I'm totally blaming Martina Bellovičová for the fact that I ended up in the Para Kindred anthology. You see, if it wasn't for her, then I'd still be wondering whether I'd give this a bash. So, Martina, a HUGE thank you for your encouragement. It's her turn for a spot of Q&A today. Martina, what do you love about the Wraeththu Mythos?
What's not to love? There are, of course, all those elegant, androgynous creatures, who start out as a kind of subculture and gradually get familiar with their new abilities to become something powerful and amazing. I think the issue of humanity evolving towards a unisex society is very actual and Storm's idea predicted (in an idealized and fantastical way, of course) the challenging of the gender binary and exploring the areas inbetween that is presently beginning to happen in fashion, arts and in the society itself. But, believe me, this is just the top of an iceberg.
Rather than having a main character or two, both trilogies present a wide range of different characters, none of which is boring or shallow, and many of them undergo tremendous development. The characters belong to different tribes, ranging from the desert-dwelling nomads to nordic sea-farers, and every tribe has a distinctive mentality and powers that set them apart from the others. The spirituality, the magic and the system of deities is also thoroughly devised – so thoroughly, in fact, that a separate non-fiction book exists to cover the magic and rituals used.
What I love most, though, is that the books are so thought-provoking and have so many layers. You can revisit them multiple times, and each time find something you haven't discovered before.
Everyone’s story will have that spark that set the wheels spinning? What was yours?
From the call for submissions, I understood that this collection was to explore areas that have not been covered in the previous books; the more obscure individuals or exotic tribes. All the novels and short stories that have been published so far took place in what used to be America or Europe. Being interested in Japanese and Chinese culture, I have always wondered, whether there were any hara in former Asia, and if so, how did their society develop and why did they have so little contact with the others. A Japanese har finally appeared in the sixth book, having been summoned to perform a role of a teacher-guard, adept in martial arts, but the readers didn't get to find out anything about his background. That's why I decided to write a story set in Japan and answer the questions for myself.
I imagined that due to its remote location, Japan could have cut itself off when the global apocalypse hit the Earth, preventing the virus from spreading from the mainland. Being on a superior technological level, the Japanese might have managed to build resilient constructions, in which people would be able to survive. Under such conditions, it would take a long time for the Wraeththu to infiltrate the society and begin to form indigenous tribes. Humans would be strong enough to fight them, while on other continents, they had long ago been subdued. This was to become my main theme in the story.
Without giving any spoilers, can you share a bit about your story?
The story is set in Japan, about fifty years after the apocalypse. Most prefectures have been declared quarantine zones and the majority of the surviving population lives in "neotowns", huge complexes of underwater structures, made to outlast any natural disaster or enemy impact.
Meanwhile, the Wraeththu have formed several small tribes on the islands. They live in unity with nature, dwell in temples, follow ancient rituals and train both their bodies and minds. Despite having all the technology at their disposal, people are slowly dying out due to the ageing of population and low fertility. The fact that the Wraeththu do not seem to grow old doesn't escape them, and quite naturally, they aim to experiment on abducted hara in order to reap benefits for the declining human race.
In my head, I have conceived an extensive background for the Asian hara, drawing from Japanese mythology, but in the end, not much of it has been used, because the story would have expanded into a novel. Instead, I have focused on the tension between the two main characters: Kiyoshi, who is a leader of a Wraeththu tribe, and Satoru, a human scientist that experiments on hara captured by the army. Kiyoshi sacrifices himself for the sake of his tribe, agreeing to help Satoru with his research, but time shows he is much more than a willing victim of torture and has a working plan. During the process, the scientist learns more and more about the Wraeththu, and his beliefs are gradually being challenged. It was interesting for me to follow the slow transition of a human, who initially felt tremendous hostility to the new race, and to play with the question whether or not any kind of relationship could be born in such conditions.
Are there any underlying themes you visited?
An important theme for me, one that reflected also on my story in the previous collection, is the question whether or not the Wraeththu are making similar mistakes like humans had. I have intentionally made the story quite ambiguous, hoping that people will be on doubts which side to sympathize with. Not sure how much I succeeded in that, though.
Then, a little bit about yourself and your influences.
I am a translator and beginning author from the Czech Republic, an occasional singer and keyboardist, an editor at www.steamzine.cz and life style goth/steampunk. In my free time, I organize subculture events, dance tribal or Irish dances and have lectures at fantasy cons. Yes, I tend to spread myself too thin, because the inner need to be creatively active constantly drives me forward. Going back to writing, I have published several short stories and a comic so far, all within the fantasy genre, written lyrics for a number of underground bands and I'm currently working on a steampunk novel.
I cannot really specify my influences, because I have read hundreds and hundreds of books in my life, my apartment is bursting with them, and I believe that each book gave me a little bit of inspiration and urge to write. In the fantasy genre, I have always been looking for something more innovative than typical high fantasy or young adult romance novels. The Wraeththu definitely fall in that category, it has been a joy to write about them and I would like to thank Storm Constantine for giving me the chance. My other story that has been published in this universe, "The Bridge", can be found in the in the previous Wraeththu collection, Para Imminence, and I would like to encourage everyone to read it.
For the longest time, I was resisting the temptation to make a personal page, but I have recently decided to place all information regarding my activities at least on Facebook.