SG Wong’s Crescent City is a fictionalized “Chinese Los Angeles,” in an alternate history where China established a city colony at the start of came to be known as the gold rush. In addition, SG Wong adds the elements of ghosts and magic, making them normal parts of everyday life. Not every City dweller is haunted; not everyone can perform magic—but no one’s surprised when it happens.

The novels centre on Lola Starke, a gwai (non-Chinese) PI with a trust fund and a contentious relationship with her unwanted ghost, Aubrey. The novels start in 1934. Some of the short stories happen earlier; some later.

The short stories are an expansion on the City and on Lola’s circle of family, friends, and acquaintances. For the Crescent City short stories, SG Wong chooses to focus on characters that are involved, or have been mentioned, in at least one of the novels. Lola is referenced in some manner in each of these short stories.


Sometimes, readers like a boost to start putting their feelings into words. Here are some questions to spark discussion about the Lola Starke novels and the world of Crescent City.


Short Stories: Movable Type / The Fix / Parting Shot / Survivors' Pension

"Movable Type" is published in the Canadian crime writing anthology, AB Negative (Coffin Hop Press, 2015). This story stars Valeria Monteverde, a reporter for the Crescent City Herald, and Lola Starke’s best friend. The action in “Movable Type” happens about two weeks prior to the events in Die On Your Feet.

"The Fix" is published in the inaugural issue of Sleuth Magazine (August 2015). Butch Starke, Lola’s father, is the main character in this tale, set in 1910, which also features Nicky Lo, who appears prominently in the Lola Starke novel, In For A Pound.

"Parting Shot" is published in The Dame Was Trouble (Coffin Hop Press, 2018), an anthology of Canadian women crime writers, edited by a team of women, in acknowledgement of The Year of Publishing Women. This short story focuses on a particular member of the powerful Wu family, introduced in Devil Take the Hindmost.

"Survivors’ Pension" is a fun and challenging departure from my other short stories, as it takes place in Vancouver, BC, and in modern times, rather than in Crescent City during the 1930s and earlier. I got to extrapolate the alternate history I created for Crescent City and explore what contemporary west coast life might look like—for the down and out, that is. The anthology is part of the long and esteemed line of ‘City Noir’ anthologies published by indie press, Akashic Books, out of NYC.

Other (non-fiction): SG Wong was published in the September 2015 issue of Avenue Edmonton magazine. She wrote the #YEG essay for that month. Read it here.

AB Negative
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Sleuth Magazine
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