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!!

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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:

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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.

The Kai Tak Heart Attack

This is a very iconic photograph of Hong Kong found in many souvenir shops and books; a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-367 descending into the middle of Kowloon City to land on the old Kai Tak airport right below. Kowloon City is surrounded on three sides by mountains, on one by the South China Sea, AND ON EVERY SIDE BY APARTMENTS, and planes had to go very low over the rooftops before a dramatic last-minute turn to align themselves with the runway. Landing there used to be called the Kai Tak Heart Attack.

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Kai Tak closed on July 1998 (and Hong Kong International Airport moved to Chek Lap Kok, where it is now and where landings are much less thrilling). The photograph was taken by Daryl Chapman just weeks before the old airport closed. I have very vague memories of what it felt to be on a plane landing there when I was much younger (I do remember that the experience of landing on Hong Kong used to be much more scenic than it is now. Now it’s just…water, water, water, bump, oh we’re here. No more peeking into people’s apartments to see what they’re watching on TV).

Anyway, since it’s my sixth year now of living in Hong Kong, I thought it was high time that I bought an original 12″ x 15″ photo print of it. Which I did this afternoon. It’s a great reminder of how I’ve never had a single moment of boredom in Hong Kong.

I’m leaving here a video of a Malaysia Airlines 747 doing a Kai Tak Heart Attack from back when. LOOK AT THAT EFFING TURN AT 0:33 and how the plane straightens itself immediately and slips into the middle of town like it’s no big deal. Terrifying.

I’m going to this event!!

Got invited to the VIP reception and premiere screening and after party at the W! And on the last day of classes too! Score. Thanks so much, Danny!

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Clockenflap Music Festival 2012

Sooo….Clockenflap 2012!

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(Photo by Ricko)

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(Photo by Ricko)

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This year’s was held at the West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade, close to Elements. I went with Ricko, my Indonesian friend from Beijing who’s here in Hong Kong looking for a job, to the December 1 event, 12-pm – 10pm, 390 HKD per head. We got there at 2pm after lunch at Stormies at the Civic Square terrace (fancy!) in Elements. Weather wasn’t at its best; I was pointing out to Ricko the Ozone bar on the 118th floor of the ICC but the top of the building was totally covered by fog.

Anyway, Clockenflap! where coupons were currency.

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(Photo by Ricko)

Luckily it wasn’t too crowded then and we could get pretty close to the stages during all the performances. Sets were half an hour each.

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Stuart Lennon and Marie Witt. Acoustic rock. (Photo by Ricko)

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The Sleeves. Arcade rock (at least that’s what they call it). (Photo by Ricko)

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Buskers playing gypsy music.

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Bella Elektra. Jazz hip hop. (Really enjoyed this one.)

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Poubelle International. Indie rock. (Photo by Ricko)

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Tom Read / The Vine Band. Christian rock (though the stuff they played there were more pop).

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OK. I did not expect to see Sandwich here!!! Sandwich is a rock band from Manila / home. They were given a great introduction from one of the event organizers and they played an AWESOME, AWESOME set. They were a huge hit and got the crowd totally worked up. (“I just wanna go to the beach!” “SUNBURN!” is now stuck in my head.) More Sandwiches!

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Shamus Dark and Eugene Pao. Noir jazz, that’s the best I can put it. (Photo by Ricko)

Ricko and I left around 5:30pm, though the party and the crowds were only really starting by then, but we were pretty tired. I got my Clockenflap T-shirt and the Hungry Ghosts EP and had a good, decadent dinner at Spaghetti House back in Jordan.

Til next year!

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Recording session photos!

In the cold and drizzle of last Sunday, my friend Cyrus (vocals, rhythm guitar, bass), Candice (keyboards), James (cajon drum, backing vocals) and I (lead guitar) were recording at Koya Hisakazu’s studio in Sheung Wan! A lot of of local bands (even Beyond) have had their albums recorded and mixed by Koya and it was a fantastic learning (and adrenalinic) experience for me. Cyrus wants to release an EP next year and he invited me to play lead for one of his songs, “Never Too Late”, and hopefully we can collaborate more in the future. Last Sunday we put down the guide track and got my and James’ tracks down as well. Pics of me and James! Cyrus and Candice will be finishing their tracks one of these weeks.

Here’s an interview with Koya Hisakazu in HK Magazine and a vid below of Cyrus at Backstage Bar playing bass and doing backing vocals. I’m totally looking forward to doing more of this.

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. https://swordskill.wordpress.com

The rest here!

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