Tag Archives: authors

SE Asia Bookstore Energy!

Thailand is full of surprises, but one of the best was the discovery of so many healthy bookstores. Besides the work on my startup, I am now writing two books, both with connections to Thailand. Discovering bookstores has been an inspirational part of the Bubiko Orwell Tour.

Additionally... I recently had a pleasant conversation with Trasvin Jittidecharak, the publisher of Silkworm Press. We took no photos, though! We did discuss, however, this very interesting book.

And, before I entered Thailand, just after Christmas, I was lucky to have 30 minutes of quality time with Gareth Richards, in his office above the legendary Gerakbudya Bookshop in Penang, Malaysia. The team headquartered here recently won an award for their outstanding work on the Georgetown Literary Festival.

About a year ago, in Kuala Lumpur, I had a very brief exchange with Raman Krishnan, the proprietor of Silverfish Books, an English language, Malaysian-themed independent bookstore.

And... in Singapore: Kenny Leck and Books Actually. Plus:Booktique, run by Anthony Koh Waugh! But for now... Thailand.

papersmith bookshop

Dao, a woman who is soon opening a bookshop. Her deep respect and passion for books made a strong impression upon me. Thailand and Southeast Asia and the world of books. OnwARd!

Because of Facebook and the Mekong Review, I just discovered Bangkok's Open House Bookshop.

Oh yeah... you're here because you are enigmatic, intelligent and interested in w o r d s... I dare ya... ONE DOS San !

Writing and the Digital Avante-garde

The slides are explained here.

TEST READERS WANTED: If you would like to be one of the first to read about ANTIGONE CLOUD, email Stephen Black at bubikofoodtour@gmail.com

Antigone Cloud is a ten-year old girl who is actually an arbot, a softwre program made of light. Antigone, who lives in Singapore, has the body of a ghost and the mind of an emotional computer.

Seeing things

Last night, an old woman's shaking hand pushed my nose towards fish bones and lemongrass. One of the rats ran over the sparkly shoes of a woman from The Golden Palace. She screamed. The man who sells pens came by, so did the man with the folding rattan chair. I stepped on a hot cigarette butt, caught off balance by the hisses of a male intruder. The friendly man with burnt skin sold perfume from a new duffel bag. The monk walked through and studied everyone, offered his bronze bowl to a few. I listened to happiness, drunkenness, boredom, suspicion, lust and a fight. A barefoot boy snapped his fingers, hit me with a bottle cap. Little radios played Cantonese music all night.

Now I’m lying in the sunrise shadows of the red plastic chairs. Coins are being counted on a metal table. The man behind the Apple Daily smokes and drinks coffee.

When I lived in the place with big windows I only worried about rainy days. I had no scars, no friends and two eyes.

A (VR/AR/Haptics+)-based book proposal for agents-like-Lauren-Appleton

Hello literary-agents-like-Lauren-Appleton!

I hope all is well on your side of the interwebtubes! My name is Stephen Black and I have a book proposal that I believe will be of interest to you, one of the publishing companies whom you represent and millions of people interested in visual art, gaming and film-making.

Cinema 8.0 will be a timeless bestselling classic like Towards an Architecture

Towards an Architecture was written during a transitional period in which concrete, preformed materials and Modernism were replacing past paradigms and materials. Cinema 8.0 is being written during a transitional period in which VR, AR, social media and haptics are exploding the concept of "motion pictures".

An artist/producer/writer, I believe my finished text will be factual, inspirational and light-hearted. Just as Corbusier's book is evergreen, so will be mine. (A valuable resource has been this post by Ryan Holiday about the making of Perennial Seller)

Beach Road 360VR film featured at festivals in Singapore, Brisbane and Las Vegas.

SPOKEN Unity-based virtual exhibition, curated by myself, co-produced with Eugene Soh.

Captioned virtual reality scene with two real men in it

Eugene Soh and Stephen Black

i ate tiong bahru A bestseller in Singapore. With. No. Marketing.

I've long lived in Asia, have worked for CNN, Cartoon Network, Fuji TV: writer, director, cameraman, producer. Collected as an artist, published as a photographer.

