Fiction sometimes comes from a single moment in time that sticks with us, is this the case when you sit down to write? Or do you plan each step? Is it formulaic for you?
For me, the premise of the story comes in a random flash of inspiration and could hit at any odd moment. After that, though, I work through planning the elements of the story step by step. I’m definitely a plotter rather than a pantser.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
This is a recent story I’m pretty proud of…It’s a weird western about an augmented sheriff with a curse who has to face a wizard with unique powers to get back the woman and town he loves.
During the editing process, do you find it difficult to adhere to a word limit? And if you do, how do you manage to keep it within the parameters?
I generally write short stories that fall just under the 5,000 word mark because I feel that’s the sweet spot for short fiction. Now that I’ve written a bunch of stories at that length, hitting that word limit feels pretty natural. I generally let my first drafts go to 6,000 words or more, and then start cutting ruthlessly. The cutting is fun, I think…watching the language go from bloated to sleek is a good time.
It feels like there was some research involved in this piece, would that be correct?
Actually, I live in Korea, and my wife is Korean. The setting of the story, Gangha, is a small town I lived in for years. It’s where my wife and both sons went to elementary school. Gangha is a beautiful, idyllic place…but according to my wife’s relatives, it isn’t without its mystical trickster goblins. Years ago, my wife told me that both her mother and grandfather claimed to have encountered dokkaebi in the Korean mountains when they were younger. My mother-in-law said she saw a blue flame and followed it, only to lose memory of what happened next. She suddenly just came to later, in a different place, and holds to this day that it was a dokkaebi. I kept that premise simmering in the back of my mind for two or three years, trying to figure out just the right way to put a cool twist on the old dokkaebi mythology, before I finally wrote this story.
Folklore is a popular thing for us, do you find yourself visiting it a lot for inspiration?
I haven’t really explored folklore much before “Dokkaebi,” but now I see this is fertile ground for growing stories. It’s really fun, I think, to try to take an old story from a culture’s collective consciousness and breathe fresh life into it with a new take.
You can read Kevin Stadt’s fiction piece, “Dokkaebi” in Issue Six of The Ginger Collect.