Q1. Geneve, it’s wonderful to have you with us for this Q&A. Please tell us about your humble beginnings as an author.
I’ve always had an overactive imagination, and I was often in trouble for daydreaming as a child. So I guess that storytelling urge has always been there. I read widely and voraciously, but didn’t land on horror until I was a teen. Then a friend handed me Stephen King’s It and a lightbulb went on in my head.
It seemed impossible to have a career making up stories, so I studied psychology, got two degrees, and worked in jobs I hated for too many years. In 2007, I won a place in a local writing workshop and began writing seriously. I went to every workshop, conference, and class I could.
Thirteen years later, my short stories are published internationally. I’ve been invited to contribute to exciting markets and I’ve connected with so many fantastic authors along the way. Not exactly an overnight success, but I’ll take it!
Q2. Could you tell us more about your work as an editor?
I discovered editing through being part of a writing critique group. I found pulling apart and reconstructing stories a unique thrill. I’ve always loved puzzles, and editing a story is like solving a giant jigsaw puzzle. The author has the picture from the box in their head, but not all the pieces are in the right place, some pieces are missing, or you might have pieces from another puzzle. Editing helps to develop the picture in the author’s head and translate it to the page.
One thing I love about story is that there’s always more to learn. I’ve been studying writing and editing for over thirteen years, and I don’t think I’ll ever know everything. I’ve been working as a freelance editor for five years, specialising in speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror). I’ve had the privilege of editing many short stories and novel-length manuscripts, as well as co-editing several anthologies.
I’m thrilled that one of the anthologies is a 2021 Bram Stoker Award finalist. I co-edited Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women with award-winning author and editor, Lee Murray. The anthology is a collection of stories by authors of Southeast Asian heritage, and it’s been listed in Locus magazine’s 2020 Recommended Reading List, and Tor Nightfire’s Seven Works of Feminist Horror.
I’m also incredibly proud to have co-edited Relics, Wrecks & Ruins, a speculative fiction anthology which features authors such as Neil Gaiman, Ken Liu, Mark Lawrence, Mary Robinette Kowal, Juliet Marillier, and James S.A. Corey. The anthology is the legacy of my dear friend, Aiki Flinthart, and is in support of the Flinthart Writing Residency run by the Queensland Writers Centre.
Q3. When we first got acquainted, you mentioned your Chinese descent, birth in Malaysia and your eventual shift to Australia. Have these multicultural experiences enhanced your creative endeavors in any way?
Definitely! There’s so much to draw from when you’ve travelled. I think you end up with a certain way of looking at things because you’re a stranger to a place, to people who have lived somewhere all their lives.
It’s interesting to write from the perspective of the Asian diaspora – that sense of being an outsider and sometimes not knowing the rules can make for excellent horror.
I’ve enjoyed exploring Chinese and Malaysian myths in my recent works, such as the kwee kia (demon baby) and the pontianak (vampiric spirit). I find these creatures much more frightening than well-used beasties like werewolves and vampires. Growing up in an Asian family, the spiritual world is simply part of your life. The veil between the living and the dead is very porous.
Q4. As a diverse horror author/editor, could you give us a glimpse into the quality of horror fiction submitted by underrepresented writers as of April 2021?
As I’m not currently curating any anthologies, I can’t speak to the submissions from underrepresented writers, but I’m certainly happy to offer recommendations. There’s been a real hunger for more diverse fiction of late, and the works produced by underrepresented writers has been powerful and honest. Every Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women contributor is a fiercely talented writer; several are award-winning:
- Lee Murray
- Alma Katsu
- Nadia Bulkin
- Grace Chan
- Rin Chupeco
- Elaine Cuyegkeng
- Gabriela Lee
- Rena Mason
- Christina Sng
- Angela Yuriko Smith
I’d also recommend these recent reads:
“Thoughts and Prayers,” by Ken Liu, Mongrels, by Stephen Graham Jones, Not All Monsters, Sara Tantlinger (Ed.).
Q5. List the authors who have influenced your storytelling the most.
Like many horror writers, one of my biggest influences is Stephen King. That moment I cracked open It was formative, and I still love his writing to this day. Other influences include Deborah Sheldon, John Connolly, Richard Matheson, Flannery O’Connor, Angela Slatter, Thomas Harris, and many, many more.
Studying psychology has also influenced my writing. I like getting inside my characters and seeing what makes them tick.
Q6. What are your hobbies besides reading and writing?
I love to watch B-grade action movies. The bigger the explosions and the cheesier the lines, the better. Throw in aliens, monsters or demons and I’m all set. Even though I’m terrible at it, I also like to play Magic: The Gathering with my family. My son is very patient with my efforts.
Q7. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
In between editing for clients, I’m writing a couple of short stories. One is for a really fun anthology based on horror from the 80s. I’d like to write about my experience of arriving in a very white Australia during the height of anti-Asian sentiment. The other story is an exploration of Mina Harker’s character from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’m also working on a story about Ching Shih, one of the greatest pirates of all time. She commanded a fleet of thousands, many times more than Blackbeard’s three hundred. How did she do it? I have a monstrous answer.