From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

This Is All Indisputable: Rachel Swirsky

What inspired “The Stable Master’s Tale”?

My friend Sarah Prineas (author of the MagicThief books) is always talking about how awesome dragons are, and how fun they are to write. So I thought I’d give it a try.

“There were half a dozen flying in a circle, chasing each other’s tails. Sunlight sparkled off their bodies. They were glorious and terrifying.”

This is an evocative image, reminiscent of a large-scale Ouroboros. Why do they fly in circles?

I was thinking of eagles.

Although now that you point it out, the circling might not be the best explanation from an animal behavior perspective. Eagles are solitary and the dragons flock. I don’t know how multiple animals flying in a circle would affect the wind–would it hinder flight or help it? And while a circle is a good way for a single animal to survey the ground, a flock could probably gather information more effectively with a different method, especially since they have sophisticated communication.

A real kinship forms between the protagonist of “The Stable Master’s Tale” and Ember. Why do you feel this mutual bond became so strong between these two characters?

I feel like that’s something I’d rather leave open.

Could a dragon ever be tamed? Why or why not?

If you’ll forgive me for digressing a bit, this question reminded me of a story from Ursula Vernon’s website. At some point she got really tired of displaying her dragon paintings at art shows, only to hear people grumble, “Dragons don’t look like that.”

So she drew this picture of what dragons really look like to settle the question once and for all.

Dragons live in underground caves, you know, and have moist skin that has to be protected with bandages when they go up to the surface. Also, they’re blind, so they need seeing-eye lungfish.

This is all indisputable.

Thank you for answering my questions. Okay, so what’s next for Rachel Swirsky?

My first collection, THROUGH THE DROWSY DARK, a slim volume of feminist stories and poetry, just came out from Aqueduct Press (it’s also available for the Kindle).

I’ve also got stories forthcoming in the usual places, including another one here, and one at, and one at Subterranean Magazine.

Personally, I’ve got a lot of travel coming up. . . and of course, writing, writing, writing!

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.