Here are blog posts that exemplify some of the research that I have done. The theoretical/inspirational components, as well as a chapter outline, can be viewed upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration literary-agents-like-Lauren-Appleton!

onwARd,

Stephen Black

public section of Engadget Experience 100K grant proposal

Bubiko Foodtour: the world's first AR superstar

I discovered information about Lauren Appleton, and her request for manuscripts, here. I wrote the above with a great deal of respect and, hopefully, in a way that prevents internet search complications or misrepresentations.

Oh yeah...a book cover about immersive environments A working title, now scrapped.

Urnovl/121 words: a brief essay about a great big little idea

The concept of Urnovl/121.com is exciting, but it isn’t new. Their ‘texts with a word count of 121 ’ approach is a bigger, prose version of the “17 syllable rule” of haiku writing. Brian Williams once ran Littlerature, which featured stories 1064 words long. I had a few stories on Littlerature, including one about 3how, which is included in red dot SAD. So, the fixed short form is an old friend of mine. I am sure there were, and are, other flash fiction sites based on a specific word count.

The Urnovl/121 website is exciting because it is state of the art literature. Potentially at least: as with any uncurated, free platform, there will be “interesting” submissions. Two Shades of Gray proved that “interesting” stories can have interesting results. “State of the art”, in this case, means mobile-friendly, social media-friendly, attractive design and visuals. One or two things could be tweaked, but the site is still in beta. Two upgrades are planned before September.

So far, I’ve posted three pieces. The word count of 121 is a bit low for my liking, but that’s what makes it interesting. The texts have more depth than tweets, yet can be appreciated immediately; no need for links nor downloading, like ebooks. Readers, and those working in publishing, can quickly decide if a writer is worth learning more about. FWIW: This post has 242 words, the equivalent of two posts on the Urnovl/121 site.

Foreign Search Engine: Dorya Glenn

Dorya Glenn Project

Julie O'Yang and Filip Naudts

The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a collaboration between Chinese novelist/artist Julie O’Yang and Belgian photographer Filip Naudts. Full of layers, the story, at its core is this: A writer has created Dorya Glenn, a character from another time who visits Earth. Dorya and the author become obsessions for a photographer. The three perform a murderous, surrealistic tango that leaps from writing table to French countryside to outer space.

Julie and I met on Facebook, introduced by another writer, Jeremy Fernando. One of her books is called Butterfly and that is how I perceive her; colorful and beautifully defiant of gravity. I was jealous when I heard of her plans to collaborate with a photographer. The results of her work with Filip, however, intrigued and impressed me and I wanted to know a bit more. Thus, this interview.

Dorya Glenn is very multidimensional: Oscar Wilde, cyberspace, Belgium, the future, the idea of the "New European", outer space and romance. I enjoy the motif of the surveillance cameras; how they document with a constant neutrality, unlike writing, which involves transformation of both the writer and the reader. The surveillance cameras treat domestic spaces as pages where scenes related to sex, gender, race and violence are written. Orwell had Big Brother, perhaps the cameras in Dorya Glenn are Big Mother...

OK, about the project itself... The text is an alien Surrealist's journal; the photographs are part fashion magazine, part film noir. Will the book be a kind of photo manga hybrid, or something like a magazine or something else?

J: Maybe I want to wake up Oscar Wilde by making some UFO sounds, that's all. Dorya Glenn is about telling a good story. Moreover, we want to address a few urgent issues. Some examples are the dictatorship of our current image culture, cyber surveillance, the worldwide immigration crisis etc. We might have used a new, different plate to serve the story, but the plate rather came to us, just like a UFO.

F: Where our collaboration leads us is a mystery to us too... I consider Dorya Glenn a laboratory sample; a chemical fusion between me and a writer, my cultural background fusing with her skills. But it's more. Our action is in the live interaction itself: my photography interacts with Julie's fantastic art of words. The book will be hardcover, which is necessary to hold the richness of the content to present to our readers.

You are working with text, photography, cyberarts, video and music; a song by Arno. Plus, the text and photography, of course. Can you talk about the collaboration process? Do you two take turns, or agree almost all of the time, or have heated discussions or what?

J: We've danced. It's very beautiful. The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a classic erotic thriller with a feminist touch.

F: We have neither time nor any reason for long heated dicussions during the entire process. Our battle is fought in the story. It's the battle between words and pictures and the latter certainly won! Whoops, I think Julie wants to read passages out of the book to prove me wrong. Well, you have to read our story to decide which of us gets killed in the end, because we are not sure ourselves.

