Airplanes and Martian Colonies, Oh My

Airplanes and Martian Colonies, Oh My

Can we talk about anthologies? Let’s talk about anthologies.

In the unlikely event that you’ve been following this blog, you may remember that I once mentioned having a story in Athena’s Daughters vol 2 as a stretch goal author. Well GREAT NEWS!! The project funded and hit all the fiction stretch goals, so this book is coming out and I’m going to be in it! Give me a moment to octopus flail about this.

Right, octopus flailing done.

Now, the Kickstarter for this project is still running, and I’d like to get more backers for it. Because at this point the KS is basically a book pre-order, and I want more people to buy the book because I want more people to read my story, darn it ;___;

The story I have in the anthology is titled RED IS THE COLOR OF MOTHER DIRT. I originally wrote it for the open call for Body Boundaries, a Singaporean anthology of feminist fiction. I wrote two stories. The second one was a fictionalised account of my short & ultimately doomed history of dating men. The editors told me they liked both stories but they could only publish one. I thought, eh, at least the SFF story I can sell to other markets. So they took the confessional piece, and it’s in there, a neat little tale about how pickling spiders in formaldehyde is a more worthwhile pursuit than having sex with men. Go check it out if you like. There’s plenty of amazing & subversive Singaporean feminist writing in it!

RED IS THE COLOR OF MOTHER DIRT, now,  is set on a Martian colony where women are barred from so-called sterile areas when they’re on their period. It centres around the story of Mian, a menial worker arrested when she breaks the rules to visit her dying sister in hospital. It was partly inspired by a dream I had, and partly inspired by the ridiculous aesthetic requirements Chinese female astronauts apparently have to meet. Also the patriarchy. (Fuck the patriarchy.) I tried to write Chinese poetry in it. I shouldn’t try to write Chinese poetry. (I shouldn’t try to write anything in Chinese, at all,  given how bad I am at anything outside of ordering food or telling taxi uncles where I want to go.)

The story has been kicking around for a while; I wrote it while on month-long leave from work in 2012 (because that’s a thing that happens when you’re a journalist, you rack up so much overtime and unused annual leave that you can vanish for months at a pop). In later drafts I injected unhealthy doses of my work as a journo at a national paper into it (that happens).  The story has been rejected from markets for being “too much of a polemic” (which was exactly what it was meant to be). Because it was so political, I thought a feminist anthology might be a good place to submit it to. Back to its roots. And I’m very, very glad the story found a home here.

I have a lot of love for this story. It formed the bulk of my successful application to Clarion West in 2013. Yes, folks, this was the story that got me into Clarion West.  And CW was not just a singular experience that changed me as a writer and a person, but it also altered the entire path of my future. I wouldn’t have written all those stories last year, and I wouldn’t be headed to Norwich for my Creative Writing MA this fall, if not for Clarion West. I owe this story a lot. I want y’all to read it.

So yes. If anything I’ve written has tickled your fancy in the past, please do consider putting in a pre-order for the anthology! They have e-book editions and also lots of different perks further down the reward levels!

TL;DR Please support the Kickstarter for this anthology because this story means a lot to me and I want as many people as possible to read it. Kickstarter runs till 15th Jan!

Can we talk about more anthologies? (And not self-rejecting?)

The Table of Contents for An Alphabet Of Embers is out and it’s one of the anthologies I’m most excited about in 2015, Not just because I’m in it, but because look at all those people I share the TOC with. Nisi Shawl! Zen Cho! Yoon-Ha Lee! Vajra Chandrasekera! Oh my god I’m about to just sit here and yell names of about 70% of the TOC in excitement. There’s a bunch of reprints from writers that I admire hugely, and first prose sales from people whose writing I’m very excited about. Also, the fantastic M Sereno, who is an amazing artist on top of being a wonderful writer and a sweetheart, is making illustrations for the anthology. It’s not just a cup of squee, it’s an entire smörgåsbord I could eat for days.

It almost never came to be, where I was concerned. Although I shared & supported the Kickstarter for the anthology very enthusiastically, I thought “it’s asking for lyrical almost-poetry prose. I can’t poetry. I don’t think I can write something good enough for it. I’ll read the pretty when it comes out!” I wrote off the submissions call in my head.

But then, out of the blue, editor Rose Lemberg approached me and encouraged me to try sending in something, saying that she had enjoyed my story in Strange Horizons and thought that sort of thing would be a good fit for the anthology.

So I thought, well, maybe it’s worth a shot.

I wrote the story during and after my travels in August (to London cons & Scandinavia). The hotel at NineWorlds was next to Heathrow, next to one of the runways, and as you walked back at midnight you would be pushed along by planesong that sank into your heart and bones. And I thought, you know what, I fucking love the sound of planes taking off, it’s the best sound in the world, I want to write about the sound of planes taking off.

So it went from there.

The result, Transfers From Connecting Flights, is… really not about airplanes at all. But I like it, and I’m glad I wrote it, and I’m glad Rose told me that writing it –or anything, for that matter– would not be an futile exercise.

A lot has been said about not self-rejecting on Twitter recently, particularly for people with marginalised identities, who have to struggle with the aftereffects of poor media representation while growing up, and tend to get hit by Impostor Syndrome hard. I honestly thought I was immune to this, but I’ve come to realise that I do this. I do this a lot. I’d have self-rejected for this anthology if Rose hadn’t prodded me.

Now that I’m more aware of it I try harder not to do so. It’s one of my goals for 2015. Try for markets that scare me. Try for markets that are too big. Try for markets that make me think I have a snowball’s chance in hell: I probably do, but try anyway.

I’m also very grateful to Rose for her editorial commitment to showcasing a wide variety of voices. She clearly reached out to a number of different folk and encouraged them to submit something– I’m sure I was not the only one. She has some wonderful essays here and here, on encouraging diversity from an editor’s POV. And that’s why the Alphabet of Embers TOC is GLORIOUS. With open subs, final products can only be as diverse as the slush it gets, and Rose clearly did an amazing job in encouraging that diversity. I’m glad such spaces exist.

**Another anthology I’m really excited about it Michael Matheson’s reprint anthology The Humanity  Of Monsters. Aaaahhh! Look at that lineup!

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