Guest Chick: SG Wong

We are so excited to welcome SG Wong, author of the Lola Starke mysteries and current president of Sisters in Crime!

The Lola Starke series is set in 1930s-era Crescent City, a fictionalized “Chinese Los Angeles” in an alternate history in which China established a city-state colony at the start of the Gold Rush. This alternate history also contains ghosts and magic, historically-accurate fashion, and plenty of attitude.

When Cynthia generously invited me to write a guest post here, I immediately wondered if this was really the right place for me. My Lola Starke novel series isn’t cozy or even traditional mystery. They’re noir-tinged hard-boiled PI stories, set in a 1930s-era world that includes ghosts and magic. And while I personally love a good laugh, the themes in my Lola Starke novels and Crescent City short stories are usually dark, and often heavy. Bad things happen on the page and justice isn’t necessarily served in palatable ways.

And yet… I don’t think I’m alone in experiencing times when I stood out from those around me. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling out of place sometimes—or even, most of the time.

My first public appearance as a published author, I participated in a panel at a 3-day genre convention. The moderator had top-notch announcer’s tones, deep and resonant. (He really did enjoy the sound of his own voice, too…) Other panelists included a whip-smart writer who’d done her masters degree in detective fiction, and a talented writer competing against me for a debut novel award. Even without the intimidating co-panelists, because I’d done a bit of public speaking before that, I knew I’d have the jitters. I knew I’d have to force myself to slow down and breathe while I spoke. What I hadn’t prepared for was the war inside of me.

I wanted so badly to distinguish myself on that panel, to make a strong impression right out the gate. I wanted people to be interested in what I had to say, and by extension, in my work. I wanted to make people laugh, but also to think about the topic from a fresh perspective. (No pressure!)

I’m also an introvert, as I think many writers are. To be more specific, I’m an ambivert, or an extroverted introvert. I do, actually, sometimes, enjoy being around other people. But I always prefer to recharge with solo downtime.

My introvert side was in veritable paroxysms at the mere idea of standing out during that panel discussion. The very nerve! Who was I to want people to notice me? What did I think would come of such utter…brashness? And ohmygod did I plan on doing this more than once? In the same weekend?!?

Close to seven years have passed since then, and I swear I have some version of this same internal struggle every time I prep for a public appearance. Here’s the thing, though: being a public speaker is a choice. I want to connect with readers and fans. I want to talk shop with other authors. I want to contribute to intelligent, nuanced discourse. I choose to battle my introvert tendencies sometimes because I think it’s worth it. And I work hard to earn the opportunities to do it.

I’m also easily identifiable as a person from a marginalized group. For many of us, there is no choice but to stand out. Our physical appearance, our names can immediately dictate how others treat us—as unfamiliar, as different, as other. For sure, recent widespread violence and harassment has intensified fresh media attention on this…being-set-apart-ness, but none of this is new. It’s a normal part of our daily lives, a part we don’t choose, but a part we strive to live with, as healthily (yes, that is a word) as we can.

I mentioned before that I love to laugh. I guess you could say that’s also a choice. If I can help it, I’d rather laugh than cry. I don’t do it to make others around me more comfortable, but because there’s often too much to cry about. It can get so overwhelming.

Not that I’m 100% successful at it, and I never force myself to ignore the hard things, but I do my best to feel the dark feelings and then…let them go. It can help to find something to laugh about. Sometimes, it’s a little petty. (*waves from Twitter*) Sometimes, it’s NSFW. (This is my guaranteed pick-me-up.) Other times, it’s wholesome and sunshine-y and bright. (Otters, amirite?) Hey, I contain multitudes.

At a minimum, there are a gajillion and one things I absolutely cannot control. That includes the way other people consider me—or don’t consider me at all. It’s likely there will always be people who mark me as different for their own reasons. I don’t have a problem with being different. The problems come when people make different synonymous with wrong. That’s definitely on them. Even when the repercussions so often fall on me. Like I said, though, I can’t control that stuff.

I’d rather put my efforts into making and doing the best I can, and hopefully, uplifting others, too. If that means feeling out of place sometimes, of being >gasp< noticed, of struggling against some anxieties…okay. I may be introverted, but that doesn’t mean I’m not ambitious. Because, I gotta say, it is incredibly, deeply satisfying to transform “standing out” into outstanding.

Please comment below today for a chance to win 1 signed print edition of 1 Lola Starke novel (winner’s choice). Open to Canada and the U.S. Winner will be drawn randomly.

Sandra S.G. Wong writes fiction across genres, speaks on writing and publishing topics, and volunteers for important community causes. She has been a finalist in the Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing (Best First Novel and Best Short Story) and longlisted for the Whistler Independent Book Awards (Best Crime Fiction). Her next book is a standalone suspense novel coming from HarperCollins Canada in 2022.


