the Astounding Award!

Wow. Friday night was a wild ride. I went out to take the dog for a long walk around seven, only to return to a phone blowing up and so many Twitter notifications my app wouldn’t load. Somehow I’d forgotten the Hugo Awards were happening that night–I was convinced they were Saturday, but aha, time zones! New Zealand is in the future!–so imagine my surprise when I opened an email from my agent congratulating me on winning the Astounding Award for Best New Writer :O

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Industry awards are all pretty silly; I’ve been to enough conventions now to know that all they reflect is popularity within a very specific, biased set of voters who are in no way representative of the larger reading public. They’re still hard not to covet! I’ve wanted to win the Astounding Award in particular ever since I entered the genre; it seemed like the “you’ve made it” badge; the stamp of approval that would win me the respect of my colleagues; the moment which, ironically given the name, would mark my transition from “unknown debut writer” to “established SFF name.”

Does it actually feel that way? Not really, and all of those assumptions are pretty dumb to begin with, but knowing that a tiara and trophy are coming in the mail is cool. Knowing that I’m following in the footsteps of writers like Ada Palmer, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Jeannette Ng is also pretty cool. Anyhow, I’m just grateful to WorldCon voters for the recognition. I’m also delighted by the Hugo winners across the board this year, particularly Jeannette Ng’s win for Best Related Work. It’s a wonderful reflection of where this genre’s headed and what we’re capable of as we hurtle into the future, undaunted.

You can watch my acceptance speech here.

chatting with V.E. Schwab on No Write Way!

Hey friends!

Long time no update. I’m plugging away at the word mines over here in lockdown, but wanted to share an awesome conversation I had last week on Instagram Live with the incredible V.E. Schwab. I’ve admired her books for years (VICIOUS is a particular favorite), so it was thrilling to get to chat with her about writing craft, career evolution, and how to move on from one project to the next. It’s all been uploaded to Youtube now, so you can watch below:

More news to come about THE BURNING GOD soon. Stay safe and healthy!


Harper Voyager UK dropped the cover on their Twitter account this morning, and I think it’s pretty wonderful. The art is, as usual, by JungShan Chang, and I couldn’t be more in love with the way that Rin’s appearance has evolved over the trilogy.

THE BURNING GOD is out on November 17, and it’s available for preorder! Remember: if you preorder in the US, you get access to some deleted materials, perhaps featuring Altan/Chaghan or Rin/Nezha?

You can find the Waterstones link here if you’re in the UK, and all retail links here if you’re in the US. I strongly encourage buying from local/indie bookstores–they need our support especially during this time.



Melon 2019


I had a fantastic time at the Melon science-fiction conference in Hong Kong today. I was asked to give a presentation on the top 10 coolest trends in recent science fiction–which was fun, because I don’t actually write sci-fi, so I got to approach it as a very enthusiastic fan! Unfortunately my speaking time was quite short so I had to cut it down to five, but here are the slides I’d prepared for the longer version of the talk. Take a peek if you’re interested–I hope you find your next great read there 🙂



Hey readers,

Long time no see! I’ve been overwhelmed with life, settling into Cambridge (I LOVE IT HERE), drafting Book Three, and cranking away at revisions of Book Two.

Speaking of Book Two…

The Dragon Republic will be out from Harper in summer 2019! The B&N Sci-fi and Fantasy Blog ran the cover reveal today, as well as the synopsis AND an excerpt of the first chapter. You can read it all at this link.

Meanwhile, here’s the cover!

I absolutely love it. I think it’s so beautiful; the colors are perfect, Rin’s expression is spot-on, and the whole thing SCREAMS symbolism. The cover design process this time around was so smooth and easy. Every time my editorial team showed me what they’d done at each stage in the process I screamed YES, THAT IS WHAT I WANT!!! It really felt like we were all on precisely the same wavelength and had identical visions for the book, and I’m just so grateful I have such an amazing team to work with at Harper Voyager. Credit also due, of course, to the incredibly talented artist JungShan, who has managed yet again to capture exactly what Rin looks like in my mind.

I’m generally not a fan of covers that depict the characters themselves. So often they just go wrong; the characters look awkward, they don’t mesh with how I imagine them, they’re positioned funny, etc. I suspect that danger is why we’re seeing so many more abstract covers, or covers that focus on still objects or symbols, for fantasy releases. I lucked out. I’m biased, obviously, but I think I have the best covers in the world 😛  (Okay, the cover to Rebecca Roanhorse’s upcoming Storm of Locusts looks hecking RAD.)

