The Next Big Thing


I actually got tagged for this by Ruth Nestvold, and promptly got buried under dayjob stuff–I didn’t think of it until Nina Allan also tagged me.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
On a Red Station, Drifting

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to write the SF equivalent of Dream of Red Mansions, something that would have a Sino-Vietnamese domestic focus with a large number of main female characters.

3) What genre does your book fall under?


4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ideally, Vietnamese older women; unfortunately, my google-fu is failing me and I can’t really find many actors (the only Vietnamese/Vietnamese-American/Vietnamese-French actors I can find are very young). Trần Nữ Yên Khê (the main character in Scent of the Green Papaya) would probably be the right fit for Linh; and Cam Thu (at least how she looks in that picture) would look like my mental image of Quyen. Dustin Nguyen would probably make a great Huu Hieu.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Aboard a space station where everything has always been ruled by an AI matriarch, tensions begin to surface when the AI starts failing…

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s published by Immersion Press, a small UK press that is the brainchild of Carmelo Rafala and has already published authors like Chris Butler and Lavie Tidhar.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A long, long time! I foolishly committed to it without any real idea of what writing a novella entailed–I expected something along the lines of a larger short story, whereas the truth is that it’s more like a short novel… I flailed for a long time because I couldn’t get the story structure right, and then I flailed some more because of one of my main character (Quyen) didn’t have a clear storyline. I think it took me about 7-8 months to finish the first draft, and this was subsequently followed by a long period of substantial revisions.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m hoping I managed to produce a book with the strong characters, mythical overtones and chewy prose of Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, combined with inventive worldbuilding similar to Alastair Reynolds’ Chasm City.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Too many readings of Dreams of Red Mansions! (I even have a graphic novel version of the book, which is a set of illustrations for it drawn during the Qing dynasty that are absolutely gorgeous).

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s food. Lots of food–in fact, one of the main set pieces for the story is a banquet. And it has a chase scene in a fish-sauce brewery. If that doesn’t make you buy it, I don’t know what will!

Apparently, you’re supposed to tag other victims, er sorry I mean fellow authors, who will post next Wednesday about their own writing projects–if they have the time and inclination, of course! Let me tag TL Morganfield and Joyce Chng.


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