Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Amok : a message from the Author

Writing Amok: On Leaving Malaysia to Find It Again

You write what you read. And I grew up reading English books by Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien. Then I found David Eddings, David Gemmell, and Raymond E. Feist. After that came Robin Hobb, and most recently, Brandon Sanderson. (This is obscuring a lot of other writers that I read and love, but hey I’m trying to make a point, I think.)

When you look at the history of traditionally-published English SFF (science fiction and fantasy), it’s predominantly white, and very, very Eurocentric—in fact, one of most popular settings is medieval England/Europe. They centre around knights and swords defending good, white kingdoms against the exotic oriental or barbaric, dark-skinned other. So when I started writing, that’s what bled through, at least, in those that I specifically crafted a setting for. Many times, I just never really described what they looked like or where they were, using the kind of ambiguous names and descriptions that can be found in metropolitan, urban-ish centres worldwide.

In my original envisioning of the Terang Sultanate, Maha followed stereotypical Eurocentric medieval fantasy settings and conventions, Impian had Southeast Asian influences, and Suci represented their confluence. But the more I worked on Amok, the more I found myself moving away from that, creating instead a united Terang—with all three city-states of Maha, Suci, and Impian based on the Malaccan sultanate. And then I took a step away from portraying the enemy kingdom of Bayangan as the quasi-White-other, giving Terang and Bayangan similar cultural roots.

One reason was to simply reflect the politics of the original story—Samson and Delilah took place in an era of war between Israel and the Philistines, where the enmity between them was, at face value, due to differences of beliefs and religious practices. Having both Terang and Bayangan come from the same roots focused the conflict on the faith aspects of the novel instead of issues of race and ethnicity.

Another was the conversations that I was listening to in the wider SFF Anglosphere—as well as the YA spheres—while I was doing my MA in Creative Writing in London. People were hungry for diversity. They wanted other cultures—their cultures—reflected in their SFF novels. They were tired of the “pale, male, and stale”. And so was I.

But one other driving factor was the fact that living away from home, where I was normal, was making me question my identity. Weird isn’t it, how leaving your roots sometimes drives you back to it? In London, especially on campus, I found the need to clarify—both to the British and to the Chinese—that no, I’m not actually Chinese (though technically I am, ethnically), I’m Malaysian. It felt like an important distinction. It came with explanations, sometimes almost a form of apology. No, I don’t speak Mandarin—I failed a whole year of classes and never went back again. Uh, actually, English is my first language because that’s what I grew up speaking at home. I do/eat this thing and I always thought it’s Chinese but you mean it’s not? Welp, I guess it’s Malaysian.

When one speaks of “own voices”, it’s usually a very simple “minority ethnicity/identity” in white-majority country. As a Chinese diaspora in a non-White culture (writing in English), this presented a dichotomy of being. I had the choice to centre the narrative around either my Chinese or Malaysian heritage—which of these would fit as my “own voice”? Which one really reflects me? My ethnic background or my nationality? At the point of writing Amok, my identification was, and still continues to be, very much more of “Malaysian” over that of “Chinese”. When living in London, I didn’t magically become a Chinese diaspora in the UK. I was very much a Malaysian diaspora in the UK. And that was the sticking point in choosing this specific Southeast Asian culture (quasi-Malaccan sultanate) and language (Malay) as the base for my worldbuilding. The word amok itself came to the English language by the way of the Malay word, amuk.

Stories help us make sense of our world. Seeing ourselves, our cultures, in fiction helps us remember that our cultures, our backgrounds have worth. The way we do things and why we do them may be different, but they’re not inherently wrong, bad, or less valuable. We exist and we are valid.

As English speakers, we’ve learnt to read and identify with default-white characters and cultures because that was what was available to us. It can’t be denied that they opened many new worlds to us through their stories. Now it’s our turn to return the favour.

🙢

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Tan grew up in Malaysia, the country that is not Singapore. She is interested in Malay/Nusantara and Chinese legends and folklore in exploring the intersection of language, culture, and faith.
Anna has an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel under a Chevening scholarship and is the President of the Malaysian Writers Society. She can be found tweeting as @natzers and forgetting to update annatsp.com.

Where to find Anna online:
Website: https://annatsp.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/annatsp
Facebook: http://facebook.com/annatansp
Twitter: http://twitter.com/natzers

🙢

Order your copy of Amok today.

For details of Book Launch and Order Links, please visit our :
Surprise Lockdown Launch page

Monday, May 31, 2021

E-Book Launch by Anna Tan

Amok

What is faith, except hope in desperation?

All Putera Mikal wants is to gain the Amok Strength, the supernatural power granted by Kudus to the Mahan royal family. No matter how religiously Mikal keeps his vows, Kudus still denies him the Strength—whilst his father, Sultan Simson, flaunts the Strength despite his blatant defiance of the Temple and the priests’ visions of coming doom.

