On August 19th we officially launched Cynthia Zhang’s After the Dragons, a tender queer urban fantasy. We were very lucky to have Elinam Agbo and Misha Grifka read poetry to open the event. Elinam read “On Your Way to SS Swedru,” a gorgeous poem about what we take with us when we leave our beloved homelands (and, by extension, the Earth). Misha read two poems — “drip” and “we expect sweet things to come from the ground” — both grappling with the practical challenges of deteriorating ecosystems, social systems, and the tenderness that remains despite these things.
Kari Maaren sang two hilariously true ukelele tunes, both challenging fantasy tropes. “Chosen One” and “Your Sexy Werewolf” provided some levity before we heard a reading by author of the hour, Cynthia Zhang. The launch then wrapped up with a Q&A and a prize giveaway.
The launch video is now online, with subtitles provided for those who need or want them. If you want to be notified of future launches, sign up for Stelliform Press’s newsletter here. If After the Dragons sounds like a book you can’t miss, go here to purchase a signed copy printed on recycled paper.
On August 19th we’re launching Cynthia Zhang’s After the Dragons, the book that Mary Robinette Kowal called a “beautiful jewel-box of a novel” and Booklist described as “introspective fantasy [with] enormous heart and astonishing depth.” Readers are excited about this soft fantasy and we’re excited to host an online launch party in its honour!
On August 19th, 8pm ET, come to a fun online evening of poetry, music, discussion, and dragons as Stelliform Press launches Cynthia Zhang’s debut queer fantasy novel. Plus join us on Reddit’s r/fantasy for a post-launch AMA! Go to Eventbrite for more info and to sign up.
Good news, writers! We’re opening for submissions from all writers, agented or non-agented, on September 1, 2021. We’ve been closed to general submissions for about a year, accepting submissions only from BIPOC writers. Now we are looking for 2-3 novellas, novels, or short story collections to publish in 2022 or 2023. BIPOC, LGBTQ2S, disabled and other marginalized writers are still very much encouraged to submit.
If you’re not familiar with what we’ve published before, have a look at our books here. On that page you can find links to excerpts and video readings, plus all the usual synopses and cover art. If you’re thinking of submitting, please read about the press and the kind of work we’re interested in, and our submissions guidelines. You can also read about our editorial, publicity, and design team here.
We recently did an interview with Toronto’s Word on the Street team, and this video gives a great overview of the press and some of the stories that we’ve already published. Publisher and Editor-In-Chief Selena Middleton and authors Sim Kern (Depart, Depart!) and Cynthia Zhang (After the Dragons) talk climate fiction, the power of speculative fiction, and the connections between these genres and subgenres and queer stories.
See you in the slush pile!
We’re currently holding our second giveaway of advance review copies of Cynthia Zhang’s tender queer fantasy novel, After the Dragons. If you haven’t already heard the buzz about this book, we invite you to watch this video of the author briefly talking about her intimate approach to the fantasy genre, and reading a short excerpt. After the Dragons is a queer romantic fantasy novel which will be published by Stelliform Press on August 19th. The book is Cynthia Zhang’s first novel.
The video reading includes captions for those who prefer or require them and the full text of the excerpt is provided below. Be sure to sign up for the contest, or learn more about AFTER THE DRAGONS and pre-order a copy here. Also, signing up for our newsletter will keep you in the loop about our upcoming launch event which will include some fabulous opening acts, and a chance to talk about the book with the author and publisher.
It’s dark inside the store. A few dragons chirp in protest when Kai flips on the light, but the room is otherwise silent.
Kai glances around the shop, assessing the lines of cages and tanks. Then, without saying a word, he closes the door, slips his sketchpad under the front desk, and walks decisively toward the back of the shop.
After a moment of hesitation, Eli follows. “Do you want any help?” he asks as Kai slips a thick, leather glove over one hand.
“What, and have the whole shop escape? You can stand there, and if I need anything from the top shelves, you can take it down for me.”
“I think I can pull that off,” Eli says as Kai steps toward a cage in which a blue dragon sits atop a pile of rocks, preening the scales on its back. Compared to the tianlong Eli sometimes sees clustering on rooftops and stop lights, this dragon is larger and sleeker, the size of a hawk with a narrow chest and long curving wings. Feathery frills circle the dragon’s head, giving an appearance halfway between a lion’s mane and an Elizabethan neck ruff worn by a draconic poet.
Kai makes a high, clicking sound, and the dragon raises its neck toward him, imperious as a little monarch. “Hello to you too, your highness,” he says, unhooking the door and sticking his gloved hand inside. The dragon glances at the glove, then back up at Kai: and?
Rolling his eyes, Kai takes a dead mouse from one pocket and dangles it in front of the cage. The dragon cocks its head to one side, politely uninterested. “Oh, come on now,” Kai says, shaking his hand. “Cixi, baobei, piece of shit, don’t be like that —”
“Cixi? Like the empress?”
“Just like the empress,” Kai confirms, eyes intent on the dragon as she gingerly steps onto his wrist to take a bite — the smallest bite — of the mouse. “Almost as bad as the human one, too. Bossy little thing,” he says, carefully lifting his hand out of the cage, spindly dragon and all. “Isn’t that right, princess?”
In response, Cixi trills, licking her snout as she snatches the mouse and swallows it whole. Her eyes are tawny, and in the dim light, they gleam like gold coins against delicate whiskers and blue scales.
“She’s beautiful,” Eli says, leaning forward. “What is she?”
“A pain in the ass? Careful — this one does bite,” Kai warns as he hands Eli a strip of dried meat.
Eli offers it to Cixi, who sniffs the jerky before deigning to take it from him.
“In terms of breed, feilong, which goes a long way toward explaining the sense of superiority since they supposedly only appear to ‘great men’ in the wild.” Kai strokes her neck, Cixi leaning into the touch before snapping at his fingers. “Doesn’t do anything to explain the stubbornness or complete lack of manners.”
“Like owner, like dragon, maybe?”
Kai glances up, and for a second, Eli is unsure whether he’s earned the right to say what he did — but then Kai laughs, a short, surprised sound that turns into a wry smile. Eli can’t help smiling back. And then, with no warning whatsoever, Cixi swoops off Kai’s wrist and out the door, a glistening blue blur with Eli’s jerky between her teeth.
“Oh, fuck,” Kai mutters before sprinting after her.
Thanks once again to Literary CelebrAsian for helping us to reach more readers, especially those interested in exciting new takes on Chinese dragons and LGBTQ issues in Beijing.
We gave away two copies of Cynthia Zhang’s queer fantasy novel AFTER THE DRAGONS in June, but we’re keen to get this book into more hands before its August 19th release date. So we’re teaming up with Literary CelebrAsian to hold another giveaway from July 5 to 11, with winners contacted on Monday June 12.
If you’ve already heard about this sweet and tender book, skip down to the sign up form below. We’re using Rafflecopter for the first time in hopes to make entering the contest quick and easy.
About the Book
In an overheated Beijing, researcher Elijah Ahmed and activist Xiang Kaifei join forces to save the city’s beleaguered dragons and find a cure for Kai’s illness. Grief hangs over their relationship and Eli and Kai must confront hard truths if there is any hope for themselves or the dragons.
After the Dragons is a tender story, for readers interested in the effects of climate change on environments and people, but who don’t want a grim, hopeless read. Beautiful and challenging, focused on hope and care, this novel navigates the nuances of changing culture in a changing world.
How to Enter the Giveaway
Use the widget below to enter the giveaway. Complete as many entry options as you like. All options are good for one entry, save for signing up for the Stelliform newsletter, which will get you two entries.