Awakenings Book Smugglers Publishing Inspirations and Influences

Phantom Limb: Reiko Scott on Inspirations & Influences

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.

Hello everybody! Tomorrow we publish “Phantom Limb” by Reiko Scott, the fifth short story in the Awakenings Season. Today, the author is here to talk about the inspirations and influences behind the story!

I wrote Phantom Limb when I was a little bit angry. I’m still not sure if angry is the best mood to in which to write a first draft, like it’s not a good idea to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry or start an argument with your significant other after a bad day at work, but I know it did get the job done. Maybe it’s akin to “write drunk, edit sober.” Write angry, edit calm.

Anyway, I was angry at the live-action remake of Ghost in the Shell. Specifically, the whiteness of Scarlett Johansson who played the Japanese main character.

This got me thinking about the “shells” we all have and how at many points in my life, I’ve felt uncomfortable in mine. Whether that be the physical body I inhabit—its race or its shape—or the ones I’ve put on—white coats, team athletic gear, or makeup. Writing science-fiction allowed me to take that idea to the extreme, influenced by Ghost in the Shell and its use of synthetic upgrades, but set in a world more like my own. Naomi must come to terms with how each one of her synthetic modifications changes how others interact with her, and therefore her perception of identity morphs as her body does. This was how I wanted to specifically address what I Ghost in the Shell failed to, the cognitive dissonance an Asian woman would feel to be “upgraded” to a white form.

I took my current studies as a medical student and my past life living in New York City to create the setting in Phantom Limb. A little bit of midnight studying stress and the wish that I could just make myself smarter with an implant, a little bit of amazement at what we already can put into the human body. A city where it would be common that students would seek out mods instead of Adderall.

And finally, I thought about a conversation I had with my mom after we both read Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. We were talking about emigrating and immigrating and I told her I was amazed at her resilience in following my dad to America and thriving in her new country. How she responded surprised me. “I’ve always thought it was harder for the next generation. Immigrants come to make their lives better, but then their children have to live up to their expectations.”

When we chase other’s dreams we always fail because the expectations of others are amorphous, changing things. They are phantoms and our fingers will go straight through them.

Reiko Scott is a Japanese-American part-time writer and full-time medical student (so she’s often reminded). She enjoys marrying the two through narrative medicine and tearing the two apart through speculative fiction. She’s a graduate of the 2017 VONA/Voices workshop and calls Boston home.

How to Get the Story

Phantom Limb will be published officially on September 25, 2018. You can purchase the DRM-free ebook (EPUB, MOBI) that contains the story as well as an essay from the author available for purchase on all major ebook retail sites and directly from us.

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