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Retrospective 2017.

Oh hello! It's been a while huh!

I figured I'd better update this because I've been networking with other writers from around the world and I didn't want them googling me up and then finding my blog and all there was on it was a page from way back in May and then another from way back in 2015.

So anyway, what's been up with me this past couple of years? Well it so happens, quite a lot!

It's been a good 2017 for me. I won 3rd and consolation prize in the prestigious biannual Malay SF novel writing competition, Sayembara Fiksyen Sains dan Teknologi UTM-Utusan. This also means I had two SF novels published this year, Dunia Hanyalah Pentas, and Yang Diselindung Samudera, which I co-wrote with Nor Azida Ishak and Fadli al-Akiti.

I'm particularly proud of Dunia Hanyalah Pentas, which is a YA cyberpunk murder mystery thriller (phew! what a mouthful!) set in my hometown of Ipoh, a quiet little town which isn't really the kind of megalopolis one usually associates with cyberpunk. But I think I pulled it off, and with style too (if I do say so myself, *cough cough*).

Yang Diselindung Samudera was a novel project proposed by Azida, and is a Dan Brown-esque thriller. It's pretty much a spiritual sequel to Leksikon Ledang, the second prize winner of a previous season of the same SF novel writing competition, written by Azida and Fadli al-Akiti (and one I had no part in). I helped write the outline and complete several scenes, Fadli helped add in some ancient Malay flavour, and Azida mostly did the rest, so she is the one who really deserves most of the praise here.

Later in the year, I also had an essay published in Dewan Sastera ("Pengkritik Bukan Muslim Mahir Membaca Teks Melayu Islam: Apa Salahnya?") and a book review published in Tunas Cipta ("Fiksi Buat Marquez oleh Ruhaini Matdarin").

Being published in Dewan Sastera was quite unexpected. I've never considered myself well-versed in Malay to the extent that I am qualified to be published in it. But in the March 2017 issue, some asshole wrote a lengthy article basically arguing that non-Malays were not qualified to judge a Malay literary competition because they were not Muslim. This somehow ticked me off enough that I decided to write a 2000 word response asking what the hell does religion got to do with a literary competition. I guess the editor liked it enough to include it in the May 2017 issue.

Those were all Malay writings but I had some achievements on the English side as well. I had two short stories published, one in Nang 3: Fiction ("The Novelization of Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald") and another on Eksentrika ("Heat").

I'm quite proud of "The Novelization of Welcome Back, Mr. McDonald" because it's a light, funny piece but unfortunately it's a piece that has to be read after viewing the Japanese film it's inspired from. The publisher of Nang Magazine also included some cool art, one of which was a poster for my story which I thought was ridiculously awesome.❤ It's a cool magazine which has a planned run of only 10 issues, so if you haven't yet, go check it out, especially if you're a fan of Asian cinema.

"Heat" was an extended version of the original story I titled "Do Djinn Dream of Burning Sheep" which I admit is a better title, but I felt the PKD reference wasn't done justice by the story. I previously mentioned back in this post but basically it's a whimsical little story. Some people like it, I hope you do too.

My goal for 2018 is to have more English short stories published in Western markets. Wish me luck and I hope everyone else has good writing luck too!

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