Author of “The Gentlest River” (High Fantasy)
How long have you been writing? Do you write genres other than speculative fiction?
I’ve been telling stories to myself since I remember — there had to be a narrative behind each toy and each doodle — but it took me some time to believe that I could write my stories down. I never made a conscious decision to write speculative fiction specifically, but that’s a direction my imagination seems to take most often. Perhaps because I read plenty of genre fiction, and working as a scientist gives me plenty of ideas that push the science one step forward into science fiction territory.
What are some of your literary influences and aspirations?
Andrzej Sapkowski (the Witcher series) and NK Jemisin made me aware of what speculative fiction can do, and how boundless it can be. Sapkowski — regardless of how his books appear in current context, three decades after first publication — proved that speculative fiction, and particularly fantasy, can be something other than wish fulfillment stories with warriors and swooning women on the covers. Sapkowski’s fantasy was multifold: rich with metaphors and parallels to history and politics — and, at the same time, witty and fun. My teenage self relished the Witcher series. A few years after that, I found Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy, and discovered that fantasy doesn’t have to be limited to one type of experience only; that there are so many ways in which a story can be urgent, relevant, and relatable. I quietly hope that one day someone will see themself in my writing, and will be astonished that there are authors that write for them.
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?
Usually I start with a messy first draft, and only during editing and honing I find out what the story really is about. I like the surprise and discovery of this process. I can write almost anywhere, but I realized that writing on a train or in the airport does wonders to my creativity. So does switching off the internet connection.
What keeps you going when the writing gets hard? How do you recharge?
Nowadays I’m quite sure that, in my case, any writer’s block is something that will pass — it doesn’t make the experience any less frustrating, but allows me to approach it with a certain confidence. I trust that I’ll overcome the difficulties, I just need to find out how. Sometimes I need a change of surroundings, or going for a long walk. I keep myself drawn to my own stories by thinking about the exciting scenes and passages I’m happy with — those remind me why I’m writing and enjoying this particular story.
What are you working on right now? Which of your stories would you recommend to someone new to your work?
Now I’m working on a couple of stories investigating the themes of family and sacrifice in science, inspired by the academic milieu in the early 20th century. I’m fascinated by how theories and phenomena that most of us take for granted now once shattered whole philosophies and ways of life. The tension between science and society is a recurrent theme in my stories; it echoes in “The Early History of the Moon” (a fantasy of manners set during the fall of the Duchy of Warsaw) and in “Seams” (a horror story about jealousy and competition).
You can read Karolina Fedyk’s story in Metaphorosis Magazine, “The Early History of the Moon,” for free online
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