What happens when a space pirate’s past comes back to haunt her? Issue 051 story “2122, Barrel-Aged and Biding,” that’s what! Today author Jordan Hirsch is here to talk about the writing process for this fantastic tale.
LSQ: You do an amazing job building the anticipation here! What is your advice for creating tension without totally giving away what’s about to happen?
Jordan: For me, the smaller the detail, the slower the pace. If I can focus on a character’s hangnail, a barely audible chiming in the distance, or the rough feel of burlap, it makes the reader lean forward, drawing them deeper into the story. If I can slow them up just a bit by taking a microscopic view and then choose the right detail to hit on whatever emotion I’m hoping to evoke, the anticipation and tension should be there.
LSQ: Shida’s past is hinted at but never fully explored. Why did you choose to give readers only a glimpse? Why not explore more of what was surely a rich and storied life?
Jordan: This story was loosely inspired by a real-life female pirate, actually, so I felt like the backstory was already written! But generally, I’ve always been fascinated with epilogues, with what happens to the characters after the main tale. Where did they go after their battle/conflict/trauma? How did they keep living their life? What about all those loose ends–they’d need to get tied up eventually, for better or worse. I asked myself what it would be like for a space pirate in retirement, and the story went from there.
LSQ: Where do you see Shida going from here? Do you think you’ll revisit her in the future?
Jordan: I don’t know if I’ll revisit her. I typically don’t like happy endings, so I kind of want to avoid writing what could happen next. There are still members of her former crew out there, so she has to be on guard. Will she be able to fend off the rest of them? Will she even want to? I’d like to think that she’ll live out the rest of her life in peace as a barkeep in this little space station saloon, but I’m not so sure.
LSQ: Who and what inspires your writing?
Jordan: I often find myself inspired by other creative pieces: stories, poems, movies, songs. My brain tends to get fixated on one minute detail, such as a word, a tiny element of the setting, or one specific character trait, and then go hog wild fleshing out an entirely different story based on that one thing. If I’m lucky, this new story works independently of its initial inspiration. However, this can lead to funny reoccurrences in my work. I don’t know how many drafts of poems and short stories I have from the past year that feature the tartness of lemon (one will be out in March, in fact)!