A two-sentence summary:
In post-Merdeka Malaysia, Shu Ping bustles through her life, drawn to a life of adventure but unsure if it’s what she really wants.
How did your characters come to be?
Shu Ping came first, because I love turning points and Chinese-Malaysian characters. Everyone else came after, a natural flow of people she might have known.
Why this setting?
I first created this universe in my short story The Last Rickshaw. Malaysian steampunk (and South East Asian steampunk in general) is not super common, and once I encountered it, I was hooked. I love expanding this universe, and every story is like a love letter to the island of Penang. It is a setting I enjoy revisiting.
You’re in an antho of lesbian steampunk stories. Obviously you are writing about lesbians. How does lesbianism fit in your setting?
Shu Ping herself feels a need to hide her lesbianism, a reflection of older laws and colonial attitudes flowing through the setting. In a way, her story is one of working out which bits of herself she can put forward, and how she chooses to do so is somewhat political, too.
What was the funnest, or most hair-tearingly frustrating thing in writing your piece?
I loved it all, for reals. My favourite bit was the creation of the MR, a made up building functioning as a stand-in for the building I really wanted to lovingly describe to the world, but which wasn't built until decades after my story was set. I hope other Malaysians will be able to guess the building.
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