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Interview: Michaele Jordan on “Wizard”

–       Tell us a bit about “Wizard.”

“Wizard” is about the reckless courage of adolescence and the unknowability of the future .  My, that sounds pompous!  But it is as simple a description as I can manage.  Rachel is fourteen, and as crazy as any other fourteen-year-old.  The future she dives blindly into is as unknowable as I could make it.

–       What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

I started with an image that popped into my head: Rachel (although I didn’t know her name yet) standing stunned on a street corner, staring at a great-looking guy.  Kids get desperate crushes all the time, as I remember all too well, and they can act very goofy when it happens. In my original mental image, Rachel dropped an armload of schoolbooks, but almost immediately upon writing that down, I realized that she had to drop something a) more valuable to her than school books, and b) easier to pick up again.  By then, I had started to do some thinking about the great looking guy, wondering who he was.  I didn’t know, and eventually figured out that I could never know because it was that moment of seeing something so desirable and yet incomprehensible, so intimately alien, that I was writing about.

–       What kind of research, if any, did you do for this story?

On this one, thankfully, none.  That’s a refreshing first for me.

–       A lot of stories have been written with wizards as the subject matter.  How were you able to find a fresh take to write about in this well-worn area?

It’s not so much that I achieved a fresh take, as that I never really sat down to write about a wizard.  That was just a label I added on later to describe (very inadequately) what he was—as if I knew what he was, anyway.

–       Is there anything you might want a reader to take from “Wizard’?

There’s no single articulate idea that I was trying to communicate.  Rather I was trying to pass on an image, with all its emotional connotations.  I would like to hope that readers will find themselves coming back to the story, teasing at it, wondering about it.  But I don’t care that much what they end up deciding it means.

–       What are you working on now?

Most of my energies right now (barring the occasional short story when a picture crawls into my mind) are going into my next novel Jocasta and the Indians which is about two thirds done.  It’s a light-hearted steam-punk romp (but with excruciatingly authentic Victoriana, barring the bold heroines, and their shiny toys). It’s very satisfying because I’ve done a lot of dark work recently, and really needed something more cheerful.

“Wizard” appears in the July/August 2012 issue of F&SF.


2 Responses to “Interview: Michaele Jordan on “Wizard””

  1. Matt Hiebert on September 3rd, 2012

    I loved this story. As a parent, the emotional impact came from the fact Rachel chucked her entire future for the attention of some aloof stranger. But at least she learned Japanese, I guess. Will there be sequels?

  2. Gordon Van Gelder on November 25th, 2012

    Zvi Weiss had trouble posting on this blog so he sent this comment for me to post for him:

    I had originally posted a comment on the blog relating to the story “Wizard” where the heroine ends up being able to get a holiday because she knows the [Jewish] Trope and can “sing the Bible”.

    I find this especially fascinating as there are actually MULTIPLE melodies for “Trope”. These depend upon:

    a. The specific Jewish community (e.g., the German Jewish Community “sings” the trope differently than Eastern European Polish / Russian Jewish Community).

    b. The specific Section of the Jewish Bible. There is a “melody” for Trope that is specific to the Torah (Pentateuch) and a DIFFERENT “melody” for the “Prophets” and yet a DIFFERENT “melody” for portions of the Biblical Section known as “Kesuvim” (“Writings”).
    In light of all these different melodies, it seems that the author would have a lot of flexibility if a sequel were to be developed.

    I had wanted to post the above on the Blog for the actual interview with the author (there is a single comment there now). However, though I posted a few times to that blog, my comment was — apparently — never accepted (though I can see nothing offensive therein).


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