Short stories are short: Edit for meaning

In this episode Mahvesh Murad discusses the work of curating and editing anthologies of speculative short fiction, ethically, refusing the word 'diversity' for doing too little, too late.




[Narrative Futures Intro Music]


Chelsea Haith: How do the stories we tell shape how we think about the future, the present and the past.

What is speculation for?

And how might we construct better narratives for a better future?

Narrative Futures is a podcast coming to you from Futures Thinking, a research network housed in The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities.

My name is Chelsea Haith, I’m a doctoral researcher in the Faculty of English, here at the University of Oxford. Our guest for this fourth episode of Narrative Futures is Mahvesh Murad, joining us to discuss editing speculative fiction, the art of the short story and the narrative and aesthetic value of TikTok.

mahvesh murad on a couch - wearing black top, grey pants, long brown hair worn down

This podcast is interactive. Following the interview you’ll be treated to two writing prompts designed by novelist and creative writing tutor extraordinaire Louis Greenberg. We invite you to share your responses to these with us via email at We’ll share these on the blog, where you’ll also be able to find the full transcript of each episode with links to the books, writers and ideas that we discuss. As the world so radically changes we hope these conversations and ideas give you insight and inspiration to think about how else we might live and create collectively, going forward.

Mahvesh Murad is an editor and voice artist from Karachi, Pakistan, who currently lives in Kuala Lumpur. She is the editor of The Apex Book of World SF volume 4, and co-editor of the World Fantasy Award nominated short story collections, The Djinn Falls in Love and Other Stories, and The Outcast Hours. She writes about books regularly for Pakistan’s leading English newspaper Dawn, and for

CH: So, you are a long-term podcaster on Midnight in Karachi, where you’ve interviewed the likes of Margaret Atwood, Emily St. John Mandel, Nnedi Okorafor  and Sami Shah, who also appears on this podcast. You also edit anthologies extensively and review frequently, so there’s a few media forms that you work in. Do you have a preference for writing?

Mahvesh Murad: No, I have a preference for reading!

CH: Great answer!

MM: I have a preference for reading and I have a preference for stories, and that’s my answer, I’m going to stick to it.

CH: Absolutely. [laughs] So when you’re reading, do you have a favourite kind of form? So, thinking about obviously The Outcast Hours and The DJinn Falls in Love and Other Stories and of course The Apex Book of World SF Volume 4 that you edited, what draws you to a short story?

MM: I’m going to answer this, but I’m not being facetious. The thing that draws me most to a short story is if it’s actually short, and I think brevity is key to a great deal of short stories and to the impact a short story makes, and this is something I wanted very much to do with Djinn and I think Jared knew from the start—because people would ask us when we were doing promo work for that anthology, “ What makes a good story?” and I would—what makes a good short story—and I would always say, “ If it’s short,” because I think over-indulgent editors also let some writers just write too much. But that can be said for novels too.

CH: Yeah, I think that there’s something really special about getting a short story to that perfect intersection of being concise and also kind of leaving you—or never leaving you, rather. I mean, my favourite short stories are the ones that just never go away—

MM: Right!

CH: I think Sami Shah’s “Reap” is something like that.

MM: Yeah, I’m really proud of “Reap” and Sami. I knew him socially in Karachi much before he started writing fiction or I started doing this, and I knew when I was putting Djinn together that I needed—there was no way that I could put this together without somebody from Karachi and Sami was the perfect person for it, and he is really great about his fiction because he’s not precious about editing. I could slash out large chucks and say, “ You don’t need this, you don’t need this, don’t get carried away,” and he can handle it, and it just ends up with a far tighter story.

CH: Exactly, it’s the tightness. It’s almost the way we describe music, right, with the tightness of a short story, and like, the tightness of a band and that’s kind of what creates that quality. In your editing work, kind of what are you looking for when you’re thinking about taking on somebody, or you’re, you know,  you’re reading something that’s been published and you’re just kind of trying to draw out what is special about that text?

