Wyrd Question Daze : T. K. Rex

Hi! I’m TK. I write science fiction and fantasy largely on ecological themes, which you can read in Strange Horizons, Queer Blades, New Edge Sword and Sorcery and elsewhere — I keep a full list of everything that’s online at linktr.ee/tkrex. I’m currently working on:

A collection of climate fiction stories that take place in Northern California as drones are rewilding everything but the cities for carbon sequestration and wildcrafted agriculture

A collection of secondary fantasy stories in collaboration with my mom, L. A. Kinyon, that takes place in a vaguely Gold-Rush era region that strongly resembles the West Coast, and is struggling with industrialization, colonialism, exploitation and looming environmental collapse. And there’s dragons.

A mostly-biographical collection/disjointed speculative memoir about my chaotic childhood in the 90s, that spans four states and includes topics ranging from the AIDS crisis to 9/11, with big mental health themes and lots of queer characters

I live in San Francisco and work in tech, my ancestry is mostly British Isles and Ashkenazi, I’m between cats at the moment and I have a brilliant partner named Gary Boodhoo who is an artist and musician and listens to all my early drafts. Also, I like plants.

Where did you come from and where are you going?

The Earth.

What preoccupies your mind these days?

The future. How to prepare for an increasingly chaotic timeline. How to build community and strengthen friendships. How to bring more vision and purpose to the world. How to get out of my current creative slump. How to be more in the moment.

Name a favourite taste, touch, sound, sight and smell

Taste: Nopales burrito from my neighborhood taco place
Touch: Warm mug of tea
Sound: The smooth yet satisfyingly clackety keys of the custom mechanical keyboard that Gary built for me
Sight: Accurate renditions of fully feathered dromaeosaurs (I highly recommend watching Prehistoric Planet)
Smell: Fresh coffee beans. Even after years as a barista. Even after switching to decaf

Describe one of your most vivid dreams or nightmares

I had one years ago when I was at my first advertising job and I had just graduated college and I was still in this relationship that had gone on way too long. And in my dream I was sitting at my desk at work and it was completely realistic, not like a dream version of it but like the real thing. And a fucking eagle flew into the window next to me. And it kept banging against the glass. And when I woke up I knew it was trying to tell me something because it had been so vivid, and I asked myself, OK. What does an eagle represent to me? And the answer was so corny and obvious: freedom. And I knew then that all I had to do was open the window and let it in. So pretty much immediately after that, I found a new job and moved to Albuquerque and ended that relationship and adopted a bunny.

Have you ever had an uncanny experience?

This world gets exponentially weirder every day? But as far as the truly unexplainable goes, one morning when I was like five I was at my dad’s apartment in Portland coloring in the kitchen and I looked up and this weird pointy black ball flew right through the walls across the corner where my dad was washing dishes. It was like a ball of black triangles about the size of a starling and literally came in through one wall and out the other. When it was gone, I was left just kinda staring at the wall it disappeared into, and my dad turned around and saw me and he was like, “Holy crap you saw it too!”

We never came up with an explanation.

How does your sense of place affect the way you express yourself?

This could mean so many things. I think place is very important to my fiction, and probably to most eco-fiction… or really, all eco-fiction since “eco” literally means “home.” I try to ground much of my fiction in places that are either real places I’ve spent significant time in, or inspired by real places I’ve spent significant time in. Place itself often inspires me, and I think sometimes I set a story in a place I just want to spend more time in, just so I can spend more time there in my imagination. My recent story in New Edge Sword & Sorcery, The Beast of the Shadow Gum Trees, has a setting that was very much inspired by the UC San Diego campus where I was attending the Clarion Writers Workshop when I wrote it. Similarly, A Holdout in the Northern California Designated Wildcraft Zone, which appeared in Grist’s Imagine 2200 collection this fall, is set in rural Mendocino County where my grandmother lived for awhile toward the end of her life, and I spend a ton of time up there with her. And another story that came out this year in The Molotov Cocktail, And In Her Sleep, She Cooed, is very close to home — it’s about a pigeon who lives in my neighborhood in San Francisco.