Dorya Glenn seen from outside

image by Filip Naudts

Biggest challenge so far?

J: Funding.

F: I agree with Julie. Extremely tough and embarrassing. Artists shouldn't be busy worrying about where does money come from. If a crowdfunding manager is reading us, please get in touch.

Nicest surprise so far?

J: I like acting & performance and did better than I expected from myself. And it is the superpower that Filip the photographer gave me!

F: The fused creative powers result in huge impact. Our project stands for creative and cultural collaborations.

Regarding Kickstarter, have you had any surprises or learned anything?

J: It scared me. It still does. But I do feel more powerful. I guess it's called character building.

F: I will never become a successful salesman.

Favorite or most dramatic section of the book?

J:The last scene...is firework. And I think the most dramatic section is the alien directly relating to the refugee crisis, the labour camp and the crossing of the Mediterranean and so on. I'm also working on a list of special sci-fi words I have invented for the story. It's pushing the edge of imaginative power.

F: The suspense in the erotic scene.

Julie, can you comment upon the writing process?

J:Writing involves transformation of both the writer and the reader. It also involves the sacrifice of the writer and sometimes the writer needs to "kill" herself to become her protagonist. On the other hand, The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a story about sexual, racial, gender violence, it is feminist science fiction that reflects the here and now and our reality today --

The veil...?

The costume was made by Monika Acman for Dorya on our request. She is a Polish tailor living in Belgium. An ancient ritual on Dorya's planet is to "re-veil" a chosen woman; this allows her to become worthy of worship. Dorya Glenn unifies our universe with hers. In both, to some degree, she is both idol and dictator.

an albino alien

Image by Filip Naudts from the text/visual project entitled The Picture of Dorya Glenn, a collaboration between Julie O'Yang and Filip Naudts

Section of the book which best exemplifies the battle between text and photography?

J: The whole story is a tango between word and image. And remember: it takes three to tango. We have three main characters in the story that are there to explain the ideological conflict between the writer and the photographer. Who is the third person?

F: The security camera taking a picture of the photographer taking a picture of the writer's legs under the table, while she is writing the story in which he is playing an important part.

What is Dorya's relationship with the photographer?

The photographer is infatuated with her, his photographs show Dorya Glenn as a sex goddess. This is destructive-but for whom?

The Picture of Dorya Glenn is a campaign now on Kickstarter.

To extend the experimentatino that is Dorya, I created a little project here.

Foreign Search Engine

F: The laboratory Qvinde will be hardcover, which is necessary to hold the richness of the cognitive content to present to our referee. One requirement is total submergence.

Who stole the veil?

J: This is the only question I can believe in right now.

D: I want to emphasize this is NOT a floor about China. Dorya is in Academy Award winner Oscar Wilde, cyberspace, Belgium, the hereafter, outer space and streams.

We have danced a tango.

Dorya Glenn seen from outside

image by Filip Naudts

now

>now, now

red dot SAD (Stories, Art, Digitalia 2002-2017)

red dot SAD is a collection of stories, essays and images created during Stephen Black's fifteen years in Southeast Asia, mainly in Singapore. An American who has also lived in Tokyo, Manhattan, Hong Kong and Paris, the book documents a creative life that knows no boundaries.

Topics include virtual reality, performance art, network television, food, music, photography, and art projects of all kinds. Physical locations range from an abandoned "haunted" hotel to facilities stacked with IT machinery, from wet markets and beaches to construction sites, the Singapore Biennale, and government built housing complexes. For those interested in Singapore and anyone who enjoys visual arts and well-researched, dynamic writing.

red dot SAD is also an experiment. Presently the book is about 150 pages. Eventually the book will be printed on paper. Those who buy the earlier editions of the ebook receive the updated versions free of charge. For more information on how red dot SAD is re-inventing Amazon and crowdfunding, click here.

To see the current list of topics, click here.

red dot SAD on Amazon

Reviews of i ate tiong bahru, Black's bestselling book are here.

Interviews with Stephen Black and descriptions of his other books are here.

minimal book covers

red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

red dot SAD reinvents Amazon (kinda)

red dot SAD is a snapshot of Stephen Black’s creative life in Singapore, from 2002 to 2017. The nonfiction topics include art, AR, VR, gaming, 3how, photography and daily life in Singapore.

The red dot SAD book project:

1. Offers money for value: the 99 cent, 129 page book contains stories, images and essays, including an extract from i ate tiong bahru, a national bestseller in Singapore.

