Over at Visibility Fiction, Joyce Chng talks about writing YA and speculative fiction in Singapore. Here’s an excerpt:
Lack of exposure and the tendency for Westerners to fix Asians in pigeonholes are not helping the situation. What are Southeast Asians supposed to write about? Literary fiction about oppressive regimes, sad cultural traditions, tortured souls (who then find solace in a Western world/man/woman etc) and what? If you want us to write about diversity, then let us write about diversity. Diversity in our terms, not your own, Western publishing industry. More non-US protagonists and characters, more exciting scenarios, more diversity in gender and sexual orientation.
You can read more at Visibility Fiction.
Here are two anthologies in 2013 which feature a diverse set of writers and topics.
First off, we have We See A Different Frontier edited by Ajibril al-Ayad and Fabio Fernandes:
- Preface by Aliette de Bodard
- Introduction by Fabio Fernandes
- The Arrangement of Their Parts, Shweta Narayan
- Pancho Villa’s Flying Circus, Ernest Hogan
- Them Ships, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Old Domes, J.Y. Yang
- A Bridge of Words, Dinesh Rao
- The Gambiarra Effect, Fabio Fernandes
- Droplet, Rahul Kanakia
- Lotus, Joyce Chng
- Dark Continents, Lavie Tidhar
- A Heap of Broken Images, Sunny Moraine
- Fleet, Sandra McDonald
- Remembering Turinam, Nalin A. Ratnayake
- Vector, Benjanun Sriduangkaew
- I Stole the D.C.’s Eyeglass, Sofia Samatar
- Forests of the Night, Gabriel Murray
- What Really Happened in Ficandula, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz
- Critical afterword by Ekaterina Sedia
Then there’s Aliens: Recent Encounters edited by Alex Dally McFarlane:
- An Owomoyela – Frozen Voice
- Ken Liu – The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species
- Catherynne M. Valente – Golubash, or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy
- Zen Cho – The Four Generations of Chang E
- Vandana Singh – The Tetrahedon
- Paul McAuley – The Man
- Ursula K. Le Guin – Seasons of the Ansarac
- Molly Gloss – Lambing Season
- Desirina Boskovich – Celadon
- Genevieve Valentine – Carthago Delenda Est
- Caitlín R. Kiernan – I Am the Abyss and I Am the Light
- Jamie Barras – The Beekeeper
- Robert Reed – Noumenon
- Elizabeth Bear – The Death of Terrestial Radio
- Sofia Samatar – Honey Bear
- Karin Lowachee – The Forgotten Ones
- Jeremiah Tolbert – The Godfall’s Chemsong
- Alastair Reynolds – For the Ages
- Brooke Bolander – Sun Dogs
- Nisi Shawl – Honorary Earthling
- Samantha Henderson – Shallot
- Sonya Taaffe – The Boy Who Learned How to Shudder
- Eleanor Arnason – Knacksack Poems
- Gitte Christensen – Nullipara
- Indrapramit Das – muo-ka’s Child
- Jeffrey Ford – The Dismantled Invention of Fate
- Karin Tidbeck – Jagannath
- Pervin Saket – Test of Fire
- Nancy Kress – My Mother, Dancing
- Greg van Eekhout – Native Aliens
- Lavie Tidhar – Covenant
- Yoon Ha Lee – A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel
Joan De La Haye writes horror and some very twisted thrillers. She invariably wakes up in the middle of the night, because she’s figured out yet another freaky way to mess with her already screwed up characters.Joan is interested in some seriously weird shit. That’s probably also one of the reasons she writes horror.
Hi Joan! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you first become acquainted with fantasy, with horror, etc.?
I must admit I wasn’t a big horror fan growing up. I only found it in my twenties thanks to a friend handing me a copy of Stephen King’s Misery and telling me not to be such a literary snob. Then another friend got me reading Anne Rice and then I discovered my Dads collection of Dennis Wheatley books. I haven’t stopped reading genre fiction since.
What’s the appeal of fiction for you?
I think everybody loves to be swept away by a good story. We all want to escape from the mundane day to day of our daily lives and I think the best way to allow our imaginations to take flight is within the pages of a good book.
Since you write in a lot of genres, how would you describe your writing?
In a word, twisted. But if you need a longer explanation, I guess my writing is a little on the dark side. I explore the darker aspects of human nature and ask a few uncomfortable questions about that nature.
Is there a preferred format that you prefer, since you seem to write everything from short stories to novels?
I really enjoy writing shorter fiction. I’m not the most patient of people and quiet enjoy being able to thump out a story in a matter of days. But the long form also has a special place. There are some stories that need to be explored on a far deeper level that you just can’t do with short fiction. You also get to know a character far better in the novel format. So I guess that’s just the long way of saying that I like all the guises that fiction comes in. It’s important for a writer to be able to use all the tools at their disposal. It’s the story that dictates the length.
How did you end up getting published by Fox Spirit?
