18 September 2015

Interview with Joyce Chng

Today we’re joined by another fabulous Fox Spirit Books author –  Joyce Chng…

Tell us a little about yourself and what you like to write.

I am Joyce Chng and I was born (and now live) in Singapore. I write science fiction and fantasy, YA and things in between.

How long have you been writing and how did you get started?  And what authors have influenced you?

Professionally and semi-professionally, I have been writing since 2006-2007. Had my first short story published in Crossed Genres’s Alternate History issue (2009?). But I first started creating worlds since I was a child – mostly fan fiction (and I didn’t even know that I was writing fan fiction. That was before the Internet came about!). I wrote a Pern fan fiction novella in my late teens!

Authors? Frank Herbert, Anne McCaffrey, Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley, to name a few. (The list just kept on expanding).

Fox Spirit has just re-released your Jan Xu urban fantasy series – what can new readers expect to find in the trilogy?

Well, expect to find Chinese werewolves in Singapore, strong family/clan bonds and a MC who is a mother to three kids. Not only that you will get to read about the (usual) politics amongst the supernatural/non-human groups – and oh yes, there is sibling rivalry and the things you get in return when you were an ex-teen vigilante…

Just read the series!

Your space opera, Star Fang, is also due to be re-released soon from Fox Spirit – please tell us what it’s about.     

Oh yes, Starfang. It is a space opera with werewolves! Werewolf clans dominate space travel and war in the far flung future. Lesbian MC who is captain of the ship Starfang and daughter of powerful clan leaders. Expect to see war, intrigue, metaphorical carpets being pulled under the MC’s feet etc. How do you feel when you are sent to kill your rival?

With werewolves appearing in both your urban fantasy and space opera work, what’s the appeal of the werewolf for you?  And are there any other themes or story elements you find yourself returning to in your fiction?

I have loved the idea of lycanthropy since I was a kid.  Werewolves appeal to me because they literally straddle between human and wolf – a liminal (and limbo) state where the werewolf is neither or.  Transformation, transmutation – these are underlying themes and motifs that constantly fascinate. In my stories, the wolves are never the evil monsters portrayed in horror movies.

Besides these themes, I often look at the motif of flight. My YA MCs are often young women who want to break free of societal bonds, sometimes literally (they fly or they change into phoenixes).
Oh yes, I also talk a fair bit about food. Food to me is the glue that binds a family, society and the universe together. Then again, the Chinese are often food-mad. :-)

You’re currently releasing chapters of Ming Zhu and the Pearl That Shines on Wattpad, and have previously released other works in this way – what’s the appeal of Wattpad as a platform?  And do you have plans to release any future stories on it?

Wattpad is a free platform where readers can read for free. Authors can post instalments on Wattpad for that instant gratification fix, because readers can commend and vote on your story. Some stories, as you can see, garner large audiences. But you are also up against hundred more stories like yours.

So it’s a battle for eye-balls.

I do have plans to release future stories, but that’s the future.

What drew you to using Patreon and have you found it a useful tool?

I was – and still am – battling with chronic health issues and crowdfunding appeals to me as an alternative route to funding/pay for expensive medical fees.
 It is useful to an extent, because 1) I am doing what I like – posting stories and pictures and 2) I have my readers and supporters. But like Wattpad, it helps a lot if you have a big fan base.

You’ve also edited The SEA is Ours anthology with Jaymee Goh – what was the underlying idea behind it and what kind of stories can we find in it?  

Basically steampunk stories that do not center around white steampunk experiences. And you can find stories that reimagine the histories, peoples, and myths of Southeast Asia through a steampunk lens—or perhaps, stories that reimagine the fantastic technology and potential histories of steampunk through a Southeast Asian lens. These are tales of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam, written by writers all over the world.
And we wanted stories that were written by people of Southeast Asian descent or live in Southeast Asia. :-)

Has being an editor changed how you approach your own writing?  And do you have any plans to edit any future anthologies?

I think I have become more particular and direct. Definitely more focused and attentive when it comes to perennial issues like grammar (!) and info-dumping. I hasten to add that it’s all a matter of preferences too. Again, it is my POV.

No plans yet to edit any future anthologies…

Room 101 time: what one genre cliché would you get rid of?

The strong warrior woman.

Don’t gasp at me. Women do not need to be warriors or wield a weapon to be strong. Even I write about warrior women, I also write about women and girls who do not fit in the “warrior woman” stereotype. Do you need a sword to be strong?

What are you up to next?

My picturebook, Dragon Dancer, under Lantana Publishing, is out soon on the 12th of October.  Some stuff still in the works – but I can’t wait to share them with you all!

Thank you for joining us Joyce Chng!

Born in Singapore but a global citizen, Joyce Chng writes mainly science fiction and YA. She likes steampunk and tales of transformation/transfiguration. Her fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres, The Apex Book of World SF II, We See A Different Frontier, Cranky Ladies of History, and Accessing The Future. Her YA science fiction trilogy is published by Singapore publisher, Math Paper Press. She can be found at A Wolf’s Tale (awolfstale.wordpress.com);

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