There are decades when nothing happens, and weeks when decades happen—Lenin did not say that, though several others, including Marx, have said similar things. The decade just completed, from 2012 to 2022, neatly contains my entire career as a writer, from my very first publication—a poem in the long-defunct magazine Ideomancer—to my debut novel, a milestone that I’d had in mind those whole ten years, though until the 20s the possibility seemed immeasurably distant and more than a little fictional. It’s a decade that feels like it took exactly the correct amount of time to pass, no more, no less. I wanted to mark its passing, I suppose, because for most of its length I wasn’t sure if I could have a career as a writer at all, and now I am, cautiously, with fingers crossed, learning to think of it as the first decade of my career. I hope there will be a second, and more to come.
Some highlights of the decade: I have over a hundred publications now, of some fifty-five original stories plus reprints, essays, poems, and so on. Well over a hundred thousand words of published short fiction—at some point I should consider a collection. One story (“The Translator, At Low Tide”) was a finalist for the Sturgeon Award and included in The Best Science Fiction of the Year. (This and a few other favourites are linked on the homepage of this site.) During this period, I spent six years as a fiction editor at Strange Horizons, where I was part of the team that won the inaugural Ignyte Community Award for Outstanding Efforts in Service of Inclusion and Equitable Practice in Genre. I’m proud of that, though I often feel diffident about mentioning it (it took me some years to get comfortable even putting it on my website.)
This year I’m juggling four novel projects. Saint, of course, which comes out in July and for which I will be doing various promo activities. Books two and three are manuscripts that exist at various stages of editing, and should be coming out in ’24 and ’25. Book four is at the concept stage and I’m filling up notebooks with thoughts, some wilder than others, and I hope to start actually putting words on a page sometime this year.
I had stopped writing short stories altogether since 2019 to focus on novels, but as of last December, I’ve finally returned to the short story as a form, and have several coming out in anthologies and potentially magazines. Nothing to announce yet, but I’m very pleased to be writing them, and I feel like my after-several-novels short stories are … rather different from the previous era in many ways. Richer, more complex, much weirder. This is also true of the novels themselves, I suppose, in that they get significantly weirder after the relative straightforwardness of Saint. I have no idea how people are going to respond to that, because I’ve already seen some complaints that even Saint is too weird, but oh well, fingers crossed that these things find their readers.
I mentioned somewhere on social media (instagram, I think—currently, and experimentally, on so many internets that I have lost track of where I say things) a while back that it’s very strange to hold the ARC of my first book in my hand. It’s emotionally intense and more than a little jarring, to have this object of your imagination made real, which is probably true for any writer or artist upon the completion of a work. For me, it’s also that Saint is dedicated to my brother, Ruchira, who died in 2011. This was, unsurprisingly, an event which permanently changed the trajectory of my life in several ways, not least of which my decision to commit to a long-deferred writing career, which is how this past decade of work came about in the first place. In 2012, even as I wrote what would soon become my first published short stories, I promised myself this utterly irrational thing: that I would somehow write and publish my first novel no later than August 2023, when I turn forty-four, which was how old my brother was when he died. I gave myself that span of time because I was an unpublished writer and I figured I needed the time to teach myself how to write, and to figure out how publishing works and how to navigate it. But that self-imposed deadline was also a convoluted expression of grief, a kind of dedication in itself. It’s not a deadline that ever made any sense; these things take as long as they take, is all. But somehow, through a great many chaotic circumstances, it turned out that the book comes out in July, a month before my deadline. I am pleased by this, and I feel rung, like a cracked bell. What a strange life it is.