Then the prophecies come true.

Taken captive, Mikal must find a way to liberate his people and restore his throne in Maha—and the key to this is the Amok Strength. But what does it take to gain Kudus’ favour?



Surprise lockdown launch!

In light of our not-so-surprising Total Lockdown, Teaspoon Publishing has decided to push up the release date of Amok for a surprise lockdown launch!

Yes, Amok ebooks drop on 1 June* so that you can hunker down in your house and entertain yourself with a great read. We'll still honour our launch prices, so our ebook preorder prices of RM12 (USD2.99) will remain until the 23rd of June and will rise to RM20 (USD4.99) on 24 June.

* some retailers might release it on 2 June.

If you’ve preordered a paperback and/or still want to order one, we’re also maintaining the preorder price of RM35 until we actually have the printed books in hand. We'll also sweeten the deal by sending you an ebook copy to keep you occupied until the paperback finally gets printed.

And while we're at it, send a screenshot of your Amok purchase receipt (whether ebook or paperback) to admin@teaspoonpublishing.com.my by 24 June to claim a free copy of The Painted Hall Collection! Also tell us if you’d like it in ebook (e-pub or mobi) or if you’d like a paperback—we’ll ship this to you for free.

Happy reading!

Stay safe, stay home, and get vaccinated.

#LindungiDiriLindungiSemua

🙢
Cover reveal:24 May 2021
Cover Reveal Page:Click here

SURPRISE LOCKDOWN LAUNCH (EBOOK ONLY)
1 June 2021

Published by:Teaspoon Publishing
Cover artist::Jiwosophy.co
No. of pages:345
Reviews on Goodreads:Click here
🙢
🙢

EBook Order links:

Amazon:Order here
Universal link:http://getbook.at/Amok
Google Play:Order here
Other retailers:Order here
Teaspoon Publishing:Order here

Ebook sale price (until 23 June):USD2.99 / RM12.00
Full price (24 June):USD4.99 / RM20

Malaysia Only—Signed Paperbacks:Order here
Paperback preorder price
(until we receive the print books):
RM35
Full price:RM45
🙢

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Tan grew up in Malaysia, the country that is not Singapore. She is interested in Malay/Nusantara and Chinese legends and folklore in exploring the intersection of language, culture, and faith.
Anna has an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel under a Chevening scholarship and is the President of the Malaysian Writers Society. She can be found tweeting as @natzers and forgetting to update annatsp.com.

Where to find Anna online:
Website: https://annatsp.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/annatsp
Facebook: http://facebook.com/annatansp
Twitter: http://twitter.com/natzers

Previous:Cover Reveal Next:A message from the Author

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Would that I were

Would that I were free to float and fly
and rise above the hills and mountain peaks
then stop to rest in quiet places high,
with nothing else to seek.

Would that I could change my form at will
sometimes a column sometimes a silky strand
or scaly layers lined up straight and still,
nothing else I'd want.

Would that I were free to roam the skies
beyond the reach of suffering and pain
far from unjust words and wicked lies,
neither shackled nor restrained.

Would that I were a cloud in the sky.

"Would that I were"
by Harolde Huang
Thursday 2021.05.27 23:10 hrs GMT+8

#poetry #poetrybyharolde
#daydreams #heartfelt #sightandsounds

Monday, May 24, 2021

Cover Reveal: Anna Tan's new book

Amok

What is faith, except hope in desperation?

All Putera Mikal wants is to gain the Amok Strength, the supernatural power granted by Kudus to the Mahan royal family. No matter how religiously Mikal keeps his vows, Kudus still denies him the Strength—whilst his father, Sultan Simson, flaunts the Strength despite his blatant defiance of the Temple and the priests’ visions of coming doom.

Then the prophecies come true.

Taken captive, Mikal must find a way to liberate his people and restore his throne in Maha—and the key to this is the Amok Strength. But what does it take to gain Kudus’ favour?



🙢
Cover reveal:24 May 2021
Release date:24 June 2021
Published by:Teaspoon Publishing
No. of pages:345

Reviews on Goodreads:Click here
🙢

Pre-order links:
Amazon: Click here
Universal link: http://getbook.at/Amok
Ebook preorder price: USD2.99 / RM12.00 [Full price: USD4.99 / RM20]

Malaysia Only—Signed Paperbacks: Click here
Paperback preorder price: RM35 [Full price: RM45]

🙢
Process videos and other lovely cover-related items will be updated on the cover artist’s website too. You can check this out at Jiwosophy.co!
🙢

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Anna Tan grew up in Malaysia, the country that is not Singapore. She is interested in Malay/Nusantara and Chinese legends and folklore in exploring the intersection of language, culture, and faith.
Anna has an MA in Creative Writing: The Novel under a Chevening scholarship and is the President of the Malaysian Writers Society. She can be found tweeting as @natzers and forgetting to update annatsp.com.