I think my emphasis on place has a lot to do with my own need to feel grounded that came from a pretty chaotic childhood where I moved around a lot. Whenever I felt unsettled in a new place, I would go walking around looking for some quiet spot to sit alone and just take in my surroundings, to start to feel like part of them, to feel like the plants and rocks and wind knew who I was. Highly recommend.

What has particularly touched or inspired you recently?

This morning an editor said my story made her happy, and that was awesome.

Tell us a good story, anecdote or joke

One time, a very nice blogger invited me to answer some questions for their blog, and I took waaaaaaaaay too long to answer them, and I’m sorry.

Lightenings: My Days Are Gone Like A Shadow

A collaborative project featuring Dead Rat Orchestra, Sons of Joy and Extreme Noise Terror members. Lightenings: My Days Are Gone Like Shadow – debut LP on limited lathe cut vinyl and digital download.

“An exhilarating, vivid album, full of depth, emotion and rich texture” – Wyrd Daze

Release Date 1st February 2023
Album presale on Bandcamp 10am Friday 11th November 2022.
Label: Hypostatic Union

A pagan, a priest and a Muslim walk into Britain’s 15th most haunted pub and ask, “Does anyone have a microphone, please?”

Four days later, these three musicians and friends return to their homes with the album My Days Are Gone Like a Shadow recorded: a heady mix of experimental folk, disintegrating beats, soaring fiddles, whispers and chants, squalling guitars, and ethereal pipe organ.

Based in Cairo, Egypt and Colchester Essex, LIGHTENINGS is Stafford Glover (Enclosed & Silent Order, Extreme Noise Terror), Daniel Merrill (Nujumi, Dead Rat Orchestra, Sons of Joy) and the Rev’d Matthew Simpkins (Rev Simpkins, Sons of Joy). Having travelled a collective 3,500 miles to arrive at Shebbear, the band discovered that they had forgotten their microphones. Installing themselves in the local haunted pub, the Devil Stone Inn, LIGHTENINGS managed to borrow microphones form the landlady and to convince the local vicar to let them record his church organ.

LIGHTENINGS come together once a year to create an album in a location specifically for its local lore, which is drawn upon in the resulting recording. In 2022 they arrived in Shebbear, Devon, home of the Devil Stone. Legend has it that the stone marks the resting place of the Devil after he was cast out of heaven by the archangel Michael, to whom the parish church is dedicated. Michael then trapped him beneath the ground with a stone.  The stone, which weighs a tonne, does not match any local geology. At 8pm on 5th November each year, the church bells are rung discordantly and the stone is turned by six locals to ‘keep the devil down’.

The band arrived in Shebbear dealing with their own devils – with one member learning the previous week that his cancer had returned, and the others coping with bereavements. The resulting music is full of the joy of dear friends reunited and sharing creativity, as well as themes of mortality, hope and life.

‘Pelican’ builds from psalm chants and whispers accompanied by rain and violin into heavenly organ drones and clockwork violin pizzicato.

In ‘Turn the Stone’ thunderous fuzz basslines drive swirling beats, plainchant and yells, punctuated by spiky and squalling guitar.

On ‘Blood Sun’ violin and viola interweave with whistles and vocal harmonies before building intensity above a disorienting broken beat offset against relentless bass line.

‘Evensong’ is simple incantation of the Evening Collect from the 1549 Book of Common Prayer accompanied by a disintegrating string quartet and washes of glitching bass and synth noise

‘Bellows’ is a monster constructed from all the sounds a church organ shouldn’t make. It is a living breathing thing created by Dan clambering around and inside an organ loft while Matthew put it through its paces. My Days are Gone Like a Shadow is available as a lathe-cut or download on Hypostatic Union.