A few weeks ago, my latest fiction story was published. It’s called "Taiya," and you can read it here at The Future Fire. It’s a ghost story set in an imaginary country. And it’s been getting some wonderful reviews.
Maria Haskins included it in her September 2017 Short Fiction Round-up
A.C. Wise featured it (and me!!) in her series, Women to Read: Where to Start: October 2017 post.
The website Lady Business also has a lovely review (warning: spoilers! I’d suggest reading the story first before reading the very perceptive analysis here)
As a writer, I am of course always thrilled by good reviews and attention to any of my stories. But this one is particularly dear to me. I wrote it three years ago, and it was the first story that truly scared me to write. It wasn’t the (named) ghost in the story that scared me. What scared me was the feeling of exposure, of revealing something about myself that I perhaps didn’t want anyone else to see.
This is why some of us write fiction. Because it lets us talk about truths we could not otherwise say.
I’m so thrilled to see people recognizing the truths in this story. Not only do I have readers who “get it”—some have pointed out truths to me in this story which I didn’t recognize myself, connections which I did not consciously plan but which are obvious in retrospect.Thank you so much to Djibril al-Ayad and the team at The Future Fire for giving this piece a good home (as they have given to other stories of mine!) And thank you to Eric Asaris for the eerie illustration which perfectly catches the mood.
Some notes on inspiration below:
--In the fall of 2014, I had only just learned of the Buddhist concept of Hungry Ghosts. I was fascinated by them—the idea of ghosts ravaged by hunger but unable to satisfy it, cursed with long, thin necks and tiny mouths so they could never eat as much as they wanted even in the face of abundant offerings. I wanted to write a story about them, but I didn’t know how.
--The summer before, I’d been reading a travel blog of Eastern Europe.
--I was taking long walks by myself. I was feeling sad.
Somehow, the idea of Buddhist Hungry Ghosts twisted and changed in my mind: they became not the eaters, but the eaten, ravaged into almost nothingness. And I took these mutant ghosts out of Asia and transplanted them into an imaginary European city. The story poured out in two and a half weeks, which is very quick for me. Then it took three years to sell. It was, for a while, That One Story. (And yes, this was the piece accepted at a new pro-paying market which folded before the story could be published.) But “Taiya” eventually found a home. I'm so happy to see it out in the world..
Update: Yosia Sing has an absolutely lovely review of Taiya up now as well! I really appreciate Sing's perspective here, and am so very very gratified to know that this story resonates.