We have yet another fabulous author interview up today. This time around Emily Lundgren spoke to us about her Issue 033 short story “The Last Shaper at the Witch City’s Waypoint“. Check out her story and what she has to say about it.
LSQ: Your story, in a way, is about languages and communication not only among those of the same kind, but also between those of different kinds. Can you comment on this?
Emily: I think it’s Bahktin who theorizes something along the lines of “storytelling creates community/culture,” and I had that idea in mind when I was writing this piece. I’m a firm believer that writing, especially in the genres of science fiction and fantasy, should carry some kind of meaning—because I believe that the stories we tell ourselves, tell ourselves (actually I think, that’s a Michael Martone quote). Besides that, Kit’s only link to the others is through reading. When he meets Shar, it’s the books that bind them together. In that way, the story itself is also a relationship between the writer and the reader.
LSQ: You’ve accomplished an intricate and nicely rendered combination of a mystical and futuristic setting. Does this reflect the types of stories you like to read? What are some pieces that have greatly influenced you, either for this piece or in writing in general?
Emily: Thank you! Yes, it definitely reflects the types of stories I love to read. Just recently, I’ve been enamored with JY Yang’s Tensorate series (from Tor), The Black Tides of Heaven and The Red Threads of War. I should also include the Binti trilogy (also from Tor) by Nnedi Okorafor. What I love about both—but especially Yang’s, is their ability to bind together tropes of fantasy and tropes of science fiction into their world building. Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber was also life-changing for me in terms of the style/lyricism that I use in my writing.
LSQ: The shapes that the main character, “Kit,” shifts to are predominantly canine. Was there any particular reason for this?
Emily: It just so happens that I’m currently in my last year, last semester at the Northeast Ohio MFA program, so the thesis I’m working on is a collection of short stories. Each story is meant to stand alone with its own cast of characters, but they do have overarching themes or motifs that are reoccurring. Actually, I have one other short story called “Trees Struck by Lightning” from last year in Shimmer, and it has reverse werewolves. It just so happens both of my “shaper” stories from my collection found wonderful homes!
LSQ: How was it to write this from the perspective of “Kit?” Was it challenging in any way to get into his character and see things through these naive eyes with his own language and own world?
Emily: Funnily enough, I borrowed Kit from a novel project from very, very long ago that I’ve never been able to finish. I got frustrated that I had him floating around and never got to “use” him, so I picked him up again as a narrator for this story, just to relive the glory days. I was surprised though, with how easy it was slipping back into his narration. Coming up with ways to describe things (especially technology) from narrators who don’t recognize it is always difficult, though! I think you have to strike a balance between authenticity to your character, and not boring the reader with dramatic irony (they’ve figured it out, but the narrator hasn’t).
LSQ: What was the most difficult aspect of this story to write and why?
Emily: Out of my entire thesis collection, this is the weirdest, most “experimental” story in the bunch because it doesn’t follow a traditional story structure. I deliberately began writing to showcase language/style first. Normally, character comes first for me, then world, then plot. So I think the scariest part was mixing up that order—letting my sentences do the work first—then world, then character (last). I’m so glad to see it find such a perfect home at Luna Station. [editor’s note: aw, shucks]
LSQ: Are you working on any other projects currently? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
Emily: Just the thesis, though my thesis ends with a weird west novella that is a prequel to a novel project I’ve been working on since 2011 (not the one with Kit, though). Finishing that novel is priority #1 after I graduate this spring. Looking forward to getting back to it—and getting it finished up!