I’ve known Adele Wearing for a couple years now. I got to know her as a reviewer and after she reviewed my first book, Shadows, we became firm friends. Then when Shadows needed a new home and she was looking for books to publish for her new publishing company, Fox Spirit, I knew that it would be the perfect fit. Adele is a force of nature and will accomplish great things with Fox Spirit. I’m just proud that I can be a part of it.
What’s the field like there in South Africa?
The Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror fields here are still pretty small but they are growing. The genre writers are a small group and we all seem to know and support each other. It’s an emerging market.
What made you decide to set your novel in Pretoria?
I think it’s important to set a story in a place that you’re pretty intimate with. I set Shadows in Johannesburg because I was living there while I was writing it. I set Requiem in E Sharp in Pretoria because it’s my home town and where I now live once again. It’s an interesting city with a very high murder rate. It’s also a city I know better than any other and I discover new things about it every day.
Who are some of the authors or what books interest/inspired you?
The obvious one is Stephen King. Just the huge body of his work is inspiring. Then there’s Clive Barker, probably another obvious one. I also recently got to meet John Connolly in the flesh. The fluidity of his writing is inspirational. He’s also just a really nice guy, completely down to earth and easy to talk to. It’s always wonderful to meet a big name author like that.
Anything else you want to plug?
Readers can find out anything they need to know about my books on my website: http://joandelahaye.com/ and they can follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/JoanDeLaHaye
They can also have a look at all the books published by Fox Spirit http://www.foxspirit.co.uk/. Adele has put together a fantastic collection of books and authors, all of which are worth checking out.
We recently received an emailed from Geetanjali Dighe of Mumbai, India, who started a new digital magazine. Here’s what
he they said:
Indian SF is a free to read digital magazine featuring Speculative Fiction (SF) stories. SF broadly stands for Science Fiction and Fantasy. It is published from Mumbai, India.
Indian SF welcomes writers from all across the world, but wants to especially encourage Indian writers / writers of Indian origin.
Indian SF pays INR 750/- for original fiction and to the featured digital artist.
The Jan-Feb 2013 issue is the very first one. It features some re-published stories and original fiction and non-fiction.
And here’s the current table of contents:
X Marks the Spot by Kat Otis
Two men follow a treasure map and get more than they bargained for.
Staying Behind by Ken Liu
Those that have uploaded to machines try to steal children.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Ram V
There is more to the wolves that the boy sees in his dreams.
Goddess by Lavanya Karthik
A man finds a Goddess with three heads in Bhopal after the ‘Gas’.
With the writer and artist of Legends of Aveon 9 comic
Payal Dhar’s Satin – A Stitch in Time
Anil Menon’s The Beast With Nine Billion Feet
Reviewed by Mandar Talvekar
A few Digital Art images (and cover) by Stephan Hurlmann
Hi Marian! Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. First off, how did you first become acquainted with speculative fiction?
Well, of course, on some level all fiction is speculative fiction, and one of the great developments that has taken place over the course of my life is that some of the themes and ideas that have been traditionally considered as “belonging” uniquely to what was called “science fiction” have expanded beyond their genre boundaries (of course, genres don´t have boundaries, but that is another question…). So, a lot of what I read when I was a child or a young woman was speculative fiction “without knowing it”, as it were. For example, some of Lovecraft’s purer horror stories are very much based on a speculative fiction premise: what if we could re-animate the dead? What if we could come into contact with creatures from other dimensions?
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
It’s always been there in the background: I’ve always liked words, and putting words together, but there are a handful of key experiences that really led me to want to devote my life to it: reading Crime and Punishment for the first time at the age of thirteen or so, discovering Borges… In a way the idea that it is what I’d do has always been there, even amongst my family and friends. It was sort of understood I would work with books… And in fact I have been a librarian, I’ve done academic research, I translate, publish and write. Short of having my own bookshop, I think I have always been surrendered to books and have lived not only through them, but also from them… Or at least that’s what I try to do!
Who are some of your favorite writers or what are some of your favorite works?
I believe in a healthy reading diet, and my list of “favourites” is perhaps unmanageable… I am also very indecisive… A great many things: from Alice in Wonderland to An Awkward Age by Anna Starobinets.
Where can we find some of your fiction?
I have contributed to a number of anthologies and have published a novel, which I describe as “with a ghost included” rather than being a straight horror story, which is not. The anthologies I have contributed to tend to focus on speculative, fantasy or horror topics, and amongst them I am extremely proud to be one of the only three female authors featured in a seminal horror anthology recently published called Akelarre: Antología del cuento de terror español actual, full of incredibly amazing writers. I cannot tell you how many times I have complained to my publisher that he should have searched for more Spanish female horror writers! All these anthologies fall within the very Spanish trend now for “high-literary” genre writing… This need to specify-redefine can be sometimes a bit silly, in my view… Genre writing doesn’t need to be “saved” by straight literature. There is some amazing writing out there… But perhaps more in the Anglo-American scene than here, I guess.
