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Spotlight on Vandana Singh, Author

Vandana Singh was born in New Delhi, India, and now lives near Boston. Some of her short work has been collected in The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories (2009), and she’s published two standalone novellas, Of Love and Other Monsters (2007) and Distances (2008). She has also published picture books for children. Singh has a PhD in particle physics and teaches at Framingham State College.

What one story are you most fond or proud of, that our readers should seek out?
I can’t think in terms of one story – sorry. In my mind my stories are connected, features of an enormous mental landscape, if you will. How to choose between a crag, a valley, a mountain top? But if you forced me to, I could name a couple. ‘‘Oblivion: A Journey’’, and, maybe, Infinities.

You often write about India and Indian culture. Can you talk about how and why you use science fiction/fantasy to explore those subjects?
Well, I’m Indian, and I’m a scientist, and I’m far from home. The distance gives me perspective, helps me realize how a place I always took for granted is vibrant and ever-changing and alive in a very science-fictional and fantastical way (but also in a non-stereotypical way). India violates conventional ways of thinking and being, violates the stereotypes and expectations that people might have in the West, in a sense violates reality! There is constant change amidst the persistence of traditions, and strange hybrids and new forms emerging from the meeting of modernity and 5,000 years of history. To me the only way to capture all this is through speculative fiction.

Why do you write science fiction instead of, say, cozy mysteries or mainstream literary fiction?
My mind seems incapable of coming up with straight fiction. This might be because I don’t see the world in a mundane way. Everything around me suggests possibilities and layers, what-ifs and maybes. So I’m compelled to evoke that non-Euclidean sensibility in my fiction.

Any plans to write a novel?
About a thousand plans, and no time. Actually I have a novella that might become a novel, and the outline of a novel from some four years ago. At some point in space and time I’ll probably write one or both of them, but not soon.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your work?
My website is at http://users.rcn.com/singhvan, and my blog is at http://vandanasingh.wordpress.com. Also I have a couple of stories in the Strange Horizons archives, and a new story coming up in the Postscripts anthology this summer.


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