Chasing Volcanoes: A Czech Translation

seaisoursOnce upon a time (re: a year and a half ago), I wrote a steampunk story that revolved around a destroyed Northern Philippines (speculative volcanic eruptions and the like). I sent it out, I squeed about finding a home for it (many thanks to the wonderful editrixes Jaymee Goh and Joyce Chng, and publisher Bill Campbell at Rosarium Publishing for the acceptance!), I squeed again when it got illustrated (by Pear Nuallak), and I practically did a funny little dance in the middle of my living room when it finally, finally, FINALLY got published.

(I did another funny dance at the local B&N soon after I saw it on a scifi anthology shelf…but I swear I didn’t cause that much of a scene!)

And while I am grateful that this particular story went out into the world amidst critiquing eyes and steampunk enthusiasts, I am still wonderfully surprised at the feedback over “Chasing Volcanoes.” I certainly didn’t expect to get an email about it–and the rest of the The Sea is Ours anthology–being translated into Czech. The fact that the title of said Czech book IS a translation of “Chasing Volcanoes” has gone above and beyond any expectation I have with the stories I’ve written.

But there you go. It’s happened. I’m squeeing again. I’m writing about it again.

Thanks to Jan Kravčík at Gorgon Books, “Chasing Volcanoes” has got a Czech coating. And honestly, that cover is beautiful. While I know nothing in the Czech language (well, correction, I now know what “Kroceni Sopek” means), I am truly astounded–and excited–at the increasing readership, both for my story (because honestly, why wouldn’t I be excited that my work goes out there?) and for the wonderful fellow Southeast Asian authors I’ve shared the anthology with.

Now, if only I’d known about this translation BEFORE I’d gone to Praha last summer. I suppose maybe next time (because there most certainly will be a next time!) I visit Prague I’ll try to find my way into a bookshop.

Anyway, for the Czech readers out there, watch out for Kroceni Sopek, coming to you in a few weeks!


The SEA Is Ours: Indiegogo Campaign Now Up!

seaisoursJust, you know. I’m putting this here. ‘Cause, you know. steampunk. Southeast Asian stuff. My story is in it. Wink wink nudge nudge huzzah huzzah blow nose–erm, I mean yes.

Mostly I’m just here to throw out the exciting fact that Rosarium Publishing has finally put up the Indiegogo campaign for The SEA Is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia, which will begin its distribution on November 1st. Oh, yes. As if NaNoWriMo isn’t enough, you’ll find me lamenting my writing and shamelessly plugging it when I can in the same month. Aren’t you guys ECSTATIC?!


Okay, fine. Be like that. I’ll still love you anyway.

So yes, this anthology.

It’s a lot of steampunk, and I don’t want to say “it’s not your typical kind of steampunk” but it probably is because I don’t think there’s much in the way of Vicky London going on in there. Of course there wouldn’t be, it’s tales of Southeast Asia after all. Still, in a way it is your typical kind of steampunk, because you’d have to recognize it as steampunk as well. Ugh. Maybe I’ll just leave it to editrixes Joyce Chng and Jaymee Goh to define it:

Commonly assumed to be “Victorian Science Fiction,” our fancy steampunk recipe combines alternate history, technofantasy, and retrofuturism.

It’s got a lot of explosive writing, not just because my particular story has to do with erupting volcanoes but I so wanted to go there. I so went there.

It’s got pretty pretty artistic depictions of said explosive stories! Did I say they were pretty?

Hell, just go to the campaign page. Small or big, any contribution helps!

(And depending on how many contributor copies I get, I might be willing to part with one in a giveaway. And I’d totally deface it with my autograph inside because why not. Wouldn’t that be neat?)

WeWriWa #7: 23 August 2015


8-Sentence Sunday is hosted by Weekend Writing Warriors.

Partly because the anthology is being released in the next few months, and partly because I’m going to be working on more Southeastern inspired stories, I finally decided on an excerpt!

The passage describes the Philippine Islands after a cataclysmic disaster of volcanic eruptions.

“There’s not much to see below.”

Nothing but barren land and scorched earth. Nothing but cracked floor covered with hardened lava and ash and tephra. The rivers had become poisonous to its inhabitants, and if there was freshwater to be found in the lakes, it would have dried up by now. Even the skies seemed to add to the bleakness, for the sun was often obscured with clouds that rained acid and fog that seemed almost impossible to pierce unless one used a specific type of goggles. Northern Pinas had remained this way for twenty years, so ravaged by the continuous eruptions of its local volcanoes: Pinatubo, Taal, Mayon. The major figures that caused The Great Explosions of 1816, which led to the nation’s Years of Ash Winter. Unlike the cold white snows of Wakoku and Zhongguo to the north, Pinas’ snows were made out of broken rocks and ash, gray and dark and oppressive.

