Feb. 2018 update: short stories, conferences, papers.

There are a few new developments where my writing (creative as well as academic) is concerned, and I’ll be presenting at a couple of conferences this summer.

I’ve finished a new short story, “The Man Who Loved Airline Food.” The idea for this one came to me at the very end of 2017 on a flight back to Hong Kong from Brisbane. The actual writing was more of a slog than my short stories tend to be, meaning it’ll require edits of great brutality, finesse, and precision, but the story itself is quite okay if I do say so myself. I’ve got another one in the works, as well, but I set it aside to focus on this one.

My new (at this point, I should qualify that with an “-ish”) story “Everybody’s Cleopatra” will be read at the upcoming Liars’ League Hong Kong event “Near & Far” on Feb. 26. If you’re in HK that night, you should come. It’s at 8pm at the Social Room in Central. This is shaping up to be one of our strongest nights in recent memory. I’m looking forward to it.

I have a couple of academic papers in the works, as well. The one currently eating my life involves a critical look at LGBT representation in horror (film and TV more so than literature) during the Trump era, which for the purposes of this paper I’m construing to be from the time he announced his candidacy. There hasn’t been enough time for much to be produced, with the notable exception of the latest installment of American Horror Story, but I’ve noticed a couple of things. This is particularly interesting for me because I am not a Freudian and I have some… questions, shall we say, about horror critics who reference castration anxiety and the uncanny without having any apparent training in psychoanalysis or even psychology. I have similar qualms about queer theory, which I find dated and pointlessly negative. I’m all for interrogating, challenging, and defying heteronormativity, but some queer readings (a) cross the line into pointlessly demonizing it without offering up a workable alternative couched in language the people most likely to be able to implement it could pronounce, and (b) overlook important intersections such as race, class, and religion. I have a feeling this will eventually be part of a larger project, and certainly one that is outside the scope of this particular Trump/horror paper. For now, the trick is not to chase up so many of these strands of research that I lose focus on what I’m supposed to be writing about.

In addition to the one on author platform that I may have brought up on an earlier post, I’m also working on one based on the notion that certain works of fiction could only have been written by expatriate authors. I’ve spotted patterns in the writing-advice materials I have read over the years, specifically where character and setting are concerned. Cultural appropriation is a tricky subject, and it has bearing on this topic as well. What else are we supposed to write about when we’ve lived outside of our native cultures for years? Who’s to be the arbiter of authenticity, anyway, and how do the things writing students are taught about setting and character intersect with these sensitivities? I’m still trying to figure this one out and will actually be on a panel at the upcoming 15th International Conference on the Short Story in English this summer in Lisbon talking about this very topic.

I’ll also be presenting at the Great Writing Conference in London on the subject of author platform, a subject about which by now I have quite a lot to say.

Oh, and Inhospitable will be out in a few months. Xu Xi and I are planning a joint launch party in May for our new books. Hers is titled Insignificance, I’m the publisher (wearing my Signal 8 Press hat), and we’re calling the launch event the Five Syllables and Starting with I Party. (Not making this up. It was my idea, actually.)

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