Issue 044 Author Interview: Aun-Juli Riddle and “The Infinite Circus”

Welcome back to the circus, dear readers! Our popcorn is still fresh and our performers are still going strong. How is this possible? Well, much like Issue 044 author Aun-Juli Riddle’s story, our circus is infinite!

LSQ: “The Infinite Circus” is separated into sections and titles in an unusual format. What about this format helped to tell Lyra’s and Flora’s tale?

Aun-Juli: Even though I love reading stories with different structures, I haven’t always been one to experiment with them. “The Infinite Circus” felt different to me—a story that spanned complicated lifetimes—something couldn’t be contained in a simple format.It mostly boiled down to one idea: we are the authors of our own stories. Each moment is a chapter, a story, and if we thought of our lives that way, what would we name them?

If Lyra were to pen her own, what would her novel be called? “The Ringmaster Time Forgot” felt compelling, and I imagine she would find it both cheeky and honest.

Every section is its own story, its own moment in time. I adore stories within stories, and giving each section its own, perfect title felt respectful of these characters I am grateful to have written.

LSQ: Your story brings in an exciting mix of magic, history, and science fiction to the circus world. How did this combination enhance the mood and ethereal setting? The storytelling theme?

Aun-Juli: Magic and sci-fi are a delectable combination, and there’s nothing sweeter than when they’re cozied up together. Science fiction was the tea, and the magic was a sugar cube.

Giving magic to Lyra, and to the circus by extension, was a small way to make the circus truly infinite, and the folks of the Atmos 5 Station deserved every inch of possibility, imagination, and excitement.

LSQ: Long periods of lapsed time are referenced, as well as how the ringmaster escapes death. How much does the magic of the circus depend on these concepts? Is there an origin you would like to share?

Aun-Juli: For the people of Atmos 5, the seven-year span between the circus appearances absolutely lends to the magic. I don’t think it’s a stretch to envision a world like Atmos 5, a solid but melancholy community, needing something to look forward to. I imagined there were plenty of stations just like it, and each one of them wanting to inject their normal life with something far beyond anything they’d ever seen or known.  And think of what the seven-year stretch could also achieve, past the anticipation, beyond something to look forward to—think of all of the stories the people created amongst themselves. Lore and legacy! Folktales of the incredible, everlasting Ringmaster!

Stories are life, and that’s what the circus gave them.

LSQ: What else about your story did you enjoy writing? Is there something else you are working on now?

Aun-Juli: Launching a circus into space and creating an immortal ringmaster was a lot of fun, but the layer underneath, about loss and moving forward—about how it’s okay to move forward—is something incredibly comforting to me.

When we lose someone, time stands still, and we can’t see the days in front of us. This story says, hey, losing someone is hard, but you can bring them with you. It’s not a betrayal of their love to move forward, it’s not forgetting them. It’s living on for them.

As for what I’m working on, there’s so much to say, but I’ll close the interview with some cryptic word combos and hope that we can look back on it and say, hey, she mentioned that x years ago: Enchanted lighthouses, wild labyrinths, and ghost boxes!

Fingers-crossed we’ll see them published one day!