RJK Lee joins us to talk about his Clamour and Mischief story called "Build Another Nest for Phantom Feathers," a snippet of which you can hear RJK read here.
What is the most unexpected tidbit you learned while researching your story?
I found the nesting strategies of azure-winged magpies and magpies in Japan rather interesting. Azure-winged magpies apparently nest within the territories of predatory birds like sparrowhawks to avoid foxes and other mammals. Tokyo researchers stated that only 2% of nests within 20 meters of a sparrowhawk nest were lost to predators. This is an aspect I wanted to insert into the story more directly, but it didn’t quite make it in. Maybe another tale. I also found it interesting that magpies generally found telephone poles a safer nesting location than more natural environments, which has helped them spread throughout cities.
What was your favourite thing about writing a story for Clamour and Mischief?
I loved the chance to write a follow-up to my story in Dark Cheer: Cryptids Emerging (Volume Blue). I also loved the interest in allowing such an odd and fantastical story. I mean a fight scene between birds and foxes written like the one in my story, who’s going to grant it the suspended belief necessary? But it’s exactly the kind of thing I wish there was more of in the fiction world. I think this story certainly took some risks, but when I was invited to this anthology, I knew this side of the story world I’d already started in “Stone Shaper Tanukis Estranged” really wanted to be drawn out. Hopefully I can share a few other sides of this story world soon (there’s a whole bear family waiting to say hello – someone open a Bears & Blackberries antho next?)
Which is your favourite corvid and why?
Well, of course, azure-winged magpies or onaga, since I’ve traveled through so much with them now thanks to writing this story. I’ve never had a particular favorite until now. I mean, I always enjoyed hearing about birds – I remember my childhood friend’s father was an avid birdwatcher, and I enjoyed getting a taste of that there. I also always admired the birds flocking about in the sky when I’m biking or around my balcony while I’m at home (which granted me some inspiration for moments in my story). This fall I’ve been admiring all the crows flocking about the trees and buildings as I bike between lessons and home. Large crowds of them flocking around this huge stadium at the park. What are they plotting?
Also send an author photo (or something to use in place of one) and the link to your website (or site of your choice).
My website: rjklee.com.
Read all the Q&As with our Clamour and Mischief contributors.