I like looking for on-going themes and motifs in my fiction, probably because I am a Literature student deep down inside (and Humanities, mind you – we are becoming rare in Singapore). I have found a few: fire, transformation, phoenix, trees (casuarina) and food. The predominant one, the one that runs through all my stories like a seam of glittering quartz, is flight.
Perhaps I yearn(ed) for flight myself. Away from so many expectations and obligations. But there you go: flight and the fight for the right to fly. Young Katherine Riley fought for it in The Basics of Flight. In Phoenix Without A Purpose, Minfeng knew how to fly, but had to control her ability (and fire as well). Even my steampunk stories dealt with flight in some way.
Rider, my newest novella, deals with flight in an intimate way. As I write the sequel to this tale, I am feeling as if I resonate more with the main character Lifang. What are you going to do if you are hampered with so many things, including a physical disability? Are you going to give up or are you going to fight for it, no matter what? Perhaps my own experience influenced the decision to write a main character with a physical disability. When I was sixteen, I was diagnosed with hypertension. It shocked everyone, including the specialist handling the case. Before I was diagnosed, I had blinding headaches that would turn my lips pale. My mother thought I was joking. The specialist admitted me straight away. For me, it felt like a death sentence. The doctor warned me not to do anything strenuous for fear of me bursting a vessel and slipping into a coma. He actually used the word “death”. Therefore, in a way, Lifang reminds me of me – wanting to fly, wanting to be someone else. She wants people to listen to her, to understand – in a way, like me. Nobody believed I had/have hypertension. They thought I was making things up.
Rider is YA. It’s not as gritty as the stories out there in the market. It’s SFF, but not hard SFF. Yet I hope that it would connect with YA readers, because it deals with major issues and wishes and desires.