Category: Dragon Empire

July Update

On clear winter days like this I can literally see into the next state. The high-rises on the peninsula at the far left are in Coolangatta, in New South Wales. If I walk 5km to the far north end of the beach, they disappear under the curve of the Earth (they’re about 20km away).

‘Minds of Sand and Light’
This is the title of the new cyberthriller, and I submitted it to a New York literary agent last week. It usually takes a few weeks for these things to process. This story has many of the same themes as ‘Dark Heavens’ – particularly the ‘powerful non-human man and extremely smart and brave woman’ trope, which in this case is an android and a brilliant hacker. There are many explosions. Watch this space and wish me luck.
Now that the cyberthriller is done, I’m back into Dark Heavens and putting together all the parts that I’ve been sharing on Patreon to start building our Dark Heavens sequel. When I wrote ‘White Tiger’ back in the early 2000’s, I had just moved back from Hong Kong and I hardly knew anyone. Now I have a bundle of friends both inside and outside the literary community who are all either helping or cheering and it feels really good.
This one is tough. I know how much everybody wants to see me (hell, the Patreon is so you can help me to visit you!)  but I’ve had issues with Supanova for years now that I haven’t detailed in public, and now it’s turned into a – there’s no other word for it – massive shitstorm.

Supanova Sydney 2021 – these fashy assholes weren’t there to sell their crappy merchandise, they were there to recruit baby Nazis.
Here’s the Kotaku story about it.
The first Supanova boycott was when the owner brought over Adam Baldwin, the actor who was Jayne on ‘Firefly’ and who started Gamergate. As in, all women in the games industry are <insert misogyny here>. A couple of the staff resigned from Supanova in disgust.
After it became obvious that this wouldn’t blow over, Supanova posted a public apology that basically said: ‘we’ve let you down, we’re really sorry, we promise to do better, please forgive us, we really love you’ – and the community did forgive them and moved on.
The second Supanova boycott was when the owner posted a petition on Facebook to ban the ‘Safe Schools’ program, including a bunch of really ugly trans- and homo-phobia. This caused a furore on social media, and when it became obvious it would blow over… Supanova posted another public apology that basically said: ‘we’ve let you down, we’re really sorry, we promise to do better, please forgive us, we really love you’. And the community forgave them and moved on.
So Sydney Supanova happened on June 19-20, and this time the owner permitted a bunch of actual freaking Nazis who have been banned in the past to set up and stay for a day and a half before he finally folded to his own staff’s demands and had them booted. Not before they had plenty of time to harass anyone at the show who wasn’t ‘White’, though, making everyone extremely uncomfortable.
A lot of the most senior staff resigned (and respect to them for doing it).
After a week, it became obvious that it wouldn’t blow over so: yep, another apology, exactly the same wording, we’ve let you down, promise to do better, blah blah blah.
At this point I’m looking at it going: the community’s in an abusive relationship with Supanova and keeps going back every time they apologise.
Then when that didn’t work as well as the two previous times, the owner has ‘stepped down’ (but he still owns it) and his second-in-charge has ‘taken over’ and they have an ‘ethics committee’.
I don’t think they’ll change and I don’t want to be involved with Supanova any more. People are talking about starting alternative conventions and I would be delighted if there was an alternative; but in the meantime, Supanova, yeah no.
Which leaves Oz Comic-Con. I used to have an excellent relationship with the previous owners but that was two sets of owners ago and the current owners  have made it very clear that they want to focus on comics rather than fiction. They heavily curate their artist’s alley so only one in five applications get an alley table, and never two years in a row.
So: in future, when I have a new release (and I will have them!) I think I’ll just take myself to the capital cities and do signings in bookstores and let you guys know in the newsletter so that you can come and say hello, as well as doing the ‘Inconceivable’ online convention and selling signed books through the website. The Patreon is still immensely useful, I’ll use that fund to get myself around the country to visit all of you, when things reopen again.
I have my second Astra Zeneca vaccination in August, and Sydney needs to get itself together because I want to come and visit everyone!

June Update

Inari’s COLD.
(That’s an old sarong on top of my inkjet printer so it doesn’t fill up with cat hair and become useless. So far it’s worked but I have to turn it off unless I’m using it – because she keeps banging the control panel with her cranky tail and printing test pages.)

June Update
Interview is up
My interview with Bettina Burger from Dusseldorf University is up on Spotify! The staff of the university had to divide it into two parts because, as usual, I talked too much. I went into detail about my plans for the next Dark Heavens (and made some really cheesy pop-culture references), and she was an absolute delight to talk to. You can check the interview out here:
Part One
Part Two
I think the most interesting point to note about this is that these German universities are doing more research and showing more interest in Australian speculative fiction than we are here in Australia!
The cyberthriller that I’ve been working on is complete, and I’m nearly at the stage of sending it out to agents and publishers. Wish me luck! It’s called ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ and it’s a continuation of the short that I submitted to the Home Of The Arts Gold Coast’s ‘Rage Against The Virus’ grant program. I really enjoyed writing this one, and I hope it can find a home. An epilog popped up while I was writing it – and now I need to go to New Zealand to research for book 2.
Of course I’ve been working on a  new Dark Heavens story at the same time, and the working title for this one is ‘Serpent Empress’. Now that the situation in Hong Kong has been clarified (unfortunately, see my Twitter feed for political snark) I have a very good idea where this story needs to go. And it’s some very difficult places.
As I’m Officially Old, I’ve had access to the latest COVID vaccine stage, and I’ve had the first one. It was the Astra-Zaneca version, and it really knocked me flat afterwards! I get the second dose in August, and after that I’ll start exploring travel again. Hopefully as more of the population is vaccinated, we’ll see fewer border closures and I’ll have more access to conventions.
Just a note that Oz Comic-Con at this stage under new ownership are not looking for literary guests, and their artist’s alley is heavily curated – only one in five applications is accepted, and they have expressed a preference for not having the same guest in the alley twice in consecutive years as a matter of policy. I’ll just have to see what I am able to arrange.

