Read Part One here.
Airship Ambassador: What are some of the ideas presented in the various stories which you are really glad to see in the book?
Joyce Chng: I am really glad to see ideas like revolution and resistance, the struggle against colonialism, and queer relationships.
AA: How many more stories were there which just couldn’t be squeezed into the final book?
JC: Many – we had many to choose from! And we had a story that got away.
AA: Argh! Maybe for the sequel? Any plans for a sequel? What would it take to have a sequel?
JC: Hehe, definitely. What would it take to have a sequel? Sufficient knowledge that people actually want these stories and that we still want to showcase many talented Southeast Asian writers!
AA: OK, readers! Let Joyce know! When people read The Sea Is Ours, what would you like for them to take away from the stories and the characters?
JC: Take-aways? Be brave, be daring, love your partners, love your siblings. BE IMAGINATIVE. Create. Make things.
AA: The book has been out for awhile. What is some of the feedback which you’ve heard about?
JC: Gleaning from Goodreads reviews, we had people who felt unsatisfied – there are many who still want to have a ‘touristy’ experience of Southeast Asia.
AA: Even in a book of fiction, people want something even more fictional? All image and no substance? As the editor, what was your publishing experience like for The Sea Is Ours?
JC: It was a steep learning curve! So many things we learnt as we went along. The selection, the editing (we had many passes before we came to the Final Draft), the entire creation of the book (we had art and illustrations) and the immense relief when we sent the manuscript to our publisher.
AA: Just talking about that whole process could fill another set of interviews (hint, hint). How long did it take to gather the authors, their stories, and make the final selections?
JC: I believe it took about a year, as Jaymee and I were in different countries, the United States and Singapore respectively. We could not meet physically – so a lot of our discussions and editing took place online, via emails, Gchat and real-time Instant Messenging. And Google Docs is a vital asset.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what suggestions do you have as an editor regarding their submissions, your feedback, and general collaboration?
JC: Do not be afraid to fail and do submit- Do not self-reject. A writer will normally receive more rejections than acceptances, unless you are extremely lucky and your stars have aligned. And… remember: writing is not a competition. Every writer develops at his or her own path – and we are all different. Easier said than done though – we love to compare with other writers who are successful, gotten book deals or hang out with the cool people and cliques. Many writers burn out or give in to the bitterness that seeps into their lives when they compare themselves to others. Do not compare. YOU ARE YOU.
AA: Great advice for everyone! In every aspect of our lives, at work and at home, we need to be ourselves, and honestly do the best we can, without comparison. You’re also a writer. What do you do to keep a balance between writing, editing, and the rest of your life? Any new projects coming up?
JC: I end up compartmentalizing – allocating time to writing and editing and family. I used to write (still do, actually) at night, when my girls were in bed. They are older now (13 and 7), but I still write at night and when I have the brain cells to do so. I am not afraid now to take time for self-care, because what’s the use of running yourself ragged in the end? You can’t write and you can’t enjoy life.
I am planning to complete the third book of the werewolf space opera series as well as editing/expanding a science fiction novella about vineyards, love and galactic war. I might squeeze in completing a fantasy story I have left languishing in the hard-drive.
Gerakbudaya, a Malaysian publisher who also publishes The Sea Is Ours in our region, will be publishing Wolf At The Door.
Sun Dragon’s Song #2 is coming soon. This is a MG (Middle Grade) Asian fantasy graphic novel/comic about a boy who wants to be a Sun Dragon Rider. We have Asian dragons that eat crystals! The gorgeous art and illustration is by Kim Miranda.
We’ll pause here in talking with Joyce. Join us next time when she talks about writing, interests, and changing over time.
You can support Joyce and our community by getting your copy of The Sea Is Ours here.