#amwriting,  The Business End of a Pen

Crossing the (genre) streams

The Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine featured one of my short stories–“The Debtor,” a crime story set during Christmastime in New York City.

(I don’t know what it is about New York City that has inspired me to base all of my crime fiction stories here–maybe it was one too many Law & Order marathons–but here you go and there you have it.)

It’s a significant publication for me, not only because of the publication itself (EQMM has been publishing award-winning mystery/crime fiction for 80+ years), but because crime fiction is not my usual genre. And I am almost more proud of that than for the accomplishment of landing in EQMM’s prestigious pages.

Years ago, I was advised to stay in one genre if I wanted to become a successful writer. The advice sounded good (and it was coming from a NYT-bestselling author), but I struggled with it because I kept thinking, “But what if I wrote this, can that be considered fantasy? Or that? Or, or, or…?”

The push that shoved me over the cliff came from a writing workshop in which I was determined to come out with 7 fresh fantasy stories. But I realized after the second prompt arrived in my inbox that I really, really, REALLY wanted to write a science fiction story to fulfill that particular assignment. And then the next one was contemporary fiction. And the next one was crime. And one assignment was straight-up romance as a requirement. (Flunked that one, I couldn’t quite manage the hang of romance.) I ended that workshop with 6 new stories, only ONE of which could be considered truly fantasy.

But I’d also managed to cross the streams, blow up a few dimensional gates, and have a blast.

So I kept going. Now I write stories as they come, in whatever genres they want to arrive. Because if writing isn’t fun, then it’s work. And that isn’t a good place to write from at all.

I’m grateful to all of you readers who somehow find, read, and like my stories; that’s real success to me. So thank you, from my heart, where stories should come from, and will keep coming.

C.H. Hung grew up among the musty book stacks of public libraries, where she found a lifelong love for good stories and lost 20/20 vision for good. Her stories have appeared in Analog SF&F, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and khōréō magazines, as well as anthologies edited by Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, among others. She was a third-place winner of the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award in 2023.