own preoccupations tend toward the bizarre in the everyday, whether this is showcased by an alcoholic talking wombat with a penchant for Greek food, an encounter between a rock god and a djinn, or a supervillain henchman with a giant screw for a head.

Strange Mammals has had a long and tortuous gestation. It originated as my Master’s thesis at North Carolina State University in 2005, when it was titled Lies and Little Deaths. After the manuscript was rejected by a small press a couple of years later, I reevaluated the stories within, took some older, less-accomplished pieces out and replaced them with newer (and hopefully better) ones. I kept tinkering and refining as my individual short story sales progressed, and in 2010 retitled the book Realities, Interrupted and submitted it to another publisher. It came this close to publication, but then the funding for it disappeared, and, therefore, its chances at existence.

The second was for the blog for Infinity Plus, the publisher of the book:

Human beings are strange mammals. Just thought I’d get that out of the way.

In the animal kingdom, all mammals eat, sleep, mate, and fight to defend themselves. (This, of course, applies to non-mammalian animals as well.) But human beings are the only type of mammal that also questions their own existence and identity. Who are we? Why are we here? What are we supposed to do with the limited time allotted to us?

Evolutionarily speaking, intuitively, this is exceedingly odd. On the face of it, wondering what you want to be when you grow up should actually interfere with, rather than aid with, your continued survival; debating the merits of becoming a fireman versus an astronaut is not entirely helpful if a lion is chewing through your stomach. But this strange and constant questioning has actually done the opposite, and led to human beings, as comedian Louis CK famously pointed out, successfully pulling ourselves out of the food chain. We have survived as a species not in spite of this preoccupation, but because of it.

These questions have spurred on both miraculous innovation and horrific atrocities, but regardless of the results, they are at the fundamental heart of humanity. Literature is one of the few avenues so thoroughly equipped to examine these questions, and speculative fiction is particularly keen, through its slanted focus, on transcending mere fact and approaching truth. (Although anyone with a definitive answer is selling something.)

And lastly, my brilliant little daughter, who turns four years old this week, gave a completely unprompted (really, I swear!) plea on her daddy’s behalf:

Available from: Amazon | Amazon UK | CreateSpace

Ebook: SmashwordsNookKoboKindleKindle UK

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It’s a Three-Book Day!

Three-Book Day!

Third book, Strange Mammals, not shown.

Holy crap, today is an embarrassment of riches!

Strange MammalsI woke up this morning to the news that my new collection from Infinity Plus, Strange Mammals, is now available for ordering both in print and ebook formats. There was also this nice bit from Keith Brooke: “I really shouldn’t rave about individual titles – I genuinely love all the books we put out, otherwise why bother? But I did particularly enjoy this one – a real treat for anyone who loves stylish, strange contemporary fantasy.” Which is something that an author can never hear enough from his publisher. I should hopefully be seeing my author copies in a few weeks.

BNSSS Vol 1So I was already riding pretty high when I went in to work. Then, during our fortnightly Books-in-Print editorial meeting, our printer dropped off the freshly-finished copies of Epigram Books’ October titles, including The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza by Cyril Wong, Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe, The Wayang at Eight Milestone by Gregory Nalpon, and, most importantly, The Epigram Books Collection of Best New Singaporean Short Stories: Volume One! The printers did an amazing job, and all the books are just damn beautiful; they should start appearing in fine bookstores in a couple of weeks.

Embracing the StrangeAnd then, as if that wasn’t enough, I headed over to BooksActually after work, and picked up my author copies of Embracing the Strange: The Transformative Impact of Speculative Fiction, which just came out yesterday (just squeaking under the wire to still be considered a September book)! There aren’t any autographed copies in the store yet, because they ran out of “Signed Copy” stickers, but I’ll be heading back over sometime soon to put my signature in a bunch of copies.

Holy wow! All of this, on top of the release of LONTAR #1 a couple of weeks ago, has made me a bit drunk on publication ambrosia. My head can barely fit through a doorway right now.

Now it’s time to promote them! I apologize in advance for all the flogging I’ll be doing in the coming months, but now that they’re all published, we’ve got to sell them! Buy buy buy, people! And bye-bye!

