“An urban fantasy set in Singapore? Never!”

Face it, the shelves (physical and online) are overwhelmed with urban fantasy stories all set in the Northern Hemisphere. Jim Butcher, Simon Greene, Charles de Lint, Kelley Armstrong, to name a few. And these are the more well-known names in the urban fantasy genre.

I looked hard for stories set in Southeast Asia (and I dared to hope – Singapore). Found none. Zilch. Nadah. Granted that Liz Williams wrote something about Singapore Three, but I wanted something I could connect to. Something I wanted to see.

[I was more ambitious. I wanted to see urban fantasy stories set in Singapore by Singaporean authors (or Southeast Asia). Nope. Maybe I was living under a boulder...]

So, as a challenge, I hammered out a novel for Nanowrimo 2009. I had just given birth, my baby was two months old (and still needed my full-on attention). Writing a novel, an urban fantasy set in Singapore? Never!

But I did.

Wolf At The Door was born then, a story of sisters, werewolves in Singapore and love lost, interwoven with a complex tapestry of people, traditions, cultures and backgrounds. I drew heavily from what I knew: my Chinese heritage, who-I-am. The wolves are part of a diaspora, descendants of migrants and straddle many worlds. Trying to ilk out a living in a fast-paced and pragmatic country who exists on trade. The wolves are hunters. They need to hunt. The wolves are closely-knit. They need their packs around them. In short, they are like the humans they pretend to be 99% of the time. Throw in the other non-human races from Southeast Asian and Asian traditions – and you get an unique picture.

I wanted to break out from the mould of “sexy ____ hunter/slayer”. Why not a mother, a married woman and a daughter? What kind of problems would she encounter in the story? So, I wrote.

I ranted, I raved and I finally crossed the 50k marker.

2010 rolled in and I made the decision to submit it to publishers. Could it sell? Would people buy it?

Would people care?

Imagine my joy when I got the contract from Lyrical Press. I danced a happy dance in the study room and then got down to the serious business of editing, while I struggled (and still struggle) with my doubts. Would people read it? I know that the US, UK and Australian SFF scenes are pretty insular. Would someone else from Southeast Asia really matter to them?

No, I write for myself and my readers.

More to come while I work out my thoughts, my writing process.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Tweets that mention “An urban fantasy set in Singapore? Never!” « A Wolf's Tale -- Topsy.com
  2. Trish
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 05:11:49

    Congratulations on the contract, Joyce!! I, for one, would love to read it and am especially thrilled at seeing a mother/daughter team!! I also love reading in different settings. Is it available yet? How do we get ahold of it?

    Reply

  3. Jean Marie Ward
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 16:24:47

    Congratulations, Joyce! Best wishes for both babies. ;-)

    Reply

  4. rcloenenruiz
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 16:26:15

    Congratulations, Joyce. I’ll keep an eye out for the release date. I’m very interested in reading this.

    Reply

  5. Elizabeth Barrette
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 18:07:57

    I’m delighted and impressed by your accomplishment! The best way to create what you want to read is to write it yourself. I have linked to your post, since I have a lot of readers who are into speculative fiction/ethnic studies/mothers as main characters.

    The next-best way is to inspire/sponsor someone else. You might enjoy exploring cyberfunded creativity some time; there are many people writing things that are off the beaten path. You can read a story in progress; for instance, I particularly recommend “Spots the Space Marine,” about a mother who fights alien bugs:

    http://stardancer.org/spots/

    Alternatively, you can find a project that’s open to audience input, and request the kind of content you’d like to see. I do a Poetry Fishbowl each month where the audience gives me prompts and I write poems based on whatever I get. Yes, I’m in the Northern Hemisphere, but so far my prompters have taken me to Australia, Canada, the Moon, and all kinds of other interesting places. If you want to take me to Singapore, I’ll do a little research and give it my best shot. Next up is Sociological Science Fiction on July 6.

    http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/730515.html

    Reply

  6. Kate
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 18:28:25

    This sounds awesome! I’m looking forward to reading it

    Reply

  7. Judy Schriebman
    Jun 16, 2010 @ 21:44:14

    Awesome! Having lived in Japan for several years, I would LOVE a story set in another culture/place/time that gives me insight on that culture, as well as human nature. Congrats on your contract and can’t wait to read the result in 2011.

    Reply

  8. jolantru
    Jun 17, 2010 @ 01:45:09

    Thank you all for your comments!

    Reply

  9. jolantru
    Sep 07, 2014 @ 13:50:41

    Reblogged this on A Wolf's Tale and commented:

    Boosting this up!

    Reply

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