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Interview: Leo Vladimirsky on “Squidtown”

– Tell us a bit about “Squidtown.”

Squidtown takes place in the same world as Collar, which you guys so kindly published a few years ago. It’s part of the ‘Freeport’ universe, a world I’ve been slowly developing, story-by-story, that’s inspired by the Hanseatic League. I’ve been trying to build an alternate future for the world (our world) by extrapolating and exaggerating certain things.


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

Originally Squidtown was a sort of cyberpunky-heist story that began with the first line (unchanged since the first draft.) But the more I worked on it, the more I became intrigued in the place itself, and the crime aspect fell away. The story is inspired by a few things: particularly the rapid gentrification happening all over the world and our corollary romanticizing of decay (of which I am guilty) and the way that we see the world as permanent even though it is the exact opposite. Everything in this story (and in the real world) is about change, and yet we refuse to accept that change is the norm.


– What kind of research, if any, did you do for “Squidtown?”

I did a bit of reading about how people can function without tongues (or with partial tongues) as I was curious what kinds of sounds they made, how they might eat or taste or drink. A lot of the other visual descriptions come from things lodged in my head: squidtown is a bad translate of the nickname for Hakodate, a city in Hokkaido, and the Squidtown in the story is a mishmosh of the Seaport in NYC, San Pedro in LA, and Hakodate as well.


– What are you working on now?

I am in the thick of writing a novel based on an unpublished short story (‘The Horrorists’) I wrote at Clarion West last year. I’d say it’s about half-way done to a first draft that I could show to another person without them laughing in my face. I’ve got a box full of stories from Clarion that need attending to, but I thought I’d try to get to a novel first. I also, slowly, am trying to sort out the Freeport universe, as that will probably be the next big project I tackle.

“Squidtown” appears in the January/February 2016 issue of F&SF.

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