Personally, however, I feel SFR is a completely different kettle of fish because of those two letters … “SF”. Because I incorporate science-fiction in my books, I feel compelled to include some deeper insight into the human condition. To me, that’s what it means to write sf or anything sf-related. Lou Anders, quoting Frederik Pohl, said it best in his recent interview at Redstone:
“Does the story tell me something worth knowing, that I had not known before, about the relationship between man and technology? Does it enlighten me on some area of science where I had been in the dark? Does it open a new horizon for my thinking?”
And so on. I consider this an intrinsic and critical difference as I don’t see paranormal romance authors accepting Pohl’s questions as any kind of mission statement the way I do. For me, the first question before planning a book is: what do I want to say? Everything — the plot, the characters, the intrigue, the romance — follows from that.
I see an author as being at the roulette wheel of publishing right now and it’s not a comfortable place to be. It takes time to write a book; for me, about 4-5 months for a novel and I’m a reasonably fast writer. But where do I send it? With the publishing schedules being what they are (and even for ebooks, they’re in the range of six months), we’re talking about significant lead times for every title. The problem is, the entire game may have changed from the time you signed the contract to the time your book is released. And, because the product you create is a one-off and takes substantial time to produce, you’re often the one who loses the most.
I’m sorry, Charles, I know your question is about * getting * published but I see a much bigger problem regarding career planning * after * you’re published. If you’re talented, willing to learn and have a story that publishers think other people will want to read, then I don’t think there are many challenges to getting published. And, with the internet and electronic communications being as pervasive as they are, even distance isn’t much of a factor any more.
Novellas also tend to be a bit more focused. You can’t go haring off on every interesting tangent. And that’s the pitfall of novels. Just because you * can * go wandering down some attractively-lined side paths doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes this means that that grand novel you’ve planned ends up as a tight novella instead, but you have to be disciplined enough to recognise this and either abandon the idea as non-commercial and write something else or submit the novella to a digital press and see if readers agree with your decision.
Personally, I don’t care who or where my target audience is, but I’d get a huge kick if a sizeable fraction of it was Asian-based. It would tell me that we’re starting to think beyond our immediate environment and the contemporaneous objects that touch that environment. I would be uplifted by letters or emails from Asian readers. I remain hopeful.
Okay, let’s say it’s the post-colonial perspective, because I was just talking about that. But, then again, other countries have also been colonised by European powers. So what makes Malaysia unique? Because we mention “nasi lemak” in our fiction whereas someone else mentions “rasam”? Or because we’re bumping the equator? There are factors that, in combination, are unique to Malaysia — the weather patterns, the food, the current political landscape, the history — but don’t these things make * every * country unique? In which case, if the fiction is reflective of those factors, then the question becomes meaningless. For every country in the world, the answer is the weather, the food, the politics, the history.
In fact, you could go further because those factors are refined again by the prejudices and attitudes of the individual writer. Which begs the question, which is the more powerful, the individual vision of a writer or her cultural/racial background?
Hmmmm, I think I may be contradicting my own point from the previous question. We’re still hung up on the War. But, then again, I don’t think we’re the only country that is. It’s just that I’m closer to it here. It might be the same in the Philippines, Korea and parts of China, I don’t know. (Not to mention the British with “Fawlty Towers” and that classic “Don’t mention the war!” episode and the Americans with the current HBO series, “The Pacific”. You see, the moment I try to pin down something as unique, the more siblings I find.)
When it comes to Malaysia, I’m more likely to read political analyses by local writers rather than any fiction, but too often I find the texts bloated and the points too blunt to be of any use. As a result, I’ve gravitated to the cartoonist Lat’s work. He has a sharp eye for satire and he’s highly political, so he’s automatically one of my favourites!
IN ENEMY HANDS is set in my Republic universe. It’s an hard sf romance. Take away the sf and there’s no story. Flipside, take away the romance and there’s no story either. It’s due for release by Carina Press on Monday, 7 June. Here’s the finely-crafted blurb:
The Republic had taken everything from Moon—her research partner, her privacy, her illusions. They thought they had her under control. They were wrong.
Srin Flerovs, Moon’s new research partner, is a chemically enhanced maths genius whose memory is erased every two days.
While he and Moon work on a method of bringing dead stars back to life, attraction between them flares, but that poses its own problem. How can their love survive when Srin forgets Moon every two days?
When she discovers the lethal applications her research can be put to, Moon knows she and Srin are nothing more than pawns in a much larger game. Together, they must escape the clutches of the Republic before they become its scapegoats. But there are too many walls around them, too many eyes watching. They want to run, but they’re trapped on a military vessel in the depths of space, and time is running out….
And I have a COMPETITION! I’m giving away two copies of IN ENEMY HANDS at my blog, Fusion Despatches. To be in the draw, stop by and comment at the Competition post, telling me at which blog you read about my book. You have till 30 June!
Nah, you’ve been very patient with my ranting, Charles, and I thank you for that. Stay in touch.
Kaz Augustin is a Malaysian-born writer of science-fiction, romance, and permutations of the two. Her website is at http://www.ksaugustin.com and she blogs at http://blog.ksaugustin.com You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter; just look for “ksaugustin”.