MM: It depends on who it is. I mean, you ask about what I’m looking for in a short story if I’m thinking about commissioning somebody, then to be perfectly honest we don’t have any sort of open call for these anthologies, for Djinn or Outcast. We had a very long list of writers, and Jared and I are not afraid to ask people who, you know, short of being dead, are impossible! [laughs] We have no problem getting no’s for an answer, but people were also amazing, because as you can see from the table of contents we had all sorts of amazing people who said yes for both anthologies. So, ultimately if I look for somebody, it’s somebody from whom I would just want to read a short story, not necessarily edit one. Not everyone of course wants or needs editing. I guess we’ve been very lucky because all of our writers have been very open to suggestions, but you know, I’m not going to lie, it was really tough writing to Marina Warner, Dame Marina Warner, and saying, “Okay, we need to take a second look at your opening.” That was not easy! [laughs]

CH: [Laughs] Yeah, but I think it’s the task of a good editor to go in and—no matter the status—do a bit of fixing. I can think of some writers who are doing very well and are very lauded who their kind of recent work makes me think, “Ooh, I think your editors are just letting you do whatever.”

MM: Oh absolutely, and so many—I see this so much in fiction as well, and it comes back to length for me sometimes, because there are books that I read that are good, but at the end of it all I want to hold that book up and to shake it so all the excess falls off and I feel like the editor has not done that because the writer’s, you know, published twenty books or won five hundred awards or whatever it is. But at some point, you have people like—well okay, let’s not take names—but you have famous writers who are just plain famous writers, do you know what I mean?

CH: Yes.

MM: So I think an editor needs to be a little more responsible to the story and less to the writer.

CH: Think you’re certainly doing the writer a service, and you’d be doing the story a disservice if you didn’t try and kind of mine it from the rough.

MM: But at the same time you have to keep in mind it’s one perspective, right? If I can go back to Sami’s “Reap” as an example, if I remember correctly, he and I did five drafts—I mean, he did five drafts, I just gave him opinions on five drafts, and then eventually he made a case for the fourth draft that made more sense and we went back to it. Luckily he wasn’t precious about the fact that he did a whole extra draft that wasn’t used, but it did mean that my opinion was a hundred per cent at the end, right? He made a good case for it and we went with the fourth draft and it ended up being the best one, so it is still a matter of perspective. At some point I guess you have to find a way to trust each-other. I think a good story is a good story, and that’s it.

CH: I completely agree. I think it’s Le Guin who uses the ‘literary ghetto’ phrase. How do you feel about that debate?

MM: I don’t like the ghettoising of genre fiction. I also don’t like the ghettoising of people of colour or women and the whole—my least favourite D word, which is diversity. I don’t think we need to do that in order to judge good stories. I love the dynamic that Atwood and Le Guin had and the fact that they would write about each-other and that clearly they had a deep admiration of each-other’s work, and yet Atwood, who is a complete hero of mine, as Le Guin was—“Auntie Peggy” as I think of her in my head— she always—she is speculative because like you’ve just pointed out, she doesn’t want to be ghettoised in that way, and as much as I think it’s silly, I kind of understand where she’s coming from, because speculative, or genre fiction, can be I guess clique-ish in certain ways, and once you get in there, will they take you back, will they not, it’s very strange to me, why is that there? When did that happen? To me everything is metaphor, right? I mean, the greatest stories as far as I’m concerned are speculative fiction at some level or another. One of my favourite books of all time is Toni Morrison’s Beloved, you tell me that’s not a zombie story, you tell me that’s not a ghost story.

CH: I completely agree, yeah. And there’s a, yeah, a sort of failure in I suppose in the academy to recognise the inherent literariness that can be built into or can be completely inherent to a zombie story or a ghost story or a story about Djinn, or, you know, monsters coming from the sea or aliens landing in Nigeria.

MM: Absolutely, yeah. I think Margaret Atwood’s trying to be practical in some way, but I—I mean, she’s trying to work within the system I suppose. Which doesn’t make the system okay.

CH: Absolutely. So, thinking about another kind of genre, or ghettoised genre, when we talk about dystopian fiction, and I suppose the huge popularity of that, you’ve said you’re a huge fan of dystopian fiction, what do you—I mean, how do you think about dystopia, you know, what kind of tropes do you identify in it and what draws you to those?

MM: So I have to say my entire perspective has changed given what 2020 has been like [laughs] for everyone all over the world, and I realised that as much as I thought reading lots and lots of dystopian fiction, starting from, you know, 1984, from when I probably too young to have read it and onwards, everything I’ve read until now, I thought I was prepared for the apocalypse. But what I didn’t think about was is that I’m not prepared for the actual apocalypse, I’m prepared for what comes after, because the apocalypse isn’t always one big crash boom bang and everything falling apart. Sometimes it is a very slow grinding halt of the machine and dystopia isn’t as extreme as you think it is, it’s what now we call [laughs] the “new normal.” So, it’s been very strange for me to watch all this happen, because I do think that having learnt everything I know about survival in a dystopia from fiction, has to be reanalysed now.

