“The term “South Asian” is a broad banner in itself, encompassing different religious and cultural experiences, as well as sexuality and class. Can it be reduced to one distinct identity?’”— Priya Sharma

Hosted on a shared Google Drive as our previous round tables, this discussion brings together five women with distinct styles and experiences who interrogate what it means to be a ‘South Asian’ writer in SF. In this thought-provoking exchange of ideas, issues surrounding representation, fictional tropes and belonging are explored and expanded with sensitivity. We hope this round table invites our readers to think critically about ideas of identity and community, challenges them to question any unconscious bias or assumptions they may have harbored about South Asian SF, and encourages them to seek out the diversity of narratives from the region.

Isha Karki: Let’s start this roundtable with short introductions. Please tell us a little about yourself, how you see yourself as an individual and a member (representative?) of a cultural group or a nation, and how you reconcile these multiple identities, if at all. How aware would you say you are of your position as a Woman of Color in Speculative Fiction (SF)?

Mary Anne:  I’m Mary Anne Mohanraj. I identify as a queer poly Tamil Sri Lankan American mother and writer. I don’t know that I’d say I reconcile those multiple identities, exactly — they comfortably coexist, and have for a long time now. I’m still pretty aware of my position as a WOC in SF; we’re still rare enough to be noticeable, although the situation is improving.

Mimi: Hi! I’m officially Monidipa Mondal, and write as Mimi Mondal. (I was given both names at birth, like Bengali children usually are.) I grew up in Calcutta and now live mostly around New York, but my “permanent address” (and where I go back when I run out of rent money) is still my parents’ house in Calcutta. I identify as female, queer and Dalit, and the last of those identifications has only come into strength in the past couple of years, not without a lot of disappointment and pain. I can’t say my identities are very reconciled; I happen to be an actively angry person. I worry a lot about how India has changed in the past three-four years, and whether there’s creative space for someone like me in the country any more. I try to see myself as a writer both in India and the US, and the two identities are so very different.

Priya: My father is Indian and my mother Anglo-Indian. They came to the UK in the 1960s and I was born in the 1970s and grew up in a market town where we were one of two Asian families. My roots are Indian and my soil is the northwest of England.

When I was younger I used to worry a lot about what I was and how I fit in. Some things happened that made me feel very unwanted and very much an outsider, other people made me feel very loved and included. I’ve got to a stage in my life where I don’t have the time or energy to worry too much about what other people make of me or dwell too much on what I am. I want people to look at my work, not at me.

It’s the same in terms of writing and the writing community. I’ve made great friends who just want to talk about books. I don’t think we should be blind to color, culture or sexuality. I don’t want to live in a world where we’re all the same and all agree on everything. I’m just impatient to be in a place where my color isn’t the sum total of what people see when they meet me.

S.B. Divya: I’m Divya Srinivasan Breed, published as S.B. Divya (using the Tamil naming/initial convention). I’m also an electrical engineer, the co-editor of Escape Pod, and parent to a 7 year old. I came to the USA from India when I was 5 years old so I’m a mix of Indian and American culture and personality. I don’t have strong identification with any particular group, and I fit better at the intersections of Venn diagrams than in the circles. In terms of spec fic, I started reading science fiction when I was 10 and never stopped, but my being an Indian American never informed my reading because I had no friends or family (at that time) who loved the same books and stories. I’m used to being the only woman – of color or not – in a given space because of all my years in science and technology. Being a WOC in the world of spec fic doesn’t often register except when other people bring it up or when I encounter another South Asian.

Shveta: Hi, I’m Shveta Thakrar, and here’s what I say in my bio, but condensed: a writer of South Asian–flavored fantasy, social justice activist, and part-time nagini. I’m a Gujarati ABCD (American-Born Confused Desi, though I prefer “Creative” for the “C” *grin*) and a Hindu, and I’m very aware of being a woman of color in spec fic. How could I not be? I’ve been fighting for inclusivity since I started writing seriously back in 2006. As Mary Anne said, things have improved a bit, but we still have a long way to go.

