“I had been accumulating elements of a gambling story for as long as I can remember. One pivotal moment, although I could hardly have known it then, was when I saw an episode of the ABC show That’s Incredible in third or fourth grade. They had a blind dealer on as a guest, and his trick was that he could separate a 52-card deck into two smaller decks, one containing all the royal cards, and the other containing the rest, just from quickly feeling the weight of each card. The especially haunting aspect of his performance was the fact that he made one error—a ten, I believe—which is a card that has almost the same amount of ink imprinted upon it as a face card. I held many, many small experiences such as this in my subconscious that finally emerged when I was composing Queen of Spades.”
Read the rest here

Queen of Spades landed on the 35 Over 35 list of best 35 debut books by writers over the age of 35! Congrasts to my pressmate Renee Macalino Rutledge who also made the list with her gorgeous debut Hour of Daydreams.
See the entire list here

Queen of Spades also landed on Seattle-area bookseller Mercer Island Book’s Paperback Power Trio along with Hernan Diaz’s In the Distance and Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.
Read more here


Shum devised the plot based on his own experiences as a dealer and on the stories told to him by a fellow pit dealer, who in 1984 dealt one of the most impressive hands of faro in the 20th century. Shum writes with precision, but it is his power of observation that transforms Queen of Spades into a deeper rumination on avarice, willpower and the uncomfortable alliances forged at the gambling table. Games of chance become the canvas on which Shum examines the internal battle among personal motivation, personal redemption and despair. (Nancy Powell)
Read the rest here

Thank you to Literary Hub for publishing one of my favorite chapters from Queen of Spades, “Lottery,” as their Daily Fiction for November 2, 2017:

Barbara was late to the meeting, and she rushed to it directly from her job at the call center. It was only after she settled down in her metal folding chair next to the two new-comers that she noticed the socks under her slacks were mismatched: one was navy and one black, a difference she’d been unable to distinguish in the dark that morning. She crossed her ankles and moved them underneath the seat, next to her purse, and tried to pay attention to what Dimsberg was saying, but her mind was distracted by the discovery of the socks—and Chimsky’s phone call that morning, out of the blue, asking her to meet for a drink. Could anyone be more dense?

Read the rest here