JZ Ting’s short story, “Terracotta Daughter,” strikes a nerve and leaves it raw and bleeding, all while wrapped in the beauty of her lyrical prose. It’s the sort of story that had me blinking at the end, trying to resurface into the mundanity of ordinary life. I loved being able to include it in our anthology. Keep reading as she shares some insight into her writing.
Q: First, tell us a little bit about your writing!
A (JZ Ting): I’ve been writing as a hobby for friends for some 20 years, and am drawn to escapist fantasies, futures, and alternate realities.
Q: What inspired your story in this anthology? Tell us the “story behind the story.”
A: “Terracotta Daughter” is inspired by difficult mothers who never show affection, only demands, yet will do anything for their children. This inspiration was then run through the Chinese sword-and-sorcery stories from my childhood, the terracotta warriors in Xi’an, and the lingering bitter taste of Chinese medicine I was made to drink growing up.
Q: There are a number of subgenres/tropes/flavors of horror. Where does your story fit? What drew you to this particular category?
A: Dark fantasy. I love stories of complicated relationships where love meets hate, the experience of staring into the void and feeling it stare back, and characters who are unapologetic for the consequences of their decisions.
Q: What do you find the most challenging about the writing process, and how do you meet that challenge?
A: The hardest thing about writing is getting words down on the page. I try to set myself goals and challenges – even if it’s a handful of words a day, it’s still progress.
Q: What was the worst writing advice you ever received? The best writing advice? Why, and how did it affect your writing?
A: The worst writing advice I’ve received: “You should change or at least explain [Chinese cultural reference] because I (a white, western reader) don’t get it.”
The best writing advice I’ve received: less is more.
The best writing advice I’ve taken to heart, and believe it allows the reader to better engage with a story by imagining their own details. The worst writing advice was thrown in a bin.
Q: What’s next in your writing journey?
A: Finish and publish more short stories!
JZ Ting is an Asian-Australian emerging writer of escapist imaginings. Her writing has previously appeared in Australian literary magazines, and she finds inspiration from years of geekdom in movies, novels, anime/manga, and computer games. She has lived on four continents, speaks bad French, Mandarin, and Japanese, but stays for Sydney’s beaches where she pretends to be a mermaid.