How did “The Noon Witch Goes to Sound Planet” originate? What inspirations did you draw on?
I’ve seen lots of Baba Yaga retellings and modernizations—and don’t get me wrong, the old witch is fascinating, deserving of every ounce of attention she gets. For this story, though, I wanted to cast one of the figures of Slavic folklore I don’t see revisited nearly as often: Poludnitsa (also known as the Noon Witch, or Lady Midday). Pulling from my own experiences, I threw in some teenage angst, some intergenerational dissonance, and a Burning Man-esque desert setting that’s going to be make or break for our modern Noon Witch.
Where are you in this story?
Like Hailey—like most of us—I know what it is to want to get out from under someone else’s shadow. To be able to honor and celebrate those who came before me, while still charting my own path forward. To deeply love and appreciate where I come from, and, as an expression of that love, always reserve the right to criticize it.
What are you reading lately? What writers inspire you?
Recent favorites include K-Ming Chang’s Gods of Want, Isabel Yap’s Never Have I Ever, and Kim Fu’s Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century. I’m taking a class on Dostoevsky as part of my grad program, so sprinkle The Double and Notes from a Dead House into that mix. I’m inspired by fearlessness and invention, and by all those writers out there telling the stories in their hearts, the stories only they can tell.
What are you working on lately? Where else can fans look for your work?
My story “The Dizzy Room”—about Dell Dimensions, darker dimensions, and the perils of assimilation—will be out soon in Nightmare. It’s for anyone who, like me, was raised by computers. Other stories can be found at kristinaten.com, including my most recent: “The Queen of the Earless Seals of Lake Baikal” (published here in Lightspeed, bit.ly/3fPwpK4) and “Seven Days in the Kingdom of the Misplacer” (bit.ly/3e4Lbwo, in Passages North). In both, I was thinking about fairy tales, unbalanced power dynamics, and the trouble with getting in way, way over your head.
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