Kim Fu, "In This Fantasy"
It’s December 19. Kim Fu, author of The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, keeps her head in the clouds.
How would you describe your story?
KIM FU: The story is a series of vignettes, all fantasies of the same character. She fantasizes about becoming a nineteenth-century landlady, encountering a wolf in the woods, being a princess on the day the monarchy is overthrown, and what it’s like to be dead. The vignettes slowly reveal the character at its center.
When did you write it, and how did the writing process compare to your other work?
KF: This story is one of two stories I wrote concurrently between December of 2017 and February of 2018, and I wrote it partially by hand. That’s extremely unusual for me on both fronts—I rarely write that quickly, and I almost never handwrite. But ideas and lines and changes for this story kept coming to me in the strangest places at the strangest times, such that I started to keep a pen and notebook handy. (Luckily, I own approximately ten million unused notebooks.)
What kind of research went into this story?
KF: There’s a section near the middle for which I googled images of wolves and a little bit about wolf behavior, but I’d say the story was most influenced by other works of fiction. Kevin Brockmeier and Sarah Waters were definitely bouncing around in the back of my mind.
What, to you, makes the short story a special form? What can it do that other kinds of writing can't?
KF: My favorite thing to do as an editor and teacher is what I call the “ninja scalpel edit,” where I cut hundreds or even thousands of words from a piece without—hopefully—changing its major beats or essential character. On several occasions, the writer has responded that they couldn’t even tell what was missing, and that’s just the best feeling. I love concision, reduction, whittling down—though it’s obviously harder to practice in my own writing, with my giant ego in the way.
Short stories often contain a whole world, as much as a novel does, but in a fraction of the space. It’s incredible to me that you can, say, read a story from start to finish over lunch, and in that time, entirely inhabit another person and their lifetime of experience. Anthologies can be especially great in this way, allowing you to enter and exit dozens of universes, one after another, in the time it takes to read a book.
Where should people go to learn more about you and your work?
What's the best gift you've ever been given?
KF: This is going to be painfully sincere; I apologize in advance. My dad passed away in 2011. He was the one who cooked all our meals growing up, and when I miss him, I often think about his cooking, and how no will never ever feed me again the way he did, as knowingly, as matter-of-factly, without expectation—just a pure expression of love. Before he died, he planted an apple-pear (also called an Asian pear) tree. I didn’t know about it until very recently, when it started to bear fruit. When my mom and I ate them, it felt like he was feeding us one more time, a gift from the other side.
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