Here are some things of an awards-eligible nature.
To see some of what we talked about over on the Storyological Podcast last year, and which is eligible for awards this year, go here.
I published a story last year in Phantom Drift called “Maemi.”
It is eligible in the SHORT STORY category for all such awards, like the Nebulas or Hugo’s, which enjoy the presence of a category for short stories.
Below, you will find reprinted what I wrote about that story in an old blog post from the before now time:
I wrote “Maemi” during the third week of Clarion, in answer to Delia Sherman’s challenge that I do that thing people sometimes do which is to go read a bunch of fairy tales and select one with which to muck about.
I spent several days in the UCSD library and sat at the window, reading many fairy tales. Off and on, on the ledge of the building near my window, a crow would come and sit and hop about and look at me curiously. As much as I might have wished, the crow and I never said more than a few words to each other. Alas, most of the time I was doing most of the talking.
The fairy tale I chose involved a little girl, and a lion, also a bird, and no small amount of magic or betrayal. It turned out this was “Beauty and the Beast.” It wasn’t called that in the book I read, and I didn’t recognize it, but when Delia told me that this was the true nature of the story I had chosen it made sense. At least, that is, the kind of sense one finds in fairy tales. Which is a sort of inscrutable sense that tricks you into understanding something altogether different and more important than whatever thing you set out to understand.
I combined this fairy tale with the story of a little girl in Korea who was sold by her father into sexual slavery during the second world war.
I lived in Seoul for two years and, while there, I taught English at an all-girls school. One weekend, during my second year, I went with a group of friends (some of whom were part of a group called Durebang), to the House of Sharing in Gyeonggi-do. We walked through a museum and an art gallery and, later, met several of the women who lived there and who are called, sometimes, “comfort” women. A large group of kids showed up, at one point. A school trip, I think. One of the old women, through some manner I never entirely understood, instigated a K-pop dance-off among the kids, the teachers, and some of the group that inclued me. Roly Poly1, I believe, was the song of choice. I’m pretty sure Roly Poly will always be, because of this, my favorite K-pop song. All of those kids and everyone dancing. And the old woman who danced for a bit and then sat, chuckling at the gorgeous mayhem she had created 2.
There are many books about that time in Korean history. I have read many of them. Two I remember, in particular, both by Nora Okja Keller, are Comfort Woman and Fox Girl. Here are some others.
As it happens, there are no lions in the story I ended up writing, but there is a bird and no small amount of magic or betrayal. I added a bit of music, as well. It seemed the right thing to do at the time.
Happy Monday, readers.
- This is the video of Roly Poly. The long version. If you are only interested in the music, I would suggest skipping to the four minute mark or so. I have the whole thing on in the background right now. It later became a musical. Because that’s how things work in Korea. ↩
- Some of all of this came back with me to Seoul. And I talked about it with my students, one day, in an after school class in which there were only maybe eight of us. I talked about what they knew about that part of Korean history. I don’t remember what they said, really. And I don’t remember if I talked with them about how it felt that week in school, seeing every classroom full of girls the same age as though taken during the war. I think maybe I did. ↩