There are a lot of communities & sub-communities in the SF world, perceived or otherwise, and Mithila Review has hosted features on Asian SF, Latin SF and Czech SF. Do you feel there is a distinct South Asian SF community or identity? How familiar are you with South Asian SF writers, homegrown or diasporic, historical or contemporary?

Mary Anne: I’ve tried to build a South Asian literary community, through my efforts in founding DesiLit, hosting the Kriti Festival, and editing Jaggery lit mag. None of that has been SF-specific, but it’s been SF-inclusive. I teach some South Asian SF writers in my Writers of Color in SF class, and try to keep up with the newer writers — it’s getting harder to keep up, which is a good thing!

Mimi: I am super familiar and have so many opinions on this! I feel like the homegrown SFF writing in India suffers from a sense of disconnectedness, because there’s very little reading of contemporary diverse SFF as well as of each other. Many people seem to be writing their first story/book after having reading only the “classics”, which means huge international bestsellers mostly by white male writers. (Hey, I also enjoy Asimov, LeGuin, Orwell, King, Pratchett, Gaiman, GRRM, etc. but there’s also so much beautiful, innovative, diverse SFF by writers who resemble us more.) South Asian SFF writers in the US/international scene mostly seem to be familiar with each other’s work – there is only a handful of us – but I cannot say the same about writers back in our countries. Most of them don’t bother to connect with writers or readers abroad either, so is there really a community? I don’t know.

I have been an SFF scholar and publishing professional in India so I’ve had a distinct advantage over the regular reader, but even I had to search really hard for the homegrown writers I liked. This is complicated by the fact that the publishing circles in our native languages are again so separated from the English publishing circle, as well as from each other. I grew up reading Satyajit Ray and Premendra Mitra in Bengali, as most other Bengali kids did, but not many of my non-Bengali SFF-reading friends have read them, even in translation. The first SFF writer in English I read was Samit Basu in high school – he was an active blogger and friends with some people I knew – and I had no idea that Vandana Singh and Anil Menon had already been writing Indian SFF in English. Apart from everyone at this roundtable (big fan of each of you, by the way!), I really wish more people read Kuzhali Manickavel, Indrapramit Das, Shweta Narayan, Usman Tanveer Malik, Vajra Chandrasekara, Shweta Taneja, Jash Sen, the Ravanayan comics series by Vijayendra Mohanty and Vivek Goel, etc.

Priya: The term “South Asian” is a broad banner in itself, encompassing different religious and cultural experiences, as well as sexuality and class. Can it be reduced to one distinct identity?

I think there are fantastic projects out there showcasing South Asian writers. They foster new types of stories and new voices. One example is The Asian Writer, run by Farhana Shaikh, which looks to provide a voice of British Asian writing and is for readers and writers interested in South Asian literature.

In terms of genre writers, I think Usman T Malik, Rajesh Parameswaran, Salman Rushdie, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I know she’s a literary writer but I’ve got to mention her as she’s a master of the short story form- Jumpha Lahiri.

S.B. Divya: I’m new to the world of contemporary spec fic in a lot of ways, but I’m always taking note of South Asian SF writers that I come across both online and in-person. That habit is ingrained from being an immigrant and always looking out for other Indians/South Asians! Our identity is probably as unique as any other, but I think we have an advantage that most educated Indians have a good grounding in the English language and can bypass the lost-in-translation pitfalls that other SF sub-communities might face. I’ve read stories by many of the authors that Mimi mentioned. Naru Sundar is another (and a friend of mine from before we were writers), Rati Mehrotra, Keyan Bowes, Roshani Chokshi…I’m sure I’m forgetting some others, but we are a growing community.

Shveta: I’m not quite sure how to answer this. I’ve just tried to promote and encourage where I can, particularly in young adult (as that’s where my personal focus lies). I actually feel on the outside of the desi community in general, though I only write desi characters and am glad to see stories starring people who look like me start to have more of a presence in the North American market. I also do try to follow work by writers in South Asia, like Sukanya Venkatraghavan, Indrapramit Das, and Krishna Udayasankar.

