Wednesday, September 27, 2017


An interview with Joyce Chng, author of Water Into Wine.

Hi! Welcome to Zigzag Timeline. Can you tell us about your background as an author?

Hello! Well, I started reading a lot when I was a kid and I watched science fiction cartoons.  Started dabbling about 9-10 and only dove into writing when I started reading science fiction novels like Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern. My first full novel(la) was actually fanfiction! In uni, I took Creative Writing modules and I was awful. Kept getting B-s! Also wrote many fanfics during my uni years. I only started writing for real in my early 30s when I left teaching.

I guess I am from the School of Hard Knocks where you learn from your mistakes and keep on writing. Writing is a craft which you hone like muscles.

What got you into writing?

The love of and for the written word. The joy of entering into new worlds.

What was the first idea you had for your book, and how did the story grow from there?

For Water Into Wine, I got the first idea when I visited a vineyard in Australia. I didn't really explore the idea until I sat down to plan what to write for Nanowrimo that year. I was struggling to cope with the loss of my grandmother. So writing the story dealt with many things: coping with my grief and dealing with the changes in myself. Of course, the vineyard served as the backdrop for the story to unfold.

Among your characters, who's your favorite? Could you please describe him/her?

Xin, the main protagonist. To me, they are strong-willed, protective of their family and kind. Very very human. Messy, because since when do we pigeonhole people into neat little boxes and expect them to behave in a certain way? Chinese, wiry strength, tough on the outside, gentle from the inside. Changing and adapting to adverse situation.

What's your favorite scene from your novel? Could you please describe it?

Gosh, there are many! One of my favorite scenes is one of the more atmospheric ones in the novel. As Xin and their family realize that war has broken out, they watch stars streak across the night sky. These falling stars are basically the broken pieces of exploded starships.

What's your favorite part of writing? Plotting? Describing scenes? Dialogue?

My favorite part of writing is world-building. Creating the world, the land, the culture(s) with their traditions and customs.

How long does it take you to write a book? Do you have a writing process, or do you wing it?

It really depends. Sometimes, I do plan and have a rough outline where the story is supposed to go. Sometimes, in the midst of writing, I just wing it, because characters have minds of their own.

What is it about the genre you chose that appeals to you?

My genre is science fiction and fantasy. SFF appeals to me because I can make worlds. I envision worlds into being.

Are there any books or writers that have had particular influence on you?

Anne McCaffrey is one such author. Pern was/is my first fandom and I still love it. Likewise, I love Frank Herbert's Dune series and I still go back to the books. They are like old friends. My desert planet YA sff is partly influenced by Dune. The idea of the desert reclaiming back its land, cultures adapted to living in an acrid world.

Did you ever surprise yourself when you were writing your book? Characters who took on lives of their own? Plot elements that took unexpected turns?

Yes, definitely! I didn't expect to resonate so much with Xin. Likewise, I didn't expect to hurt so much when I wrote the novel. Coping with my grandmother's passing, coming to terms with the loss... all these wove into the story. In some ways, this is a heart story: a tale that comes straight from the heart. Released, the heart feels lighter.

Thanks for stopping by!

No problem. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about my book.


What part of our family and identity is given to us by the circumstances of our birth, and what do we construct for ourselves?

Xin inherits a vineyard on a distant planet, and moves there to build a life … but an interstellar war intervenes. Will Xin’s dreams of a new life get caught in the crossfire? Xin's understanding of family and sense of self must evolve to cope with the changes brought by life on a new planet and a war that threatens everything.

Find it on: coming Sept 27

The book's webpage:


Joyce Chng lives in Singapore. She writes science fiction, YA, and things in between. Her fiction has appeared in The Apex Book of World SF II, We See a Different Frontier, Cranky Ladies of History, and Accessing the Future. Joyce also co-edited THE SEA IS OURS:  Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia with Jaymee Goh. Her alter-ego is J. Damask. She can be found at A Wolf's Tale ( and on Twitter @jolantru.

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