It’s that time again — we’re excited to share an interview with our Issue 035 author Wendy Nikel about her short story “Rain Like Diamonds.” Go check out the story, then come back and enjoy what she has to say.
LSQ: A wise queen sits center stage in this story. Some might be inclined to note that it’s typically a king. Can you comment on the protagonist’s gender?
Wendy: Often in fairy tales, when a woman is in a position of power, she’s a ruthless, heartless ruler, usually with some sort of jealousy issues tacked on for good measure. So in this story, I purposely strove to subvert that “evil queen” trope. I wanted this queen to be someone who was wise and strong, who ultimately wanted to do what was best for the people in her kingdom.
LSQ: Poor dragons, always getting blamed for everything. Can you comment on the dragon’s role in this story and the son’s refreshingly empathetic response?
Wendy: I purposely left the dragon’s role in the famine somewhat vague, not going into detail about the day that it scorched the fields. The men of the kingdom claim that that was the beginning of all the trouble and that it hasn’t rained since, but they never acknowledge why the dragon came out of its cave and went on attack. Was it provoked? Was it starving? Was it some sort of misunderstanding? We don’t know, because the point of view is tied to the queen and the villagers — not the dragon — and they’re simply placing blame without taking the time to think those questions through. The queen’s son holds a different view; of all the people, he’s the only one who sees the harm in killing the creature and acknowledges the real repercussions for their mindset.
LSQ: What was the most challenging part about this story to write? What was the most enjoyable? Why?
Wendy: I think the most challenging aspect of writing this story was the third person omniscient point of view that I used, since it isn’t a viewpoint I use very often in my writing. While a lot of fairy tales are written in this style, more modern stories tend to favor closer perspectives that really focus in on one character so the reader can get to know them more personally. While the queen is the main character, there were enough insights into other characters and their emotions and motives that I wanted to explore in this story, too, so that I opted to go for the less-familiar perspective.
My favorite part of writing this story, as with most stories, is working in all the little details that really make the setting and the characters come alive and finding just the right words to paint those pictures in the reader’s mind.
LSQ: Can you name a few fantasy writers you admire and tell us why?
Wendy: I’m a huge fan of historical fantasy, which combines magical elements with real-world settings from the past. I love history and learning about the past, and exploring how people in various eras would have interacted with speculative elements adds a whole new dimension to the stories. Some of my favorite novels in this sub-genre have been written by authors such as Mary Robinette Kowal, Cherie Priest, Rae Carson, and Naomi Novik. I love how these writers engage the readers both with the vivid, real-world details of the historical era they’re writing about and with fresh, creative magical elements.
LSQ: Are you working on any other projects lately? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
Wendy: My biggest project in the works right now is a series of time travel novellas published by World Weaver Press. The first book, The Continuum, was released in January, with a second book following in July. I also have several new short stories slated for publication, which readers can keep up on by subscribing to my monthly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/