I spent some time trying to make the Kharbat align with the Heisenberg uncertainty principle writ large: Was that in your head at all?
The most boring answer of all: No.
As I was wrestling with the logic of the Kharbat and my sense of inadequacy to bring the right questions to it, I started thinking about who is your ideal reader? Do you imagine one? Have you met one?
I am reminded of the reader who penned an angry missive to one of my regular markets, outright ordering them to buy no more of my stories, because “What I look for in science fiction is a problem and a hero who solves it, with a happy ending! None of the corruption Adam-Troy Castro writes about!”
That is not my ideal reader.
My ideal reader, for short stories at least, has always been someone who is willing to take a journey blind without advance promises of specific story elements, to wit: “This story is about a heroic quest and there is at least one elf in it.” My ideal reader is someone who won’t complain afterward that they only like stories if the main character is “likeable,” if it takes place in a world where they would like to live. And I fortunately meet this kind of reader all the time. I think I’m talking to one now.
Is there anything else that you would like readers to know about “Kharbat”?
Only that it was a one-day composition, a weird idea I woke with that was done with by dinnertime. I love when that happens.
Do you think about your stories in categories (not genres)?
Not while conceiving them, no. A lot of times in recent years, stories written as fantasy (and one as mainstream science fiction) sold as horror, or vice-versa. I am most proud of the ones that don’t seem to fit any category but strangeness.
Which stories are the easiest/hardest to place?
Nightmare Magazine aside, selling horror is a bitch, and selling horror of longer than 5,000 words is an especially grievous bitch. Passing 10,000 is like entering a land of unknown fortunes. Honestly. It’s a small target, and it’s all bullseye.
Easiest would be stories about my recurring characters, Andrea Cort and John Draiken; I compose those with a fair degree of certainty that they will be taken by Analog, which has been the home of all such stories so far.
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