Today I’m delighted to welcome Fox Spirit author Joyce Chng to the blog. Joyce agreed to submit to some gentle probing on the subject of international SFF and being an indie author. Thank you, Joyce!
Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am Singaporean-Chinese. I teach, I write, I bake bread, I garden. And oh, I herd two cats. I have a postgraduate degree in (medieval) history. And oh yeah, I have to balance being a mom, a writer and other permutations
Starfang is a space opera with werewolf clans fighting it out in the vastness of the cosmos. The main character is captain of her own ship and a wolf to boot. Intrigue, love, starship war and a little girl. You have to read it to understand more. It is as of now a serial on Fox Spirit, but will be a novel by the end of the year.
Could you tell us something about the SFF scene in Singapore? Which other Singaporean writers would you recommend, and where do you see Singaporean SFF fitting in with the wider genre world? Would you say there were aspects of writing that were unique to Singaporean SFF?
The SFF scene in Singapore is growing at the moment. It had a ‘mini’ revival last year, with SFF anthologies and journal being published. Furthermore, there is also increased interest. I would recommend J. Y. Yang. Her story Old Domes is in the wonderful We See A Different Frontier, edited by Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad.
As Singaporean SFF fitting in with the wider genre world, well, I feel that non-Anglophone writers are as important as US or UK SFF writers. We also provide unique voices too. Singapore was once a British colony. The legacy of British rule is still present in our legal and education systems. Singapore is also a diverse and cosmopolitan city-state with many cultures, traditions and stories. With this, many SFF writers here are also – in a way – searching for our identities as we are many races and ethnic groups co-existing with each other. Are we Chinese or Singaporean? Are we Indian or Singapore? Many of us, especially of my generation, toggle between our first language (English) and our second language (Chinese or Malay or Indian). Then again, there are the Peranakans who have their own patois, a mixture of Hokkien, Malay and English words.
I guess, we share universal themes like identity and yearning for the stars when we write. I am not sure about aspects of writing that are unique to Singaporean SFF. Perhaps we engage in motifs and themes that are prevalent in Singapore society and culture. Food? Myths? Legends?
What is your favourite part of writing? Which parts do you find easy? Is there any particular aspect of writing that you struggle with, and how have you overcome it?
My favourite part of writing is writing. I love it when the flow comes and I get “into the groove”, so to speak. I love it when I see an image or sequence in my head – a seed is planted and I just have to write. I do struggle with editing. I also struggle when everything seems stuck and words slow to a crawl (or sometimes, nothing at all!). In this case, I stop whatever I am writing. I garden. I daydream. I write other things.
What made you want to be a writer? You write YA SF and Urban Fantasy under the name of J Damask – was this a conscious choice to differentiate between the two sub-genres? Do you prefer one or the other, and how do you switch between the two?
I think I have always wanted to write, or – when I was much younger, be a translator between worlds. I started writing when I was about 9 (might be younger, gosh) – it was a (very) short story between two fighting alien races.
J. Damask was a play on my Chinese name. I came up with the pseudonym when I submitted Wolf At The Door. I wasn’t sure if my actual name would be accepted. You know, Asian names. Then I started writing YA SF and by this time, I had grown more confident. I write SF under Joyce Chng, my actual name, because I feel that it’s my name, after all. I own it. It is who I am.
Fox Spirit are an up-and-coming indie publisher – what was your journey to publication with them? What’s it like working with a fledgling indie publisher?
I first had one of my stories published in Weird Noir. I was happy to see Yao Jin accepted in this fantastic anthology. I also found that Fox Spirit is open to diverse works and this makes my writer heart very glad. What’s it like working with Fox Spirit? Exciting and fun. Adele Wearing is an awesome publisher who is open to ideas and suggestions. It’s like we are working together, planting a garden.
Can you share some of your favourite books and movies of the last few years?
Movies: Pacific Rim. Godzilla 2014. The Winter Soldier. All the Avengers movies.
Books: The Book Thief (Markus Zusak). Cold Magic (Kate Elliot). How To Train Your Dragon (Cressida Cowell). Many Warhammer 40K books – I am partial to Aaron Dembski Bowden and Dan Abnett.
What are your plans for your next book?
I have many plans for my next book(s). I might end up writing a novel based on A Sky Full of Swiftlets, a YA short story that is demanding to be written. Or more world-building and expansion on the world of Jin, the planet where I set my YA trilogy on.
Any links that you’d like to share with us – Where can we buy your books and find you on the internet?
I have buy links on my website at A Wolf’s Tale (http://awolfstale.wordpress.com). But to be direct:
Wolf At The Door: https://www.createspace.com/4298102 (on my website, there are links to Powell’s and Book Depository).
Heart of Fire, the third book in the series, will be published by Fox Spirit. Weird Noir is also published by Fox Spirit.
Rider and Speaker: http://awolfstale.wordpress.com/the-rider-trilogy-ya-sf/ . If you would like the print books: http://booksactually.bigcartel.com/category/math-paper-press?page=2
I also self-publish on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jolantru.
You can also find me on Twitter as @jolantru.