Adrik Kemp, an IN THE AIR Author Interview


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 Adrik Kemp and his story “The Cult of the Hyalad.”



Tell me a little about your story and the world you’ve created.

This is a story set in Victorian times, in a remote island on the high seas. Five women – witches – arrive together with the aim of summoning the rarest of elemental spirits, the hyalad. Born of thunderstorms, in chance occurrences of lightning hitting sand forming nymphs of glass, each of the witches will try their hand at creating godlike hyalads to lead them into a new world.

What came first, the plot or the characters?

This is the second story I have written of the hyalad. It came from a need to create a new spirit. I have always been enamoured of dryads, and wanted to add to this arcane legend in my own way. Initially, the witches were side characters in a creation story of a wild hyalad, but I realized that they were the heart of it, the human connection it was after and bumped them to front and centre. So, I suppose it all came at once.

If you had to describe your protagonist in three words, what would they be?

There are five protagonists, so this is difficult! I would say they all have moxie, darkness, and reverence.

What is something about your protagonist that only you know?

Far too many to count, but all relatively trivial in terms of the story I think.

Which scene was the most difficult to write and why?

Without spoiling anything, the ‘creation’ scene was difficult as it had to be stunning and otherworldly. Giving the hyalads their own arc without overshadowing the witches was a difficult balance to manage.

What were you trying to achieve with this story?

I want a sense of wonder in nature, of creatures beyond our imagination, confined to Earth and not relying on the stars, to be invoked through this story. I am also always trying to write stories away from a cis white straight male point of view.





What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

The most clichéd answer is often so because it’s true. I like reading when I’m not writing. I read a lot of science fiction, horror, and LGBTIQ stories. One of my favourite subgenres, if you could call it that, is science fiction combined with theology or religious debate. For example, The Sparrow.

Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?

Keep writing, and keep reading. I’ve tried study groups and writing groups, but I think the best thing to do is to find calls for submissions that resonate with you and write to them. The more you do this, the better your writing will become. And also, don’t take ‘write what you know’ so literally. It’s about taking similar experiences and compounding them to create meaningful stories, not writing about your literal life.

What do you think makes a good story?

I think a good story is one that makes you think, fills you with wonder or makes your heart break. Or all three at once. For example, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars is one that does all three of these things for me.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I don’t have a very interesting answer to this question. I wanted to be an astronaut. Things have turned out somewhat differently though…

What is your favorite writing tool or technique?

My favourite writing tool is the humble list. I like to use these to plot stories and characters before I write. If it gets too cumbersome, I move into my second favourite tool, Excel.

How would you describe your general writing voice and tone?

I would say my general writing voice paints with broad but vivid brush strokes, with darker subtext and a strength to sometimes more marginalized people as characters.

Share something fun or interesting:

My husband is a singer, and I moonlight as a lyricist for him, so my favourite song is one he sings and I wrote called “Walk Away.”





Adrik Kemp is an Australian author of speculative fiction, fantasy and horror tales. He identifies as queer, and happily lives in Sydney with his husband.

He has published short stories about aliens, mermaids, interplanetary pen pals, vampire cowboys, AI, ESP and much more. Notably, these have been published through Aurealis Magazine, Third Flatiron Press, Transmundane Press & Pride Publishing. He wants to explore as many varied worlds, situations and relationships as he can through words.

Adrik has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. He was honoured to be the winner of the 2015 OutStanding LGBTIQ Short Story Competition in Sydney, Australia.


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Featured Image Credit: “Spirit of the Night” by John Atkinson Grimshaw


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