On the verge of a new anthology, we are celebrating IN THE AIR with a behind the scenes view of authors and their stories. Here’s a look at Joanna Koch and her story “Silap Inua.”
ABOUT THE STORY
Tell me a little about your story and the world you’ve created.
“Silap Inua” is a story about power and possession and voices. It’s about glimpsing magic in a frozen emotional landscape where fear and desire clash. A young woman attempts to navigate her sexuality and resistance in a world dominated by patriarchal myth. She’s armed with few personal resources or role models, and she makes questionable choices, but she travels through magic worlds and gains a certain degree of power and manic insight.
What came first, the plot or the characters?
Neither. An image came first. I saw a lovely mouth, feminine, blowing on a creature in her hand and annihilating it with her soft breath.
If you had to describe your protagonist in three words, what would they be?
Disconnected, angry, vulnerable.
What is something about your protagonist that only you know?
Sorry, I’m a Scorpio. I don’t divulge secrets.
Which scene was the most difficult to write and why?
Accepting Leandra’s choices towards the end bothered me. I wanted something beautiful and empowering to end her story, and she was not having it. I rewrote this story more times than I’d like to admit. Leandra was my problem child. In the final draft, I had to let her make her own mistakes and stop trying to fix her story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Wander, read, garden, take pictures of bugs. Rid my life of whatever prevents me from writing.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your stories?
The patriarchal constraints of the western fairy tale seem to be mutations of older stories that were shared in communal rituals of empowerment. Margaret A. Mills “A Cinderella Variant in the Context of a Muslim Women’s Ritual” gave me chills when I discovered it. Go read it now!
Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?
Yes: Your time and privacy are irreplaceable resources. Do not let guilt hold them hostage. Do not succumb to the fleeting techno-gratification of the moment. Be selfish. The work matters. No one else is going to write what you write.
What do you think makes a good story?
I like stories that make me uncomfortable, stories that leave me uncertain about the outcome, or feeling provoked on some level. A great story is like a bot-fly hatching eggs in your brain that take on a life of their own.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
Become a bat or a lizard.
What is your favorite writing tool or technique?
Mining my dream states, both awake and asleep. I try to always go to bed with a story problem for my brain to solve. I let my brain dream when I’m awake, as needed.
How would you describe your general writing voice and tone?
Measured, desperate madness. Not quite Artaud.
Share something fun or interesting:
My garden in winter.
Author Joanna Koch writes literary horror and surrealist trash. Her short stories have been published in journals and anthologies including New Millennium Writings and Doorbells at Dusk. Joanna is a Contemplative Psychotherapy graduate of Naropa University who lives and works near Detroit. Follow her monstrous musings at. horrorsong.blog
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Featured Photo Credit: Girl Holding a Fairy in her Hand by Freaking News