Jason Erik Lundberg is a USian now living in Singapore, and the author of several books of the fantastic — The Alchemy of Happiness (2012), Embracing the Strange (2012), Red Dot Irreal (2011), The Time Traveler’s Son (2008), and Four Seasons in One Day (with Janet Chui, 2003) — one children’s book —
A New Home For Jia Jia and Kai Kai A New Home For Bo Bo and Cha Cha (2012) — and more than a hundred short stories, articles, and book reviews. He is also the the founding editor of LONTAR: The Journal of Southeast Asian Speculative Fiction, series editor of Best New Singaporean Short Stories, and editor of Fish Eats Lion (2012), A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (2008), and Scattered Covered Smothered (2004). His writing has appeared in venues such as Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, the Raleigh News & Observer, Qarrtsiluni, Sybil’s Garage, Strange Horizons, Subterranean Magazine, The Third Alternative, Electric Velocipede, and many other places.
His short fiction has been nominated for the SLF Fountain Award, shortlisted for the Brenda L. Smart Award for Short Fiction, and honorably mentioned in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. From 2005-2008, he facilitated an occasional podcast called Lies and Little Deaths: A Virtual Anthology. With his wife, artist-writer Janet Chui, he runs Two Cranes Press, a critically-acclaimed independent publishing atelier established in 2003. He is a graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and holds a degree in creative writing from North Carolina State University, and is an active member in Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and PEN American Center.
Jaym Gates: Jason, thanks for taking the time to discuss Red Dot Irreal your new collection from Math Paper Press. “Bogeyman,” the first story in the collection, is an action-packed steampunkish tale of magic, romance and adventure. Was this story inspired by any historical tales?
Jason Erik Lundberg: Not from any specific tales per se, but I was inspired by legends of the Bugis, who were a seafaring ethnic group in the mid-1800s and were known to be quite fearsome throughout the Indonesian archipelago. I’ve lived in Singapore for the past five and a half years, and I love the idea that such a squeaky clean paternalistic country was once a popular haven for regional pirates (although quite likely different from the ones presented in the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie). I also found it fascinating that the stories brought back by British sailors about the ruthlessness of the Bugis led to the more generic term “bogeyman” as a way to frighten children into behaving themselves.
I initially wrote this story as a challenge for a pirate-themed anthology edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer called Fast Ships, Black Sails. And they quite rightly rejected it; the pirates are largely off-stage for most of the story, only making an appearance near the end. However, to my surprise, Bill Schafer bought it for Subterranean Magazine right afterward, and I was honored that it was published in the magazine’s final print issue.