Author Spotlight: Wailana Kalama

Q. Tell us a little bit about your background, and your evolution as a writer. 

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, fantasy was my jam, I’d create these worlds and languages and civilizations to go along with them. Honestly I spent more time world building than actually writing, hah. Then I fell in love with creative nonfiction, spent a few years doing that, and travel pieces. In the past 2 years I’ve been diving headlong into the wonderful world of dark fiction and finding it makes me deliriously happy most days.

Q. Have you published any stories that have come out of the generative workshops at the Storied Imaginarium? If so, what inspired your pieces, and where can we read them?

I took the Storied Imaginarium’s Season of the Hare in the Spring of 2022, and now have published two stories that came out of that. “The Sea-Hare” was inspired by the eponymous Grimm fairy-tale. The image of a girl trapped into a tower while all these suitors swarmed her was just so striking. I just thought it’d make more sense if she had a way to defend herself against all that smothering love. So I gave her a rifle, the same one that Simo Häyhä used in WW2. You can read that story in Apparition Literary Magazine’s April 2023 issue:

“Kill Switch” is another piece I wrote during that workshop. We read a BBC article about the dangers of seeing your own doppelgänger. Obviously, my story doesn’t have any doppelgängers, but it did get me thinking about alternative modes of reality and identity, and how technology can affect your body’s perception of what’s real, what’s yours and what’s virtual. You can read it in Dark Matter INK’s Monstrous Futures

Q. What advice do you have for writers working with fairy tales and myth as well as combining them with current science and social issues?

Read as much as you can and don’t be afraid to brainstorm. Inspiration is a diving board, not a prescription. Pay attention to what stories and themes you gravitate to the most. If you have unanswered questions while reading an article/story, write them down and think how you might solve them creatively.

Q. How did you come to writing and who are some of your influences?

Probably my biggest influences are the short stories of Stephen Graham Jones–his Father, Son, Holy Rabbit alone inspired me to pick up the dark fiction mantle to begin with.

Others whose work shakes me include Oshimi Shuzo, Brian Hodge, Nathan Ballingrud, Gemma Files, Paula D. Ashe, Josh Malerman, Iain Banks, Algernon Blackwood, Angela Carter, Marguerite Duras, Albert Camus, Joe Sacco, Brian Doyle, Joan Didion, Tom Stoppard.

Q. Can you give us an insight into your writing process? Any habits when you sit down to write?

I guess the only thing I really do habitually is turn on my playlist. I have a playlist per story I’m writing and it helps me sink back into the world almost instantly.

Q. What is next in store for your readers? I have two upcoming pieces later this year, a coming-of-age short in Rock and a Hard Place magazine and a paleohorror piece in Dark Matter INK’s Monster Lairs

Wailana Kalama is a dark fiction writer from Hawaii, with credits in Weird Little World’s Mother: Tales of Love and Terror, Pseudopod, Dark Matter INK’s Monstrous Futures and Monster Lairs (upcoming), and more.

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What Roni has to say about the workshops at The Storied Imaginarium:

Carina Bissett is a knowledgeable, kind, and honest instructor who provides invaluable feedback, as well as collaborative brainstorming to help participants through places they may be stuck. I highly recommend The Storied Imaginarium workshops to anyone looking to get quality writing done in a supportive and creative community with a fantastic instructor. The Storied Imaginarium workshops have helped me generate many stories, poems, and story ideas. While being primarily generative, I have learned more from Carina and my fellow workshop writers, through discussions and critiques, than I have in more instructionally focused workshops. The modules cover an expansive and in-depth selection of retellings, research, and related articles. I’ve come back to them again and again when looking for creative sparks. — Roni Stinger, author of “The Ground Shook,” Dark Matter Magazine and “Worm Bagging,” Unnerving Magazine.

Registration is currently open for the Season of the Bear (March-May). For more information, click HERE.

About cmariebissett

Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of dark fiction and fabulism. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in multiple journals and anthologies including Arterial Bloom, Gorgon: Stories of Emergence, Hath No Fury, NonBinary Review, and the HWA Poetry Showcase Vol. V and VI. In addition to writing, she also teaches online workshops at The Storied Imaginarium.

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