I’ll try not to say too much about the symbolism because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. For now, let’s just all take some advice from the cover blurb:

Brace yourself!

it’s a map!

A few readers have been asking for an image of the map in THE POPPY WAR, since it doesn’t come with the audiobook. So here you go! All resemblances to real countries are totally, completely unintentional.

“But doesn’t that look like–”


“But that’s definitely–”



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THE POPPY WAR Excerpt Live Now!

What’s good, friends?

To everyone who’s been asking when they can read an excerpt of THE POPPY WAR: the answer is NOW! The Barnes & Noble SFF blog ran the first chapter today. They’re calling it the “buzziest fantasy debut of 2018.” That’s right, motherforkers. I am an infernal horde of BEES.

Go check it out, and I hope you like it! (And if you do, won’t you consider pre-ordering? ❤ )

PS! If you dig the prose and still can’t wait for May 1, is running an excerpt of Chapter 17 later this month! It strikes an entirely different tone from the opening and it’s gruesomely creepy. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Updates and Misc

Hey, friends. What’s new with you?

I haven’t blogged much lately, which I attribute mostly to being a second-semester senior and having a thesis to worry about (not to mention committing myself to hammering out at least 1500 words a day in Book 3! slow and steady!). But I have some writing updates, small and large, so here’s a messy accumulation of just about everything that’s been going on with me.

What I’ve Published 

I’ve had some non-fiction essays come out the last time I posted here!

“The Racial Rubber Stamp” came out on the SFWA blog back in January, and it’s a lengthy tirade on some of the micro-aggressions non-white writers often face in mostly white writing spaces.

“How to Talk to Ghosts” dropped on the Uncanny Magazine website today. It’s about historical and intergenerational trauma, bare family trees, and white appropriation of diasporic pain.

What I’m Reading 

I recently committed myself to reading War and Peace, all the way through, without breaks. This ended up being awful idea, but I keep my commitments. (Angry Natasha botched her engagement to Prince Andrey like that, but excited to see where Natasha+Pierre is headed. Also, pretty certain things are not going to end well for Sonya and Nikolay, but a girl can hope.)

Other than that, here’s a list of recent reads that I enjoyed very much:

  • The Dream-Quest of Vellit Boe, by Kij Johnson (a reimagining of the H.P. Lovecraft original that actually has WOMEN! and is beautifully rendered, like everything else by Kij ever)
  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (and all of its sequels! I’m mad my friends haven’t forced me to read these earlier. This trilogy was a delight and I’ll be crying over Holland forever.)  
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee (which was recently nominated for a NEBULA AWARD and absolutely deserves it! I’ve tweeted about this book before, but I’ll mention again how nostalgic this book makes me for the Hong Kong action films my family watched when I was little.)
  • Definitely Maybe by the Strugatsky brothers (wow, this one freaked me out. Like most Russian scifi does.)

I’m open for suggestions for what to tackle after I’m FINALLY done with Tolstoy. I really want to get my hands on Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning, but that’s not out from Saga until June. Let me know what you’ve enjoyed recently! Just preferably something not Russian, please >.>

Where I’m Going

ICYMI, I had my first reading last Friday with the Washington Science Fiction Association and it was tons of fun! Here’s a photo courtesy of the lovely Elly Ha. (Thanks again #TeamThao for coming out to support me <3)


I’m next reading with the Baltimore Science Fiction Society on April 14 (time and location to come) so stay on the lookout if you’re in the Maryland area.

Slowly and surely my summer con schedule is coming together. I’ll be at ICFA in two weeks to receive my Dell finalist award, WisCon in May (fingers crossed I get on some cool panels), and likely BookCon. Then–who knows? Anyone have the lowdown on fun cons in the UK? ^_^

And…what’s going on with THE POPPY WAR?

Still coming out in May. Still available for pre-order, if you’d like to help boost my sales rankings 😉 It’s also been getting some pretty nice reviews, which is exciting! Publisher’s Weekly called it an “ambitious fantasy reimagining” that is a “strong and dramatic” launch to my career. It made Amazon’s list of 10 Highly Anticipated New SF&F Books, and it’s been chosen as a main selection for the Science Fiction Book Club! Lotta buzz for a debut book that won’t be out for months. And I’m told Goodreads has been very kind to it too (I have a policy of not looking, but my friends flag the nice reviews for me!).

That’s all for now on my end. More updates to come as we get closer to publication date…get excited!