Category Archives: Writing

My story to be in The Apex Book of World SF 3!

Novelist and editor Lavie Tidhar has asked me if he can reprint my story “Waiting with Mortals” for The Apex Book of World SF 3 next year!! This is my happy thought for the rest of the month. The previous volumes of the series featured big guns like Lauren Beukes, Zoran Živković, and Ekaterina Sedia, and have been reviewed by Strange Horizons. And I’m going to be a part of it too! Amazing, amazing stuff.

Check out Book 1 and Book 2!



My story in ISF#3 now available!

The third issue of International Speculative Fiction, which reprints my story “The Man on the Moon” (originally published in The Dragon and the Stars), is now live for download! I want to thank editor-in-chief Roberto Mendes for contacting me about reprinting my story, and fiction editor Ricardo Loureiro for writing the wonderful introduction to my story in the editorial:

Almost at the closing of the press (not the most accurate expression in this digital age, but nonetheless it conveys the idea) I came by Crystal Koo and her earth-shattering – in more ways than one – The Man in the Moon, a story for all the lovers, all the dreamers, and fitting to the end-of-times feeling that affects us all.

I had previously made the full-text of the story available in this blog for voting purposes for the 2011 Aurora Award (which the anthology won!); now that the story’s up in ISF, I’m cutting it down to an excerpt so everyone can hop on over to ISF to take a look!

ISF3# TOC Announced

The table of contents for the third issue of International Speculative Fiction is out! It includes a reprint of my story “The Man on the Moon.” My story was originally going to appear on the April issue but they realized they wanted it live earlier. This issue will be available on 25 January 2013.


ISF # 3 JANUARY 2013 


Ricardo Loureiro (Fiction Editor)


Simon Jones (Australia)

Crystal Koo (Philippines)

Gerson Lodi-Ribeiro (Brazil)

Fernando Pina (Portugal)


Jess Nevins – Pulp Scifi under German, Russian, Japanese and Spanish Totalitarism


Cristian Tamas interviews Professor Arielle Saiber with a focus on Italian SF


Sean Wright reviews two Singaporean International Speculative Fiction Anthologies

Jorge Candeias reviews three Short Stories written by International Speculative Fiction Authors

Hauke Vagt (Germany)

Happy New Year and Writing News!!

Writing news first!!

1. My story “Heartland” is now live on Abyss & Apex!! Many thanks to editors Wendy Delmater for having faith in it and Carmelo Rafala for putting it up! I’m particularly fond of this short story because it took 5 years of revisions and rejections from other magazines before A&A bought it!

2. Roberto Mendes from Portugal-based International SF has approached me asking if I would let them reprint “The Man on the Moon,” the story I have in The Dragon and the Stars! I’m very excited, considering that International SF has been publishing some big SF names, it has Ellen Datlow and Paul di Filippo in its consultant panel, it’s got good words from Gardner Dozois, and Locus Mag is doing a piece on them soon. And look at the pretty covers!

3. Thursday Never Looking Back, which includes my story “What’s as Inexorable as an Ice Cream Meteorite Approaching Earth”, is now available on Amazon!!

And round about New Year, I was in Taipei with my family watching the Taipei 101 burst into fireworks, like so. Happy 2013!!




The Next Big Thing

Carljoe Javier, writer and English prof in UP, has tagged me in The Next Big Thing, a blog cycle where we ask ten questions from authors whose work we love to read. Massive thanks to Carljoe for getting me to be a part of it  and for telling me he’s enjoyed the stories I’ve written!

1) What is the working title of your next book?

I love how misleading the “next” is. This would only be my first book if things pan out, but as of now, I wouldn’t mind basking in the delusion that I’ve got more books than this. The novel doesn’t have a title yet, but the OneNote folder where all my notes for it are is called All Possible Times. I’m pretty sure I won’t be calling it that though.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Like all the best ideas, it came from a good base of sleep deprivation and shot through with an overdose of caffeine after a day of good reading.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Self-referential, postmodernist yarn-telling. Except with a plot. And fun.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I think Zhang Yimou can make the decisions for that.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Borges: “Time forks, perpetually, into countless futures.”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Let’s go ideally with being represented.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The entire 2013. And then more.

