Welcome to Fantasy Magazine! We’re excited to share your story “Flight” with our readers. Can you tell us what inspired this story and how it came to be?
“Flight” is a story that I have always wanted to write. It first came as a micro fiction I wrote at an online workshop in 2016. The characters kept haunting me to flesh them out. Also, I really wanted to write about birds; they’re such fascinating creatures, and flying. I always want my characters to fly (either physically or emotionally) because in that way they escape.
Jekwu and Izu explore the tension between captivity and comfort vs. freedom, deprivation and risk. What draws you to that theme?
I don’t know because I don’t actively think of themes when I write. I know I want to “say something” but I don’t usually know what I want to say from the beginning. With “Flight,” as with all my short stories, I trusted the characters and listened to them and let them guide me. It isn’t until I am done with a story that I start seeing the patterns of a theme. Maybe it’s just my present; constantly fighting for comfort and freedom, constantly prising the hands of oppressive systems and structures open so that I can have these things—comfort and freedom, that seeps into my writing.
Ndidi the vulture and Egwu the owl play roles that are brimming with myth and superstition. They each represent a turning point in Jekwu’s and Izu’s story. Are they also metaphors? Do they have stories of their own?
Vultures and owls are very interesting birds in Igbo mythology. As children we had stories about how “evil” these birds are, how they bring bad luck. I wanted to recreate that in this story, albeit with a twist. And now that you’ve asked, maybe I should write a spinoff about Ndidi and Egwu.
Our protagonists do not get the happy ending that we might have hoped for; sometimes the satisfying ending is not the happy one. They pay the price for their principles. Can you tell us how you arrived at this end for their journey, and what you hope the reader takes away from it?
I know this may sound pretentious, but I really wanted Izu and Jekwu to have a happy ending. Every story is always a struggle for me to give my characters a happy ending or not. Sometimes, I cave into happy endings. Sometimes, I try to strike a balance. Sometimes, the unhappy endings come. With “Flight” I struggled with the ending. I thought of altering the ending multiple times but the alternatives felt false and inorganic. I really hope the reader understands that “happy endings” can also be a matter of perspective and fiction, just like reality doesn’t always go the way we want it to go.
What are you working on now, and what can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
I’m currently playing around with short stories; exploring newer terrains, form, style and structure, and social distancing from my novel-in-progress.
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