A Little Bit of Zen

Published on 12 December 2016

We caught up with the Malaysian author before the reading of her debut novel in Singapore.

By: Melanie Lee

banner Image credits –  Jim C. Hines & Macmillan


Zen Cho, 30, is a London-based Malaysian author of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy and horror) and romance. Last year, her debut historical fantasy novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, won a British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer and made it to numerous Best of 2015 book lists including those from Barnes & Noble, NPR and The Seattle Times. She is currently working on her second novel, a continuation of her Sorcerer Royal series.

What’s speculative fiction?

All fiction is about something that didn’t happen. If a story is about something that could have happened, in accordance with the laws of the universe as we understand them, then it is mimetic fiction.

If it is about something that could happen but hasn’t yet, or something that couldn’t actually happen but it’s cool to think about, or something that 100 years ago we would’ve thought could happen but nowadays we don’t believe in magic, that’s speculative fiction depending on the vehicle of impossibility used in the story.

What’s the speculative fiction scene like in Singapore and Malaysia?

There’s actually a lot of shorter-length science fiction and fantasy work being written and published out of both countries. I’ve edited an anthology of science fiction by Malaysian authors called Cyberpunk: Malaysia and it really was not difficult to get submissions. Just speaking of writers who publish primarily in English, there’s Zedeck Siew, Angeline Woon, Cassandra Khaw, Ted Mahsun, Eeleen Lee, Fadzlishah Johanabas, Nin Harris, JY Yang, Joyce Chng, Victor Ocampo etc.

What’s the best new year resolution an aspiring writer should make?

Write regularly, finish your stories and submit them to people who might publish them. If you get rejected, try again.


Zen will be doing a reading of Sorcerer to the Crown on Saturday, 17 December, 5-6.30pm at BooksActually. Find out more here.

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