Many in the literary world often equate South Asian SF with retellings of mythical epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata (also equating the whole of South Asia with Hinduism and one origin story!). Some of your works overtly touch on mythical creatures, folktales, legends, though not necessarily South Asian in origin. Have you felt that the idea of South Asian speculative fiction is homogenized? Are tales from your childhood, culture, religion, pop culture, South Asian or otherwise, a source of inspiration for you? Tell us what your lasting influences are.

Mary Anne: I have a tiny bit of work that draws on the Ramayana (primarily the figure of Sita), but for the most part, this isn’t my source material. My family was colonized and became Catholic a long time ago, so even though I’m not religious myself, my cultural tradition was different. I’m far more influenced by the Arthurian story, actually, which I found as a child in America and imprinted on. The one South Asian element that does tend to show up in many of my stories is an emphasis on our food — and, of course, for the last decade or so, I’ve been writing a lot of work (mainstream, SF, and fantasy) that is directly influenced by the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

Mimi: I write a lot about folklore and mythology, but I haven’t written (and don’t intend to) about the more “mainstream” Hindu myths. Once again, I have many opinions on this, most of them scholarly/ political and quite long-winded. I grew up in Calcutta in a family that told me many mythological and folk stories, and as any non-right-wing-nut knows, practised Hinduism in different regions varies a great deal from the “official” narrative. My parents are actively religious, but they don’t go often to temples, because Bengali worship culture mostly takes place at home, or at specific festivals – the largest being the Durga Pujo – when you worship at temporary communal outdoor shrines, i.e. pandals. No one in my home or community was ever vegetarian, including Brahmins. My father’s family came from a village in the Medinipore district, so I was quite immersed in rural Bengali folklore as a child. I am deeply interested in specifically South Asian traditions of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism – because I know people who belong to these communities, and yet their stories just don’t exist in the “Indian” narrative. Dalit myths from different parts of India are also substantially different from caste-Hindu myths. Most of my writing derives from myth that already exists, but the resources never end or get stagnant. I think there’s immense potential for originality and non-homogenization in Indian mythology, if only the writers stopped writing about the five most popular gods.

Priya: My dad would tell me his version of Hindu myths when I was a child. At primary school I read the Greek myth books in the library. I loved fairy tales and in my teens discovered Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s collections and the superlative Angela Carter. Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series is awesome as it draws on so many sources, be they Biblical or mythological. So, yes, myths and fairy tales have definitely made a mark on my writing.

While we’re on the subject, The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an interesting reworking of the Mahabharata and The Ramayana: The Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel, one of Pixar’s animators, is just glorious.

S.B. Divya: The mythology of South Asia definitely entered my childhood, and I do sometimes find inspiration in them, but that’s usually when I’m writing fantasy, which isn’t often! The strongest example is a story I have forthcoming in Apex Magazine that is set in Vedic-era India, but it doesn’t reference any famous mythological characters. For my science fiction, most of my inspiration comes from the world of science and technology. Where my Indian background comes into play is more on the social and character development of my worldbuilding. I’m interested in exploring class structure – and partly that stems from awareness of caste. Discrimination comes in many guises, and it’s a topic that isn’t as well explored in science fiction as I’d like it to be. I also tend to write POV characters who are people of color, in part because their experiences and stories are the ones that most interest me. As for whether South Asian spec fic is homogenized, I don’t think so. From what I’ve seen – including Escape Pod submissions, which cover a wider range than published authors – South Asians, local or diaspora, don’t necessarily write stories that borrow from their heritage. They are wide-ranging in the characters, settings, and themes that they choose, inclusive of their ethnicity but not exclusive to it.

Shveta: “Are tales from your childhood, culture, religion, pop culture, South Asian or otherwise, a source of inspiration for you?” Without a doubt! In fact, even though some of my stories aren’t based on them, many are, and I’m not sure how I would write without referring back to them in some way, even obliquely. For example, I have a story coming out in an anthology that’s a retelling of “Savitri and Satyavan” from the Mahabharata. I’ve mentioned Uloopi and Arjun in another piece. And so on and so forth.

