“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.
It is our great pleasure to publish Timshala by Leah Cypess tomorrow, marking the sixth and final short story in our Awakenings season. Today, we are hosting Leah to talk about the inspirations and influences behind her story.
Timshala was built out of three entirely separate influences, that I hope I’ve melded together successfully into one coherent story.
The first inspiration is buried in the fog of time: the idea of a girl buried to die in her mother’s tomb. I’m sure I came across this idea somewhere in my reading, but I honestly can’t tell you where. I can tell you that I was in the basement of my parents’ home, working out on an exercise bike, when the idea for that first scene came to me. I wrote it down immediately, planning to make a novel out of it; like many of my novel ideas, however, I ran out of steam after three chapters, and put it aside in case inspiration struck later.
Years later, I was reading the works of Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, an 18th-century Jewish thinker. Rabbi Dessler, in discussing the issue of determinism and free will, posits the idea of a “point of choice”—that while every person has large areas of their life where nature and nurture have predetermined what they are going to do, there are also certain specific points where they actually have free choice. I found the idea compelling, especially since the problem of determinism and free will is one I’ve long been thinking about, and I immediately wanted to set up a fantasy world based on that idea. After taking various unsuccessful stabs at it, I realized that it was a good direction for that old “princess in a tomb story”, and that clicked right away.
At around the same time, I read The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagan and became fascinated by the Heian period in Japanese history. I read a number on the subject, and a lot of elements of that period made it into the world of Timshala.
Leah Cypess is the author of four young adult fantasy novels published by HarperCollins, starting with Mistwood (2010), about an immortal shapeshifter trapped in the form of a human girl. She also writes short fiction, which has been published in Asimov’s Science Fiction, the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Strange Horizons, among other places. Her short story “Nanny’s Day” (Asimov’s 2012) was nominated for a Nebula Award. Leah lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her family.
How to Get the Story
Timshala will be published officially on October 29, 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.
Preorder the Ebook Today
Want the book right now? Buy the DRM-free ebook edition directly from us and read the story today:
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