8)What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I want to say it’s Borges territory with some Cloud Atlas globetrotting.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods and JL Borges’ “The Garden of Forking Paths”,  Einstein, and Stephen Hawking.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

That it’s an attempt to make sense of a multiform universe as a metaphor for our own lives and the choices and “interventions” we make. An attempt.

I’m supposed to be tagging 5 other writers and getting them into the cycle as well but I’ve been so busy for the Christmas-New Year period that I haven’t gotten around to it. Watch this space!

Writing updates

1. My short story “What’s as Inexorable as an Ice Cream Meteorite Approaching Earth?” has been accepted in Adam David’s Thursday Never Looking Back, an anthology collecting essays, fiction, poetry, songs, comics, and videos about the end of the world! It’s going to be in ePub and will be released at the end of this month in time for December 21, 2012. Very interesting cover:


2. I’ve signed and sent away the contract to Abyss and Apex for my short story “Heartland.”

3. Lauriat has made it to Locus Magazine’s New and Notable Books for December! Tickled pink because Rich Horton says:

The best are quite good – my favorites being ‘The Perpetual Day’ by Crystal Koo, about a community which cannot go to sleep, and ‘The Stranger at my Grandmother’s Wake’ by Fidelis Tan.

4. I’m trying this new thing of using physics as a basis for writing nonSF stories (and maybe longer works in the future) and looking at everyday phenomena through the lens of scientific theories. (Guess who works in academia? One of these days I’ll have to write a story about attending seminars.) Yay quantum mechanics, because I like making things difficult for myself.

Shanghai Steam Launch at the WFC 2012

Shanghai Steam, the anthology my story “The Master and the Guest” is in, was officially launched at the World Fantasy Convention 2012 in Toronto on the 2nd of November! I couldn’t fly over there because of lecture duties, but I’ve been updated by the editors about the event by email. Authors who were there for readings were Tim Ford, Shen Braun, Amanda Clark, Laurel Anne Hill, Julia Rosenthal, and Derwin Mak, and the editors say that the event was a blast! Head over here for the photos!

Also another blog tour post on Shanghai Steam, this time by Ray Dean, one of the authors included in the antho as well: Research and Inspiration: Shanghai Steam. I have to admit, I didn’t have much to say for this particular set of interview questions because I didn’t have to do much research for this story.

The e-books aren’t available yet, but the paperback is now out on Amazon for 14.95 USD!

The HK International Literary Festival 2012: Part 2

October 14 – The Writers Symposium: Part 3 of 3

Convocation Room, University of Hong Kong

This particular symposium was divided into 2 sessions. The first was The Writer’s Desk: Vision, Revision, and Circulation, which focused on revising and editing a work before sending it in. Panelists were Paige Richards, Michelle Sterling, Jennifer Wong, and Paul French, who read before and after excerpts from their work. Again, can’t say I heard anything I’d never heard before. I’m really of the opinion that when it comes to the writing process, there are so many ways of doing it right that if you’ve been doing it for a while, someone endorsing a particular way of doing it wouldn’t necessarily stick in your head.

The second session was The Writer in Hong Kong – Getting Published. Now this is the sort of thing that does tend to stick – brass tacks of the business. It was chaired by Christopher Munn from Hong Kong University Press, who was joined by Kelly Falconer from the Asia Literary Review, copyright lawyer Andrew Cobden, and Martin Merz, a translator. I’ll list here the salient points:

  • Don’t cold call editors.
  • You don’t necessarily need an agent for your novel but you should get one anyway if you can. Agent’s fee is usually at 15%.
  • There’s no such thing as a standard contract. Or a standard print run. Everything is always negotiable.
  • Do simultaneous submissions.
  • Don’t turn up your nose at small publishing houses. Don’t limit yourself or second-guess your demographic. A publication is a publication is a publication.
  • Copyright is assigned. An author’s moral rights over a publication are waived or not waived. Most of the time, publishers will try to get you to waive your moral rights.

After the session, I talked a bit with Kelly Falconer and Martin Merz and his wife Jane. And was enjoying myself so much that I found myself sharing a cab with them all the way to…

October 14: Closing Party: The Last Course

Mariners’ Rest, Hullett House

…where I Guinnessed up and took in the scene of the festival panelists all in one room. (Small room though.) Chatted with Sudhir Vadaketh, from The Economist, and his wife, as well as Gioia Guerzoni, a translator from Italy who was here on the way to a translator’s conference in Bangkok. Had a good time with Martin, Jane, and Gioia, and eventually we left Hullett and crossed the harbor to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Central, which Martin is a member of (and apparently of the board as well that gets to decide what gets to be in the menu). Food was great and we also met Alberto, Gioia’s friend, who works as an architect here.