CH: Yeah, that—I love that  idea of the slow grinding halt of the machine.

MM: The perfect example of that is H.G. Wells’ The Machine Stops, which I keep suggesting everyone I knew read when the quarantine set in, the lockdown set in, at least here in Malaysia, which might have been a little earlier than other parts of the West. But I think that for me is the classic slow grinding halt. Oh, I’m sorry, did I say H.G. Wells? I don’t know why I always say Wells, E.M. Foster, my mistake.

CH: No, no, don’t worry. There’s also I suppose the argument of what kind of author is a literary author versus what kind of author is a genre author, because we don’t think of E.M. Forster as a speculative author and then of course Emily St. John Mandel had the same thing happen to her. When she wrote Station Eleven, she was like, “Oh, so if it’s set in the future, now it’s speculative.”

MM: Yeah. Well the thing is—this is my Freudian slip right there, right, why did I say H.G, Wells? I know it’s not H.G. Wells, but my brain doesn’t compute that it’s not someone considered a science fiction writer who wrote The Machine Stops, which says a lot about how my brain’s been socialised about all this.

CH: Yeah, and it’s a weird—it’s interesting to think about the kind of socialisation, right because we have to kind of work against it, it’s a little bit like inherent misogyny or inherent racisms, that you kind of then have to fight back against because it’s part of a larger power structure.

MM: Absolutely, and I think I mentioned to you earlier in our emails that I grew up Karachi, I was born and raised there and my university years were spent in Montreal but university isn’t real-life, so let’s leave those three years out of it, but genuinely when I entered this world of publishing, there is yet so much that I do not understand because I wasn’t socialised to sort of, you know—or geared that way. Jared and I ran a very long column on on a re-read of Dragonlance and I had no clue until I was an adult that those stories were based on tabletop games. I didn’t know what Dungeons and Dragons was. I read those books because I found them in a bazaar in Karachi, old, you know, moth-eaten paperbacks, and that’s all I thought they were, I thought they were original fiction. So there’s a lot of things that I’m still trying to figure out and sometimes I wonder if my— the fact that my perspective is so skewed [laughs] is a good thing or a bad thing. I have not yet decided.

CH: I mean, I think it’s entirely necessary, kind of value judgements and good or bad entirely aside, I think it’s really, really useful and I think what, you know, what Tor’s editor Patrick [Nielsen Hayden] has said about the present being the golden age of science fiction because now for the first time perspectives which are not those that would already know about a tabletop game or, you know, just men writing, you know, space fascism… You know that era is over and that we now have, you know, people who are writing stories or have a speculative element or are fantastical in some way, but it’s almost more about the characters and the world building is not put to the side, but not the key thing, because it’s what people do in different circumstances I think which is what we’re interested in, right?

MM: We are, and I—I can’t agree with him fully because I don’t think it’s there yet. I think it’s starting, but I think there’s still—I genuinely believe diversity is a ghetto and I don’t know when we’ll get out of that…so I have huge problems with those judgements, or bringing in the whole diversity angle, I don’t—I understand why they’re doing it, but I still…don’t accept it quite so easily. For example, I had to actively choose a few years ago to say that I’m not going to talk about diversity, to say that you cannot just ask me my opinion of something as a Pakistani women because I have opinions on other things which have nothing to do with the fact that I’m a Pakistani women and so the—I think it’s complicated, the whole diversity thing is complicated. I’m really glad that publishing is opening up. I do still think it is not open enough of course, because what is enough, right? How to have a completely open and fair playground, you can’t when everybody’s coming with different baggage or different— lack of, I don’t know, exposure or education or whatever it is, I’m summarising greatly here. But yeah, so I think it’s going to take a long time for us to get to that point. I think it’s opening up. I do think interestingly if you bring this back to dystopia, there are perspectives that I read and there are books that I read and I think, “Oh, this is Karachi in 1996,” you know, and then I’ll read reviews where people talk about how there’s this awful terrible dystopic vision in this book and I just laugh, because the onus, so much of that is on the reader and it’s so much of the reader’s baggage that they bring into every story…so someone might think that this is the golden age of science fiction…I’m not going to agree because I come from a completely different perspective and I think there’s still just a lot more work to be done.

