New Author Spotlight: Jeremy Sim
In “Addressing the Manticore,” the magic element is something that only two people can see. Why did you choose to use this kind of magic, instead of something that was visible to the rest of the world?
I wanted the magic in this story to be a very private thing, a sort of metaphor for the relationship between two people. When you’re in a relationship, there are so many things between you that are invisible to the rest of the world. Private signals, jokes, meaningful mannerisms. Things that only you two know about. I wanted to dramatize that feeling a little.
One of the lines that I loved in this story is when Ling asks, “How come I can only summon monsters?” Can you talk a little bit about that line, how it came to be or what it means to the story?
In the story, Huiling and the narrator, Donny, both summon mythical creatures that only they can see. From the beginning, I wanted their summons to be somewhat reflective of their personalities. For example, Donny only summons small, noble creatures. Huiling has a really unique personality, and this is reflected in her humongous, terrifying summons. She’s not the kind of person that fits well in orderly society. When she asks Donny why she can only summon monsters, she’s really asking why she doesn’t fit in. She blames herself for it, and that’s a really sad thing to me.
Do you think that love is a mythical thing?
Love is a real thing, of course, but sometimes a specific person or relationship can become idealized, especially when you’re young, and it’s painful to see that idealized thing break when it meets reality. I think everyone has times, growing up, when they suddenly realize that some of their closely-held beliefs about the world can’t possibly be true. Sometimes it can feel like you’ve been lied to, or fed a myth.
What do you see as being the cultural myths of modern adulthood, at least in your experience?
In modern times, I think cultural myths have moved away from the story format, and now take the form of commonly-shared guidelines that people live by. Every culture has them, and people generally believe in them even if they know logically that they can’t possibly be 100% true. In America, we have cultural myths like “You can do anything you want if you work hard enough at it,” and “The way to be successful in life is making money.” We might argue about whether these myths are “good” or “bad” to perpetuate, but there’s no denying their effect on our lives.
Where is your favorite writing place? Can you draw us a visual picture of the kind of space you create for yourself when you write?
I write in a lot of weird places: libraries, coffee shops, hotels, even sitting in the car by the side of the road. But my favorite place to write is at home. My desk is only a small part of my overall writing space: I tend to wander around the apartment, sneaking snacks from the kitchen, pacing the rooms, or just lying on the ground looking at the ceiling. Sometimes I play music. Sometimes I scribble in a notebook. Home is just the place with the most flexibility. Also, the people at Starbucks keep bothering me when I lie on the floor there.
You can read Jeremy’s newest story, “Addressing the Manticore,” in the current issue of Crossed Genres.