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Interview: Yukimi Ogawa on “Taste of Opal”

Tell us a bit about “Taste of Opal.”

To me it’s a story about promises–how they cannot be always kept. I wish I knew that some promises are neglected without any ill intent, or even must be abandoned sometimes, when I was much younger; neglected/abandoned promises bothered me a lot back when my world was much smaller.

This story is also one of those few ones that I thought of having trunked but that made it out there eventually. I had a lot of trouble with its structure and flow. It is what it is thanks to the very helpful input from your editor-in-chief Charlie-san.

And oh, this is my first novelette!

 

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

One of my hobbies is polishing raw gemstones. I’ve polished opal, apatite, fluorite, calcite, etc…things soft enough for my unskilled hands. While I was polishing a few kinds of stones at one go, I thought opal powder smelled different than other stones’. I wondered whether the opal powder could do something to me if I inhaled enough of it.

 

Was “Taste of Opal” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

I like farmhouse complexes. Especially the annex. My parents aren’t farmers but I had a few friends whose parents are (or were), who let me play in/around their annex building. That strange structure of building felt kind of otherworldly to me, I think, as the annex isn’t properly a house, had many unfamiliar (to me) things stored in it, but children could explore it without fear. I like recalling those pseudo adventures, and it’s a shame my protagonist’s memory of the annex isn’t entirely pleasant.

 

Why do you write?

I didn’t like my place in the world as I grew up, and now I’m finally starting to come to terms with it, just beginning maybe, and placing myself in a different world (albeit imaginary one) helped me in the process. Also, just like with many of my other hobbies which are mostly crafts, I enjoy the feeling of something being built under my fingers. Though I wish writing process can be more visible, more…corporeal? That there’s a way of actually seeing that something is being created, other than just obsessively clicking Word Count!

 

Who do you consider to be your influences?

So many, and so many more I don’t even remember… One is Takashi Yanase here, who was the creator of Anpanman series, among many others. He was the editor of the magazine I got published in for the first time ever, and if he hadn’t established magazine that accepted very short fiction, I may not be here now. I also admired the way he kept on creating, no matter what. I still think about what he said several months before his death, that he’d come to such an interesting place in the world and he didn’t want to leave it now. I wonder if I can keep on writing like that.

 

What would you want a reader to take away from “Taste of Opal?”

I’m a terrible reader and always get things wrong out of books/stories I read, so how can I ask other readers for anything at all!? Oh, but I like that in the end, there is no real villain in this story. I hope someone enjoys that, too.

 

“Taste of Opal” appears in the September/October 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1809.htm

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Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O

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