Welcome to the Of Legend and Lore Blog Tour! Now, J.E. Klimov is no stranger to Magic Writer, as I interviewed her last year about her fantasy debut novel, The Aeonians. So I’m excited to welcome her back again to tell us all about her latest publication, a short story entitled The Charcoal Cat in this anthology of fairy tale retellings.
Elise: Tell us, what inspired your fairy tale retelling?
J.E.: I’ve always been a fan of exploring the lesser known fairy tales or folklore. Familiar with Asian culture, I looked into eastern stories and found a perfect match: a story with cats! I don’t want to give the original title away in case readers want to guess our retellings, but mine is about a “weak” boy with a quirky hobby. I wanted to breath new life into this story and give this character a chance to grow strong!
Elise: I love cats – I think it was an awesome choice of tale! What was the hardest part of writing it?
J.E.:The original story is quite short, and since I like to keep my retellings relatively traditional, I found it challenging to expand.
Elise: What short stories have you written for a JL Anthology?
J.E.:The Guardian’s Secret, in “From the Stories of Old” and
The Fate of Patient Zero, in “Between Heroes and Villains”
Elise: How did this experience differ from your previous anthology stories?
J.E.:The Fate of Patient Zero was the easiest to write because it was a completely original story. Retellings were new to me, and I really struggled with the first one. However, with two short stories under my belt, I felt more confident writing The Charcoal Cat.
Elise: What other fairy tale would you like to rewrite?
J.E.:If the Just-Us-League were to do another fairy tale anthology, I’d probably continue my tradition of finding lesser known stories. However, if I were to pick one off the top of my head, I would choose “The Ballad of Mulan” aka. “Mulan”.
Elise: Good choice! Do you prefer a HEA?
J.E.:In both reading and writing, I enjoy a happily ever after. There’s nothing wrong with that, even if many people blast it for being “cliche”. However, lately I’ve been intrigued by not-so-happy endings. I’m at a point where I care more about how the ending is executed versus whether the ending itself is “happy” or “sad”.
Elise: I’m a fan of happy endings myself, but I do like a well done bittersweet ending. How do you combat writer’s block?
J.E.:I don’t have that magic cure, so I just have a checklist. First, I will either play Legend of Zelda (if I’m writing fantasy) or skim through my journals (for anything else). Even if my writing has NOTHING similar to these things, nostalgia tends to move me to write. When all else fails, I find a quiet spot, buy a coffee, put on headphones, and force myself to write- no matter what kind of crap it is.
Elise: Yeah, editing will always sort it out once you have words on the page. Are your a “pantser” or “plotter”?
J.E.:Mostly a pantser. When writing my debut novel, I was all over the place. The story developed as I wrote. I had no direction- I let the events and my characters drive the plot. However, in subsequent works, I have taken the time to create character bios and a general outline so I remain consistent.
Elise: That sounds very much like my own system. I didn’t have a clue at first but I’m slowly becoming more organised with my planning. What’s your favourite original fairy tale?
J.E.:The Little Mermaid. It’s so tragic. I have such sympathy for her in the Hans Christian Andersen version over the Disney version (although I still like the Disney adaptation).
Elise: Favourite adapted fairy tale?
J.E.:Mulan, the Disney movie. I know I said I wanted to retell this one. I enjoy the original, but Disney did such a good job with this. The scene where she cuts her hair and dresses in uniform brings me to tears each time.
Elise: I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never seen Mulan! I will rectify this at some point. If you could meet one author, alive or dead, who would it be?
J.E.:Agatha Christie. Although I dabble in fantasy and science fiction, I admire her to no end. I love “And Then There Were None” and “Murder on the Orient Express”. She is a talented author and an amazing woman. I like her quote: “Very few of us are what we seem.”
Elise: Oh, nice. I’m an Agatha Christie fan too, although it’s been a while since I’ve read any. What is your non-writer alter-ego (aka day job)?
J.E.:I’m a pharmacist. Aka. a person with a doctorate yet gets treated like irritating gnat that knows nothing but to count pills in sets of five.
Elise: What is your spirit animal?
J.E.:Although I love the feline family, my spirit animal is likely a hawk. I love to spread my wings (because I was never able to when I was younger), proud (but hopefully not too proud!), fast, and fiercely protective over my nest- friends, family, etc.
Elise: Who is the biggest supporter of your writing?
J.E.:I’ve always been discouraged from writing and drawing. Even when I starting publishing, I didn’t receive the support I thought I was going to have- but no, this is no sob story. I have two huge supporters: a friend named Becky and my writer’s group on Scribophile. Both are positive forces and believe in me. THANK YOU :’)
Elise: Aw, glad you have some friends behind you! What is the biggest obstacle to your writing?
J.E.:I have two: time and awkward sentence phrasing haha. The first is pretty self explanatory. I have multiple responsibilities that takes priority– no matter what. I do what I can though. Awkward sentence phrasing: I can’t write beautiful flowing sentences! I’m a science nerd! So, sometimes sentence structure comes off rigid. I’m working on that.
Elise: What other projects are you working on?
J.E.:I’m writing the final instalment of the Aeonians trilogy- a YA fantasy that was 15 years in the making. I’m looking into other genres, but it’s too early to tell. But one thing is for sure: you’ll see me in another volume of Just-Us League anthologies!
Elise: Great, we’ll look forward to that! And finally – Oxford comma, yes or no?
J.E.:Yes. Always have and always will.
Elise: Thanks for joining me today.
J.E. Klimov grew up in a small suburb in Massachusetts. After graduating from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, she obtained her PharmD and became a pharmacist; however, her true passion was writing and illustration.
Ever since Klimov was little, she dreamed of sharing her stories with the world. From scribbling p
lotlines instead of taking notes in school, to bringing her characters to life through sketches, Klimov’s ideas ranged from fantasy to thriller fiction. The Aeonians is her debut novel with Silver Leaf Books. Stay tuned for news on her sequel, The Shadow Warrior, by following her blog.