CH: I think part of this problem, right, is the idea that you can kind of slap diversity on you know, on a publisher’s website and be done with it, rather than actively engaging in those power, you know, those power structures that, you know, that limit, or that in some ways exoticize alternative perspectives.

MM: So much of that exists, and, you know, sure, at some level I suppose all of us are meant to be grateful that we have the chance of representing, you know, ourselves and a wider worldview in this quest for diversity, but at the time it’s…you know, we’re sick of being fetishized and exoticized and it’s that whole, what did Edward Said call it? It’s Orientalism.

CH: Yes, yeah, absolutely, yeah. I mean, if we’re thinking about world-building here and the idea of orientalism, I mean, what do you think are dos and don’ts, if any, of world-building, with our conversation in mind?

MM: Now see this is so hard, this is so hard to describe, to understand, to even have…one solid opinion on, do you know what I mean? Because it’s growing and changing so much. I would never tell somebody who was—someone in the West, a white person, the West, I would never say to them, “ Oh you’re not allowed to write a brown character,” of course not, you know what I mean? Human experiences are completely shared, why would I not want you to have people of all sorts in your book. Where then in my mind or anyone else’s mind is that line crossed and are you appropriating or a certain audience? Where then are you crossing a line between representing a world that we live in, or sticking diversity as a little sticker on your Goodreads reviews, you know what I mean? So, where’s that line? It’s not—I don’t have an answer for you on this, I don’t think anyone does. To some extent I want to say, oh, it comes from the writer’s intent, like, you know, how much is this—is there authenticity in this story or not, and—but at the same time, it’s—sometimes the stories are just not good [laughs] and so it doesn’t work out either way.

CH: Yeah, and I think as you said earlier there’s also the reader’s baggage, right?

MM: Exactly

CH: So when we’re reading particular texts in the West—you know, I’m speaking to you in Kuala Lumpur from Oxford, but you know, the texts that I read here are very different to those that I read in Johannesburg growing up because those contexts are so different.

MM: It would be nice for everyone to have access to everything, I just don’t know what kind of global platform that would be. I mean, let’s first start at getting people to read more, right? Or just literacy, let’s take it a step further back.

CH: Well this is the thing, people complain about people not reading enough, or I suppose those of us who read too much complain about those who don’t read enough—

MM: Yes.

CH: —and I mean, I don’t know what reading enough entails or what that would be, what that would look like, but I think, yeah, going further back is a question of literacy and what kind of knowledges kind of count as literacy, right?

MM: Yeah, and what kind of culture we develop in kids who—again, we’re talking about privilege here, we’re talking about kids who have been taught to read or who have access to things to read. And even within that tiny privileged lot, are we creating a culture of story-telling? Or is it all Instagram and TikTok?

CH: [Laughs] Well this links us I think quite closely to the title of the podcast, which is Narrative Futures, and thinking about what kind of—I mean, the very shortness of the narratives on something like TikTok or Snapchat or Instagram for example, and also a curated narrative, those being very very different ways of expressing oneself or communicating and I think, yeah, I think it’s really interesting to think about different ways that we construct narrative. I mean, what are the things that you’re seeing that you’re most interested in or struck by?

MM: I’m actually— let me mention first the things I’m afraid of. It is literally—because I have a twelve year old daughter, so she’s at that—she’s always been a reader which is great, but she’s at that point where electronics are more interesting, her friends are getting smartphones, they have Instagram accounts, which I keep telling her is completely illegal because you’re underage, but you know, it’s all happening. My fear is—and I see this as an adult in myself, with the constant use of my phone for example— the concentration spans of everyone are decreasing so much and I worry that will not result in better short stories [laughs] it will result in absolute trash on TikTok passing of as, I don’t know, creative expression or creative narratives.

And I’m sure there are people who are using things like TikTok—I’m not on TikTok, so I don’t know enough about it, let me, you know, preface with that—but I’m sure there are people saying valid things on TikTok, but I think—I fear that it will be sort of a cancer where the good will all get burnt out by the bad, and then my fear is that’s what we will [laughs] end up with is just a bunch of like, little mini TikTok dances and is that really going to be our—what our representation is of the next generation’s creative art or narrative? I really hope I’m being really extreme because that right now seems to be like the worst case, dystopic future [laughs] that I can think of right now, because everyone’s locked in their homes and all they’ve got is the internet and their phones.

CH: Yeah, I think it’s—I think the idea of kind of being locked in with our phones, which are portals essentially, you know we’re all time-travelling all the time!

