“Nesting Habits of Enceladan Jade Beetles” is intense and focused, its events covering not even half an hour, I think. And in that span, through one simple accident, everything changes in the protagonist’s life. How did this story come together for you? Was there one particular idea that came first?
The seed of this story came to me in a nightmare, actually. I dreamed I was in the suit and something had chewed right through my arm. Usually the inspirations that come with sleep aren’t worth much in the light of day, but I still wrote down every detail I could remember. I hadn’t been getting good sleep since the birth of my second child. Tossing and turning had stirred up some vivid imagery and I put it to use. The rest of the story was developed over several revisions.
I enjoyed how your exo-entomologist admires and worries about the jade beetles even as one seriously harms him. How do you feel about insects yourself?
Who doesn’t like insects? They’re fascinating, bizarre, gruesome. Bugs are always up to something scandalous. I’ve been lucky enough to see a hummingbird moth twice in my life and I still have trouble believing they exist. I used to live in the desert east of San Diego and, one night, I accidentally stepped on a scorpion with my bare feet. Somehow, I hadn’t been stung, but the bottom of my foot was glowing like it was radioactive. Some scorpions luminesce in the moonlight . . . wait, how did you trick me into telling that story?
Do you have other stories in this universe with these characters, or would you consider writing any? I especially liked Ocampo, if you’re taking suggestions!
I’m glad you like Ocampo. I do too. She’s one of those characters whose voice came through clearly from the beginning. I don’t have other stories with these characters yet, but I haven’t closed any doors.
What else are you working on lately?
I have several projects underway, including more science fiction short stories and a fantasy novel for younger readers coming out in 2021.
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