It’s been quiet on the blog front.
Life, work, and other inevitable mundanities have unfortunately slowed the writing down these past few months. My health has taken a hit, and it has been hard to find the mental and physical energy to work on my creative projects. But I’m hoping to make a slow U-turn, back towards the things that mean the most to me.
I’m delighted to share that the first draft of my novel-in-progress, Uploading, is taking shape. There are now 77,000 wacky, cyberpunky, meandering, feely, technophilic words in there!
This year, I’ve also had two super exciting acceptances. One is a short short story, and the other is a novella. I’ll have more news about these closer to their publication. Stay tuned!
Earlier this year, I found out that my near-future, virtual reality, mind/body splitting, Asian-Australian spec-fic novella was shortlisted for Viva La Novella VII.
Needless to say, I had to pinch myself, oh, several hundred times.
If you like the sound of The Ship of Theseus, you can check out an excerpt of it now at Seizure Online. Thanks for reading!
I’m excited to share that my short story, ‘The Mark’, is in Verge Uncanny, published by Monash University and launched yesterday at Readings in the State Library of Victoria as part of the Emerging Writers Festival.
‘The Mark’ is a psychological horror story inspired by the Capgras delusion. It explores themes of womanhood, powerlessness and madness. It’s also a little ode to such works as The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace.
Since receiving my contributor’s copy a couple of weeks ago, I admit I’ve already read it cover to cover. The stories are haunting, rich and imaginative–it’s exciting to get a glimpse of the sort of writing coming out of Melbourne and wider Australia!
You can find a copy at Readings (State Library of Victoria) or online here.
I hate my skin. It isn’t fair and clear, with peach-tinted cheeks, like the girls in Chinese movies. Nor does it glow with the promise of summer like the caramelised beach babes on the covers of Dolly magazine. Large pores, inherited from my mother, speckle the space around my nose. I hate my hair, which sits against my scalp as flat and black as an oil slick. I spend hundreds of dollars to volumise it, texturise it, bleach it. I hide my broad forehead behind a sweep of fringe. And my bridgeless, button-shaped nose–a stunted runty cousin to the proud pinnacles of my peers–it can’t even prop a pair of glasses up. I hate the way my face prompts others to question my foreign, other heritage.
I love my olive skin. I love the way it deepens to brown at the merest touch of sunlight. Its subtle green undertones remind me of the cool colours of forest undergrowth, or a beach in winter. I love my eyes, which are almond-shaped and shallow with folded lids like my father’s. I like the shiny blackness of my hair. I like my cheekbones, which are high and wide like my mother’s. I cherish the unexpected angles of my face: the strength of the cheeks and the jaw, the wide forehead, the soft chin. I like that it holds both sharpness and softness, both inquisitiveness and openness. I like the way my face carries pieces of my ancestors, and invites others to wonder where I am from.
She wears no makeup except for a subtle pink on the lips, collecting in the creases. Her black hair is wrapped inside a bandanna with a pattern of purple and green leaves.
She is still when she speaks. Her unadorned hands, with long tapering fingers, lie calmly in her lap. Her round, strong shoulders do not move. Only her full lips, beneath broad cheeks, shape the syllables. Her sentences come short and sharp. Full of meaning. Without wasted words. She stares at you over her sentences, waiting for a reply.
When she stands up, she catches you off guard. You expect her to be taller than you, but she only comes up to your shoulder. Beneath her skirts, her legs are bowed. She walks with a fierce rhythm, navigating the stairs one at a time. She does not hold the handrail.
In a dark community hall
In a dark campsite
In the dark Australian bush
The Holy Spirit descends
Wistful chords from unplugged guitars
Spinning two-dollar disco lights
A forest of swaying teenagers
Straining towards the heavens
The pastor torrents with prayer
The room swells with amens
The girl starts to shake and mutter
Bent into a Z by her faith
I watch as they lower her to the floor
Shuttered face, pale and glistening
Afterwards, they tell us tenderly
She was overcome by the Holy Spirit
The top button of my mother’s work pants, a size too small for me, digs into my tummy. My shoulders feel like they are splitting the seams of my freshly-ironed burgundy shirt. They say puberty is a blossoming into womanhood, but my body must have taken a wrong turn. At fifteen, I am gangling limbs and pimpled brow and round gold glasses. They stopped calling me pretty when I was eleven.
I sit in a small office on the first day of work experience. Across the desk from me is a middle-aged man. He’s white. He carries a bit of extra weight around his middle. His green tie clashes with his shirt, which is the colour of old bread.
He talks about the company. He is an unfamiliar entity to me, and so I don’t say much. The office is ringed with open shelves, stacked with folders, bristling with papers. His coffee mug leaves a moist ring on the laminate surface of his desk. The room smells like dust and stale biscuits.
“Well!” he says, standing up. “I bombarded you with a lot of information. Hope you can remember everything!”
I stand up too, smile, and say thank you.
“Ah, you’ll be right. You young Chinese girls, I know you. You’re all extremely smart. Especially at maths!”
He grins expectantly at me. I think he thinks he’s paid me a compliment.
I smile and nod and say thank you again.