MM: Time and space travelling, and it’s great connection, but so easy to make into a completely superficial connection as well.

CH: Yeah, and then there’s—and then there’s the presumption I suppose that we think about particular kinds of travel, time and space travel as permissible and good, you know, and others as less good, but then—well,  it comes back to the author’s intention, right, or the creator’s intention in this case as well as the—as well as whoever is receiving it. Yeah, big into [laughs] the narratology of TikTok! [laughs] the two of us have gone—

MM: I mean, I’m not even on TikTok, so I’m really basing this on the little I know, and I’m hoping that, you know, someone will write in and say that I’m completely wrong and I would want to hear that I am. But it’s interesting what you say about phones being portals. A Pakistani writer called Mohsin Hamid had a book out a couple of years ago called Exit West

CH: Yes [laughs] it’s in the second chapter of my thesis! Yeah.

MM: Okay, well you know the book then, so you know that it’s about portals or doorways that suddenly pop up all over the world, and these are not, you know, metaphorical doors, it’s a physical door that you can walk through and you enter another space, in the same time but another space and so essentially you have refugees going from one space to the other and moving all around, and then the portals get guarded because the ones that enter into first-word countries everyone wants to storm into, but you know, there are people with guns on the other side making sure that you can’t come in, but the ones entering your poorer countries are wide open because no-one wants to go there, I mean, it ends up being quite literally being taken as a doorway because that’s what it is, but to me the first half of that book was essentially a portal fantasy, no different from Narnia or anything like that, and I know Mohsin and I know that he is a science fiction geek, as a child he had been and that sort of stays in him and I wished he pushed further with that in the second half of the book. But I really enjoy the fact that that—that we look at refugees or people wanting to move to a better life as people who are trying to live out their fantasies, because what else is migration if not a fantasy? So, I found that particularly interesting, because I think phones do us for that as well. They are little doorways, they are little portals and through them we enter into another space and very often it’s wish fulfilment when we walk through that portal.

CH: Yeah, that’s really, really beautiful and very profound. I think thinking about Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West and movement across space and time, and I think the fact Nadia and Saeed’s  sort city of origin is never named is really important to that, because it’s kind of this coming from nowhere to somewhere, but obviously it’s—I mean, it’s kind of characterised as Lahore or Islamabad—

MM: Yeah, yeah. I mean, in my mind it was Lahore because Mohsin’s from Lahore and it felt like Lahore. My Father’s from Lahore, I have family there, so I knew it well. It’s interesting that you mentioned the name of the city, because I recently wrote an essay on Exit West—let’s not go into for where—for it to published into a book—but the person who was editing it wrote back and said, “Oh, you’ve said—you’ve said it’s the name of the city, and some reviewers have said that this was in Iraq or  somewhere, you know, somewhere else, and do you want to talk a little bit more about this?” And I wrote back to this editorial comment saying, “Who are these reviewers [laughs] who don’t know that it’s Pakistan?” because it’s amazing to me—and see, that’s what I mean about the reader’s onus. If you don’t know anything about Pakistan, you will assume that it is a country like Iraq that you might have heard more about in the news for example, or you might think it’s a country like, I don’t know, Jordan, which is flooded with refugees from Palestine, you know what I mean, or you might think it’s Lebanon, but you don’t think it’s Pakistan because you don’t know enough about Pakistan, whereas someone who knows anything about Mohsin or Pakistan will immediately know that this is Lahore. It’s quite clever of him to have left it nameless of course, but it was yet again an example to me of the reader’s onus and what the reader brings to what they’re reading.

CH: I mean, I think some of the stories, thinking about what Djinns are, so the stories in The Djinn Falls in Love, you know, this idea that there are some myths or some kind of, yeah, some folkloric myths that kind of pervade all cultures and appear in different ways, but then, you know, it’s the , yeah, it’s the readers kind of context that, you know, that fills in the kind of colour I suppose. I think that you’ve spoken previously, I think to Atwood, about, you know, the role of folklore in the narrative and how, you know, how that plays out.

MM: Yeah, we had— I mean, what else would you speak to Margaret Atwood about? [laughs] Well a lot of other things I suppose. But the thing with the djinn very simply was that the djinn simply represented to me ‘the other’, and that’s not something that is lacking in any culture anywhere in the world.  There is always the idea of ‘the other’, something that is not you and yet you, something uncanny. It’s hard to avoid, regardless of whether it stems from Islamic folklore or not…and I think that’s what made the idea of—well actually no, the real reason I wanted to put together—the reason I pitched a djinn anthology to Jared in the first place was because I said, “Why on earth isn’t there one?”  because these are stories I wanted to read, because there are so many we grew up with. It made complete sense to just have everyone from all over the world because it wasn’t something that anybody—I think any of the writers had to think very hard about… it is that kind of a universal idea.

