Author of “1001” (Other)
How long have you been writing? Do you write genres other than speculative fiction?
I have been writing fiction for eighteen years. I also wrote poetry for a few years before that, but I don’t really write poetry anymore. There was also a gap in those eighteen years when I didn’t write creatively at all, almost three or four years’ worth. So the truth is I’ve been writing fiction for, let’s say, fourteen years. Then you add breaks, transit time, holidays–we’re talking ten, eleven years tops.
I don’t write anything realist. Down with realism!!!
But, seriously, realism is just fine, except for its flaws, and quite often speculative. In any case, my answer would have to be no, I don’t write in any genres other than speculative fiction. I live in the real world, and I draw on it, but I’m also frequently, deeply concerned by it. As a subject, I find it very difficult to write about. It has nice parts too, mind you.
What’s on your to-be-read list right now?
–The Norton Book of Science Fiction (eds. Ursula K. Le Guin and Brian Attebery)
–Invisible Planets (ed. Ken Liu)
–Captain Future: Man of Tomorrow Vol II & III (Edmond Hamilton)
–Dragon’s Egg (Robert L. Forward)
–Three Moments of an Explosion (China Mieville)
–We See a Different Frontier (eds. Fabio Fernandes and Djibril al-Ayad)
–Aliens: Recent Encounters (ed. Alex Dally MacFarlane)
–The Unwobbling Pivot/The Great Digest/The Analects (Confucius, Trans. Ezra Pound)
What is your typical writing process? Outline or seat-of-the-pants? A quiet room or a lively café? Music and coffee or tea and silence?
As ideas come up, write them down, and store those ideas. Then, choose one or two, and begin vague plotting and speculating. Feed the idea(s) with diverse materials, think about them, make mind maps and lists. Decide on a plot and write it down (though it is often still pretty sketchy). Begin writing endless drafts, editing as you go, then edit some more. Many edits.
As to music, coffee, tea, and silence, I’d definitely have to say coffee and silence if possible, but other combinations are acceptable if circumstances demand it.
What are you working on right now? And which of your stories would you recommend to someone new to your work?
I am between stories right now, and am choosing between finishing an existing, unfinished story, writing an altogether new short story, or focusing on a novella for children/young adults.
The duplication of the character arc between your story and your story-within-a-story was intriguing, especially given the themes both explore. Is this a narrative device you’re fond of in other works, or was it simply the best fit for the story you wanted to tell here?
I definitely like symmetries and doubles and stories-within-stories, and a lot of my favourite authors play with this, but I think this is the first time I’ve explicitly mirrored a character arc in this way. “The Abjection Engine” uses a pretty similar device though. It was a matter of best fit, and I wanted the framing story to mimic the internal stories, but I have to admit that I was unhappy with how things turned out for Daxa.
I actually wanted to conclude with a resolution or ‘fix’ of the core stories, rather than a mirroring, and a lot of work on the setting was aimed at giving Daxa a way out of the situation, but it was becoming so complicated that I ended up choosing a more ambiguous ending. I am not good at endings, probably because I am better at seeing problems than I am at seeing solutions. My favourite thing about the internal story was the repetition, but in the end, I think the theme of “abuse erases joy” ended up with a lot of the stage time.
You can read Y.X. Acs’ story in Metaphorosis Magazine, “The Abjection Engine: Fragments From the Diary of Alexi Alanovonovich,” for free online.
For more about Y.X. Acs: