Today we start our interview series with a good friend of mine, Lyssa Chiavari! I met Lyssa through twitter, and we both blog on the Pack of Aces together. Needless to say, when we received the absolutely gorgeous story she sent, we were thrilled! It’s so good. So, thanks for answering our questions, Lyssa, and onto the interview!
1. What inspired your short story? Where did the idea come from?
This is actually an idea I’ve had floating around in my head for several years now – I read an article about obscure fairytales, and one of the stories it mentioned was a version of Snow White where she is taken in by forty dragons rather than seven dwarfs. That obviously was a really cool idea, but I wasn’t sure where to go with it until I saw the prompt for the Solarpunk Dragon anthology. Then everything fell into place!
2. There’s so much Italian in your story, it’s lovely! Can you talk a bit about why you included that?
Thank you! I actually am Italian-American. My great-grandparents came over to the United States in the late 1920s, and my grandpa and his brother didn’t speak English until they were well into grammar school (in fact, my grandpa still had a heavy Italian accent to his dying day, even though he lived in the US his whole life). I grew up in your typical loud Italian family, where we yell at each other half in Italian and half in English, and it’s a huge part of my life. Being able to incorporate that aspect of my identity into a fairytale story was so much fun for me!
3. Had you heard of solarpunk before this call for submission? What do you like about the genre?
I had only heard about it from Claudie, haha! But the genre really appealed to me because of the cool possibilities it carries. I read a lot of science articles, or articles on places like io9, and you’re always hearing about cool new experimental technology, from solar-panel roads to cities covered with climbing gardens. I just love the aesthetic that kind of technology can produce, and it seems like it’s underutilized in a lot of futuristic sci-fi. I feel like I only was able to scratch a tiny bit of that surface in my story, so I’m excited to read what everyone else came up with!
I generally write young adult, and of that mostly science fiction or sci-fi/fantasy hybrids. Right now I’m working on the final touches to Fourth World, the first book in a YA sci-fi trilogy that is due out late fall/early winter. It’s kind of a mishmash of some of my favorite science fiction themes, like space exploration and time travel, with a touch of archaeology and a whole lot of mystery. I’m really excited for its release. I also recently edited an anthology of YA Shakespeare retellings called Perchance to Dream (my story in the book was a sci-fi/fantasy retelling of The Tempest from Miranda’s point of view), which was a lot of fun. It was really cool to see what different takes all the other authors had on Shakespeare’s stories – from sci-fi to contemporary, fantasy and paranormal, what have you. I think that’s the most fun thing about anthologies: the variety.
5. What do you love the most about dragons?
How does one answer this question?! Haha, what’s not to love? There are so many different ways you can interpret them, from scientific creatures like the dinosaurs to pure magical beings. You can do almost an infinite number of things with them, but they always lend a cool, otherworldly flair to a story.
6. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any day jobs or passion?
I also work as a web designer, which I’ve done professionally for about eight years now and as a hobby for about fifteen. I always enjoy coding, it’s like working on a puzzle. I also am a big Nintendo fan, so if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll often find me shrieking about the latest news or whatever game I’m playing this week.
7. What’s your favorite book or TV show? Why?
My favorite TV show is, hands down, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (the live-action version from 2003-2004). It’s kind of hard for me to define what I love about it, because there’s so much. It’s an adaptation of the Sailor Moon manga, but it changed so much in ways that made me really connect with it. I love its focus on friendship as the most important type of relationship; and there are a lot of deep, kind of science-fiction-inspired themes in the series, such as the question of whether predestination exists, or whether a reincarnated soul will become the same person as it was in its previous life. Obviously there’s a lot to dissect in the series, and every time you watch it, you’ll pick up something new. I think that’s why it has stayed my favorite after all these years.
8. Where can we find more of your work?
I try to keep my website as up-to-date as possible with my latest releases and news. You can also sign up for my mailing list there – I’ll send a newsletter out every few months with the latest news and occasional behind-the-scenes glimpses at my projects. I’m also on Twitter (@unpopularlyssa) – which is pretty much my go-to place for whatever’s on my mind, and probably the best place to keep in touch with me – Tumblr, Facebook, and I blog on the Pack of Aces.
Thanks Lyssa for the wonderful interview!