Keep Warm with Tales of Love and/or Terror; Author Q&A with J.Y. Tao
It's too cold to go outside. Explore the Distant Reaches instead!
As the frigid February winds blow across the prairies and suburbs of America, I find myself eternally grateful for a good story. And we’ve had some great ones the last few weeks in the Distant Reaches. Here are a few good yarns to keep you warm.
A woman must face her own immortality — and the cost of losing it — in Andrew Sanford’s magnificent Losers Lose, Legends Live Forever.
Not all who wander are lost, but the rest may very well be. J.Y. Tao confronts the wanderer in all of us in her lovely poem inspired by the world of the Distant Reaches, A Journey’s End.
Valentine’s Day may be over, but many are still desperately looking for love in Andy Jiang’s hilarious Amalcrossers Seeking Amalcrossers.
And we learn of The Dragh: A Worry Monster Worth Your Worry in an excerpt (by Andy Greene) from Silvana Rhinebeck’s The Pantheon Fantastical.
As always, new readers can venture into the Distant Reaches with any story. And, if you’re reading this today, we encourage you to upgrade to a premium subscription. You’ll gain access to all of our short stories and art, and you’ll help us in our quest to launch a print magazine!
We’re deep into the print process now, talking fonts and gutters and end matter. It’s a lot of fun, but we need your support to make those ink-stained pages real.
Finally, author J.Y. Tao is the subject of this week’s author interview. So, throw a log on the fire, pour yourself a warming beverage, and let your mind wander free… into the Distant Reaches.
Ask the Author: J.Y. Tao
Author J.Y. Tao joined creator and co-editor Benjamin Reeves to discuss her story The Sixth Taste and her creative inspirations.
We asked you to write a nautical story involving the lesser of two evils. How did you develop The Sixth Taste from that kernel of an idea?
J.Y. Tao: I decided to personify the lesser of two evils. So with a lesser, there had to be a greater. Coincidentally, at the time I wasn’t initially thinking about it taking place on a naval ship, but during the process of writing it — it took me three months — I ended up picking up this book The Terror by Dan Simmons.
I loved the AMC show. [Ed. note: The Terror is a horror novel inspired by the disappearance of the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror in 1848.]
I started watching it during my writing process, and I was like, oh man, there’s so much here, being in an environment of a ship and the things that can happen on a ship. They’re kind of universal. It’s just a bunch of dudes stranded on water with, like, no food. And the fact that they’re all men; I didn’t intend for all my characters to be male characters, but as the writing went along, I was like, screw it, I’m just going to write it. They’re all going to be men, whatever.
Anyway, I got a lot of my naval knowledge and terminology from the book, because after I watched the show, I started reading the book, which goes into more detail. And then with the mysterious creature, I just decided to take one of my lesser and greater evil characters and turn them into having a mysterious background.
They really have a compelling relationship. It’s a bit of a love story, and there’s this tension that builds as things start to go wrong on the boat.
I actually started with that idea in the back of my mind, and so I tried to work backwards from that. I think I got up to 10,000 words at one point, and I was like, dear lord. I was just trying to cram everything in. But basically, I thought, like, just a plain love story was a little boring, so I wanted an antagonist, someone that just represented the complete opposite of whatever these two characters were.
The characters feel like they could come from a Western.
I wanted to have this bounty hunter, because a lot of Westerns are about either bounty hunters or outlaws or something like that. There’s a chaser and chasee, see? And I wanted someone to chase this character, but for him to be kind of inept and kind of in over his head. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing.
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