Interview with CJ Lehi
Wings of Renewal is the first time I professionally edit anything. It was a big chunk to chew, but one thing I’ve discovered is how much I enjoy the back and forth with alert writers, and the relationship you establish trying to get their piece as good as possible. And that’s something that happened a lot with our interviewee today! Chris was such a charm to work with, I’m super happy he accepted the interview, too! So here we go!
1. What inspired your short story? Where did the idea come from?
Actually, you were the inspiration, by which I mean the anthology itself. I swore I’d never write a story about dragons. Ever. But then I read the contest, and the mashup of solarpunk and dragons was just too much. I had a thought about a dragon that wasn’t a dragon, except it was, and then…
2. In Deep Within the Corners of my Mind, all dragons speak Hungarian. Can you talk a bit about why you chose to include it?
I thought it was common knowledge. Everyone in Hungary knows dragons are Hungarian, like everything else that’s cool. Of course, my Magyar friends would deny to their death that any dragon could speak Romanian, too, but apparently they do. I didn’t know that until this story. I speak fluent Hungarian, so when I’m going for otherworldly, that’s an easy path, since no one knows that language, because it’s a truly brutal one to learn.
3. Had you heard of solarpunk before this call for submission? What do you like about the genre?
I never had. I’ve written a cyberpunk novel, and I love that genre (in moderate doses), but solarpunk is something a lot more hopeful, and that appealed to me greatly. Conflict is the heart of story, but I’m an optimist. I think the future is amazing, and I can’t wait to see what humans do.
I’m a short-story specialist who’s written seven novels (one of which is never going to be read by anyone). I’m a speculative guy, so almost all my work has a speculative element, but I don’t do swords and sorcery. I think what you’ll see the most of from me is a world almost like this one, but with an element that flips everything on its head. Kind of like this story.
5. What do you love the most about dragons?
I’m not a dragon guy. I swore I’d never put them in a story. But every culture has legends about dragons, and they seem to have a great hold over even the modern consciousness, so probably it’s me that isn’t clued in. I like these dragons. I don’t think this will be the last time I write about them.
6. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any day jobs or passion?
Several. I teach school, I sing opera, and when I need money I run a branch of a mortgage company. My wife of 25 years and I have eight kids, too, so that keeps us hopping.
7. What’s your favorite book or TV show? Why?
How can I pick just one book? I think the best book I ever read was Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, honestly, but outside of that, the books I read over and over are Dune and Speaker for the Dead. TV show is a lot easier; there’s only one choice. Firefly is the greatest TV show ever, full stop.
8. Where can we find more of your work?
Couple of places. I write shorts on the Patreon platform at patreon.com/cjlehi. The website where this stuff is collected is iamchrisjones.com. And I’m hoping to be a regular for Incandescent Phoenix, of course. I’m a fan.
Thanks for the answers, and trust me, we’d love to collaborate again too! 🙂