41 thoughts on “Guest Chick: SG Wong

  1. I’ve just started getting into some historical mysteries and am enjoying them. I think I would like your Lola Starke series. Thank you for this chance! Readers can be introverts too. I know I am. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think you’d like the Lola series, too..! 😉 Cheekiness aside, thanks for the reminder: anyone can be an introvert and writers are readers too. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. An extroverted introvert? You’re a perfect fit for Chicks! Thanks for hanging out with us today, Sandra! And, hey, @thedailyotter is part of my feed on Twitter, too!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Despite your internal struggles, I think you’re a wonderful public speaker. You always strike me as articulate and insightful in your SinC presentations and elsewhere. Here’s hoping one day we will get to meet in person!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Sandra,
    This is a great post. I love the time in history you write. And it’s dark (I love noir). And it’s got ghosts. And magic. And it’s alternate history. How fun is that!
    As for the public speaking? I totally get you. I too have to speak occasionally, and have to overcome introvertedness to deal. How do I do it? I tend to make jokes, tell off the wall stories, and sometimes even dress up.
    And a trick I learned in college that works for many of us? I had to give a speech, and my face was streaming sweat I was so nervous. I got on stage and purposefully took my slippery sliding glasses off in front of everyone. I didn’t see hardly any faces, just bodies. It really helps me, and people think it looks cool to take off the glasses that way!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Hi Sandra: Thank you so much for visiting us today! And what a thoughtful post. I always admire the high level of poise and positive energy in your public speaking. You’re amazing!

    Those situations can be daunting–I remember being on one panel where the other panelists were so charming and delightful that I just settled into listening to what they were saying and didn’t speak at all for, like, the first fifteen minutes…then the panelist next to me elbowed me and whispered, “say something.” 😉 Oops.

    Thank you too for the Izzard Vader link: “This one is wet, this one is wet, this one is wet…” HA.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha, I’m so glad you liked the video, it’s guaranteed to make me laugh. My husband and I often quote bits at one another, esp. when one of us is too much in our heads. Thanks so, so much for having me. You’re so kind and warm and welcoming. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

  6. What a beautiful post, Sandra. And you’ve captured the issue so well: “The problems come when people make ‘different’ synonymous with ‘wrong’.” We have to learn that we all belong equally to this world, and that our differences only make it a more wonderful and vibrant place.

    Thank you so much for visiting the Chicks today–and yes, this IS absolutely the right place for you! And thank you, too, for all you do for Sisters in Crime!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Leslie! And, it’s such a privilege to lead Sisters in Crime, and to be the latest link in the chain of amazing, accomplished women before me.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Thanks for visiting today, Sandra–and you’re very welcome here! I love all those word gems you gave us today: ambivert (gotta use that sometime) and standing out –> outstanding.

    Thank you for sharing such heartfelt and wise observations! Best to you with your SinC leadership and novels (including WINDFALL, coming out in 2022)!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much for your warmth and the kind words, Jen. I’m supposed to be editing a draft of WINDFALL right now, actually…but you know, this seems slightly more fun at the moment. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  8. You’re a fabulous public speaker and an inspiration to introverts. When I was a shaky mess before my first mystery conference panel, you steadied my nerves. Outstanding, and outstandingly generous to others!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Sandra, this is such a lovely post! I’m so glad you visited us today. Know that the door to the Chick hen house is always open to you, any time you want to visit. I hope our paths cross in real life soon!

    Congrats on all your success, and THANKS for steering SinC for a bit!

    Liked by 4 people

  10. What a great post! I love the term “ambivert” – that suits me to a tee. Same for public speaking: it’s not uncomfortable until I overthink it, then I draw a blank. Your books sound great. I’m glad I learned about them in this post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I was very much introverted as a child and really sort of grew into being an ambivert later in life. Goes to show we’re all always changing! Thanks for your kind words, and I’m glad you learned of the books, too..! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Sandra, what a lovely, fantastic, post. (And please forgive the late chime-in!) We’re so thrilled that you’re here to share your wisdom and insight. I’m definitely going to channel your wonderful perspective on standing out and being outstanding next time I have to speak publicly. (And in general!) Congrats on the fantastic series and much gratitude for your Sisters in Crime leadership. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Well, I think I know the event and panel you’re talking about, Sandra, and you sure impressed me that day. I have no recollection of anyone else on the panel, but the concept of your protagonist in an alternate 1930s history stayed with me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hi Sandra, I’m so sorry I’m late to the party (my hubby had surgery yesterday), but it was very nice to meet you and learn about your books. What a lovely post. You’ve given this Chick a lot to think about. I can’t decide whether I am an extrovert or an introvert–maybe I am an ambivert! One thing is for sure–I’m a big talker. But public speaking? Terrifying. I will be braver next time, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for popping in when you clearly have more important things on the go, Lisa! I hope your husband is on the mend. ❤


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