Sunday, August 20, 2023

Six Questions for… Karin Terebessy

[Editor’s note: “Six Questions for…” is a new feature we’re going to be giving a test run for the next few weeks. The idea is to go beyond the usual tiny author’s bio and give readers a better sense of who our authors are. If you think of a question you’d like us to ask, feel free to put it in the comments. We can’t guarantee the author will answer, but we’ll put it on the list of questions to ask in future profiles.]

Six Questions for… Karin Terebessy

Karin Terebessy likes to write speculative flash fiction stories. Her work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Stupefying Stories, Flash Fiction Magazine, Sci-Phi Journal, and other ‘zines. She is currently attempting to write a novel based on her short story “Mood Skin” which appeared in Stupefying Stories in 2016. You can follow Karin on TikTok @karinbendsreality or find her on Instagram at karinterebessy.

Her previous appearances in our pages include “The Memory of Worms,” in the now out-of-print Stupefying Stories 16, as well as SHOWCASE stories: “Robin’s Egg,” “Not Quite Ready for Armageddon,” “The Finder of Lost Things,” “Mood Skin,” and “The Real Reason Why Mrs. Sprague Came by Her House So Cheaply”

[Another Editor’s Note:Though we’ve been publishing Karin’s stories for years, this profile is actually the first time we’ve ever seen her. Karin writes: 

“I don’t usually include photos with any of my stuff (mainly because I’m a mom so there are exactly three and a half photos of me in existence from the past fifteen years) but this is one of the more recent ones and I’d like to include it.

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is me reacting to the size of the pastrami-corned beef combo sandwich I got at Juniors in Brooklyn.  The fact that I couldn’t decide on pastrami OR corned beef and went with the waiter's suggestion of just having both says a lot about me too, I think. That I totally I finished it and then got dessert probably speaks volumes…”]

Q: What feels like your best natural length for a story?
A: Flash fiction, under a thousand words, because it is a true partnership between a writer and a reader. Readers of this very short form are some of the most intelligent folks around. They fill in all the narrative gaps with their own knowledge, creativity, intellect, and sense of wonder. Even more, readers of flash pick up subtle cues and intuit subtext, extrapolate what comes next, and deduce what came before. There is no other literary form that asks as much of a reader. In this way, flash fiction is the closest we come to true literary collaboration, and that creates a genuine connection between people. I love that.
Q: Who do you consider to be your most important influence?
A: Every person I meet. I absolutely adore meeting and talking with people and I always come away from a conversation with a sense of awe. We all operate within, and manipulate, the same finite set of existence variables, and yet every single person has a unique story. I never re-tell the stories entrusted to me. There’s a human code I would never violate. But when I sit down to write, all that humanness inspires me. 

Q: Is there an author whose work you think has been unfairly overlooked or forgotten?
A: Wolfgang Borchert! I know he isn't strictly sci-fi or spec but his short stories have a surreal feel— “The Sad Geraniums,” “The Kitchen Clock,” “The Bread” and my heart be still, “The Dandelion,” —he was a tortured man, who died very young, and wrote heart-wrenching stories that leave you with major feels.

I’m also a big fan of Etgar Keret. He’s not hurting for followers, but his books are hard to find, and I don’t hear many writers discussing him. He is the most gifted flash fiction slipstream author I have ever read.
Q: What is the first SF/F book or story you remember reading?
A: I imagine like most of us, I grew up obsessively watching anything evenly remotely science fiction-esque (Star Trek, Amazing Stories, Twilight Zone, Star Wars, Dune) Yet somehow I still held this notion that I didn’t like to read science fiction as a genre. Then one day when I was about eleven, I stumbled across the short story, “The Dragon,” by Ray Bradbury. (Spoiler alert!) In this story, two medieval knights on a quest to kill a dragon, sit around an evening campfire discussing the failure of previous knights to kill this horrendous beast. Eventually, our knights get killed by the dragon which actually turns out to be… a locomotive from the twentieth century? In classic Bradbury fashion, this story hinges on folding space-time until two epochs overlap. My pre-adolescent brain just kind of went, “Hold the phone! I didn’t know you could do that in science fiction!” Pretty big game-changer for me. Yeah, I was hooked after that.
Q: How do you balance writing and a personal life?
A: I don't. My children have always and will always come first.
Q: What's next for you? What are you working on now?
A: I am adapting my short story “Mood Skin” (Stupefying Stories April 2016) into a YA/Adult crossover sci-fi novel. You can follow my progress on TikTok @karinbendsreality or find me on Instagram at karinterebessy. Here’s the book blurb:
“Mood Skin promised to usher the next generation into a compassionate phase of humanity. Administered in utero, babies emerged expressing their feelings in a hue of colors allowing adults to equip children with emotional self-awareness. The Mood Skin generation grew up in a world that nearly eradicated school shootings, teen suicide, depression and anxiety. Guaranteed to fade by age seven, Mood Skin was a success. Of course, in a small percentage of cases there were side effects like albinism, hyperpigmentation, or scars. In the rarest cases, some children never outgrew their mood skin at all.

“Now, twenty years later, Bell Academy boasts the largest percentage of Affected students of any high school in the country. Colin, Simon, and Bai Li all live with albinism. Along with their friends Jethro, who lives with hypopigmentation, and Sarah, scarred with mood skin, this tight knit group of teens navigate friendship, romance, activism, bullies, and a society that doesn’t know what to do with them. When the charming and talkative Colin meets the new girl Ari, a Kinetic Moodie who can not speak but communicates through her colorful skin, it just might be love. But every teen’s life has its struggles. In a society constantly striving to do better, what happens to the “collateral damage” of previous attempts? Will love and friendship be enough to survive the bullying, attacks, and reports of Affected teens dying?”


Made in DNA said...

Dove into "Mood Skin" as soon as I finished this interview. Good work. Ambitious novel project with tons of potential.

Karin Terebessy said...

That’s really generous of you, thank you.