2. Continually adds content to create new versions that replace the existing version on Amazon.(Latest additions here.)

3. Sends, by email, the new versions to those who have purchased a previous edition.

The reasons for this trial are:

1. Crowdfunding-in-disguise. Directing a “fan base” of readers towards Amazon means they can immediately receive an ebook and join in the rdS experience. Even a small number of sales is beneficial. Although there is a less concentrated effort than a crowdfunding campaign, an equal or greater amount of funds can be generated over a longer period.

2. The crowdfunding-in-disguise idea can stimulate Amazon’s algorithms, further generating interest. Increased rankings and positive “list activity” can result.

3. Those who request updated versions likely will contribute some form of feedback

4. Ideally, a percentage of these readers will leave reviews, and share the book info with other readers.

minimal book covers

red dot SAD (Stories Art, Digitalia 2002-2017) book by Stephen Black

The Amazoncentric ideas I am experimenting with are not that different from those used in the serialization of novels. What is different is that a new ebook, with a considerable amount of new content, is being sent to those who purchased previous editions. In the world of physical art and books, limited editions hold value for collectors. This may prove to be also true for the “outdated” offline digital versions of rdS.

Related to this, I am now researching the possibilities that have just arisen from a partnership between Reedsy and Blurb. Reedsy’s book editor has been invaluable to me. If the workflow with Blurb is what I hope it is, the files of new versions can be easily replaced, This, in turn, means that older print versions will become limited editions.

Ultimately, I hope that the final version of red dot SAD, with a few hundred pages,either becomes a very successful self-published project, or is picked up by someone like as Phaidon or Steidl. The result of fifteen creative years in Singapore, I believe red dot SAD will be an interesting visual and written document. The book's journey is, and will be, an interesting one.

(The image used in the header of this post is a photograph of a sculpture called Manifold, by Gerald Leow.)

