New Book: Forward the Hunt

I’ve got some exciting news!

My new book, Forward the Hunt (part of LT3’s For The Hoard dragon collection) is going to be released late February next year!! (And yeah for me, that’s exciting enough to warrant two exclamation marks after a solitary one. Casual chatting on the internet wrecked my sense of appropriate exclamation mark use, but I promise for a professional piece I practice much more restraint.)

To get basic shilling info out of the way, the book officially drops on February 28, 2018, which is a Wednesday. If you preorder before then, you’ll get a discount! (This will vary, but right now it’s 32%, which sounds pretty cool to me.) It should be long enough to warrant a print version, but this link is for the ebook.

And it’s got dragons in it!

The story centers around a young man, Haruki, who has grown up in the tiny, isolated city-kingdom of Salfea, which borders a deep and treacherous jungle that runs thick with dragons of various sizes. Traditionally, Salfean youth all participate in a coming of age ceremony called the Great Hunt, where they are sent into the jungle and must kill a dragon, whether alone or through collaborative effort. Dragonhide trade sustains Safea, so these youth receive rewards based on the size of their dragon and officially considered adult citizens upon the completion of a successful hunt. Everyone does it.

Everyone except for Haruki’s parents, who fled to Safea seeking asylum when Haruki was a toddler. Salfea and its customs are all that he’s ever known, but he can only partially fit in when his parents steadfastly refused to participate in the Great Hunt and further forbade him from joining as well. It’s only after they both pass that he gets the chance… and the dragon he encounters starts to turn his whole world on its head.

To tell the truth, I really wanted to write something based on the Asian myth of a dragon when I first heard about the call, but those do not traditionally hoard anything. (I’ve still got an idea and outline along those lines, though, so hopefully with my returning writing energy, I’ll be able to work on that soon.) I think I could have made it work, but in the end, I came up with this: the story of a young man trying to reconcile living in and identifying with a society that he cannot be fully part of, no matter how much he feels like he should belong.

I’ve heard before that intersectionality is a big thing for queer writers of color. For me, it only began to sink in when I started trying to be more active — using twitter, attending writer’s conferences and groups, using tumblr, using this blog… it’s a topic where a lot of my feelings are just raw feelings, rather than any thoughtful research or contemplation. So when I started Forward The Hunt,, these feelings were at the forefront of what I wanted to talk about.

I grew up as one of maybe seven Asian kids in my school district. We lived in Texas, and even if we were in Austin, bluer and “safer” than a great majority of the state for someone nonwhite, I tended to run into a lot of casual racism — the sort that comes thoughtlessly, where I came away from the encounter feeling uncomfortable and unhappy, but unable to pinpoint why until I reviewed it later. Very few people actually meant anything truly malicious, but it remained present, always in the back of my mind. I belonged to my community of peers without fully belonging.

And of course, everyone has different experiences. Despite some universality, the way my parents raised me, and the way I integrated (or didn’t, as the case sometimes was) with my world has been uniquely my own. At the same time, I wanted to put some of that into Haruki’s experience. I do expect there will be readers who don’t understand why Haruki lets the threat of his parents’ disapproval keep him back for so long, but I hope that others will see echoes of why, and if not agree with it, at least trace the reasoning behind it.

This was, in fact, the story that I was working on when the November 2016 election happened. I very nearly didn’t finish it. The struggle to get the last 20-odd pages felt more difficult than any other creative endeavor in my life.

Obviously, I managed. And I’m pretty proud of the final product, to be honest. There are a lot of conclusions that can come from a setup like what Haruki faces, and I wrote the one that felt the “most right” to me. Maybe you’ll disagree, but I hope that you’ll give the story a chance and find out.

Again, Forward the Hunt comes out on February 28, 2018, and the sale right now is pretty excellent. If this interests you, please give it a shot!! Double exclamation marks again and again!!

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