I’m a horror writer now.

Believe it or not, this only clicked for me last month when I was on a panel about stories of the supernatural in Southeast Asia—though, yeah, it seems like it really should’ve come a while back, if not because of my ongoing work on Ghost Maps, then certainly when Work-Life Balance was officially announced.

That said, I still side-stepped actually referring to myself as such out loud because, unlike sci-fi or urban fantasy, I’ve consumed very little horror, and it’s a genre that I certainly had no grand plans to work in. Also, just that word—horror—seems to come with this weight of stories that are far scarier than the stuff I’ve written or am writing.

Then I watched this wonderful lecture by Victor R. Ocampo.

In it, he talks about the history of spec-fic in Singapore and devotes a sizeable portion to horror.

Now, sure, I already understood that horror came under the spec-fic umbrella, but to hear someone else say it out loud—and specifically someone like Victor, who’s done such extensive research on the topic—it made me finally realise that writing about creatures and spirits isn’t that big of a leap from writing about post-apocalyptic kampungs or the living embodiment of cities.

More importantly though, it was reminder that, at the end of the day, a genre and its tropes are only just some of the ingredients that make a story work. So, if I felt confident calling myself a spec-fic writer out loud—then really, there was no reason why I shouldn’t be totally fine saying, “I’m a horror writer now.”


Speaking of the aforementioned post-apocalyptic kampung, my short story, “Satay,” was cited in this fascinating BiblioAsia article about spec-fic and the environment. You can read it online or pick up a physical copy of BiblioAsia’s April – June 2021 issue from the National Library.

“Satay” was part of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction’s final edition, which is still available directly from Epigram Books or from BooksActually.

Meet Lita

Ben’s debuted a couple of exploratory sketches for Lita, a manananggal from Work-Life Balance.

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