Well, it's February. Valentine's is right around the corner, and I can't think of a more terrifying time of year. So, because we all miss Halloween and because it's a scary month, I'm doing a special feature on--you guessed it--horror! Oh, and there's the fact that I just released a horror anthology myself, but we'll get to that in a 'Breaking News' update very soon.
For now, let's get it started with an interview with amazing werewolf writer Joyce Chng, one of the writers featured on the top 10 list I put up earlier this year. Without further ado, find out what makes this incredible folkloric writer tick.
Q: Describe yourself in 20 words or less.
Determined. Dreamer. Writer. Mother. Occasional cat-herder. Eternally hopeful.
Q: Tell us about your novels.
My novels are about Chinese werewolves, even though they do not fall in the traditional sense of the word. They are wolves inside human bodies or wolf spirits inside human forms. They are fully wolves, not beholden to the moon. The novels also deal with family and family issues/dynamics – things we don’t get to see in other books in the urban fantasy/paranormal category. At the same time, the novels are also about sibling relationships (and rivalries). Then again, I just wanted to see novels about Chinese werewolves set in Singapore.
Q: Your story showcases a love for Southeast Asian mythology. How did fairy tales and folklore influence the creation of your stories?
I grew up with fairy tales and folklore! As a child, I listened to my parents and grandparents tell stories about Sun Wukong (the Monkey God/King), Chang’Er (the lady in the moon) and warriors, generals, warrior maidens. To me, they are as vivid and real as the sun or the wind.
I also grew up in a country where we have different races and ethnicities. Singapore is after all a small island-state at the tip of Peninsular Malaysia, and surrounded by the islands of Indonesia. So, imagine the types of folklore and mythology infusing the culture.
The lovely Joyce Chng! Photo provided by author.
Q: In addition to your wonderful Lang stories, you have two other novellas, one of which is an excellent short story collection in a sci-fi magical world, and the other has more of a fantasy feel. What are the differences between 'fantastic science fiction' and more realistic urban fantasy settings?
To be honest, the differences are… minute. Let me explain. J
‘Fantastic science fiction’ relies on – well- science and a dollop of fantasy. ‘Realistic urban fantasy’ relies on – our understanding of ‘realistic’, urban cities/spaces and imagination. The two sounds the same, at the end. The willingness to imagine.
The sci-fi magical world (or science-fantasy, as the SFF community will tell you) has magic, is generally low-tech and is set on an Earth-like colony world. The magic lies within individuals. The urban fantasy setting is more contemporary and rooted, in the sense we can readily identify the urban landscape (“That’s a city.” “It’s a country in Southeast Asia!”) It still has magic, but magic based on the understanding of folklore and mythology.
Q: What do you think of the trend for the last few years of writing erotic vampires and werewolves?
“To each his or her own.”
A trend is a trend is a trend. As trends go, it will fade in time. But I am always looking out for urban fantasy that focuses on family/group dynamics and vivid landscapes.
Q: Jan is a mother, a wife, and a pack leader. I'd describe her as feminist, but realistically so. Was that intentional?
It was intentional. I am a feminist. ;)
Jan takes charges, has her own mind and fights on her own terms. But at the same time, she has to balance these with her social roles.
Photo supplied by author. I really love the book, and this cover only adds to it.
Q: A lot of people will be surprised to see a werewolf story set in Singapore. What would you like 'traditional' genre readers to take away from the novels?
That there are other stories outside their scope. That the world is far more diverse.
Q: What do you plan to write or publish next?
I am still in the midst of writing a spinoff series from the Jan Xu books. Also short stories, if I am inspired to write them. Plot and theme bunnies attack me all the time.
Q: Which foods do you absolutely hate?
Yes, I must be the only Chinese who hates tofu.
But otherwise, I eat anything (or that I am game to try everything).
Q: Which type of mythological creature would you like to take in a fight?
Phoenix. Or Firebird.
Then, followed by Dragon (Chinese).
Of course, I can't send you home without a reminder about Joyce's books, which you can buy on Amazon and Smashwords.
Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye
Thanks for dropping by the nest once again. Don't miss any of the good kind of crazy. Find me on Twitter, Facebook, and on Tumblr. I've got a few reviews to catch up on, more news coming, and even some fantastic interviews with fellow authors. Don't miss a thing for horror month! Stay tuned and please share. This is your darling SciFiMagpie, over and out!