Where did the idea for “Breathless in the Deep” come from?
The short answer is I started with the title and the premises of written magic and a sunken, haunted ship.
The longer answer is that while I was at Clarion West, one of my classmates, Henry Lien, submitted a story for critique with art attached. I really enjoyed seeing the visual inspirations he’d compiled for himself, so I thought I’d collect some images that reflected either the subject or atmosphere of what I wanted to write. The first was a fantastical portrait of Cheng I Sao done by Ross Campbell, who is one of my favorite artists. Working with him in a professional capacity is on my bucket list! The other inspiration was a screenshot from a HOPA game called Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart. Artifex Mundi, the company that developed the game, has phenomenal digital artists working for them.
Magic systems can be tricky. Why did you choose to use tattoos in this story?
I used to work at a tattoo shop, and I even have some ink myself (nope, not telling you where). I’m a big believer in taking a pickaxe to memories of jobs that didn’t pay enough and mining them for useful story material. I didn’t end up using much technical tattooing knowledge, because the story just went somewhere else, but I hope to work more in this world, so maybe next time.
Two words: Baby Kraken! What other adolescent mythological creatures would be fun to run into?
I’m skeptical that any of them would be very fun. It seems like most of them would just try to kill me. The real question is, would any of the others taste as good as giant magical calamari?
You’ve had several pieces of short fiction published. Do you have anything you’d like to share with authors still trying to make their first sale?
Write stories that only you can write. Several people told me this over the years, and at first I didn’t understand what they meant, but I think at least I can explain what it has come to mean to me. Write stories that draw on your own experience (like working at a tattoo shop or finding out you can’t trust a family member). There’s something powerful in your memories that can be transmuted into equally powerful stories; don’t waste that.
What can we expect from you in the future?
If you want romance and revenge set in a Victorian-era boarding school haunted by ghosts, where kids do parkour and oil paint graffiti, you could check out Where Thy Dark Eye Glances from Lethe Press (July 2013). Apex Book Company is releasing Glitter and Mayhem, which contains a story of mine about a thief who can make doors open where he likes—but as most of us know, some doors should never be opened (August 2013). And my gender-bending take on Beauty & the Beast is included in Once Upon A Time, an anthology of original fairy tales from Prime Books (September 2013).
Spread the word!