Samantha is one of the first few Speculative Fiction writers in Singapore I’ve had the pleasure to meet. When Val (the bestie) said her cousin had written and published a fantasy series, I was intrigued. Fast forward about almost a decade later, and here she is - a stalwart in the local self-publishing scene.
Let’s see what she has to share about her works and our publishing scene, especially for speculative fiction.
A few years after “Blood on the Moon” was released, you re-released another edition - how was each release like and what were the differences you were happy to make?
The first edition was my virgin foray into self-publishing, and that was a significant milestone for me. The second edition was more of a return to my formative years spent with Gothic Lit with a contemporary take on it. So instead of letters and news articles à la Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I use instant message transcripts and emails to tell parts of the story. I would say that the incorporation of these different modes of narrative was the change I was most happy to make, because it added so much lovely texture to the story.
Alegria does fight to keep many things together - non-human relations, her relationship, her job, her life - how does she do it and how similar do you think the both of you are?
Hah, she does have a lot of moving elements in her life at the same time! I think in the first book, Alegria’s way of dealing with it was compartmentalizing, but it became apparent to Alegria, towards the end of Blood On The Moon, that this approach was not exactly the best. She definitely does a better job accepting the overlaps in all the (rapidly) moving elements in her life in Hunter’s Moon, and part of that is a result of her embracing the shadow sides of herself in Blood On The Moon. This is still going to be a big challenge for her moving forward, because there are always more moving parts.
As to how similar we both are … I think in terms of keeping many moving parts together, I was more like her when I started writing Blood On The Moon, and now I’m markedly less so.
Which one of your protagonists do you still want to have a barbecue with today and what would you talk about?
Oh, for sure I would want to have a barbecue with Joao — like literally, co-host a BBQ with the Prince of Sleet City. Not just because the meat would be perfectly seasoned (and also sponsored by the Sleet City Clan, muahahaha), but because … as I and my characters evolve in tandem, I feel at this point I have much more in common with Joao than I did when I wrote Blood On The Moon. I think we would have a pretty riveting discussion about impostor syndrome and the corrupting nature of power, and how one deals with both.
You have been to various countries and places for research and for some time to just write - Portugal, Indonesia, just to name a few - which have been your most fruitful and why?
That’s a tough choice! I would say that my first hike up to (very) high ground in Taman Negara, my solo sojourn to Koh Lipe in Thailand, my first ride on the northbound Malayan railway up to KL, which — I later learned — my great grandfather helped to engineer (the railway, not my journey, though he did sort of indirectly engineer that journey if you want to get super technical about it). Happily getting lost in the streets of Tokyo, and also my forays into the mayhem of Jakarta and Saigon, cobbled streets and the crisp, gentle Mediterranean winter for the first time … these were all very fruitful for me.
Why? Well, every place I go has something to teach me, and each place makes my stories richer. And these places stood out particularly in terms of the value of the gifts I received from my experiences there. The first railway ride on the northbound Malayan rail up to KL felt like I was time-travelling and there was a possible Narnia situation impending; Koh Lipe because every minute spent underwater hanging out with grumpy fish among the corals helped me to create the sense of the sublime in Hunter’s Moon, and Barcelona because it was there that I understood what it would be like to live in the Sleet City Clan, i.e., surrounded by really good-looking men all the time. So. Fun. (Non-facetious reason: it was there that I was inspired to start using ley lines in the plot.)
If you had to rewrite Alegria such that she didn’t meet any Daywalkers, what other communities would you have her meet and why?
I would really like her to spend more time with Southeast Asian Supes, like apsara, werecobras, and rainforest dryads. Because I think a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal fiction focuses way too much on mythological and supernatural creatures in Western folklore, while this rich (and often terrifying) tapestry of Southeast Asian myths and spooks is largely unknown to international fans of these genres. Possibly she could also meet zombies, but sort of advocate for them as they have very few legal rights (or rights of any kind, really). I’m not ruling either of these out as smaller plot threads!
You have come to a point where you have to choose an animal partner for life - which one of your were-animals would you want by your side and why?
I would like a wereotter by my side for life. Because they move really fast in the water, and they’re fantastic at catching fish — and I am at my happiest when in any body of water and while eating sashimi (both at the same time would be so frakkin awesome). As far as lycanthropes go, wereotters are freakishly strong, making them also very handy with gardening and heavy lifting. Romance, thy name is … not Samantha. :P
So what’s next for you?
There’s the next book in The Daywalker Chronicles to write, titled Dark Moon Rising. Before that, I also have a surreal and absurdist comedy + sci-fi(ish) fiction project that will be released by the end of the year, titled Molly and Manuel Find Earth-42. It features parallel universes and sentient plush creatures, including a mercenary plush lobster.
I have 50 words for you to go and promote yourself - Go!
Yippee! About me TLDR: author of The Daywalker Chronicles, developmental editor, Cylon, and accidental sociopolitical commentator. Always happy to talk shop with makers of stories and other cool things/ discuss world-building of many sorts. Ping me on Twitter here (@mysterybunny) or find out more about The Daywalker Chronicles here.
That being said, that’s all for July! Stay tuned in August for another conversation with another regional storyteller - until then!
Yes, the Table of Contents is out and we’re at our last dregs of editing before we put this issue together!
To give you just a bit of background, this issue’s theme is: This is a Test - an issue that talks about stories where their characters embrace failure, coming out of it for better or for worse.
While I cannot confirm its release date for sale, Pulp Toast / Roti Bakar #4 will most likely be open for preorder by Singapore Toys, Games, and Comics Convention.
For now, get a glimpse of our final list of stories:
Preorder updates will be up on our Facebook page once we send this issue to the printers. In the meantime, take a look at our current issues on www.pulptoast.com or on our Instagram.