How would you describe your writing?
I think I’ve got quite a dark mind, and that is reflected in what I write: I am fascinated by the obscure, the half-hidden, what you might in general call “the gothic”. A lot of my friends say that I write in quite an “English” way: perhaps what this means is that I am not as keen on baroque circumlocution as some Spanish prose writers.
How did you get involved with translation?
I was broke. I submitted a speculative translation (of a whole book) to a publisher. It was Lady into fox, by David Garnett, a book I have always been fascinated with… He didn’t take it, but things started coming my way.
What are the challenges in translating into Spanish, especially since you translate both English and Russian works?
More than other European languages, Spanish gets beautiful results on a fairly limited spectrum of emotional tone and nuances of vocabulary. I often feel when I am translating from English that I am trying to fit the Ocean into a bathtub. On the other hand, when something works in Spanish it works in a way that it is impossible to fake. Bad Spanish prose calls attention to its own inadequacies much more than bad English or bad Russian does. I should qualify here that when I translate from Russian it is as half of a translation team, of which I am the “native” Spanish speaker.
Who are some of the speculative fiction authors from Russia that we should be reading? From Spain?
Our Russian list is characterised by publishing gothic or science-fiction alongside more “traditional” Russian writers. One of the last books we have published is a collection of short stories by Anna Starobinets, published in English as An Awkward Age, which are speculative fiction-horror stories that really repay the Russian press’s description of her as “the Russian Stephen King”. Andrei Rubanov is also name to conjure with. In Spain I would highlight a recent anthology called Prospectivas: antología del cuento de ciencia ficción española actual. It’s got lots of major names in it, and it is a very well put together book.
What made you decide to pursue publishing?
We weren’t enjoying academia as much as we thought. We wanted a change of scene and decided to move to Madrid, a place neither of us knew, and to start a publishing house. We began with a list of about one hundred and fifty authors we liked and who weren’t published in Spanish, and went from there…
Could you tell us more about your press?
We started out publishing Russian fiction. We then decided to expand and open up an English Gothic line, so now we essentially have two distinct collections. We are hoping to open up even more to other literatures in the future. We have been going now for over three years, and have published about ten books a year. I don’t know how much longer we’ll keep this rhythm going, but at the moment we’re happy.
Could you tell us more about the anthology Steampunk: Antología retrofuturista?
This anthology has been in preparation for more than four years now: it is the first compilation of its kind in Spain. It was put together by Félix J. Palma, the writer of the bestselling The Map of Time and its sequels, and it aims to do two things: to familiarise Spanish readers with the genre, and also to provide them with an idea of what Steampunk could do in a Spanish environment.
What’s the speculative fiction scene in Spain like? The publishing scene?
I lived in England until recently, and so in some ways I feel like I am a newcomer to all of this, but my impression is that the speculative fiction scene in Spain is healthy: there is a good number of conventions and discussion groups online. The only thing I would suggest is that there is no obvious key figure around whom other authors congregate: not that this is a bad thing, just that the Speculative fiction community seems a little decentred sometimes, or over-focussed on Anglo-American developments. As far as publishing is concerned, the main development over the last few years has been the rise of small unaffiliated publishing houses, a group among which we are proud to count ourselves, which are willing to break down the previously rigid barriers between ‘popular’ and ‘literary’ fiction: the idea that a company such as ours might publish a Soviet novel about a journey to Mars in the same collection as the memoirs of Dostoevsky’s roommate is thinkable now in a way it wouldn’t have been five or ten years ago.
What are the challenges in juggling writing, translating, and publishing?
Everything is tidal: the publishing season in Spain runs from January to June and from September to November; the translation work I get tends to be required within the same period; my writing is something I can only do when the conditions are right (I don’t think I’m a diva, but I have found that unless I can get a good run at a piece of work, unless I know I have a solid week to do nothing apart from write, then I don’t get much done)… So we go from periods of inactivity to periods of immense and complex work, and all the time-management in the world isn’t enough to make everything go smoothly all of the time.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are currently launching the first Spanish translation of Gladys Mitchell, a jewel in the crown of Golden Age English detective fiction. I am working on a series of young adult steampunky novels with the Spanish fantasy writer Sofia Rhei, am preparing a compilation of my anthologised stories, and am starting to take the first steps in writing what promises to be an extremely large-scale literary project, but I don’t want to mention more than that, as it might be years before anything appears. Before that I hope that an anthology I am preparing now, sort of “Spanish-writers-Lovecraft-homage”, will be published. You wouldn’t imagine the number of writers here who are a bit obsessed with him, who worship his work. We are quite a substantial community!
Anything else you want to plug?
For everyone who reads Spanish, Steampunk is an indispensible anthology. We are also about to publish El vivo, a novel by Anna Starobinets, which is amazing. Please visit our website: www.nevsky.es, and thank you for the interview.