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  • Eliza Chan

2018 Round-up

It’s been fairly quiet on the publication / short story writing front for me this year because I’ve been working on a novel.  I want to celebrate that rather than wallow in the dearth of new short stories because things are still moving in the right direction.

I had two reprints published this year. Kikinasai, my ode to Kwaiden and J-rock stars which was first published in Thirty Years of Rain (GSFWC’s 30 year anniversary anthology) was my  first narrated story up on podcast Tales to Terrify. The Floating Market is also up on the Bi’an website. This story was published in Lontar Journal and is set along the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

So 2018 has mainly been the year of the novel draft for me. From about June I’ve had a mentor in Maisie Chan, a children’s author based in the UK. She’s been really supportive in sending me resources, encouraging messages and mini-deadlines every couple of months to keep me on track. She’s also been critiquing my first drafts which is impressively heroic of her as these things normally don’t get seen at this primordial stage of development. It’s been really helpful though because she’s often able to articulate what exactly is going wrong (or right). Hopefully by the end of the next six months I’ll have a full novel draft ready to edit into some semblance of shape.

Just because I’ve not been writing, doesn’t mean 2018 hasn’t been a great year for other writers though! I’d like to recommend the best books and short stories I’ve read this year. These are not all from 2018, but just things that I’ve discovered in the last year or so.

Novels:

Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun – nails the gothic aesthetic, refreshingly original take on fae and really gets under your skin in an uncomfortable but lingering way.

Zen Cho’s Spirits Abroadthis is old, but new to mea collection of Zen Cho’s short stories examining female friendships, family, SE Asian characters at home and overseas. This is the single best collection I’ve read and has massively influenced my writing this year. “House of  Aunts”, “起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion — The Lion Bows)” and “Balik Kampung” were among my favourites.

N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. In a year of superlatives, this is the best trilogy I’ve read.  The narrative style can be difficult to get into, but Jemisin breaks all sorts of boundaries here, and really pushed what storytelling can be. I love the unique magic system and the characters are believably broken. It doesn’t suffer from a flabby middle book and the ending of the third book deserves a round of applause in its ability to evoke a multitude of emotions. Deserves every award she got.

Tasha Suri’s Empire of Sand , R.F. Kuang’s The Poppy War and Fonda Lee’s Jade City also were up there for original settings and characters I’m intrigued to learn more about.

Short Stories:

Isabel Yap’s Asphalt, River, Mother, Child in Strange Horizons, devastated and educated me simultaneously.

S. Qiouyi Lu’s “Mother Tongues”  in Asimov’s and reprinted in Escape Pod had me crying on the drive back from work and thinking about conversations lost in translation.

G.V. Anderson’s “Waterbirds” in  Lightspeed Magazine was so lyrical and gentle that the reveals were masterful and lingered long after I finished reading.

Outside of the written word, I saw Hamilton and Hadestown in London, both masterful musical moving the genre forward. At the cinema, I was impressed by Black Panther, Bao, and Into the Spiderverse. At home, I binged Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Steven Universe. I went to Fantasycon in Chester, revisited old friends in Sapporo and enjoyed the history in Malta.  I won’t dwell on the politics or news because that wasn’t good for anyone this year, but on a small, personal scale, 2018 has been decent.

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