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SWF 2013 Schedule

Earlier today, the programming was released for the 2013 Singapore Writers Festival (this year’s theme: Utopia/Dystopia), including the full list of invited authors and speakers. It looks like they haven’t yet linked up the authors with their events, but if you’re inclined you can check out my author page.

In addition to the usual suspects, I’m particularly excited to see the following folks at this year’s SWF: Dean Francis Alfar, Fatima Bhutto, G. Willow Wilson, Guo Xiaolu, Jo Fletcher, Mohsin Hamid, Paolo Chikiamco, Sjón, and Terri Windling (!).

Here’s my schedule of events:

02 Nov: Brand New Books: The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza by Cyril Wong | Ministry of Moral Panic by Amanda Lee Koe | Best New Singaporean Short Stories edited by Jason Erik Lundberg
SMU Campus Green, Festival Pavilion, 1130am-1230pm

A psychological examination of a student-teacher relationship in the 1980s, The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza is acclaimed poet Cyril Wong’s inaugural novel. Ministry of Moral Panic is Amanda Lee Koe’s fresh collection of short fiction that examines the improbable necessity of human connection in strikingly original prose. This launch of their latest literary offerings is moderated by author and editor Jason Erik Lundberg of Epigram Books.

Best New Singaporean Short Stories is Epigram’s biennial anthology series, with Volume One showcasing the best short fiction from Singaporean writers published in 2011 and 2012. Join Jason and five notable contributors in a discussion of their works.

(I’ll be moderating this entire session, since I edited all three books. Pressure!)

03 Nov:Alternate Realities
Singapore Art Museum, Glass Hall, 400-500pm

Life on this planet doesn’t seem to be panning out – is it time to build a new reality? Three speculative fiction writers discuss if it is easier to create stories or to live in the worlds they have created. Whose world would you like to be a part of?

Moderated by: Rajeev Patke

Featuring: Dean Francis Alfar, G Willow Wilson, Jason Erik Lundberg

(I can’t tell you how intimidated I am to be on a panel discussion with these folks.)

06 Nov:Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales Screw Us Up
Fringe 2013: Once Upon A Time
The Arts House, Living Room, 730-830pm

It usually ends with the prince and princess living happily ever after (or some variation to that end). However, life doesn’t often turn out that way. Do fairy tales skew our view of the world, and paint a picture too rose-tinted for our own good? Do they still have a role to play in our world today? Two teams of writers debate on whether fairy tales, in fact, mess with your minds, damaging you forever.

Moderated by: Carolyn Camoens

(I’m not a natural debater, but I’ll think of something to come up with.)

09 Nov: Brand New Books: The Tower by Isa Kamari | Confrontation by Mohamed Latiff Mohamed
SMU Campus Green, Festival Pavilion, 230-330pm

Join prolific authors, Cultural Medallion winner Isa Kamari and three-time Singapore Literature Prize winner Mohamed Latiff bin Mohamed, in conversation with acclaimed playwright Alfian Sa’at, for the launch of the English-language translations of their seminal works. Isa’s The Tower is a masterful allegorical tale of success and failure, translated for the first time into English by Alfian.

From Mohamed Latiff, Confrontation is a brilliant dramatisation of the period of uncertainty and change in the years leading up to Singapore’s merger with Malaya. Seen through the unique perspective of the young boy Adi, this fundamental period in Singaporean history is brought to life with masterful empathy.

(I don’t technically have anything to do with this launch, but I did edit Confrontation, and I published Isa in Fish Eats Lion, so want to support the both of them here.)

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Filed under Dystopia, Lit Festivals, Publishing, Singapore, Writing

Sweet Sassy Molassy Do I Need an Assistant

As I was last year, I am once again a writer mentor for the 2013-14 Creative Arts Programme; in an email to my mentees yesterday, I laid out exactly what I’m working on for the next several months:

  • Promotion for the first issue of my literary journal LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, being released any day now by Math Paper Press
  • Promotion for my chapbook Embracing the Strange, coming out in September from Math Paper Press
  • Novel revisions for A Fickle and Restless Weapon, to be finished by end of September and then sent off to literary agents in the US
  • Write a memoir-essay for the Math Paper Press anthology Altogether Elsewhere, and submit by end of September
  • Promotion for my new kitchen-sink collection Strange Mammals, released in ebook and paperback by Infinity Plus Books (UK) in September/October
  • Research and start writing a novella in October, The Diary of a Man Who Disappeared, which I am receiving funding for under the 2013 NAC Creation Grant
  • Promotion for the first volume in my new anthology series Best New Singaporean Short Stories (title tentative), released by Epigram Books in October
  • Write a story for the Math Paper Press anthology Skin, and submit by end of October
  • Publish my 2012 anthology Fish Eats Lion as an ebook through Infinity Plus Books (UK), likely in November
  • Write a story for the Math Paper Press LiterallyMaps project (by invitation only) and submit by mid-November
  • Promotion for my children’s picture book Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the Not-So-Nice Friend, released by Epigram Books in October January 2014

I’m also giving talks and workshops, moderating and sitting on panel discussions, and doing public readings (details on my Publicity page), as well as trying to accomplish my goal of having a work of flash fiction in every single issue of Twenty-Four Flavours.

And this is all on top of my day job as the literary fiction editor at Epigram Books; in addition to BNSSS, I have three more books that I edited coming out in October, all of which I’ll be spending time promoting: The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza by Cyril Wong, Ministry of Moral Panic: Stories by Amanda Lee Koe, and The Wayang at Eight Milestone: Stories & Essays by Gregory Nalpon.

So, yeah. I’m almost to the point where I feel like I need an assistant to keep all this straight. I’m not so privileged as to complain about being so busy with work that I love doing, and being at a point in my life and career where I can actually put my time and energy into all these projects, but it looks like I won’t be able to unclench until somewhere around December.

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Filed under Books, LONTAR, Publishing, Singapore, Southeast Asia, Writing

A Metric Pantload of Updates

It’s been a couple of months since my last proper blog entry, and things have been remarkably busy during that time.

Embracing the Strange and LONTAR #1 still haven’t come out, but indications are good that the journal issue will at least be out by end of July or beginning of October. *crossing fingers*

I’ve been writing flash fiction pieces for the new Math Paper Press broadsheet magazine, Twenty-Four Flavours, and having a blast. I’ve really missed writing such short pieces on a regular basis, as I did during the halcyon days of The Daily Cabal, and it’s great to have a friendly venue with which to explore the form once again. So far, I have sold stories for the first five issues (the second one, Century Egg, was launched this past weekend at The Arts House), and I’m hoping to have a piece in all twenty-four.

I turned in the manuscript for the third panda picture book, called Bo Bo and Cha Cha and the Not-So-Nice Friend, and am quite happy with how it came out; I think it’s the best of the series so far. It’s expected to come out in October, and  Patrick Yee is at work now on the illustrations.

I’ve been doing a surprising number of writer appearances and storytelling sessions lately, so many that I needed to create a separate Publicity page just to keep it all straight. If you’re keen to invite me for an appearance or talk, please check there first to make sure I’m not already booked.

I taught at the Creative Arts Programme‘s annual seminar once again, and had a great time, as usual. If I ever fear for the future of Singapore’s creativity, I just need to think about the eager and talented students at CAP and my fears are allayed. I’ve also agreed to be a CAP mentor once again this year, to guide a select number of mentees through their writing process in order to improve.

I’ve also been invited to be one of the international judges for the for the 2013 Quantum Shorts flash fiction contest organized by the NUS Centre for Quantum Technologies, along with media partners Scientific American, Tor Books and Tor.com. I’m in some very distinguished company; the other judges are John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Mark Alpert, Mariette DiChristina, Artur Ekert, Paweł Frelik, Tania Hershman, and Lisa Randall (you can find bios for all of these remarkable people on the judges page). I can’t wait to read the stories submitted for the contest; one of my own, “TCB,” was posted as a “seed” story to provide some inspiration.

Revisions on A Fickle and Restless Weapon continue apace, and although it looks like I won’t make my self-imposed end-of-July deadline, I hope to get the book ship-shape by mid-August, and ready to send out to agents.

Whew. I think that’s enough for now. 🙂

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Filed under Reading, Teaching, Writing