“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.
Tomorrow, we kick start our new season of short stories – Gods and Monsters – with Beauty, Glory, Thrift by Alison Tam. Today, the author tells us a bit about the inspirations and influences behind the story.
Beauty, Glory, Thrift, is a LGBTQIA SCIFI tale about the self-proclaimed goddess of Thrift and the Thief that takes her from her temple.
My grandparents always used to lay out food for our ancestors and our gods: heaps of oranges, slices of roast duck, a whole bag of milk candy spilled out onto a plate. We’d place the food on the altar, maybe light some incense, and wish for small things like good grades and good health. Then we’d take the food back downstairs again and eat it all ourselves.
I always thought that was kind of sad. Sure, there was some metaphysical stuff involved with the gods eating the spirit of the food, but as a kid with only a very hazy knowledge of my family’s religion, all I really understood was that I was the one chowing down on lychee and rice crackers and Guan Yin got squat.
Beauty, Glory, Thrift is my way of evening the scales a little. By travelling with the thief, Thrift gets to experience all the great things about the physical world that I always imagined gods couldn’t.
There’s so much that’s awesome about having a body and being alive that we never really think about. Stretching, for example. Cracking your joints, even though you know you’re not supposed to. Planting your entire face onto your cat’s stomach and using him like a pillow.
I love writing Thrift because she’s delighted by the little things, and, like, a lot of my favorite stories, she reminds me of all the parts of daily life that are kind of awesome. From the casual serendipity of Master of None to the humor and empathy of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, most of my biggest inspirations dwell on the beauty of the ordinary.
There’s What Did You Eat Yesterday?, Fumi Yoshinaga’s paean to queer banality, Xia Jia’s short story visions of how radical technology may someday transform ordinary life, Rose Lerner’s historical romances centering the ordinary middle class. There’s the immigrant solidarity of Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Djinni, and the political/philosophical deliberations of Fuyumi Ono’s Twelve Kingdoms.
Even when I write stories about strange and mysterious worlds (or maybe because I write about strange and mysterious worlds), the details are the best part. How does someone with a completely non-human perspective experience humor, discomfort, minor illnesses and small talk with family members you only see once every few years? Who does all the farming? Who takes out the trash? What makes a world or a character come to life for me is the daily routine: the little jokes, the pet peeves, the assumptions and judgments that people make without even knowing they’re making them.
Don’t get me wrong, I love an epic, universe-destroying cataclysm or clash of civilizations as much as the next girl, but to me, the smallest satisfactions are the ones that matter the most.
Alison Tam is trying to make the quintile-life crisis into a thing. She likes weird genre mashups, girls kissing and telling things from the alien point of view. Currently a Californian, Alison can only really live somewhere that has at least one boba place. You can find her at storytam.tumblr.com or on Twitter as @TheTamSlam.
How to Get the Story
Beauty, Glory, Thrift will be published officially on June 13, 2017. 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.
Want the book right now? Buy the DRM-free ebook edition directly from us and read the story today:
Add the book on Goodreads, and read Beauty, Glory, Thrift for free next Tuesday, June 13, 2017.