Wham! Biff! Kapow! ACTION! with S.L. Huang, Julia Vee, and Ken Bebelle

Tor Books, in partnership with Literary Hub, presents Voyage Into Genre! Every other Wednesday, join host Drew Broussard for conversations with Tor authors discussing their new books, the future, and the future of genre. Oh, and maybe there’ll be some surprises along the way…

There is a particular kind of joy that comes from a really good action sequence. Your pulse starts to race, you feel yourself leaning forward in anticipation and excitement, and time seems to become elastic. This is true (for me, anyway) in books as well as live-action (be it TV/film or stage) — and so what better place than a genre podcast to get into some ACTION?

This week, we join S.L. Huang (The Water Outlaws) for a chat about writing fight scenes that flow, about re-telling a classic of Chinese literature, and the tricky ethical confluence of power and innovation and morality. Plus, Drew says “Barbenheimer” and nobody quite knows what to do about it! Then, our first-ever writing duo: Julia Vee & Ken Bebelle drop in to talk about rooting their urban fantasy on the West Coast, their dynamic-duo origin story, and taking inspiration from (while also critiquing) John Wick. Finally, no third interview this week — we planned and recorded a conversation with a stunt performer but because we don’t cross picket lines, we’re shelving it. Instead, some thoughts about why this strike remains important.

See you in two weeks,

Subscribe and download the episode, wherever you get your podcasts!

Read the full episode transcript here.


S.L. Huang on stepping into & joining Water Margin‘s history of fan-fiction remixes:

I’m a big fan of fan fiction and remixes and have been my whole life, so this was very natural to me.

It was very natural to me to choose, oh, this is the story that I’m interested in telling, and I can move this other storyline. So it kind of overlaps, and I can reference this one as an Easter egg, you know, that’s very fun for me. I’ve written fairytale retellings and references as well, and reimagined stuff. To me it’s all in conversation. And, and that’s really, really cool. There’s actually a funny story in water margin’s history. There are four novels in Chinese history that are considered the classic Chinese novels, sometimes six, but always those four definitely and one of those is Water Margin and if you say there are six, one of the other two that you count is called Jin Ping Mei, and it’s a, I wanna say 17th century ish novel and it’s, it’s basically a fan fiction of Water Margin. Water M argin has almost no sexual content. And Jin Ping Mei introduced something like 72 ultra kinky on-page sex scenes between the Water Margin characters.

So fan fiction is way older than we think, right? So, I mean, this is a huge part of water margin’s history as well, the ways people have reimagined it, and I’ve, I’ve certainly seen many adaptations of it for television, there’s some very famous video games that have been based on it, trading cards, like, you know, this has been something that people have done for a long time. So that felt very natural to me and it’s just fun. It’s fun to, to do. It’s like a puzzle.

Julia Vee & Ken Bebelle on the beginnings of their writing partnership:

Ken Bebelle: We were both those kids who always came to school with extra books because we would be bored and just be reading in the back of the class.

Julia Vee: We had all the same, you know, nerdy overlaps– Magic: the Gathering cards and Dungeons and Dragons and I was a huge Sandman fan. We had to rely on like ancient technology to collaborate back then too. We had a five and a quarter floppy disc we used to exchange, by our lockers at school, and Ken had this printer at home, like it was like a daisy wheel?

Ken Bebelle: Yeah, a daisy wheel printer that sounded like a Gatling gun when it was printing. we uh, we entered a contest. We wrote and sorcery novel that is little cringey, in retrospect. I had print it out at like 11 o’clock at night, I had to bury the printer under piles of bath towels, so I wouldn’t wake up the house. It printed out on perforated paper.

Julia Vee: Yeah, it’s a lot easier now ’cause we have Google Docs, right? So we can write at the same time.


Tor Presents: Voyage into Genre is a co-production with Lit Hub Radio. Hosted by Drew Broussard. Studio engineering + production by Stardust House Creative. Music by Dani Lencioni of Evelyn.

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