May Update

I wasn’t a guest of Supanova, but I went along to help my friend Megs, who has ‘Pirate-Dragon’ handmade jewellery – and hang out with my other creative friends. I’m still talking to the other cons about making appearances, and I need to get that vaccine done for them!

In my newsletter, I asked for suggestions for a new name for a cat in the Zheng story, who I’d called Chonkers. That isn’t really a suitable name as it probably won’t mean anything in fifty years’ time, when the story is set. Thanks to everyone who responded to my callout to Name the Cat. I’m still deciding, and maybe go with Genghis Kat. If you’d like to see the discussion and suggested names for Chonkers in the Zheng story, you can see the post  here.

In other news:
Supanova Gold Coast
I had so much fun hanging out at Gold Coast Nova, and once again Queenie asked me to write another mediaeval martial-arts wuxia thing for her to illustrate! It was fantastic to catch up with my creative friends, and it was wonderful to see the con circuit back in action. Queenie has been talking to Oz Comic-Con on authors’ behalf, but apparently right now they’re focussing on their core theme of comic books rather than authors. I spoke to the staff of Supanova, and I’ll see what I can arrange there. I’m working on it – I want to get my COVID vaccine, then come and visit everyone!
Zheng is Finished
(Although something like this is never finished, really. Look at Dark Heavens.)
The story is complete, and it’s as good as Dark Heavens. I’ve hit a lot of the same story beats as Dark Heavens, and I think you will all really like it. The working title is ‘Minds of Sand and Light’.
If it’s published I’ll probably never be able to return to Hong Kong. I have explicitly described many of the active social engineering policies happening in Not!China: facial recognition, mass surveillance, brain wave monitoring (yes this is an actual thing), social credit (ditto), supervision of emotional state (yes, really, the cameras are checking to see if you are smiling) as well as a few others that are actually even more scary. It’s definitely not set in China, though.
There’s also cool android/human love (I wrote this before Wandavision came out!) and of course the end of the world, but what’s a good story without an apocalypse.
Now for the hard part: I need to find a publisher, and even though I do have a track record, it’s still not a guaranteed sale and the year of effort to write it (at the same time as the new John/Emma) may be wasted. Wish me luck!
Now that Zheng is finished, I will concentrate on the new Serpent Empress novel. I left a lot of threads open at the end of Dark Heavens, and it feels good to be back in that universe, following Emma, John, Simone – and now Frankie – as they navigate the post-war era!

April Update

Autumn brings cooler breezes and brilliant clear blue skies. It’s borderline too cool to swim, and the beaches are still tourist-free.

The big upcoming thing is Gold Coast Supanova next weekend: I am not a guest of the show, didn’t purchase a table, but I will be floating around. Queenie Chan is a guest and I’ll be hanging out with her, and another friend has a table called ‘Pirate Dragon’ and I’ll be helping her as well. So you may see me there after all! I’ll be there purely as an attendee, not a guest.
But if you see me wandering around looking confused, feel free to stop me and say hello. And check out some of the guests that are there, it looks like it’ll be a great show!
Having a quiet period cuts both ways. I have nothing to report to you guys, but at the same time I’m writing up a storm. The Cyber Zheng ‘Minds of Sand and Light’ is sprinting and the new John/Emma story that I’m sharing on the Patreon is also surging.
Things Have Been Happening in the US as well, we have another champion added to the television series team and it’s moving forward, but I don’t want to share details because nothing has been finalised. It could still do its thing and all fall over.
So: The patreon patrons are receiving new John/Emma and MIP/Ruth stories and all is good. I’ll try to talk to Supanova/OZ Comic-con about shows the rest of this year, and I’ll see what I can arrange because I want to see you lovely people!

March Update

My daughter came up from Sydney to visit when border restrictions were eased. We went for Hakataya Ramen in Pacific Fair and the staff there picked us.

February was a month of staying-home-and-writing. The most interesting thing that happened was that my daughter visited and we ate food and she helped me with some random maintenance around the house (new, tougher insect screens because the cats are destructive monsters).
It feels strange to be working on two projects concurrently – the Zheng story and a new John/Emma story are both growing and being a shut-in has helped the creativity enormously. I’ve posted updates to both stories on my Patreon, and I hope the patrons enjoy the Jade Emperor’s interactions with our new Serpent Empress!
Book Three of Dragon Empire, ‘Dawn of Empire’, is now out in the US/Rest of the world. Audiobooks of the series have also been released world-wide. I’ve already received emails asking for more of the Jian/Miko/Haruka story! Thanks so much for enjoying it. I needed the break from Dark Heavens and it’s good to be back to writing John/Emma again.
Conventions appear to be restarting, and the Oz-ComicCon popup event in Sydney was a (qualified) success. I suppose it’s time for me to start thinking about appearances at cons later this year. Oz Comic-Con are under new management so I don’t have the good relationship with them that I developed with the previous owners (who were wonderful). So I’m working out costs (tables at both conventions are insanely expensive when you’re not a “guest”) and hopefully I’ll be able to do some book signings at cons this year. I definitely want to wait until the vaccine has been completely rolled out, though.
Stay safe everyone, and I hope the Patrons enjoy the John/Emma update. Both this story and the Zheng story are going great places!