The theme of ‘outsider’ and ‘difference’ features in all of your works in some form or another. What motivates you to write about or from the perspective of the outsider?

Mary Anne: Well, growing up as the only brown kid in an entire Polish American elementary school might have had something to do with it. Also being queer. Also being poly. Also being a big geek!

Mimi: Given the long list of minorities I belong to, many of them not immediately visible (Dalit but upper-caste-passing because of my education; queer but hetero-passing; middle-class but affluent-passing, especially to my Indian friends because I live abroad; high-functioning depressive but with achievements, and so on), I have felt secretly like an outsider all my life. None of my friends, awesome as they are, has ever really felt like a peer, because there’s always some paradigm in which they measure up and I don’t. I think I’ve been writing outsiders-that-pass characters even before I knew these words and categories (for a long time, I only thought of myself as “weird”). I don’t even really know how it feels to be a complete insider at any place.

Priya: My inner freak. She makes me feel like a pretender in my own life. She’s outside everything. She’s made me see the world differently.

S.B. Divya: I’ve spent most of my life feeling like an outsider. My family moved around a lot so I was often the “new kid” in school. On top of that, I was an immigrant, and then a girl who embraced typical “boy” interests like science fiction, science, and engineering. Thankfully I always had some close friends and a very supportive family so I never felt unloved. My being Indian came up the most when I was in high school in Minnesota, one of the few non-white students. My being female has been a stronger “outsider” influence, though, as it’s been present from pre-adolescence through my adult life, especially professionally. Ironically, it’s in the corporate world where I’ve become close to other Asian and South Asian women, because they seem to be more common in the tech world. Unfortunately, the gender imbalance continues to be a problem in science fiction, too, though not as much as it used to be, which I’m glad to see.

Shveta: I could write entire dissertations about this. Instead, I’ll just say that I’ve felt like a changeling most of my life and still do in some ways, and so of course that bleeds into my work. It’s what I know.

We encounter a varied range of settings in your works – urban cities in the West, urban cities in South Asia, urban cities in whole other worlds, deserts, freezing tundras, rugged mountainscapes, ocean kingdoms, fairy tale kingdoms… How important is a sense of place for you? Is there a particular place – geographical or imagined – or a particular topography that arrests your imagination?

Mary Anne:  I tend to write the city, the suburb, and the garden / jungle, which reflects where I’ve spent most of my time.

Mimi: Most of my stories take place in cities, because I’m deeply fascinated with urbanity and how it breaks and mingles the boundaries set by other identities. Outsiders-that-pass characters only thrive in communities where your background doesn’t completely define you. I’m also really interested in the liminality of cities, so I’m less likely to write about white people from New York who’ve always taken their New Yorker-ness for granted. I often write about cities rising up or evolving, new people coming to cities, and so on.

Priya: Whatever serves the characters and the story best. I think the strongest bits of world building I’ve done are when they’re loosely based on somewhere I know- Liverpool (near where I live), the town where I grew up, places I’ve travelled to.

S.B. Divya: I’ve always been happiest in the wilderness. I like the creature comforts of a house with hot running water and electricity, but I can live without the usual draws of city life – theater, museums, fine dining, fashion. Being an introvert, I don’t mind isolation, and natural settings are fun to write because they are culture-neutral. Every country in the world has its open spaces. That said, the cities are where the personal interactions and connections often happen and, having spent much of my life around Los Angeles, city life gets represented in my fiction. But, like a many science fiction fan, outer space captivates my imagination the most. It’s unexplored territory (“the final frontier”), and I find that irresistible!

Shveta: I am naturally drawn to the fantastical, so I love the mythic version of any landscape, whether real or just imagined. And place definitely shapes my stories; they’re very lush and descriptive for a reason. I want to be able to share what I envision with my readers and take them along on the journey.

