So it's that time of year to discuss highlights of 2019!
Published in 2019
My siren noir "One More Song" was reprinted in Podcastle in Artemis Rising 5 this March. Sofia Quintero did an amazing job narrating and bringing all the urban grit to my submerged city landscape and I still pinch myself that she was speaking MY words.
In July my diaspora story about ghosts in Hong Kong, "Joss Papers for Porcelain Ghosts" was published in Pareidolia anthology edited by James Everington and Dan Howarth and published by Black Shuck Books. Then to my surprise, it was picked up for reprint at The Dark in December by reprints editor Michael Kelly so you can now read it online here. I've had some of the ideas in this story (specifically Chinese funeral practices) in my head for a while so really happy with how it turned out and all of the fascinating research I did for it. It is award-eligible this year.
Then finally, my tongue-in-cheek horror "Knowing Your Type" was published in Three Crows Issue 4. It was cathartic to write and has had a great reception so far. Also award- eligible should you be so inclined!
Written in 2019
In July, motivated by my amazing mentor Maisie Chan, I managed to finish a first draft of my semi-submerged urban fantasy novel set in the same world as "One More Song". I have then spent the rest of the year polishing up the second draft which is just about done and *gulp* ready for beta readers?!
Read in 2019
I have read 21 books and countless short stories this year so will just pick a few highlights for me. Not all were published in 2019, this was just the year I discovered them.
Jade War by Fonda Lee. I liked Jade City but I will admit, I didn't love it. I ADORED the second book in the trilogy Jade War. It was the diaspora community with their community centre, strange combined festivals and mismatched culture that was so familiar to me, a Scottish-born Chinese person. It was the depth added to the female characters, especially Wen whom I was indifferent to in the first book. It was the painful but understandable decisions the characters made that left me gasping out loud. It was how it was impossible to compare the book to anything else out there: neither it's not fantastical ancient China, nor modern urban fantasy. Yes, you could compare it to the Godfather or Hong Kong triad films but I have never read anything like it. Genre destroying. Inspiring.
A long way to a small lonely planet by Becky Chamber. I didn't really think of science fiction as the genre for slice of life but this should be a warm cup of tea anime which portrays alien races and cultures so well that concepts completely different to the mainstream view of the world are rendered unique and beautiful.
The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R. Pan. This YA novel was recommended to me as having a lovely diaspora arc but I was not expecting to cry buckets and buckets. It marries teenage emotions with mental health, diaspora feels of not fitting in and an absolutely perfect ending. I can't wait to read what Pan writes next.
Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri. The loose follow-up to Suri's Empire of Sand is just as lush in its poetic prose and slow burn romance. Whilst the first book inspired me to think of dance as worship and magic (and a well-timed trip to see whirling dervishes in Turkey after really cemented that), this book was about the feeling of loss. Loss of identity and culture when you are not part of the majority, loss of power and self-worth as a widow, loss of freedom. But rather than wallowing in this, the book looked at how you can build something new.
Also worth a mention were Rosewater by Tade Thompson, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, The True Queen by Zen Cho, All Systems Red by Martha Wells and The Waste Tide by Chen Quifan.
I don't remember all the short stories I've read this year so I will probably end up editing this as things spring to mind. For me, those lodged in my mind include:
"The Lie Misses You" by John Wiswell in Cast of Wonders. Wow. A story written from the point of view of a lie, a lie that takes on a life of its own. It's such a simple concept that it left me thinking - why has no-one done this before? But they haven't, and Wiswell has, and it is so well done.
"The Weight of a Thousand Needles" by Isabel Canas in Lightspeed. Just a lush fairytale on a cold winter's night.
"Wings" by Vanessa Fogg in Translunar Lounge. I just love everything Vanessa Fogg writes.
"As The Last I May Know" by S.L. Huang in Tor.com. The ultimate trolley problem. Devastating in the conversations it provokes.
"You Were Once Wild Here" by Carlie St. George in The Dark. Packs a lot in for a short story that I was convinced I had read a whole novella in this Buffy meets Brick high school with claws story.
Watched in 2019
I watch too much telly for my own good. :) This year The Dark Crystal: Age is Resistance blew me away. Russian Doll went unexpected places. Tuca & Bertie spoke to my heart and then was cruelly cancelled. The Dragon Prince hit its stride and Good Omens made me search for all the ineffable husband fan art. The Umbrella Academy and The Boys expanded the superhero narrative into complicated and often uncomfortable places. And the less said about GoT the better.
And that's all folks. Gearing up for Christmas and New Year and then back into the novel edits. Hoping 2019 has been decent to you all and that 2020 is even better. :)