Story Notes: The excerpt is from “Chasing Volcanoes”, a story about a volcano-chasing captain and her encounters with a hidden princess whose capture can very well lead to the crew’s salvation. It is part of the upcoming The SEA Is Ours anthology, to be published by Rosarium Publishing this fall.

Steampunk Hands Around the World: Roundtable Discussion


This post is part of the Steampunk Hands Around the World event hosted yearly by Airship Ambassador.

Jaymee Goh at Silver Goggles had mentioned this event to me and my fellow authors a couple of weeks back, and I had to jump at the chance to help promote steampunk AND talk about an upcoming anthology (Rosarium Publishing’s The SEA is Ours) on a month where we celebrate steampunk all over the world!

One of the ways we were participating in Steampunk Hands was a roundtable discussion, where the authors would receive some questions about their story in the steampunk anthology and have the opportunity to answer them through their blog and/or Jaymee’s blog. So, yeah. Here we go!

Roundtable Discussion

1) Give a one or two sentence summary of your story.

“Chasing Volcanoes”

Volcano chasing is all Caliso is interested in until she meets a New Manila princess desperate to save her people. While Caliso’s aid is a welcome relief to the refugees fleeing a volcanic eruption, her intentions are by far not so noble.

2) Why did you choose this particular theme?

You mean the volcano chasing or the fact that my MC’s kind of a jerk? Well, I’ll address them both.

Volcanoes and the Philippines were fascinating subjects for me, and I remembered the story my mom told about Mt. Pinatubo erupting in 1991. I was too young to remember it at the time, and it wasn’t retained very well in my mind because I’d moved across the world a couple years later. When I began to form a backdrop for speculative fiction in the Philippines, I thought: “Why not volcanic eruptions?”

As for Caliso…I believe heroes can grow out of any circumstance, and even anti-heroes and villains go through their moment of redemption to make them heroic in a way (unless you’re super-evil like Voldemort). I wanted Caliso to be someone who didn’t consider herself a hero, and when someone altruistic crashes into her world, she dismisses the young woman and merely looks at the profit that can be gained. Of course, things change halfway into the story, and Caliso alters her thinking somewhat, why shouldn’t she?

3) Did you do a lot of research for this story? If you did, found anything interesting?

Oh, yes. I am not a volcanic expert, and likely someone who knows much more about volcanoes than I do will find some fault in my storytelling. I did try to read up on the types of volcanic activities that occurred around the world, how eruptions affected the environment, etc. I looked up major historical eruptions. YouTube–yes, laugh and judge–had some interesting feeds on minor eruptions, as well as underwater ones, and I swear I spent quite a few hours just leafing through footage from those who witnessed volcanic activity from afar. Fascinating stuff.

Not all research was volcano-based though. I’m also no expert on being a Filipino, especially one in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, so there was quite a bit of research needed there. (On a side note, it was fun trying to find ways to combine Tagalog words to form a hybrid!)

4) Tell us a bit about where you’ve set your story.

Three volcanoes have erupted simultaneously in the north, sending the Philippines into a devastated, “volcanic winter” that would last decades. This has since decimated the northern portion of the Philippines, including the capital, Manila. Ten years later, upon the capitalization of volcano technology (energy harnessed from volcanic gases), the people of the Philippines has split into two major factions: Cebu City and the New Manila monarchy.

Cebu City is the steam capital, where the rich and affluent remain cordoned off from the rest of the world, with their high walls and protected habitats. Because of how precious–and how limited–steam-tech is, the Cebuanos have restricted volcano chasing to the government. This restriction makes volcano chasers like Caliso outlaws.

5) What was the hardest part about writing this story?

You should see my page-long historical writeup and my equally long political atmosphere. Suffice to say that my initial story contained a grand plot that would be impossible to tell in a short story. Hence the rewrites happened, and the re-working of the plot continued, and continued, and continued, up until I finally grasped what I wanted to show. I wanted to show some worldbuilding, some action, some character development, some character backgrounds. Thankfully, I seemed to have found some sort of balance between all four. At least, I think I did!

On an ending note: I cannot wait to see what the other participants plan to do this month! Maybe I’ll also bake something steampunky as well. I still do have my steampunk chocolate molds somewhere…

Also, stay tuned to Silver Goggles for steampunk reads and more roundtable discussions!