You all write pretty badass female characters who make difficult decisions to shape their own lives. Do you think the idea of the strong female character has become a meaningless trope? How to constitute what ‘strong’ is?

Mary Anne:  I write those characters, but I also write characters trapped by their situations, or by their personalities. I’d say genre fiction is, in general, quite focused on active characters; it’s harder to sell stories to genre markets when you’re writing different kinds of characters, which can be limiting. I’m interested in fiction that explores the entire scope of human existence — not just the active hero-types.

Mimi: Drawing from Mary Anne’s answer, I would like to make a technical distinction – a strong character according to the plot doesn’t necessarily mean a strong person in the world of the story. Let’s say a story takes place in a society that’s governed by the queen, but this queen has no function in the story – that’s not technically a strong character. When people object to a strong female character, they don’t usually object to female characters being physically or socially strong (princesses who wait around to given as rewards to heroes have done just fine in literature for ages), but to the character having any influence on the plot at all. They can object to even a female character having thoughts, because thoughts that are mentioned in a story usually go on to influence the plot. So, no, strong female characters are never going to become a “meaningless trope”, because that useless queen or princess left there as a token is not a strong female character. Any female character that actually has meaning in the story, on the other hand, is not going to come across as a trope in the first place.

Priya: Strength can be physical, mental or emotional. Tremendous courage can manifest itself in small acts. I’d rather have interesting characters – ones who are flawed and damaged, than archetype heroes. Their strength is in how they overcome what I chuck in their way.

So, is the strong female character an outdated trope? No. Can we make it less conventional and more challenging to the reader? Yes.

S.B. Divya: I think the idea of a female character who is equivalent to her male counterpart has become a trope, but I would argue that it isn’t meaningless because there are so many parts of the world where women haven’t gained social equality. For stories about the Western world, though, I think we can move on to showing the strength of character that comes from attributes that are typically non-masculine. We need contemporary stories that extol the values of compassion, endurance, persistence, empathy – whether they appear in male, female, or non-binary characters.

Shveta: “Strong” to me means someone who finds a way to address her situation, whatever that is. She need not be physically muscular or loud and brash. She just needs to want to act in some way (and yes, that does involve sometimes being passive in response to a situation, like dealing with parents/elders).

So basically, what Mary Anne said. 🙂

In ‘literary’ circles, South Asian authors are often tasked with the ‘burden of representation’ – their stories and narratives must be about their homelands, must speak to the entirety of South Asian experiences, must be representative of all the food and flavour and myths and religion of the whole region. Do you ever feel this burden of responsibility or choose in some way to engage with it?

Mary Anne:  I felt it primarily as the first Sri Lankan American fiction author; I ended up writing Bodies in Motion as a set of twenty interlinked short stories in part because I wanted to have lots of characters — lots of women, lots of mothers, etc., so that it would be harder for the reader to assume that any given woman, for example, ‘represented’ all of Sri Lankan womanhood. And when I write about the ethnic conflict, now, I’m very aware of my diasporic position, once removed from the immediacy of the conflict. I’m a stakeholder, but in a different way from someone on the ground, living through it.

Mimi: This is not just in my role as a writer, but I constantly meet white people who talk to me for a bit before they reveal to me that “their other Indian friend” had given them a completely different version of India. So, in a way, everyone is doing representation, and some of them are doing active, oppressive misrepresentation, like the right-wing, male Brahmin engineer who tells his white colleagues that “we Indians” are vegetarian; Hinduism is a culture of peacefulness and acceptance; “Indian women” are smart but demure; “we all” respect and live in perfect harmony with our elders in large families; “we all” love Bollywood movies; “we all” open the doors of our lavish, ancestral bungalows back in the country to welcome our (*ahem* white) guests; and so on. How many levels of misrepresentation can you spot right there? These voices are always louder than mine, so I am not at all ashamed to write my own subjective dismissal of them in my fiction, because I know mine will never be the defining voice. The best I can do is to bring on the dissent.

