Hunger, fury, and lessons learnt from a short story

Yesterday, I finished editing the Malaysian Chinese gothic ghost story that I’ve been working on, tumultuously, with a fair amount of hair-pulling, for the better part of two months. Writing this piece was a great deal more challenging than I expected at the outset. I thought I’d share about what I struggled with, and consequently what I learnt about the craft of writing and about myself.

The first challenge I had to wrestle with was trying to write it ‘right’. All possible accusations of fraud leapt out at me. How can I claim to be a horror writer, when I’ve only ever written one other horror story (The Mark: and that was not with the explicit purpose to frighten, but to unsettle)? Who am I to write a Chinese ghost story when I’ve hardly lived in Asia and I have to reference-check every Chinese word I use? And how can I dare to label it as gothic when I had to spend an afternoon self-consciously Googling elements of gothic literature?

[It’s dark, it’s uncanny, it’s sensual, it has omens and spirits, it’s set in the 90s and there’s terrible phone reception—so, heck, I’m just gonna roll with it.]

Eventually, I figured out that I just had to write it ‘right by me’, although that in itself is much easier said than done. I had to focus on exactly what I was trying to convey, and shave away any pretence of being something else. My and my mother’s hazy recollections of talismans and spirits and superstitions are enough. The inspirations and influences from various things I’ve read, and places I’ve travelled, are enough. It’s enough that I’m emotionally honest with the reader.

The second challenge I had to overcome? My fear of being too…weird. What did I expect, really? In writing a story about suppressed hunger and fury, I found myself struggling with my own suppressed hunger and fury, wondering if I was coming across as too angry, too twisted, too much.

My story aims to be metaphorical and impressionistic, not explicit and didactic. I’m not trying to impart any particular lesson, but to inject you, the reader, into Fen Fang’s body: so that you can feel her feelings, grapple with her reality, and scramble as it distorts. I enjoyed this exercise immensely—using Fang’s senses, her behaviour, and even the form of her language and thought, to shape the narrative experience. It’s certainly the most metaphorical and twisty thing I’ve written so far.

Plus, yeahhhh, there’s a ghost in it!

I hope that I can share it with you soon.

Aurealis Awards 2019: Shortlisted!

Greetings, digital ghosts.

Just a little post to announce that my short story, The Mark, has been shortlisted for Best Horror Short Story in the 2019 Aurealis Awards.

 
Wang Yibo dancing on stage with a seductive twirl.
Mood

I’m feeling incredibly privileged and honoured that my second published work is an Aurealis Awards nominee.

Congratulations to all the other finalists: a stellar line-up!

https://aurealisawards.org/2020/03/25/2019-aurealis-awards-shortlist-announcement/

The Misplaced Giant – AntipodeanSF

Hello, internet!

My flash fiction, The Misplaced Giant, is live!

You can find it online here in Issue 255 of AntipodeanSF, for a limited time.

I dug this wacky little piece out of a folder of buried scribblings from my good ol’ university days, and thought it a perfect fit for a SF/F/H mag from the bottom side of the planet.

I hope you enjoy it.

PS. A narration by yours truly may be forthcoming.

***

Update (04/02/2020): The Misplaced Giant is no longer live on the AntiSF website, but you can still read it from the archives.

Brewing…

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!

Viva La Novella Shortlist & Excerpt: The Ship of Theseus

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!

The Mark – Verge Uncanny

verge2019-9781925835373-cover-print

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.