I have a new book out this year with Neon Hemlock! It's a post-apocalypse mutagenic city survival-horror adventure, a Fallout Weird Western. Writing it was a lot of fun – this is one of my favourite genres – and the publishing process so far has been a blast. I've got a couple of Twitter panels lined up: join in on #hemlockchat on twitter on March 8 AEST 9am for a group panel about the Apocalypse as Current Events, and on March 16 AEST 9am for Families Lost and Found. If you're looking for a pre-retail priced copy of my book, you can find it via the Kickstarter here. More book updates will be posted here. This book was so fun to write, and I'm excited to see it finally making its way out into the wide world.
This is also the first book that I've launched across my personal social media sites (Instagram and Facebook). It's a long story. One of my sharpest memories growing up as a voracious reader was my mom telling me that Terry Pratchett was satanic. Yes, Pratchett. This came as a bit of a shock to me, given that (1) Pratchett was not even dark fantasy at all – I was already reading Gaiman and Moorcock etc at that stage – and (2) my mom is one of the widest readers I know. Remember that BBC 100 Books list? She'd read the most number of them of the people I know IRL. Naturally, as I published my first book in 2016, THE FIREBIRD'S TALE, I didn't mention it to her and didn't promote it over personal social media.
Last year, after the book went out of print, Mom and her friend found this site. "Why didn't you tell me you'd published a book?" she asked.
It helps that in the years since 2016, my nephew, Kevin Martens Wong, published a dark dystopian SF&F book: Altered Straits. This probably reconciled my mom's side of the family to that genre of SF&F. [Engage proud Singaporean auntie mode] Kevin is very smart. Did you know he was in the news when he was 24 for trying to preserve a "dying language"? Then now published a book! His book is really great too. I recommend buying it, reading it, then buying another one and giving it to your friends. It's a story about National Service (army conscription) in post-apocalyptic Singapore. [/engage proud Singaporean auntie mode]
A side-effect of separating personal from professional twitter meant that as I put out a CRADLE AND GRAVE post on Instagram, a bunch of my personal friends were all "Wow, you wrote a book!" I'm grateful for their support. I've also actually written more than 4 books in the last few years... selling them is the hard part, haha. I'm thankful to Neon Hemlock Press for giving this novella a chance. Hope all of you enjoy reading it, as well as the other books in the line-up. I know that I will.
TLDR: please buy my book. And Kevin's too.
Twitter Trust Issues
Did you know that Twitter only lets you easily access 3,200 of your most recent tweets? If you want more, you have to go through a bit of song and dance of requesting the data from Twitter, waiting until they email you, then downloading this massive, unsearcheable data file that'd run into several gbs if you're a prolific user of the platform. There are ways around this – someone on github came up with a bit of code that'd let you search the huge data file – but even then, downloading the massive file in the first place is a bit of an ask. It took me two days on a 100mbps connection because the download timed out a couple of times (I left the desktop on).
I have a number of reasons for not wanting years of tweets stored on Twitter. Here are some of them:
- I don't trust Twitter – or any for-profit company – to have my interests at heart. Twitter is terrible at managing harassment, especially against WoC. If it only easily lets me access 3,200 tweets, then I'm only going to have 3,000ish tweets ever available at any point in time.
- Clever people can still access more than the 3,200 limit if they want to. I seriously doubt anyone willing to do this will have your best interests at heart either, and if something goes wrong, see #1.
- As much as I'm happy that programs like TweetEraser, which I use, provide workarounds for managing your entire archive of tweets, I don't really want to keep paying a subscription every year to do it.
- I work in an industry where employers will go through your social media accounts.
This is why I'll be using an auto-deletion service on my Twitter. I'll only be retaining about 3,000 tweets or so (about 3 months' worth of tweets I think) at any one point. At present I've over-corrected, and you can only see maybe 2 months' worth of tweets, but this should settle into a comfortable cycle after a while.
Deleting tweets beyond the 3,200 limit, as mentioned above, needs you to use a premium service. There are a few out there, but I use TweetEraser because its first premium tier is cheap and allows you to use it for 3 accounts. The customer service is incredibly helpful – it got back to me in 24 hours on an issue – as well as very generous: it gave me an additional month's subscription when I had slight issues with the upload and deleting. As helpful as it is, I look forward to no longer having to give it access to my accounts for security reasons. Maybe someday when Twitter becomes less of a hellscape for WoC than it is now I'll revise my policy, but for now it is what it is.
Margaret Atwood in Melbourne (!!!)