Priya: My stories are entirely my own. If I felt the need to represent anything more than that I would be paralysed with fear. Also, I think my writing is pretty Anglicised so it would be stupid of me to pretend I can represent anything other than my own experiences.

S.B. Divya: I choose to engage with it mostly because it’s part of who I am and I like to see myself represented in my own stories. I don’t want it to become burdensome or a responsibility, in part because I don’t feel like the best representative of South Asian community. Having left India at age 5, I’m a blend of cultures, and there’s plenty about India that I haven’t internalized. So far, I haven’t felt pressure from the speculative fiction community to be representative of South Asian culture, but people have expressed appreciation when I include some of that background. Mostly, I’m relieved that I haven’t seen any backlash against writing stories with a global cast of characters.

Shveta: Years ago, when I was just starting out, I got shaken up by the idea that diaspora like me don’t have the “right” to our stories, but a kind friend talked me out of that. Ever since, I’ve chosen to ignore that kind of territorial thinking–if my grandmother and my parents thought those stories were mine, that’s all I need to know–or the flip side of that, which is the notion that one of us represents all of us (as if any white person or European could do that!). I can only write what I know, which is really different in some ways even from other South Asian Americans’ experiences. And of course even more different from that of nondiaspora. I’m just interested in adding to a much larger conversation rather than standing in for anything.

Give us a peek into your SF reading wishlist. People often say you should write what you’d like to read – how different is your wishlist from what you write?

Mary Anne: I’m poly, so have spent most of the past twenty-five years in unconventional relationships. There’s still very little of that in the genre; default monogamy is an incredibly strong narrative trope. So, personally, I’d like to see more complicated relationships and family structures represented in genre fiction — I’m writing threesomes and other poly structures, but I’d love to read more from other writers, especially featuring POC. Also, more brown people in space!

Mimi: I feel like many of us are writing the stories we’d like to see! I would really like to see regional mythology, folklore from India being used in stories. I am trying to do that; and among the people who have already (recently) done that include Indrapramit, Shweta Narayan and Shweta Taneja. I would also like to see more traditional performances, and actually uncensored historical research reflected in stories, because so much of Indian history that we know is curated to match the idea of post-British nationalism.

Priya: My wishlist would include:

  1. A collection of horror stories by Jumpha Lahiri. I doubt this will happen but I can dream
  2. A Neil Gaiman rewrite of Le Morte d’Arthur
  3. A script for a reworking of Beauty and the Beast by Jeanette Winterson and directed by Tarsem Singh
  4. A Cormac McCarthy space opera
  5. An African fantasy trilogy by Marlon James (Oh, wait, that actually is happening!)
  6. Rabindranath Tagore wanted “humanity to be studied somewhere beyond the limits of nation and geography”, so a novel by him setting this out

S.B. Divya: Most of my reading these days happens from Escape Pod’s submissions, but outside of that, I tend to read what I like to write: idea-based science fiction with interesting characters and lots of moral gray areas. What I’d like to see more of (and what I write, because that’s the benefit of being an author!) are stories that show a broader, more creative future that represents the whole of humanity. It’s hard to think outside of your immediate social mores, but the earth is a large and varied planet. Once we move into outer space, that diversity will increase. A lot of the SF I read feels like today but transplanted into another setting (the future or a colony planet or a generation ship) in terms of culture. When I think of how much global culture has shifted in the past half-century (thank you, internet), I get dizzy imagining the possibilities for the coming years.

Shveta: Lots more fantasy using Hindu and Buddhist mythology and folklore! Which isn’t different than what I write, ha. 🙂 (I’d also like for these books to be called what they are instead of just “Indian fiction.”) I’d love to see retellings and completely original stories that work in bits from these old tales.

Tell us what you are working on or what we can expect to see from you.

Mary Anne: Survivor is an anthology I co-edited coming out in February 2018, stories of trauma and survival; I also have a small cancer romance coming out in 2017, Perennial, and a second edition of my Sri Lankan cookbook, A Taste of Serendib. I’m currently working on a memoir about love, writing, and nationalism, Arbitrary Passions, and a postcolonial SF novel in the same universe as my recent novella, The Stars Change.