I had to leave early because I had class the next day but that was a great Sunday spent. Love all the business cards you get at the end of these things.

(Part 1 here.)

Flying Fists and Frying Pans

Quick plug before I talk about the rest of the HK International Literary Festival…Ray Dean, author of “Fire in the Sky” in Shanghai Steam, the anthology I’m also part of, informs me that Sean Taylor’s blog has hosted the post, Flying Fists and Frying Pans – The Martial Art of Writing, on our views about writing action scenes for the anthology. The following is from my bit:

To be honest, the fight scene I wrote in the story isn’t exactly kung-fu (and I certainly didn’t intend it to be) and isn’t particularly action-y either. It was a pretty simple scene where it’s intended that readers would be able to guess the outcome. I wanted it to have, as a baseline, the slow, exaggerated motions of a Chinese opera fight scene. It’s really more tai chi than kung fu, and the emotions that inform that scene have the same rhythm as well. I live in Hong Kong and there are people practicing tai chi everywhere so it really wasn’t difficult seeing the scene in my head.

~Crystal Koo, author of “The Master and the Guest” in Shanghai Steam.

The rest here!

The HK International Literary Festival 2012: Part 1

October 11 – Dr. Hari Harilela Lecture Theatre, Shaw Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University

Between Europe and China: Fostering Cultural Creativity and Inter-cultural Dialogue: A Roundtable Discussion on Hong Kong-European Dialogues in Literature and Culture

Yeah, that’s a mouthful. Bit of context here, “intercultural” is a big buzzword in Hong Kong and “exchanges” and “dialogues” abound. Personally, judging from the ones I’ve attended, these events tend to feel like marketing stunts to me. The questions are just some sort of variation of these: 1. What it feels like to be (or whatever more specific verb here) in Hong Kong, and 2. How is it different from your home country. It’s not typical to progress far from that, so let’s just say I normally don’t set the bar very high.

The panel was chaired by Angela Mackay from the Financial Times and the panel members were the following: poet Jennifer Wong (Daisy’s friend, actually, who was raised in HK and is now based in London, had dinner with her before), UK poet and novelist Simon Armitage, Irish novelist John Boyne (he wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – I only watched the movie though) Prof. K.L. Chua from Hong Kong University, and Prof. Hans Ladegaard and Prof. Lo Kwai Cheung from Hong Kong Baptist University, where I work.

Most of the discussion was about how the writers’ respective countries encourage creativity VS how HK does it (or how it should anyway. Let’s not forget HK is still incredibly neo-colonial and has a huge insecurity complex when it’s being compared to Europe). It was largely very PC and there was really nothing you haven’t heard before, until John Boyne mentioned, hey, but what about the big elephant in the room when it comes to HK arts and culture? Money?

And I thought, that’s a good attempt, Mr. Boyne, there is an elephant in the room, but it’s not money that’s the biggest one. It’s race and class. Because when I hear white expats complaining about how there seems to be such a dearth of cultural events in Hong Kong, more often than not, they’re talking about the dearth of white cultural events in Hong Kong. I know because I used to think that way too and hung around similarly-minded expats, until I started to make friends with local artists. Then I went to their events (not to mention worked with them for the stage performance of my play) and realized that hey, there is actually a lot of local culture in HK. Most white people just tend not to go to these events and just assume they don’t exist. The money being poured by wealthy, commercial companies into cultural events and which people complain is against the spirit of art? Tend to be white cultural events.

And as my friend T would say, I told you three times but only in my head. Then at one point, Prof. Lo Kwai Cheung, in a burst of frustration, said that the things they were talking about in this panel were all from the white person’s point of view, who either aren’t living in HK or who live in their little expat bubble here and have no idea what it’s like otherwise. Even this literary festival, he said, isn’t this pretty much catered to white people in the first place?

That was the highlight of the evening for me. Someone applauded from the back of the room. The next time I bump into Prof. Lo on campus, I’m going to tell him that.

Next post! The Writers Symposium at HKU and the afterparty at Hullett House.

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