Asimov’s Editors: What is the story behind this piece?
S. Qiouyi Lu: I’d always wanted to write my own take on Little Red Riding Hood, one where Red and the Big Bad Wolf have a more intimate relationship. Little Red Riding Hood has always read to me as a cautionary tale about masculinity; I wanted to invert the story and make masculinity not something to be feared, but to be explored on its own terms.
AE: How did this story germinate?
SQL: “Your Luminous Heart, Bound in Red” was originally written for an anthology called Speculative Masculinities that never ended up being published. I wanted to explore masculinity not as some kind of default state, but as an entity in itself, something that’s as constructed as femininity. What does non-toxic masculinity look like? How might someone transform their relationship with their own masculinity to something that’s more fulfilling, that’s more true to themself?
AE: How did the title come to you?
SQL: When I don’t have a title in mind already for a piece, I tend to comb through my poetry collection and see what resonates. This title was a mashup of a couple lines that I found.
AE: How much or little do current events impact your writing?
SQL: I don’t tend to write directly about current events. However, the times in which I’m writing something do transfer onto my work. For instance, I found myself writing a highly political piece that ruminated on the responsibilities of a government toward its people during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in June of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd. The story isn’t set in our world at all, but it’s informed by those events and the discussions that arose from them.
AE: Are there any themes that you find yourself returning to throughout your writing?
SQL: I write a lot about queerness, mental illness, diaspora, language, and my Chinese heritage. I find that most of my characters are some facet of myself, so my identities and experiences project out onto them. Mostly, I write what I’d like to read but haven’t seen yet.
AE: What other projects are you currently working on?
SQL: My debut novella In the Watchful City is out from Tordotcom Publishing this August 31st. I’m also working on a second novella for Tordotcom Publishing, one set in a secondary world. It’ll be a very linguistics-oriented take on science fiction and fantasy, about a person who resists language destruction by creating languages.
AE: What SFnal prediction would you like to see come true?
SQL: I think it would be amazing if we can get AI to truly understand human language. Iterative language is what distinguishes us as people. Beyond the practical applications of such technology, I’m just fascinated from an academic point of view by how rich language is, and I’d love to see us get to a point where we understand it as a system a lot better.
AE: What are you reading right now?
SQL: I’m currently reading The Chinese Typewriter: A History by Thomas S. Mullaney. Chinese uses a writing system that’s entirely different from English. I often wonder how the internet and other technology would look different if it had been encoded in Chinese first.
AE: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming writers?
SQL: Trust your voice! Don’t be afraid of writing something weird. You bring something unique to the table. Keep submitting your work until it finds an editor who resonates with what you’re saying.
How can our readers follow you and your writing?
S. Qiouyi Lu writes, translates, and edits between two coasts of the Pacific. Eir work has appeared in several award-winning venues. E has edited the magazine Arsenika and runs microverses, a hub for tiny narratives. You can find out more about S. at eir website s.qiouyi.lu or on Twitter @sqiouyilu.