‘My Heart Is Set on Wandering’ & ‘The Doppelganger and the Ghost’ out today!

Strange Horizons, one of my favorite venues, has published a semi-autobiographical ghost poem of mine, “My Heart Is Set on Wandering” as their first poem on their beautiful new website relaunch, and as part of Filipino-American History Month I’ve decided to write about it a little bit.

This poem originally began as a companion piece to an untitled short story in a universe I call “Ethical Necromancy”, but quickly spiraled out from the POV of the fictional necromancer Magdalena and became my own. At its heart, the poem is about the community of St Malo, Louisiana, and the yearning to see and hear what stories that community might tell. It’s also autobiographical in another sense; it is about my grandmother’s family’s choice not to register on the Dawes Rolls and be counted by the US Government among the Cherokee Nation (a decision that has repercussions for my family to this day, including falsification of her obituary to keep her Native ancestry a secret), the discovery of my grandfather’s gravestone and my search to learn about his circuitous journey from Santa Catalina as a boy of 15 through the US West Coast before it was cut short by cancer, probably caused by the pesticides sprayed on the fields where he worked as a laborer picking everything under the sun.

For me, no love song about Louisiana’s dead is complete without the spiritual traditions of New Orleans, where I did, indeed, see the Baron in bright sunshine on a Thursday afternoon in September while sitting in Jackson Square.

This poem shares so much common ground of ancestry, identity, and dead-ness with “The Doppelganger and the Ghost” in Eye To The Telescope Issue 22 that it would be odd not to mention them together (TW: transphobia, dysphoria). Late October/early November might be the Season of Spirits in the Catholic religious calendar but it’s also a time of ancestral memory and remembering; here, the fraught matter of immediate family becomes tangled up with monsters and true identities, and how dysphoria and transition can lead to both deep betrayals and freeing truths. There is not always a simple resolution to the pain of family, and there’s not one here; but perhaps “My Heart Is Set On Wandering” offers the balm that if the immediate dead do not understand us, Ancestors know more than we might think.


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Poetry Sale: ‘The Doppelganger and the Ghost’

I’m excited to announce I sold ‘The Doppelganger and the Ghost’ to the “Ghosts” issue of Eye to the Telescope, which will be published on October 15. Later this month you’ll also see “My Heart Is Set On Wandering” in Strange Horizons, another ghost poem about Filipinos in Louisiana. Strange Horizons is currently fundraising, and I encourage you to go throw some pennies at a magazine that is gearing up for its THIRD publication of my work. Strange Horizons takes interesting risks, publishes first-time authors, and is just one of those special venues whose archives have something for every reader of the speculative.

‘The Doppelganger and the Ghost’ leans more heavily into “horror” than anything I’ve published to date, but it is not exactly a supernatural haunting. This poem may have special resonance for my trans readers, or anyone who has felt forced to suppress their real identity in favor of a false image. It was a poem I figured was near-unsellable, so I’m excited to be bringing it to you soon.

I’ll also be re-releasing a special poem currently unavailable online a lot of people have asked about on October 16 when rights revert back to me, so the poetry news this month flies fast and thick!

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Fiction Sale! ‘The Desert, Blooming’

I’m excited to announce I’ve sold my short story ‘The Desert, Blooming’, to the Sunvault Anthology of Solarpunk and Eco-Fiction. When the project was first announced, one of the editors sent me an encouraging message on twitter inviting me to throw my hat into the slush pile — much to my excitement, I had already been working on a story concept for a larger universe that fit neatly into the idea of Eco-Fiction, and after a few false-starts, have produced a story I’m incredibly proud of. Many thanks to EP Beaumont, India Valentin, and the editors themselves, who worked with me to create a satisfying exploration of an alternate-future where modern afforestation techniques being pioneered in sub-Saharan Africa and Israel are an important part of the reclamation of an alternate-universe Sahara in North Africa.

This science fiction story is a character prequel to the first novel in the Azemur universe, a magical reimagining of the ancient cultures of the near East, and the collision of religions, cultures, and peoples of medieval al-Andalus. If you follow me on twitter, you might have heard me refer to the novel as the “time travel story” but while the story creates to the greater whole, there’s neither time travel, nor magic, in this short.

Excitingly, this will mark the second time I appear with my wife, India Valentin, whose poem about remaking Israel and keeping sacred plant traditions of Judaism alive is also part of the anthology. When the final Table of Contents and pre-order info for Sunvault are announced, you’ll hear about it here!

In other fiction news, “Backgame” now comes in e-book form as part of Myriad Lands II for only $3.99! (Amazon, or DriveThruFiction for other formats). If you’ve been holding out for a digital copy, I hope you enjoy this fascinating compilation of short stories. You’re getting almost 20 stories for $4! (UK friends can order through Guardbridge Books)

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