Category: Blog

September Update

I finally worked out how to transcribe my VHS camera videos to digital. Here’s a Beijing street from 1986.
September Update
I’m working hard behind the scenes with the lovely Anna and Shannon from Harper-Collins to make ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ the best it can possibly be.
During some down-time while I waited for their decision on whether to publish the book, I finally worked out how to connect the ancient VHS player to a USB port on my computer, and transcribe the old VHS home movies. Many of them are of the kids being cute and won’t be shared, but some like the video above are fascinating.
In 1986, I’d been married to my husband for two years, and we went back to Hong Kong to visit the family. My father-in-law had wanted all his life to go to Beijing, so my husband arranged a tour for us. It was a ‘father-sons’ type thing with my husband, his brother and my FIL, with my MIL and SIL left at home (no comment), and I had to go along because they couldn’t really leave me behind with family members who spoke no English and very little Cantonese (they spoke Teochew dialect at home).
It was a HK tour group, and I was the only white person along (although there was a loud group of Chinese-Americans up the back of the bus visiting HK family and discovering their cultural roots). Unfortunately time has not been kind to the VHS videos, so most of them have messed-up colour like the one above, but it’s still a fascinating snapshot of life in China just after it opened up.
This is ‘the most famous medicine shop in China’ as my husband loudly proclaims. It’s so famous it features in Wuxia fictional stories, when a hero needs a miraculous cure for poisoning or demon bite or something, so it was a highlighted stop on the tour. Optional Immortality Pills at a special discount for all tourists.
My father-in-law then gestures to suggest that I go visit the store next door, which was packed to the ceiling with gorgeous Chinese silks. Note the way the shop attendant slides out of camera view, people in China and HK hate being filmed and the police used it as an intimidation tactic during the protests.
After we went to the medicine shop we went to a remarkable Beijing Acrobatics troupe (Chairman Mao cancelled all of the performing arts except for Beijing Opera and Acrobatics and it took a long time for them to recover) and my husband gleefully videoed the entire show without anyone making any sort of comment. It was so early in the introduction of home movie cameras (we’d just bought the camera in Hong Kong for the trip) that the concept of piracy was still unheard-of.
This is only a short snippet of the video, the rest of it is mostly us wandering around the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven, but I hope you enjoy it. There’s another video on my Youtube channel that shows a street market outside a tourist attraction from the same tour, with a white American man looking suitably unimpressed by the items on offer.

August Update

It’s my thirteenth novel and it feels like my first. Due out mid-next year.
August Update
As you can see from the pic above, Harper-Collins have contracted to purchase ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ for Australian release in the middle of next year.
Here’s a quick sample of some of the things that the editor had to say about it:
‘I adore Ruth (the main character) – she is so clever and wise’
‘I have a serious crush on the lovely Theo (the android)’
‘Accessible and relevant, while maintaining your trademark wild imagination and playfulness’
‘(Zheng’s story is) phenomenal stuff, really moving’
Many thanks to all the Patrons who helped to get me there, and do not despair! Because the Dark Heavens spinoff (that Patrons have been reading) is nearly done, and I will be releasing that one soon. High-level Patrons will all receive a free copy of it to thank them for their support.
I’ve posted new Dark Heavens and continued the samples of ‘Minds’ on the Patreon. It looks like I’ll very soon have to stop posting ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ there, and start with book two – ‘Bodies of Stone and Water’. I’m having a blast writing that one as well!
In the spinoff, I have Simone and Michael heading to Europe to deal with an invasion in Eastern Europe.
… Sometimes I feel a little guilty about spending all my time doing something that’s so much fun.

July Update

It’s not often a mid-winter rainbow appears above the surf. This one felt special.
July Update
I’ve been head-down working on two new works – one is the sequel to ‘Dark Heavens’ which I’m thinking will probably be called ‘Serpent Princess’ because it’s mostly Simone, trying to be ‘normal and happy’ and failing miserably. This one is two-thirds done and I’m doing my usual hard-left-turn plot twist and awful climactic denouement. My Patrons have been enjoying reading the messy creative process, and it’s starting to come together.
‘Minds of Sand and Light’ is still with Harper-Collins and I’m at the point where I’ll probably give up on them and self-publish it. Patrons have been reading this one as well.
Everybody who visited me at Adelaide Comic-Con (thanks guys!) had already bought everything I’ve written, and wanted something new. ‘Minds’ has been finished for nearly a year and it’s about time you had the chance to read it. It’s a whole heap of fun with a bunch of fantastic quirky characters.

