For the past week, I’ve been working on a very special story for a very special competition. America’s Next Author is the world’s first social writing competition. Entries are judged by social media outreach, votes, and reviews. Every week, the most popular author is nominated for the finals, and the story will be judged by a jury. The jury will also pick four authors as wildcard nominees — they may not have a lot of social outreach, but their stories impress the jury.
I’ve toyed with more traditional urban fantasy tropes for a while. In my Michael Chang series, magic is very subtle. Much of it is probability manipulation, social engineering, and ‘arranging’ fortunate incidents. But I want to do more ‘traditional’ magic in fiction too. The kind that allows great balls of fire, lightning bolts, anti-magic and other impossible phenomena. At the same time, I wanted to introduce my brand of authenticity. Think tactics, critical observation, deception and intellectual fencing. (I blame my childhood habit of reading realistic thrillers.) This competition provided the perfect opportunity to work on my vision of an urban fantasy thriller.
The result is The Wounded City.
The story is set in 1945. The Second World War ended a few months ago, but in the British colony of Sum Kong, the wounds of the Japanese Occupation has yet to heal. The British may have returned, but nationalist sentiment has firmly taken root in the city. The triads are now hunting down everybody who collaborated with the occupation authorities. A young Japanese woman is running from the triads. Her only hope is the one man in the city who does not care about race or nationality, the one man with the ability to help her evade the triads and return home.
But is she who she says she is?
And is he?
Early reviews have already come in. According to Brian KM:
“I must say, Benjamin Cheah’s writing is top-notch… The action scenes he writes is a fresh break from the sensationalized, highly unrealistic scenes that are all too common in fiction. …I am impressed with the realism of the action and the depth of the two main characters.”
If you like what you see, you can read the story here. Please share the story on Facebook and Twitter, vote for my story, and leave a review (note that you need to sign up on ebookmall before you can review). Thanks for your help.