I’ll be honest - I’ve been waiting for this challenge for a long time, so let’s just get right to it, shall we?
Prompts: Inner Demons, A failed delivery
World / Fandom: Inception
The Mind’s Eye
Karine looked down from the helicopter with bated breath. The chopper pulsed, its beat banging against the back of her head as they flew across the tree canopies, finally coming to a clearing in the middle of the forest.
“There,” her partner, Dr. Kang, pointed at a building in the middle of the clearing, “That’s where you need to go.”
“Don’t you mean, ‘we’?” Karine yelled over the chopper.
The look Dr. Kang gave Karine reminded her of her purpose for this mission. Making the final checks on their parachutes, both of them waited for the signal on their trackers to turn on, before loosening their grip and plunging into the forest nearby.
Landing among the trees, the pair recovered quickly, hiding in the shadows, sneaking their way to the building.
“There are guards,” Karine breathed, her hands shaking.
“And we’ll handle them,” Dr. Kang replied, bringing the walkie-talkie to her mouth, “Control, help us out here.”
Karine didn’t hear anything apart from a slight crackle coming from the speakers.
From where it was previously, the chopper swooped closer to where the pair landed, releasing a clip of bullets onto another forested area on the other side of the land. Yells ensued beyond the barrier of trees, followed by the sound of propellers whizzing away towards a far flung direction. Dr. Kang hazarded a peek from the shadows.
“All clear,” she gestured towards Karine.
Despite their chopper’s rather effective distraction, both of them kept to the walls of this compound, armed and ready for conflict. There were no gates or fences separating this building from its surroundings, and they had to be ready.
“Where’s it?” Dr. Kang asked.
“What are you looking for?!”
“We’ve been working up to this stage for so long, you’re doing a lot better than our previous attempts,” Dr. Kang said, “What are you looking for?!”
Karine darted her eyes to the top of the building.
“Good,” Dr. Kang said, “I’ll cover you.”
The building was an older, rectangular building reminiscent of army barracks from the 1930s. Serviced only by staircases leading up on either side of the place. Back and shoulders against the textured concrete, Dr. Kang took the led, armed and ready for any of the skeleton crew still patrolling the area.
“You know which room you need to head to,” she briefed Karine.
Both of them nodded, and the two sped up, Kang first.
When they reached the second floor, Karine stopped and turned left, “Here.”
Counting the doors, Karine finally stopped in front of the fifth closed door. She put her palm on the surface, then to the handle.
It clicked. Karine looked at Dr. Kang with a smile.
Dr. Kang nodded.
Pushing the door ajar, Dr. Kang’s head jerked up at the sound of a pair of footsteps speeding up from behind Karine. She pushed her partner through the door.
“Go! Go on!” Dr. Kang yelled to Karine. Panicked, Karine bursts through the room.
She cocked the gun she had, and fired twice.
The two bullets found their marks on each masked man’s shoulders, sending them back a few steps and Dr. Kang forward the same few. As she got closer, however, she started to recognize their masked silhouettes.
Firing a couple of times, the bullets missed their mark, the two masked men coming closer and planting themselves as a barrier between Dr. Kang and her. Determined to push through, Dr. Kang dove through the tiniest crack between the two, only to be grabbed and pushed against the building’s railings.
“We’re kind of disappointed,” the two men said, now flanking her on each side, “We were hoping you’d be dreaming a little bigger.”
The last thing she felt was her body lifted over the railing, and off the ledge.
She woke up to see Karine, her patient, looking over her, furrowed brows and concerned eyes. Tables turned, she thought, waving Karine away and propping herself up on the chaise lounge.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Dr. Kang breathed, “I think that’s it for today, you can set your next appointment with Yasha outside… I’ll see you then…”
Backing up a little, grabbing her handbag a little too quickly, Karine nodded and sped out the door.
At the last dregs of her recovery, Wynne Kang opened a drawer near her chaise, extracting an EpiPen. With still-trembling hands, she clicked and injected its contents into her shoulder, before slumping back into the lounge.
“Thank you all for coming to this lecture, I’ll be taking questions now,” Wynne smiled at the end of her speech.
“What is your view on using your proposed bio-technology for purposes not as altruistic as what you’re doing now?” a familiar voice sounded from the corner, one of the same voices from the treatment scape.
Catching the asker at the corner of her eye, she smirked.
“I see your taste hasn’t changed,” Wynne said, dropping Eames at the lobby of the Carlton.
“How much of Arthur rubbed off you the last we saw you?”
She shrugged and smiled.
“Fancy a trip?” he gestured to the lift.
“The compound’s not a toy,” she replied. He shrugged, then entered the lift. She followed.
There was shuffling behind the door the two of them stopped in front of. Wynne’s brows furrowed. Eames smirked, and unlocked the door.
“Okay, everything’s ready, let me know when she…”
Arthur, in his familiar vest and shirt, stopped just as he finally laid his eyes on Wynne.
“Arthur,” she greeted him.
She walked past the two men, leaving them in the front lobby. Past the open bathroom, she leaned over the living area and saw the familiar silver case, clipped close.
On the other side of the room, Arthur and Eames kept their eyes on her - both softened.
“I called Dom for this,” she said.
“Dom’s retired,” Arthur shifted his weight, “So it’s us or nothing at all.”
Wynne paused, looking at her previous partners when she first started in the business.
“Alright then,” Wynne said, reaching into her bag and extracted a spray bottle the size of a perfume sampler, “Then we’re going under my way.”
This was probably one of my most fun pieces to write, and one of the pieces I’ll most likely expand on. Stay tuned next month for another writing challenge!
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.