I have no more appearances scheduled for now, but Oz Comic-Con Brisbane (yes again) and Sydney will be happening in September, so hopefully I’ll be there and have something new for you to read!
Massive thanks to the Patrons for their support while I put these two novels together. I want to share them with you!

June Update

This links to my recording of the Undersea Palace dungeon in Final Fantasy XIV – a Japanese company’s imagining of a fantasy far-eastern location. Please forgive my lousy camera work!

June Update
Thanks to everyone who came up to say hello in Adelaide, and special thanks to Patreon patron Naomi who spent the whole weekend with me and came out for dinner with my con friends as well! Here’s some photos of Adelaide’s massive cosplay turnout. Once again I didn’t have many opportunities to take photos of cosplays because I was busy with books, but here’s a few:
Faye Valentine from the REAL Cowboy Bebop (no correspondence will be entered into)

Strange + Spidey – so many Spidermen. So many! Standing and pointing at each other (I know). I guess I can’t complain, my own son cosplays as Spiderman too…

The furries were fun to watch. Two would walk past, then later they’d walk past again, but with a couple more. Then an hour later, the same four with three more. The furry groups just kept growing, and I think they were all making new furry friends! (I know)
Undersea Palace
I have finally succumbed to pressure from both my old Final Fantasy XI guild (hi Hikari!) AND my daughter and returned to the online role playing game, Final Fantasy XIV. I was concerned that I would spend too much time doing it, but it’s not affecting my life in any way except for the better. Dungeons like the one in the video above are straight-up inspirational, and so beautiful! Normally you’d go through there fighting sea monsters all the way (supposedly the undersea princess is held in the palace and needs to be rescued by… tiny me on my unicorn) but I did a run-through of it without any monsters in it, just to share. And isn’t the music glorious?
As a writer it’s particularly interesting, because this is Square-Enix, a Japanese company’s, version of Asian culture. The design is mostly Japanese, but there are some Korean and Chinese influences as well.
My daughter made me visit the game-themed cafe in Tokyo when we were there, and it was a lot of fun.  The food and cocktails were excellent as well. (Virtual visit here – it’s small but full of great references to the game including replica weapons on the walls – and so many moogles!)
I have no more appearances booked for the immediate future, but the new Dark Heavens book (provisionally titled ‘Serpent Empress’) is barrelling along and I’m close to complete with the storyline. I’m at the delightful stage where I start to wonder how I’m going to fit everything that happens into the remaining words! Only one answer to that – finish this book, and start on the next.


May Update

From ‘White Tiger’: The sun set behind us. The high rises along the beach made elongated shadows on the sand. The sky turned a delicate shade of lilac and the breeze became cooler. The beach was almost deserted. I pulled on my wrap. … This passage is the quintessential Gold Coast image for me. There’s even a tower painted in the same twilight lilac as the sky.

May Update
Adelaide Oz Comic-Con is go! I will be in Adelaide on May 21-22 (Oh no panic time do I have enough books?) at the Showgrounds for Oz Comic-Con. Get out your cosplay Adelaide, this will be wonderful!

I remember the outpouring of grief when Oz Comic-Con and Supanova both threatened to abandon Adelaide and Perth because they weren’t ‘economically feasible’ and I am so glad that the show is back for you, everyone.
After Brisbane, one of my friends complained that I didn’t post enough Cosplay pictures. This was because I was so busy talking to fans, I never had a chance to take any! Let’s hope that Adelaide’s the same and I have absolutely no good shots of the cosplayers to share.
As part of preparing for Brisbane Comic-Con Homegrown, I ordered some books from my publisher. Once again, they’re all different sizes. The first two books of ‘Dragon Empire’ are smaller than the last one, and I have limited numbers of the all-the-same-size international versions of the trilogy. I’ve checked my stock and I have four sets that are all the same size books, and I’ll bring them to Adelaide.
If I run out of books at Adelaide we can always arrange for me to send you signed copies anyway. And if you’d like to bring copies for me to sign there’s no fee involved (I’m not famous enough!) and you can bring as many books as you like.
See you in a couple of weeks Adelaide – and special thanks to the Patrons on Patreon who are partially funding this trip to South Australia, I couldn’t do it without you!