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Speculative Fiction from Around the World

Monday Original Content: An Interview with K.S. Augustin (Malaysia)

This week on the World SF Blog, Joyce Chng interviews Malaysian writer K.S. “Kaz” Augustin.

Can you tell me more about yourself?

I’m not sure what to say. I was born in Malaysia, educated overseas, have worked on several continents and, right now, am temporarily back in Malaysia with my family.

How do you balance motherhood and writing full-time?
I wish I didwrite full-time! In fact, that dream lasted for an entire three months, before I took over homeschooling our children a little over a year ago. Now, my “full-time” job is preparing, tutoring and assessing two children, one of whom has dyscalculia (the mathematical equivalent of dyslexia).We’re a bit of an anomaly in this region because we don’t have any servants nor any parents or in-laws to offer support. I can’t think of the last time my husband, J, and I had an evening to ourselves. It would have been years ago, I’m sure. I mention this because it’s not a case of “motherhood” (singular) so much as “parenthood” (partnership). In many ways, J is a lot more “maternal” than I am. If the kids hurt themselves, they run to him; if they want to know how to work a shifting spanner or how big a chicken’s eyeball is (and they’re quite large, relative to brain case size), they come to me.With the teaching, cooking (I love to cook!) and my share of the household duties out of the way, I do as most other writers do and scrape out some writing time from what’s left over. It helps that I’m a relatively quick writer.
You write SF romance. How do these genres complement each other?
Yes. Well. I came out recently at Heather Massey’s The Galaxy Express [http://www.thegalaxyexpress.net] to say that I’m abandoning the term “SF romance” for my books. The way I see it, the men write “space opera”, but the women write “sf romance”. Heinlein writes about incestuous love across time-travelling generations and it’s still “science-fiction”. A woman writes about a love triangle in a charged political environment and it’s “sf romance”? Puh-lease. I may go so far as to describe my work as “space opera with romantic elements”, although even that’s disingenuous because “space opera”, by definition, is about romance–the lush offplanet settings, the galaxy-wide intrigues, the ravening beams of consumption, the phallic spaceships thrusting into the dark womb of space. Space opera has always been and, to my mind, always will be THE romance-driven sub-genre of science-fiction, human emotions writ large on a galactic canvas. In which case, why come up with a new category to describe a story just because a womanthrows in some exchange of body fluids? (Remember that Norman Spinrad, Philip Jose Farmer, Heinlein, all wrote about lubricant-assisted piston action in their books. Do we characterise *them* as “romantic” or even “erotic” writers? Of course not! Think of the cooties!)What I will say is that romance, no matter the sex of the writer, can add incredible depth to characterisation, regardless of the genre in question. It’s another piece to the puzzle of a person that can be used as narrowly or widely as one wishes in order to illuminate basic questions: what does this person care for? to what extent? what is this person willing/not willing to give up in this particular situation?

4. How receptive is Malaysia when it comes to genre fiction?

I wouldn’t know, to be honest. I don’t target any Malaysian (or Singaporean) publishers for my work. From what I’ve seen on the bookshelves, paranormal stories are very popular, what Charles Tan described as “magical realism” when describing genre fiction in the Philippines.

To atone for this omission, I write a large number of “minority” characters into my books. (It strikes me as amusing that I have to refer to olive/tan/black-skinned women/people as minority characters when we make up the majority of the world’s population, but them’s the socio-political breaks.) And, just to turn things around a bit, my villains tend to–but not always!–have the pale skins! LOL

5. Any parting shots for aspiring authors and writers from our region, Southeast Asia?

Two things. If you’re doing this through some visceral yearning, then learning the craft will always stand you in good stead. Reading books you enjoy to then analyse why you enjoy them, playing around with different points of view, taking a few literature courses and so on. If you’re doing this to make a living out of, then remember that, not only do you have to do the first thing, but you also have to run your work as a business.

