From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Swapna Kishore: Simple People Leading Difficult Lives

What inspired “Perhaps this is Kushi’s Story”?

I was walking under monsoon clouds one day, pondering on whether the future is fixed and whether there are alternate worlds, when some unknown sky-wandering entity floated a feather my way.

Fantasy Magazine’s readers are often interested in world-building techniques. How did you go about building the fantasy world detailed in your story?

My story needed simple people leading difficult lives on a harsh terrain. The Himalayan region, with its stark mountains, sparse vegetation, ice, and blocked passes was a possibility. I checked out pictures on the Internet, and grew convinced that the terrain was a good fit. Then I searched out information to extrapolate how my characters would have lived there, and added dollops of my imagination.

I found the metallic feathers to be a very interesting construct. There are several colors of feather mentioned in the story. What is the significance of the colors of these feathers?

Ah, the metallic feathers.

I chose metallic feathers instead of normal feathers to highlight the contrast between the technology-rich ‘gods’ and the tribesmen who believed legends of the feather-chosen. Besides, a normal feather would get singed in its transit through the worlds, and arrive charred and curled and smelling awful. Not impressive.

Also, I made each subsequent feather arrive in a more subtle and sophisticated manner to indicate that the later ‘gods’ were more advanced.

I often like to ask a question of the author straight from their own character’s lips. In the first scene of your story, Younger Sister knocks down Elder Sister’s sand village. Elder Sister asks: “Younger Sister, why?” What’s your answer?

Because she’d rather vent her frustration by kicking in a sand village instead of actually harming Elder Sister (which is what her feather wants her to do). Because, despite all her anger and ambition and frustration, Younger Sister will fight only if Elder Sister initiates it.

I see Younger Sister seething with raw energy that has not yet translated into destructive action. Despite her poor opinion of her sister, she does not want to do anything she considers wrong.

So, what’s next for Swapna Kishore?

More time spent in writing, for sure. More ideas explored. Maybe venture out of the short story arena and dust out the drafts churned out during various NaNoWriMos and start agonizing over them.

T.J. McIntyre has seen his short fiction and poetry published in numerous publications including recent appearances in Everyday Weirdness, Ruthless Peoples Magazine, and Scifaikuest. He is a member of various writing organizations, including the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA), and serves as a moderator for the Lobo Luna and Western Writers writing communities on LiveJournal. Until earlier this year, he published Southern Fried Weirdness, an anthology and web zine celebrating speculative fiction and poetry with a Southern perspective. He lives in a busy household in the muggy heart of rural Alabama with his wife, two young sons, an aging Doberman mix, five tiger barbs, and three salt-and-pepper catfish.