Armed in Her Fashion is a Crawford finalist and a Locus recommended read

Friday was a good day. My publisher for Armed in Her Fashion, ChiZine Publications, had invited me down to Toronto to sign books at the Ontario Book Publishers pavilion at the Ontario Library Association Superconference. I decided to make it a day trip. Sure, it might seem a little weird to take a four-hour train ride, do a half-hour book signing, and then get back on the train for another four hours. But I knew from experience that I tend to get a lot of writing done when I’m on a train, so this was a gift to myself: a working day of eight hours with no distractions, with a signing in the middle of it.

And that signing turned out to be a fabulous experience. Nothing like a long queue of enthusiastic librarians to bring an author joy! Thank you so much to ChiZine for providing a small mountain of copies of Armed to give away. I also gave out some postcards about my Alice Payne novellas, and brought a couple of copies of Alice Payne Arrives to give away, too. I came home with nothing, which is the best way to come home from something like that.

And as it turned out, each of the train rides came complete with a piece of amazing news.

In the morning, I learned that Armed in Her Fashion was listed in the “First Novels” section of the Locus Recommended Reading list. This is a heavy-hitting list and it’s a great honour to be there (and among some friends!). The anthology Shades Within Us, edited by Susan Forest and Lucas Law, and which contains  my story “Gilbert Tong’s Life List”, is also on the list. The list also seeds the choices on the annual Locus Awards ballot, for which you can vote, even if you’re not a subscriber to Locus magazine. Write-in choices are allowed, too, so if you felt inclined to write in Alice Payne Arrives in the novella category, that would be fine. But always vote your heart.

On the way home, I learned that Armed in Her Fashion was shortlisted for this year’s Crawford award, which is given to a first fantasy book. The winner of the award is announced simultaneous with the finalists (low stress!), and the winner is the incredibly deserving R.F. Kuang, whose novel The Poppy War set the world on fire last year. To see my book among the other five finalists was one of those pinch-me moments. I’m so honoured and grateful to the hard work of the judges; I know from experience how much work is involved in reading for a jury.

It’s been a real joy to see this book find its readers, and getting recognition from industry judges and critics goes a long way too. It helps a lot, on those days when the words won’t come and the world seems indifferent to whether they ever will. Friday was not one of those days. Friday was a good day.


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