Joyce Chng interviewed for Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic

Joyce Chng‘s story appears in the upcoming Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic. Here, she answers a few questions.

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

I am Singaporean, married with two girls. I like to read, cook and garden. And I like to write. I tend to write science fiction and fantasy, a bit on the social aspect – as in looking at the relationships and nuances in society. I also write YA and urban fantasy.

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Strangers in Danger

Travelling by train at the weekend I indulged in my usual past time of people watching and random conversations, not just because I am garrulous by nature and incredibly nosy, but also because these are the people that eventually pepper our fictional ramblings.

The first lady was a herbalist, and it was an unusual piece of jewellery that she was wearing which attracted me.  I asked her about it and was told it had been made by a local silversmith and represented Elen of the Ways. For those who are not familiar with Welsh/Cornish tradition Elen is the antlered goddess , also known as the Green lady,  and guardian of the Leys, (ancient track ways).  We went on the chat about paganism, and then onto herbalism.

The longer I talked with her the more familiar she seemed and the stronger was the sense of deja vu. I’d both had this conversation before, and seen that necklace. Thinking back I am certain we had met  travelling the same route on a previous occasion.  I can count on my fingers the number of times I have travelled that route, and by her own admission it was a rare trip for her. So what then? Not just deja vu  but somehow predestined?

There is a story in there, so another encounter filed away for future reference. A definite contemporary fantasy.

On the same train was a young woman on her way to her new life at University. Leaving home for the fist time and full of excitement and anxiety in equal measure.  She chattered on about how she had left her parents at 5 am  and how her parents had been so tearful when she had left; how she  had bought a sandwich but could not eat it because she was so nervous; how she was sharing halls with someone she had only met once before, etc etc. How she had missed two whole terms at school and had been convinced she would never make the exam grades. It all poured out of her in a torrent of doubts and fears, as though the telling of all this to me and to ‘Elen’ was a way of bolstering her own flagging courage.

Another story in the making. A romance, perhaps?

On the return trip I passed through the luggage area where a young father was standing with his toddler child in a buggy, and I overheard a snatch of conversation:

Child: daddy, I miss you when I’m not at you house. Do you miss me?

Father: Yes, I miss you lots.

Child: I miss mummy when I am at your house. Do you miss mummy?

(short pause)

father: of course you miss mummy. She misses you as well.

Child: why is mummy at Grannies house now?

It would have been difficult to hear more without obvious eavesdropping – but wow.  Written down it sounds cliched,  saccharine,  yet a very real encounter, and yet another snatch of a story in the making.

All strangers and all in danger of ending up on a printed page (albeit in disguise). Maybe I should travel by train more often.

Post panel

I took the train down to Birmingham for the Andromeda One event, which was a good day of catching up with friends.

The two panels I spoke on seemed to go well.   My fellow panelists were all eloquent folk with a lot to say on the subjects given.

The first  was a panel on Steampunking Holmes with  some interesting views on the world of Sherlock Holmes delved into the social tropes of 19th century literature viewed from a 21st century perspective.

The second on small/indie presses covered so many topics I can’t recall most of them, but cover art was one that took up some considerable time. Should a cover echo similar ‘best sellers’ with similar content with marketing departments utilising tropes  (dripping knives for crime, skulls for horror or pink shoes for chic lit)?  Or do cliche covers actively deter some readers so that a book better served with innovative art work that catches the eye?

My personal preference is for unique art if only because the current trend for contemporary/urban fantasy for either simpering women in floaty frocks or skin tight leather pants is used so often  it is becoming harder and harder to tell these titles apart at a glance so that I often can’t recall which ones I have read – and end up buying  none.   But maybe that is just me…

Andromeda One – Birmingham

I am looking forward to Andromeda One at the Custard Factory in Birmingham this Saturday (21st September).

Andromeda-One-logo

I have been asked to appear on two panels.  The Role of the Small and Indie Press with Simon Marshall-Jones,Theresa Derwin, Mark West and Adrian Middleton  and Steampunking Sherlock: with Mike Chinn, Misa Buckley and Theresa Derwin.   

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Doors to Elsewhere – Alchemy Press

Doors to Elsewhere now available – a collection of essays  by Mike Barrett with an introduction by Ramsey Campbell  1044065_582055381817113_1168369280_n

Arkham House! Weird Tales! Leiber! Sturgeon! Moore! Dunsany! Names that conjure much of the history of modern fantasy and horror fiction. Those who haven’t encountered them yet have a feast of treats ahead. Mike Barrett has written celebrations of these together with essays on other important writers. This collection is a fine guide for folk who are eager to broaden their reading, and a useful reappraisal for those who think they know the fields.

http://alchemypress.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/doors-to-elsewhere-now-available/

Validation

I have used meditation for years, mostly for my own benefit, both for relaxation and spiritual purposes. I  have led guided meditations for others, and use the technique of visualisation often in conjunction with my Reiki sessions.

Meditation has become important to me. Learning it has been an organic process and I can’t recall where or when I first began on the journey, but I do know how much it has helped me in fighting both ME and fibromyalgia, so the arrival in the post of my Diploma in Healing Meditation Techniques is huge. I mean really huge.  

Odd how something that is a big part of me, that I perhaps even take for granted at times, suddenly achieves a level of validation with the certificate I took from the envelope.

Few people are going to look at it but me, and it isn’t important to most, yet the sense of validation is not less significant because of that.

Yah me!

 

Workshops and Cafes

Last week was a busy one and I am only just catching up on myself.

Firstly there was the Story Cafe at the Gladstone Pottery Museum , a combined event for Renegade Writers, Room in the Roof Writers and Newcastle Library Writers.

A rather spiffing evening with full piccies at the links above! Continue reading