Of Hunger and Fury – Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women

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.

Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women is available from the publisher (paperback), Amazon (ebook) or Amazon AU (ebook).

Jigsaw Children – Clarkesworld

I think I’m reasonably lucky, only having five parents. I guess my donors didn’t have too many risk mutations. Some of my classmates have been spliced together from eight, nine, even twelve donors. I don’t envy them the task of juggling their Chinese New Year dinners.

In 2018, I scribbled an opening line in the back of my diary: ‘I have three mothers and two fathers.’

A few weeks later, I had an unwieldy sci-fi story about gene splicing, mothers, attachment, and identity, set in near-future Hong Kong. It was too long. It had a terrible first title (which I changed, thanks to my writing bud’s feedback).

But I liked Lian’s story. I reworked it. Submitted.

And held my breath.

And screamed a bit (OK, a lot) when I saw the acceptance email.

Jigsaw Children has just been published in Clarkesworld’s February 2020 issue, alongside five other fascinating stories–and that sweet, sweet cover art!

I hope you stop by to hear Lian’s story.

PS. This is my first publication for 2020. There are a couple more things in the works, so do follow, stay tuned, and maybe even drop me a line…we of the writer-hermit folk subsist on little nuggets of feedback!