In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at J.N. Powell and her story “Emry, the One Who Remembered.”
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
I took an online writing workshop with fantasy writer Betsy James, and one of the prompts was an article about the bog mummies found in the peatlands of Europe. Some of them are comprised of various bones that originate from more than one person. I’ve always been fascinated with Frankenstein-esque experiments, so the bog mummies gave me a more mystical outlet to explore the topic of piecing together humans.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
Emry is selected to house the body parts of the other chosen because she has that solemn strength, the fragile fortitude, to remain steadfast despite the chaos storming inside her. It is only because she refuses the call to say the sacred names, to wait until the appointed time, that the transformation succeeds. I love Emry because she isn’t in-your-face strong. She is meditative and reserved, which is often a virtue not recognized in America.
Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
I chose to go with Asian-inspired elements, such as the jade comb, the silk robes, and the wood-carved furniture in the shape of dragons. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures value the meditative kind of strength I spoke of earlier—more so than American or Western European cultures. I wanted the setting to outwardly reflect what was inside of Emry.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
To put it simply, my story is about sacrificing yourself for the greater good, to die in order to save countless others. People sacrifice themselves every day. Not that they necessarily die for others, but they put aside their own dreams and desires in favor of another’s. And this goes unrecognized, even dismissed. But Emry remembers the chosen. Indeed, it is the power of their combined names which summons the gods. So I guess the final message is to never forget all the people who gave up something to help you. They live on inside you. Honor them.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
Almost every sentence was changed—incrementally or drastically—from the first draft until I finally had the finished product. But this one sentence remained almost unchanged. I suppose that means it’s the one I’m most proud: “The last of her memories, her being, would rush out, and she would be replaced to overflowing with visions and terrible truths.”
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
Lady Emry Survives the Fifth Day; Oracle Queen Lives On to Lead Us to Victory
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Perhaps it’s mundane, but my best money was spent on my laptop. I’m frugal by nature, so I wanted to get a cheapo one when my old one died, but my husband refused. He told me it’s the one thing I use every single day, and I use it for something I love. So buy “my love” what it deserves.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
Who Fears Deathby Nnedi Okorafor. If my name could be even loosely associated with such a seminal piece of literature…well, go ahead and put me in the ground because my life would be complete.
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
In the summer of 2014, at thirty, I attended the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop at the University of Kansas. It was there that Chris McKitterick, the workshop leader, stated to the group that if we wanted to be professional writers, then we had to act professional. Write every day. Seek publication. Attend conferences and workshops. Read and study and connect with other writers. I guess I had been afraid before then to take myself seriously, like I needed permission. Well, Chris gave it to me, and ever since then, it’s been the most fulfilling time of my life.
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
I’m a big fan of Nightcrawler from The X-Men. He isn’t really a warrior, but a rescuer. His teleportation powers allow for spying, sneaking, distracting, escaping, and saving—and always in order to aid someone else. Teleportation is a subtle kind of power, done in secret, so that’s the one for me.
J.N. Powell lives in Texas, where she is an English and Creative Writing instructor by day and Fiction Editor for Ad Astraand Clockhousemagazines by night. She is an alum of the Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop at the University of Kansas and recently earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Her work has appeared in Typehouse,The Future Fire,Space Squid, and The Overcast, among others.
Follow our Amazon page for TRANSCENDENT’s release this holiday season!
Photo Credit: (c) “The Oracle” by Jenn Bredemeier