LSQ: This story touches a bit on art for art’s sake versus what can be profited from it. Why is it so important for someone like Karla to pursue her art even when her society thinks it’s worthless?
Koji: I strongly believe that art allows humans to explore complex ideas on a subconscious level and ultimately expand our consciousness. It allows us to take a leap of faith beyond logic and potentially learn new ways of understanding others and the world around us. This is more important than ever now that we live in a global world where people constantly interact with people who do not share the same culture or language as them.
LSQ: There’s a huge difference in social interaction between the people of New and Old Ironwood. How do you think this came to be?
Koji: In this world, the rich moved underground after a minor nuclear war. The poor stayed on the surface. From what I’ve seen in the world (from the perspective of someone who has never had much wealth), wealthier people tend to have a bit stiffer, formal style of interaction in public whereas, for poor people, the public and private spheres tend to blur. Over time, this caused the underground culture to take on a more formal feel while the people who lived above ground were known for being more open and warmer.
LSQ: What was your inspiration for this story?
Koji: This story came from the novel I am working on. I kept adding in too much backstory about the crystal city so I decided writing this would allow me to move on in my book. Parts of the crystal architecture were inspired by the Tok’ra crystals in Stargate SG-1 and the ending–which is where the idea for the story started–was inspired by Blindness by José Saramago.
LSQ: Are you working on anything else at the moment? If so, can you tell us a bit about your other projects?
Koji: I always have several short stories in progress. Many of my shorts are based on the same world as this piece. In particular, I am working on a companion short to this piece that explores what happens in New Ironwood after Karla’s final act.
I also have a novel set in this world that is on its final round of revisions. It is called Casual and is about a pregnant woman with anxiety who depends on a neural implant to stabilize her moods.