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An Interview with Vylar Kaftan

Vylar KaftanWe are excited to have the opportunity to publish Vylar Kaftan’s “Witness” in RSF #5. It is excellent writing and just the type of dense, intelligent, and exciting short story we want for Redstone SF. She also took out some time to answer a few questions for us, which we’ll share with you here.

We always wonder why writers write. What drives you to write speculative fiction?
An endless sense of wonder, the desire to evoke passion in my readers, and sheer masochism.

What themes do you find yourself examining in your work?
Power. Who’s got it, who wants it, who needs it. In “Witness,” you can see the two characters (three, if you count the shadow) swap power levels in different ways. They change their physical strength & health, who controls the weapon, who possesses knowledge/self-awareness, and so on. Other common themes are self-awareness, the healing power of love, and the dangers of blindly following authority.

The protagonist of “Witness” struggles against his nature, against what he is supposed to be. What influenced you to write this story?
A picture of a nude woman sleeping on a beanbag. I’m part of an online writing group called Codex. Each year, we exchange story seeds and write a story inspired by what we were given. One year, we got our pick of 15 different photographs, with random scenes/people/events. I started thinking, “Hmm, how can I make beanbags more interesting?” This is the result.

What part of your nature do you have to overcome?
Perfectionism. Also, the urge to write snarky answers to interview questions.

What work should we expect to see from you in the near future?
I’ve got work forthcoming in GigaNotoSaurus (a site dedicated to longer fiction) and The Way of the Wizard (an anthology from John Joseph Adams). Both stories are the same kind of happy bunny sunshine work as “Witness,” but if you need proof that I’m sane and stable, you can always check out Lightspeed Magazine to see some optimism.

Thanks for sharing your time (and your excellent story) with Redstone Science Fiction.