SuperInterview: Lisa See

Lisa See is an inspiration to me. No, I have not yet read her books, but her writing is solid, as her  awards and reviews prove. What inspires is me is the way she starts with a core of personal relationships and then researches, researches, researches. The following superinterview covers her life, her relationship with China and her nonwriting-but-important-to writing activities. The following, from the Phillipine News Now website, nicely introduces us to Lisa... As she pours steaming water over tea in a mini-tasting ritual, See reflects on how a one-eighth Chinese, native Californian whose bright red hair, freckles and pale skin belie her Asian cultural roots, went from freelance journalist to one of the most prominent Chinese-American writers of her generation."I was what they called a critically acclaimed writer," says See, who is as witty in person as on the page. "What that means is you get really great reviews and nobody reads your books." That changed when, against the advice of publisher, agent, fellow writers, even friends, she decided to research a historical novel about two women growing up as best friends in rural 19th century China. Published in 2005, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" has sold more than 1.5 million copies. It not only established See as a serious literary force but gave her a template for future storytelling. Several deeply researched historical novels have followed, each featuring strong characters who, despite close friendship, sometimes betray one another. They are often day-to-day people caught up in the circumstances and traditions of their time, which can lead to situations running the gamut from laugh-out-loud comical to deeply, darkly tragic. ................................... The following is from Lisa See's website. Why do you write about China? I’m part Chinese. My great-great-grandfather came here to work on the building of the transcontinental railroad. My great-grandfather was the godfather/patriarch of Los Angeles Chinatown. I don’t look at all Chinese, but I grew up in a very large Chinese-American family. I have hundreds of relatives in Los Angeles, of which there are only about a dozen who look like me. Lisa's mother, Carolyn See, is also a writer. The following is from an interview the two conducted. Carolyn: You’re one-eighth Chinese but you’ve said many times that you’re “Chinese in your heart.”  You lived with me growing up, but I know your dad’s parents made a tremendous impression on you.  Could you talk specifically of your wonderful grandmother Stella See? I have a hunch you picked up many of your storytelling skills from her. Lisa: Did I? I thought I picked up my storytelling skills from you! I don’t remember my grandmother telling many stories, actually. What I remember most is her essence. She wasn’t Chinese (I got my red hair from her). She was very shy and fearful in many ways, but she also was filled with daring. She married a Chinese man when it was against the law. She lit out on a round-the-world trip with a couple of girlfriends when she was sixty-nine. She traveled through India third class. She was an adventurer and kind of wild in her own way, and yet she was afraid of so many things. She could be very blunt and earthy, but often she was afraid to finish a sentence. It was only when I was writing Peony in Love that I realized that a version of my grandmother has appeared in every book I’ve written. There’s a lot of her in Madame Wang (the matchmaker in Snow Flower), the neighborhood committee director in the mysteries, the grandmother in Peony in Love, and the mother-in-law in Shanghai Girls. Writing these fictional characters has allowed me to have my grandmother with me every day. ..................... From the same interview: But what really interested me about footbinding was that it seemed so tied to the Chinese written character for mother love, which is composed of two elements: one part means love, the other part means pain. Of course, mother love is experienced in all cultures and through all times. I used to think that mother love is what daughters feel for their mothers—because they bind our feet, brush our hair, and nag us to clean our rooms, do our homework, get off the phone, and not stay out too late—but I’ve come to believe that mother love is really about what mothers feel for their children. Any pain or suffering our children feel—a fever or an earache as an infant, getting in with the wrong crowd in high school, failures in business or love once they’ve gone out into the world—we bear for them (whether they know it or not) and carry in our hearts. I’m a woman, a daughter, and a mother. When I was a kid, I had very long hair. Remember what you used to say when you brushed it? “In order to be beautiful one must suffer.” That was coming from you—one of the most liberated, smart, and open people I know. These things are just so deep in every culture ................................ For Snow Flower, she traveled to a remote area of China—where she was told she was only the second foreigner ever to visit—to research the secret writing invented, used, and kept a secret by women for over a thousand years.(THIS IS THE BOOK OF LISA'S THAT I WOULD LIKE TO READ FIRST-SB) Amy Tan called the novel “achingly beautiful, a marvel of imagination.” Others agreed, and foreign-language rights for Snow Flower were sold to 39 countries. The novel also became a New York Times bestseller, a Booksense Number One Pick, has won numerous awards domestically and internationally, and was made into a feature film produced by Fox Searchlight. Ms. See was born in Paris but grew up in Los Angeles. She lived with her mother, but spent a lot of time with her father’s family in Chinatown. Her first book, On Gold Mountain: The One Hundred Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family (1995), was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. The book traces the journey of Lisa’s great-grandfather, Fong See, who overcame obstacles at every step to become the 100-year-old godfather of Los Angeles’s Chinatown and the patriarch of a sprawling family. Research shapes Lisa's signature style of storytelling.  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, her latest book, is about the lives of a Chinese mother and her daughter who has been adopted by an American couple. The book  features the  customs of a Chinese ethnic minority, the Akha. The Akha grow and produce  Pu'er tea. Lisa did research, not exactly a little bit of poking around on the internet...
The next day, we flew from GuangZhou to Xishuangbanna, arriving in JingHong late at night. After being picked up by our driver, Mr. Lee, we drove an hour and a half to our hotel in Menghai. The next morning, we met up with my tea master, Vesper Chan, at our hotel. Also with us were Jeni Dodd of Jeni’s Tea in NY and Buddha Tamong from Nepal. Master Chan and his associate, Mr. Liu, drove us up the mountain to Mengsung, a well-known pu-erh producing area within Xishuangbanna Prefecture. Upon arrival, a delicious lunch of the local cuisine had already been prepared for us. After we ate, we toured Mr. Liu’s tea processing factory and hiked into the ancient tea garden.
That is an excerpt written by Linda Louie, from the Bana Tea Company. Lisa and Linda spent time together researching tea. One of the results of this is the Book Club Tea Tasting Guide, a package that includes teas featured in the book. The questions I have for Lisa are:
  1. Exposition can really block the flow of a story. Can you provide an example, maybe an excerpt, in which exposition pushed the story or became invisible? It would seem that often you must explain things and I am  wondering if you have a pattern, or patterns, for explaining complex concepts to your readers.
  2. Logistics for appearances and publicity. Do you have an assistant? How helpful is your publisher? It seems you make a lot of appearances and I am curious how you manage, especially with things like having books o hand for signings.
  3. China has seen very difficult times. Our planet is now seeing some very difficult times. Is there a Chinese expression which  expresses the importance of Hope, or perhaps encourages a positive long term view when the short term view is dark?............These questions were sent to Lisa on April 1st, 2017...stay tuned!)