“The Null Space Conundrum” is a mind trip and a half! I loved the voice, the change in perspectives and presentation, and the very quiet end after an incredibly loud beginning. What inspired this tale of space opera stream-of-consciousness bizarro fiction?
I don’t remember where the idea originally came from. I knew I wanted to do another Aria story, so I was kicking around a bunch of high-concept ideas, and at some point, I came up with this. I knew I wanted to do something with sort of a goofy, romantic vibe, and it just kinda blossomed.
You use dialogue to an incredible effect, carrying both character and plot in a manner that puts the reader right in the middle of every exchange. Even the narrative voice is given over to that rapid-fire style of communication, as if we are being told a story rather than reading it. Was this narrative form intentional? Did you know how you wanted to structure the story in the first draft or did you play with the form?
The voice comes pretty naturally to me. It’s kind of how I actually talk/think, but exaggerated in this goofy, silly way. It took me a while to sort of figure out what I wanted to do with it structurally, but once I got there, it pretty much just flowed. I have much more trouble coming up with plot machinations and stuff than the more formal aspects, really.
Many readers may identify with the cultural references of the story, including Aspera’s “a sort of Astra/Kantikle fanfic.” This opens up an entirely new part of the story meta, adding the question of who, exactly, owns a story to the tensions that already exists. Do you indulge in fanfic and shipping? Do you feel there is value in readers expanding on a writer’s works?
I was big, big into fanfic and stuff when I was a teenager, but I fell off years ago. I’ll occasionally dip a toe and check out old faves, but I’m not really part of that scene. Still, the language of shipping and fandom is part of the lexicon, at least among me and my friends, so dropping a little reference doesn’t feel like a big deal to me. I have complicated feelings about fanfic in general, in that I think it is great tool, particularly for people who aren’t represented in mainstream media, to appropriate and contextualize mass culture in interesting and vital ways (plus it’s a fun, fulfilling thing to participate in in a world often lacking in pleasures), but I also sort of worry about how fanfic can function as free advertising for massive media conglomerates. I’m mostly for it, but my nature as a person is to find the holes in things.
This isn’t the first time readers have seen Aria Astra, but it is the first time Aria has experienced something greater than friendship (that wasn’t the concept of love via alien mind control). Are the Aria stories a continuation of the character arc or do you see each story as a stand-alone work?
I don’t really know. So far I’ve written them when I feel like, without thinking too much about it. I have sprinkled in some stuff in the two stories so far that could set up a bigger, deeper exploration of the character and the world, but I don’t know if I’ll ever pull that trigger. We’ll see.
Every writer needs a moment when they step away from the keyboard to recharge. How do you take care of yourself so you can continue to tell great stories?
I have my hobbies: making music, a little visual art, this and that. I’ve gotten into skincare lately, which is pretty relaxing.
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