Margaret Atwood was in Melbourne for a talk about THE TESTAMENTS. I hope I'd be as vivacious at her age. The talk ranged over a number of issues close to my heart, particularly climate science and social justice. Well worth the trip. Most of the audience, perhaps unsurprisingly, were women. Margaret is now visiting Tazzie, and you can follow her adventures over on twitter. The talk also reminded me that I hadn't yet read HAGSEED. Adding it to my endless to-read list. What a gorgeous cover.
Our Office Has Moved (Near Cake Shops)
If I die, that will be the reason. $3.50 cakes? I'm so dead. Fleischer Cakes in Malvern is an old-fashioned Italian patisserie, full of elderly regulars at any point in time. The cakes are delicious, as is the coffee. The plum cake is buttery and studded with gems of poached plum pieces. The opera cake is one of the few opera cakes I've ever enjoyed – most tend to be way too dense and sweet. The baked cheesecake manages to toe the fine balance between cheesy and becoming too dense. We're still working our way through the selection, and I can already feel my arteries giving in. It will be worth it.
Oh, right. And the new studio is cool. Here are some pics of the ground floor:
Sadly, our office rescue dog, Dakota, isn't a fan of shiny floors, so the new office is freaking her out. We're hoping she'd acclimatise, but for now, she had to go home. 🙁
Our new Malvern digs is also very close to four other bakeries, a board game shop, a ton of coffee shops, dumpling shops, a couple of pho places, a Readings (!!), art supplies shops, a family-owned pet supplies store, organic groceries, and pretty homewares stuff. Also, a couple of high-end grocers where I can admire the food packaging. I'm going to burn such a large hole in my wallet here. I like it.
What I've Read This Month
This month was a month for adding many books to my endless to-read list, thanks to a few inclusive rec lists that I saw going around Twitter.
|At Risk / Stella Rimington||Stella was once Director of MI5, which was why I'd always wanted to get around to trying her books. The content of 2004 is very much a Product Of Its Time (post 9-11...). Good if you need a grasp of operational language for writing MI5-esque characters.|
|Illegal Action / Stella Rimington||Enjoyed this book more than At Risk, since it was about Russian oligarch spy drama. Not sure whether I'd read the other books in the set, but it was entertaining.|
|Terra Nullius / Claire G. Coleman||Not sure how I missed this book until now. What an incredible read. The reveal midway through the book is fantastic and damning. A brutal, powerful, necessary read for anyone living on stolen land, a dystopian colonialism SF&F by a a Wirlomin-Noongar-Australian writer and poet.|
|Zone One / Colson Whitehead||A zombie SF&F book by a Pulitzer-nominated novelist, Zone One is a more literary take on the zombie novel, at times more reflective, satirical, tragic, and darkly funny. Zombie books are usually an easy sell to me, but even so, I loved this one.|
|The Honjin Murders / Seishi Yokomizo||I love locked room mysteries, and the Honjin Murders is a highly readable, extremely entertaining version of one. The detective character has a young Sherlock Holmes vibe (the Holmes books are mentioned explicitly in the novel as well), and the characters are sympathetic and well-crafted. Loved this book. Hoping more will be translated.|
|The Changeling / Victor LaValle||This book took me a while to get into it, and I probably would've abandoned it early if I hadn't read reviews hinting about the big reveal in the later half of the book. The main character at the start is hard to like due to his toxic masculinity, and it made the first half of the book such a creepy read for me that I had to keep taking breaks from the book. Once the book really gets in stride though, it blew me away. An incredible urban dark fantasy read about people having to face the most toxic elements of humanity and human technology. Couldn't put the book down in the last quarter.|
|Do You Dream of Terra-Two? / Temi Oh||Came for the space adventure, stayed for the incandescent takes on human nature. What an incredible debut novel. A must-read for people who like near-future space exploration/space colonisation books.|
Some other great nonfiction reads this month that I recommend:
- Unsung Heroes: Reconceptualising a Video Game as a Work of Art by Jessica Hoffman Davis, the mother of the voice actor of Dutch Van Der Linde in Red Dead Redemption 2. She finished the game at 75 years old and wrote this review.
- Wikipedia is the Last Best Place on the Internet by Richard Cooke, over on WIRED.
- How to Murder Harry Potter by Kaitlyn Tiffany on the Atlantic, because I continue to be shocked whenever an article about fanfiction makes it onto a major newspaper.
- The Mysterious Lawyer X by Evan Ratcliff on the California Sunday Magazine. This story is wild.
- Climate Denial by Any Other Name by Mary Annaïse Heglar, a necessary read about how you can't have climate action and bigotry both.
Hope to see all of you at the Twitter Panels!