It’s been such a busy time I haven’t updated much, but a lot has been going on, and not all of it relates to poo, diapers, 3:00am feedings, and baby wipes…
There’s been some movement on several fronts, in fact: fiction writing & publication, RPG/game writing, and a workshop I attended just before Noeul was born.
Back in late September I got my copy of Cthulhu Fhtagn!, which contains my story “The Return of Sarnath” alongside new, original works by a number of Lovecraftian notables, as well as some authors new to me. Here’s the copy I got in the post a while back:
Also, more recently, a story of mine titled “The Spurned Bride’s Tears, Centuries Old, In the Rain” appeared in Lontar 5.
A Korean-language translation of my Joseon-steampunk story “The Clockworks of Hanyang” is forthcoming in the next issue of the Korean SF “mook” (magazine-book) 미래경 (Futuroscope). Though several of my stories have appeared in Korean translation before, I’m pretty sure this is the first one to be translated to Korean that was actually set in Korea.
I’ve also had a story accepted for Analog… one of my Clarion West stories, to be specific, titled “Prodigal.” (The talking dogs story, for those who know it.) I’ll say more about that story sometime soon, but it’s very nice to see a story that worked over so many times finally find a home. And, ironically, it’s a story that is a lot more like the original draft than anything else I sent out over the years. Funny how that turned out.
Oh, and actually-finally, I have another book review due out in Kyoto Journal, of Olga Kanzaki Sooudi’s Japanese New York, which is a great book about migrant artists and the cultural tropes that surround and construct Japanese expatriate identity and practices. Academic, but very accessible and fascinating.
Things have slowed down after the arrival of our newborn, which is fine and, I gather, pretty normal. I’ve been concentrating on shorter tasks, things like sending finished stories out and editing almost-finished stories into shape to be sent out, as well as on research and reading novels outside the usual range of what I’d been reading before.
As far as my novel project, this past summer it bifurcated into two novels, probably out of a series of three or five. 1 The first novel (set in 1720) is about 90% finished, and the second (set in 1736) is about 60% done. I’m trying to finish the second book first, which will make it easier for me to go back and finish the 1720 book, since one of the “characters” knows a lot about how things will unfold in the future so it’s helpful if I do, too.
I’m hoping I can get the draft of the second book done this winter holiday, and perhaps, if I push really hard, get the first book finished as well, so they can go out together for feedback from alpha readers. Then I can focus on some other project (among the many I’m halfway through, and the others I’ve been mulling) while I wait for comments, and prepare for the work of editing and polishing Book 1.
Thanks to getting a tip from my buddy Ahimsa Kerp, I sent a few pitches out and got my first paying TRPG writing gig a few weeks ago. It’s for a short “adventure” (what we old D&Ders used to call a “module”) for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess game, which if you don’t know, is one of the big hot properties in the OSR world. (It’s a lot like old D&D Basic with some system improvements, and a massive infusion of Weird/Horror sensibility, which puts it right up my alley.)
The adventure I’m writing is tentatively titled “The Marvelous Ales of the Abbey of St. Christopher,” and is sort of a dungeon crawl, except it’s set at a monastic brewery where things have taken a turn for the deeply weird. Shades of Lovecraft’s “The Color Out of Space” meets The Invasion of the Body Snatchers by way of The Name of the Rose. It will probably be trippier than that, because I’m low on sleep, but I’m making good progress on it.
There’s more possible TRPG stuff in the pipe, too: I’m pretty interested in writing up a couple of the things I pitched for this call for submissions that got passed on, and a friend and I have been talking about self-publishing under an umbrella brand name or something, to see how it goes. This is a field where self-publishing actually makes a lot of sense—there’s a very lively PDF market and lots of open-source game systems, relative freedom to do “suitable for play with” for various popular systems, and more—and since it’s kind of home territory for me, it’s a fun place for me to muck around in occasionally.
Mrs. Jiwaku and I are kicking around an idea for a Youtube miniseries we’d like to hammer together over the next few months. I’m not sure what will happen, and whether it’ll end up being a miniseries or just a short film, but it’s fun to think about what resources we have on hand to assemble a story that could work, and I think it’d be a good way for Mrs. Jiwaku to flex her creative muscles on a manageable level instead of being stuck in creative limbo till the baby’s older. We’ve been kicking around one very weird idea in particular, but I won’t spoil it for you…
In addition, Mrs. Jiwaku’s first film, “The Music of Jo Hyeja,” recently screened alongside a couple of other great Lovecraftian movies at the Braunschweig International Film Festival’s Lovecraft Film Event, for a sold-out theater. The organizers and participants were even kind enough to record a lovely message for her since she couldn’t attend:
Wow, we had a sold-out screening of "Die Farbe" and "The Pride of Strathmoor" by Einar Baldvin and "The Music of Jo Hyeja" by Jihyun Park last Saturday! Awesome crowd – and since Jihyun couldn't be there due to having given birth to her child only recently, we spontaneously decided to shoot this short video message for her:
Posted by The Color Out Of Space – Die Farbe on Monday, November 9, 2015
We were quite touched by that wonderful gesture… it’s not every day people do things like that, we know.
Sobaeksan SOAO Workshop & Driving:
Many years ago, I attended an SF writers’ workshop at Sobaeksan; the workshop has become an annual event, and I was invited to attend again this year. I wasn’t sure I could make it, since Sobaeksan is three hours away by car, and it was very near to our baby’s due date, but Mrs. Jiwaku insisted I attend, and I was glad I did.
It was pretty full-on this time around—my Korean is rustier, and there were more science- and philosophy-based talks, touching on things like
- the parallels between A.I. being used for Email Spam Filtration and the A.I. being used for astronomical observational data processing
- the science of designing atmospheric reentry vehicles so they don’t burn or blow up halfway down
- the joys of being a wandering astronomer/stargazer
- the relevance of various European philosophers and theories to SF (I think; those were the talks that were most difficult for me to follow)
Still, even when I was out of my depth, it was still a great experience, and I met some lovely people as well as seeing old friends.
This trip was also my first time driving on a highway (anywhere in the world), and my experience was that it was much easier than driving in the city here. The only hard part was automated toll booths stops, which are tricky… but then, up on Sobaek Mountain a Korean told me she’d had the same problem I did, and while it took me a single flub to figure things out, she did so for months on end.
I am now pretty confident that I’m better driver than I was when I actually drove a little, back in freshman year of university. (That didn’t last long, mind you.)
I also took some pictures during a mountain hike on the second day, but I’ll put them beneath a cut so that they don’t load on the front page of my blog. (The ol’ hosting server reprimanded me for overusing CPU minutes, so I’m rationing them now…)
Originally, it was going to be one 100,000-word novel. Then it was going to be 150,000 words long and jump back and forth between two timelines: one in 1720, and the other in 1736. I was very, very resistant to the idea of splitting between those two timelines because, frankly, the 1720 timeline features my main characters as children living though the South Sea Bubble and the horrors it visited on many Londoners… and that makes for a pretty dark character arc. However, at some point I realized it was the only sensible thing to do.↩