Nepal is famous for many things. The colourful and vibrant religions, the beautiful Himalayas, brave Gurkhas and, of course, delicious Momos. It does not however have a reputation for having an active and creative sci-fi and fantasy scene. Despite often being used as the scenic backdrop to a video game or novel, the creative works of native Nepalese people have not yet made it onto the mainstream English-speaking internet.
Fangs Moon is an indie fantasy author from Kathmandu who was kind enough to let me ask him a few questions about his writing. You can find out more about Fangs on his Smashwords page or get in touch with him via twitter.
I lost contact with Fangs over the course of the earthquake but just in case any readers were worried I can confirm that he is alive and well, thank goodness!
Q. For starters, could you tell me a little about your series, the Unknown Side of the Known?
A. The Unknown Side of the Known series is a six books epic, holding the story of the world having various dimensions. One of them is the Human Dimension, and the Upper World, where the story takes place. Basically, the humans (a.k.a Submorrs) and the Warriors (People from the Upper World) were allies in the past. However, a war separated them. It was a war of jealousy, mostly. Humans wanted the magic of the Upper World and tried to achieve it through inhuman methods. Hence, there are those in the Upper World who wish to take revenge from the humans. However, the Upper World also holds those people who believe in Enmity begets Enmity theory. Therefore, to end the evil plot of revenge, they prepare a quest, which involves of setting out to find the necessary weapon. One interesting thing is that the antagonist and the protagonist are twins. They were separated from their parents since they were born and the protagonist grew up in the Orphanage whereas the antagonist grew up with the evil people.
Q. Tell me a little about yourself, for example where do you live, what do you do in your spare time, and what is your favourite food?
A. I’m a student from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Usually, I always seem to find something interesting to do, like reading, working and even making crafts. I prepare my cover arts for my next book in the series and edit them whenever I feel like doing it. Sometimes, I play the piano and stay immersed in music but mostly, I end up painting. About foods, however, I have not tasted that many varieties and therefore, can’t truly mention my favourite one. However, I’d say I love Newari foods. Sometimes, I try to make them myself, which usually ends up okay (Not really).
Q. What other authors have inspired you the most?
A. I have always believed that the successful authors are my teachers. I try to learn from each book I read. So there is no specific author who has inspired me. Yet, my works are sometimes influenced by fantasy authors like J. R. R. Tolkien. However, I think watching movies also help to form stories in my mind.
Q. What languages do you speak, and what made you want to write in English?
A. I speak, obviously Nepali and Nepal Bhasa (Traditional Newari). However, I write in English because of several reasons. First, as many say, learning to write in a native language is pretty hard. And academically, I was (still am) pretty good in English language in comparison to others. Hence, I write in English. Similarly, I see a bigger market in English literature than in Nepali.
Q. Would you consider writing in Nepali or Nepal Bhasa?
A. If I were to change my writing language, I would choose Nepal Bhasa because in my opinion, the language is more literary in comparison to Nepali language.
Q. Are there any particular stories or myths from Nepal which you enjoy?
A. There are many Nepali Myths and stories I enjoy, more than I could possibly count. There is one interesting myth that I will relate. There is a square hole in a place called Kasthamandap of Kathmandu. It is said that the hole was for providing food to the dead souls, and that, if anyone stepped into that hole, even accidentally, the individual would die within six months. There are stories which claim that this myth is real and that there are those who have died mysteriously after stepping into the hole. I find it pretty scary, truthfully. I mean, you can see the hole right in the middle of the street; open, waiting for someone.
And I don’t think that all of the Nepalese stories are lies and just…stories. Once, my mom’s grandfather, himself saw a flying horse bearing a headless man. It just appeared and after a moment, disappeared. I have heard this tale told by many lips. In fact, I know someone who lived in a house, which was definitely haunted by a Khyak (ख्याक). They are more or less similar to a ghost, which are commonly found in the old houses of Newars.
Q. Have you read any Nepali or Newar authors, such as Chittadhar Hrdaya or Guru Prasad Mainali?
A. Ah, yes! In my school life, I have read many great authors including Guru Prasad Maināli. They were included in our textbooks. I read many stories like Kartabya (कर्तब्य), Silu (शिलु) and so on. Similarly, I have read the great works of several Newar writers as well.
Q. How do you see the future of Nepalese science fiction and fantasy?
A. Mostly, I find that Nepalese writers write either Romance or traditional stories. So, I don’t think Science Fiction is that close in the future. However, fantasy genre books have a great possibility in Nepal.
A big thank you to Fangs for his assistance, and I wish him all the luck for his writing career!
Edit: Some sad updates from after the quake. From Fangs: “The place called Kasthamandap that I mentioned in the interview has sadly been destroyed beyond repair in the earthquake.”