How did “NeuNet” originate? What inspirations did you draw on?
I wrote “NeuNet” six years ago to submit to an open call for an engineering magazine. The guest editor of the issue sent me a lovely note saying that it was a good story, but not “hard sci-fi” enough for the magazine’s core audience. She did encourage me to submit it elsewhere, and after years of revision, here it is!
The inspiration for “NeuNet” is actually alluded to directly in the story. I watched a YouTube video (now lost) that suggested that using humans as batteries as in the movie The Matrix would be inefficient; using them as computers would be a far more useful proposition. That idea wriggled around in my brain for a while, until finally bursting out of its chrysalis when I saw the call for submissions.
What is your writing space like? What do you like to have around for optimal creativity?
While I enjoy curling up on the couch to write on my ipad, I actually get a significant amount of writing done on the NYC subway. People find this weird, but I live really far uptown in Manhattan, and getting anywhere is at least a thirty-minute train ride: why not use the time productively? Some of my most significant works have been written on the A train, or on the crosstown bus.
What led you into writing genre fiction?
I’ve been creating fantastical stories for as long as I can remember. In fact, from a young age and up until I was embarrassingly old, my primary means of entertaining myself was what I used to just term “Thinking,” except that it involved me running about the entire house, jumping off of walls and furniture and making weird noises, all in an attempt to physically embody as fully as possible the stories and worlds that spun through my mind. In fact, I never played with toys (and gave away any I received as presents). I preferred the inside of my head for stories.
All my English homework in primary school had a touch of the fantastic about it, and I never really gave up writing speculative fiction?
Other than writing, do you have any other creative pursuits? What do you do to relax?
I’m actually more known for my game design work than my fiction. But I also do interactive theatre stuff, as well as weird, interactive art. I grow bored doing just one thing. Plus, I really do believe that the various artistic disciplines I practice feed off of and inspire each other.
Is it a cliché to say I read and play roleplaying games for fun? But I also like to cook! And until the pandemic, I was part of a queer contra dancing group here in New York. I really do love dancing!
What are you working on lately? Where else can fans look for your work?
I document most of my work on my website, bit.ly/3mOaqnF, though I’m severely behind on updating it right now. It’s probably a better idea to just keep up with my Twitter (@SharangBiswas) where I post updates on what I’m working on, or my itch.io page (astrolingus.itch.io), where some of my work can be accessed.
It’s funny talking about what I’m working on right now because this will come out a few months in the future. Something I doubt I’ll have finished by when folks can read this is a magical-realism short story whose title is inspired by the film Mean Girls, a novella about necromancers (the longest story I’ll have attempted to date), and an interactive fiction story about Stone Age gods that I’ve been toying with for far too long. Oh, and a very gay roleplaying game called Augurs of Glamour with my co-designer Lucian Kahn.
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