Where to find Anna online:
Website: https://annatsp.com
Instagram: http://instagram.com/annatsp
Facebook: http://facebook.com/annatansp
Twitter: http://twitter.com/natzers

Next:Surprise Lockdown Launch

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Rana visits Bufo, Part One

Bufo the true toad:
"This coming weekend, Rana, are you free?
Would you like to come and visit me?
You are certainly very much welcome
to be my guest, in my humble little home.

I'll bring you around the tall Giant Lily
towering above, swaying ever so gently.
We can also meet the other villagers
living by the stream of Healing Waters."

Rana the true frog:
"Thanks, Bufo, that's really really good.
I'd like to visit your part o' the woods,
to see what life is like among your clan,
and learn about toads as much as I can."

Bufo:
"Looking forward to your visit this weekend!
Just give me a couple o' croaks, which true frogs send,
through your True Croak channel, if you may,
when you're about a hundred frog leaps away."

Story-teller:
Some true frogs and true toads, by the way,
have the power of True Croak, they say.
They can channel their croaks over long distances,
talking to fellow clansmen in amphibian parlance.

However, this power of True Croak can only be
summoned and used on New Moon days, you see.
Both Rana frog and Bufo toad, coincidentally,
have this power, and it will be New Moon shortly.

That New Moon weekend arrived rather quickly.
Rana said good-bye to his Ranidae family,
and the army of frogs living by the river bank
where the old farmer's troubled boat once sank.

He hopped and leapt his way with reckless glee,
under the cool shade of many a jungle tree,
climbing over rocks with slimy moss,
fording shallow streams, to get across.

Sweet songs of many birds chirping everywhere,
fragrance of flowers fill the morning air,
with odour of old leaves rotting on the ground,
Rana was immersed in the sight and sound.

As he approached the village of true toads
a long way from the nearest man-made road,
among the boulders beneath the Giant Lily,
resides the ancient Bufonidae family.

"Croak-croak! Croak-croak! Croak-croak Crrooakk!"
Rana summoned the power of his True Croak
and channelled it towards Bufo the true toad,
who was home, brushing warts on his overcoat.

"Croaky Croaky Croaky Croakk!"
through the True Croak channel Bufo croaked,
telling Rana loudly that he will be waiting,
by the old village gate will he be squatting.

"Rana! Rana! This way! Over here!"
shouted Bufo, when he saw Rana appear
in the distance, approaching by and by,
"Hey Bufo! Good to see you." was Rana's glad reply.

to be continued . . .

"Rana visits Bufo, Part One"
by Harolde Huang,
Sun 2021.05.16 15:22 hrs GMT+8
#poetry #poetrybyharolde

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Forlorn

A lady selling breakfast,
standing
at her makeshift table by the roadside,
quietly waiting
for a passer-by or two
to stop and buy her ware,
looking forlorn.

A man selling hot drinks
leaning
against his coffee stall in the marketplace
eagerly waiting
for a customer or two
to stop for a cup of coffee or tea,
looking forlorn.

An old shopkeeper,
sitting
at the counter of his deserted toy shop
by the corner of a lonely street
patiently waiting
for a shopper or two
to come in and buy toys for their kids,
looking forlorn.

They are caught
in a long torturous wait for customers,
hoping for
perhaps some,
perhaps a few,
perhaps at least one,
to brighten the day.

All of them in a sombre mood,
desperately trying
to earn enough
to pay for all the expenses
to carry on living,
hanging on
to whatever little hope is left,
looking forlorn.

"Forlorn"
by Harolde Huang,
Saturday 2021.05.15 20:51 hrs GMT+8
#poetry #poetrybyharolde
#pandemic #lockdown

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Left behind

Time has swiftly passed us by,
a year seems like a day.
Months have vanished in the sky,
weeks are marching away.

Time has left us in a bind,
marooned in a lifeless past.
Each of us is left behind,
with many unfinished tasks.

Our earnings are depleted,
our businesses destroyed.
Our meticulous plans defeated,
we are unemployed.

Loved ones at home we have not met,
our families we have not seen.
We cannot visit them as yet,
stranded we have been.

Time has left us so uncertain,
we do not have a clue.
Before us stands a daunting mountain,
of things that we wish to do,

Time has moved on to better times,
it has left us high and dry.
We face a mountain we cannot climb,
no one hears our cry.

"Left behind"
By Harolde Huang
Tue 2021.05.11 20:27 hrs GMT+8
#poetry #poetrybyharolde
#pandemic #lockdown

Amok : a message from the Author

Writing Amok: On Leaving Malaysia to Find It Again You write what you read. And I grew up reading English books by Enid Blyton, CS Lewis...