I can’t believe it was only in June that I was wrangling my Malaysian Chinese gothic ghost story into shape. I’m pleased to share that the twisty, creepy, moody, indigestible thing has become Of Hunger and Fury, my original fiction contribution to Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women.
At risk of being expelled from the horror community, I will admit that, at the start of my writing journey, I didn’t intend to write horror. I wanted to write stories that explored the interior world of marginalised women of colour, and demonstrate the multitudinous forms of quiet resilience. I wanted to contribute to a collective pulling-apart of existing stereotypes and make these characters fascinating and terrifying in their unfamiliar three-dimensionality.
I enjoy using empathy as a specific language to the reader. In this piece, I played with sensuality and body horror to force the reader to experience being the monster. I transpose you into the character’s skin–to make you feel what she feels, to become her.
That’s why, for instance, I thought Jordan Peele’s Us was so clever. [WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD!] Us was jarring and memorable because, for the duration of the movie, you are Adelaide. You live in her skin. You feel the horrific other-ness of the doppelgangers. And then, finally, in a compelling twist…you become them. The forced becoming of the other is powerful because it challenges your notions of who deserves to be centred and who deserves to be excluded.
I’m incredibly thankful to editors Geneve Flynn and Lee Murray for inviting a newcomer like me to contribute to this anthology. I’m so glad that your convention-hall chat morphed into this darkly delicious project, and I’m grateful for all the hard work you put in behind the scenes to craft Black Cranes.
A reprint of my Aurealis and Norma K Hemming Award shortlisted story, The Mark, also appears in Black Cranes.