Interview with Author Siobhan Gallagher

November 2014

1. Can you tell us a little what your story, "Blade Between Oni and Hare," is about?

After surviving a shipwreck (no thanks to an umibozu), Kazuko, the chest-eyed rogue samurai, washes ashore onto an apparently uninhibited island. She encounters a white hare that isn't what it seems, tree-growing melons with living seeds, a nasty cave crawler, and an oni who enjoys arranging river stones.

2. How did you come up with the idea? Why did you pick the story setting?

The idea first came when I was doing research for another Kazuko tale, which has yet to see the light of publication. There was a scene with a sea monster, and I specifically didn't want something with tentacles, so I went searching and found kuma wani--a giant crocodile creature--and within the same Wikipedia article, mentioned "White Hare of Inaba" fable. I really like fables and this one seemed fun; a naughty hare who tricks crocodiles into lining up so it can use them as a bridge.

I'm obviously a fan of anime, though I'm a bigger fan of learning about other cultures' folklore. Japanese folklore is a minefield for monsters of all kinds, from the absurd to the wicked, and it's a lot fun to dig into it and see what you find.

3. What is your inspiration for writing as a whole?

I like to tell stories and always have. These characters pop up inside your head and they want to roam free on paper, or in these days, Word document.

4. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm currently living in south Texas, but hopefully not for long. Most of my years growing up were spent in Arizona, and I still like it there, even if it's hot as Hell. I would spend a lot of time wandering the desert, finding bleached bones and pretty rocks, and overall absorbing the environment. One of the best smells is the desert just after it's rained. I majored in psychology, so the most writing I did in university was research papers. I would attribute most of what I've learned in creative writing from my friend Ky Moffet, or "Rez" as he likes to be known on the internet. He's been around longer than I have, has read more, written more, edited more, and generally has had a better education in all things writing and reading--something that has been lost in the current public education system. I don't have the strong grammar backbone that I should, despite taking AP classes. So I'm pretty lucky that he found me (though I wasn't entirely appreciative at first, haha.)

5. Where can listeners find more of your work?

If specifically interested in more mystical feudal Japan, check out "Peaches in the Breeze" from Abyss & Apex.

6. Any new work we should keep an eye out for?

Plenty, though I don't know when most of it is coming out. Got a political satire piece upcoming in Saturday Night Reader, and in December, a podcast of my Unidentified Funny Object story, "All I want for Christmas..." from Toasted Cake. If you're a fan of On Spec, keep your eyes peeled.

7. (And just for Juli's curiosity: What are you reading now?)

Slowly making my way through the second half/book of "Hyperion Cantos" by Dan Simmons. The author made a very poor choice in switching narrative style, thus splitting the story's focus and distancing the reader from the characters we grew to enjoy in the first half/book. Despite that, I'll read it to the end because I'm stubborn. I also read a good deal of short stories from Tor.com.

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