KS “Kaz” Augustin writes space opera(!) and some contemporary and fantasy romance. Her website is at http://www.ksaugustin.com Under the pen-name Cara d’Bastian, she is also writing an urban fantasy series set in south-east Asia. You can catch up with Kaz’s and Cara’s blogs at http://blog.ksaugustin.com and http://caradbastian.blogspot.com respectively. When not writing, Kaz is private tutor to two very good children. They’re not Einsteins, but they’re willing to think and try things, which is all she asks.

July 18, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

7 Comments

  1. […] something happens. In this case, it’s an interview that Joyce Chng conducted with me for the World SF Blog. I talk about the kids, sf romance and my thoughts on […]

    Pingback by Interview at World SF blog | Fusion Despatches | July 19, 2011

  2. Ref: How do you balance motherhood and writing full-time?

    That’s a bit of an unfair question. I mean no one ever asks a man how he balances fatherhood with writing.

    I really like that your husband, J truly shares parenting duties. That’s not often the case. Do you think it’s because you live far away from any extended family and have to rely on each other?

    Another thing I’d like to ask: How do your kids feel about you writing? Are they proud of you or are they so used to it, it doesn’t register on their radar?

    Comment by Maria Zannini | July 19, 2011

  3. […] at the World SF blog, Joyce Chng interviews K.S. Augustin, who is an occasional commenter on this […]

    Pingback by Gender roles in SFF romance hybrids | Cora Buhlert | July 19, 2011

  4. Hey Maria! “I mean no one ever asks a man how he balances fatherhood with writing.” Ha ha, you’re right of course. With J, I think it’s a bit of both. We really don’t have anyone to depend on PLUS he takes his job as a father and fellow nurturer very very seriously. More seriously than I do in general, tbh. For example, while Little Dinosaur and I were making fun of The Wast yesterday with his mouth full of bloody swabs after the dentist’s visit, J was admonishing us to be more sympathetic and not to translate TW’s muffled words into our own personal jokes. He failed of course but he’s still a real keeper and I’m very lucky to be married to him.

    The kids are very aware that I write and always ask what story I’m currently writing and what happens in that story. I’m surprised by their interest, tbh. They say (I’ve just asked them!) that they would rather have me writing than in an office job away from them during the day. Because I try to cram writing in at every available opportunity, they also have the impression that I’m “always working”, which they say bothers them. Because of this, I try to keep the weekends MOSTLY writing free. Sometimes, to my shame, I don’t succeed. But thanks for asking such great questions and thanks for visiting!🙂

    Comment by KS "Kaz" Augustin | July 19, 2011

  5. […] The World SF Blog (Joyce Chng) interviews K.S. Augustin. […]

    Pingback by July 19, 2011 Links and Plugs : Hobbies and Rides | July 20, 2011

  6. […] Monday Original Content: An Interview with K.S. Augustin (Malaysia) I came out recently at Heather Massey’s The Galaxy Express to say that I’m abandoning the term “SF romance” for my books. The way I see it, the men write “space opera”, but the women write “sf romance”. Heinlein writes about incestuous love across time-travelling generations and it’s still “science-fiction”. A woman writes about a love triangle in a charged political environment and it’s “sf romance”? Puh-lease. I may go so far as to describe my work as “space opera with romantic elements”, although even that’s disingenuous because “space opera”, by definition, is about romance–the lush offplanet settings, the galaxy-wide intrigues, the ravening beams of consumption, the phallic spaceships thrusting into the dark womb of space. Space opera has always been and, to my mind, always will be THE romance-driven sub-genre of science-fiction, human emotions writ large on a galactic canvas. (tags: sf/f interviews female.authors non-white.authors malaysia gender) […]

    Pingback by links for 2011-08-01 « Embololalia | August 1, 2011

  7. […] So I bought this book after reading an interview with the author, K.S. Augustin on World SF. I bleeping love this book. It is science fiction with a badass black woman battling random alien […]

    Pingback by Kindle Books « curiosity killed the eccentric yoruba | August 31, 2011


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