CH: Yeah, absolutely, that’s—I think that’s really interesting, that that, that sense of it being something universal, and when we think about, you know, when we think about narrative and we think about knowledge and, you know, different cultures kind of use narratives in different ways and different places and—you know, I’m South African, so there is a lot of discussion about oral narrative and oral traditions—I mean, literatures—and yet the djinn manifests everywhere, I can think of South Africa’s version of that too.

MM: God knows how we accidentally managed to ask people from all over the world, like, that’s not, possible, you know, you’d think it was hard or something, shocking that we could achieve this!

CH: But it’s [laughs] yeah, exactly, but it’s not! Yeah, I mean, did you have the same experience with The Outcast Hours?

MM: Absolutely, like, I mean, you know [laughs] we, like I said, Jared and I make these long lists and I always joke with him saying, “Short of people being dead, we will just put them on our list, because, you know, what’s the worst that can happen? Someone will say,” No.” Big deal, we’ll keep asking!” [laughs] We worked, as you can imagine, on charm alone and keep asking people, but we asked writers we want to read and we think would just write really interesting stories.  So even with Outcast we put together that— and again, shocking, that you end up with a list that other people would call diverse, I won’t use that word, and, you know, that has as many women in it, or women writers in it, so I always think well if I can manage this without much of an effort, everyone else who says that they have to really try to put that together, that throws me, you know, that means there’s something inherently wrong in how you’re doing this, or more importantly something inherently wrong with how you’re reading…because I think if you’re reading only a certain bracket or, you know, kind of writer, then the editor will—

CH: Yeah, demographic of writer.

MM: —demographic, that’s the right work—then you as an editor are going to find it difficult to step outside that demographic. Not to say people don’t make an effort, of course people do. There are plenty of anthologies out there that have wide ranging demographic of writers and for whom I have great respect, but I do not believe that that is a very difficult thing to do.

[Narrative Futures music]

CH: For those writers and speculators listening, stay with us now for writing promps and exercises designed to encourage putting pen to paper, or hands to keyboard, as well as reflection on the writing process. This section is designed and presented by Louis Greenberg.

Louis Greenberg’s writing prompts:

1.         Keep it brief

Mahvesh Murad says that from an editor’s point of view, brevity is key.

I’m going to keep this prompt brief.

Take what you’re working on right now and summarise it: first, the story idea in a 200-word paragraph; second, write a one-line elevator pitch

If you’re not working on anything now, choose something you’ve written recently.


After that, apply the exercise to the last book you read or film you watched.

Does this exercise tell you anything about your story? Does it help clarify your intentions in any way?

Comparing your work in progress with a produced film or book, is it easier to find the synopsis or pitch in one or the other?

Do you prefer books or films whose central point is easily identifiable?


2.         Your djinn

Murad tells us that the djinn represents the figure of The Other and connects it with uncanny mirroring. The djinn is clearly a powerful psycho-mythological motif throughout the world – there are tokoloshes and leprechauns and jackals and tricksters and imps dotted in every culture, boogeymen under every bed and in every jar in the corner.

For your next exercise, describe your own personal djinn. What specific little monster scared you as a child?

Why do you think it was scaring you? To keep you in line? To warn of dangers? To offer a sense of the supernatural or the other? To what purpose?

Describe what they look like and how they communicate and behave. What do they do? Are they malicious? Is their trickery psychological – that is, internal – or social and external?

Can you imagine a story playing out with this character? If you can, plot it out briefly.

[Narrative Futures music]

CH: Thanks to Mahvesh for joining us on this episode of Narrative Futures. Next week, we’ll be hosting Mahvesh’s co-editor and collaborator Jared Shurin to discuss indie publishing, the Kitschies Awards and literary institutions and the genres that defy them.

[Outro music]



With thanks to Mahvesh Murad for being our guest on this episode.

Music credit: The sounds used in this podcast are Technological Vibe and Cyber Technologies by Ricky Rombino, sourced from Premium Beats.

Production credit: This podcast was devised, recorded, and edited by Chelsea Haith. All writing prompts were designed and presented by Louis Greenberg.

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