Mimi: I recently completed editing Luminescent Threads, an anthology of letters written posthumously to Octavia Butler, the first Black female queer SFF writer, whose work has been a major force in injecting diversity into the genre. It will be available from Twelfth Planet Press in August 2017. I am writing more stories in a steampunk/historical South Asia, of which the first two (“Other People” and “This Sullied Earth, My Home”) were published by Juggernaut Books. I will also start working as the Poetry and Reprints Editor of Uncanny Magazine from September, so that’s something to look forward to.

Priya: I’m working on new stories for my collection, to be released next year from Undertow Publications. Earlier this year I was included in“Back Feathers: Dark Avian Tales” edited by Ellen Datlow. I have a story in “ Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland”, edited by Ellen Datlow and out in December 2017.

S.B. Divya: At the moment, I’m working on a full-length novel set a century into the future. The story is more of a thriller, but thematically, it explores the future of labor and the intersection of biotech with AI. I have short stories forthcoming in “Where the Stars Rise,” an anthology of Asian speculative fiction, and Apex Magazine, as I mentioned above, as well as some more on the back burner. On the editorial side, Escape Pod is about to announce the next Artemis Rising event, which is our month-long celebration of stories by women and non-binary authors. Last year, I guest edited Artemis Rising 3, and this year, I’m happy to pass the baton to two of our associate editors so that I can focus on our regular publications.

Shveta: I have short stories coming out in various anthologies, including the retelling of “Savitri and Satyavan” I mentioned above in A Thousand Beginnings and Endings (East and South Asian fairy tale and mythic young adult retellings) and Toil & Trouble (a feminist, inclusive young adult collection about witches), along with a poem I co-wrote with Sara Cleto that will appear in Uncanny. I’m also aiming to get my YA novel about stars back to my agent later this summer, so hopefully it can go out on submission soon after.

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Isha Karki
Isha Karki is an editor of Mithila Review. She lives in London and works in publishing. She grew up on a healthy dose of Bollywood, fanfiction and dystopian literature. She is interested in post-colonial narratives, feminist voices, myths and fairy tales and SF that isn’t white-washed. Her fiction has appeared in Mslexia, For Books' Sake Weekend Reads and Lightspeed's POC Destroy Science Fiction issue. You can find her on Twitter: @IshaKarki11
Mary Anne Mohanraj
Mary Anne Mohanraj is the author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and ten other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons, serves as editor-in-chief of Jaggery, a South Asian literary journal, and directs both DesiLit and the Speculative Literature Foundation.
Mimi Mondal
Mimi Mondal was born and raised in Calcutta, India. In various incarnations, she has been an editor with Penguin India, a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Stirling, Scotland, and an Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholar at the Clarion West Writing Workshop 2015. Her stories, poetry and social commentary have appeared in The Book SmugglersDaily Science FictionPodcastleScroll.inMuse IndiaKindle Magazine, and elsewhere. She is the co-editor of Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler, forthcoming in June 2017 from Twelfth Planet Press. Mimi almost always enjoys the company of monsters.
Priya Sharma
Priya Sharma’s short fiction has appeared in venues like Interzone, Black Static and Tor.com. Her work has been reprinted in various “Best of” anthologies. She is a Shirley Jackson Award finalist and a British Fantasy Award winner for her story "Fabulous Beasts." She has original work out in 2017 in "Black Feathers" (an anthology of avian horror) and "Mad Hatters and March Hares" (fantasy inspired by "Alice in Wonderland"). More info can be found at priyasharmafiction.wordpress.com
S.B. Divya
S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. When she isn’t designing high speed communications systems, raising her daughter, scratching the cats, or enjoying dinner with her husband, she writes. She enjoys subverting expectations and breaking stereotypes whenever she can. In her past, she’s used a telescope to find Orion’s nebula, scuba dived with manta rays, and climbed to the top of a thousand year old stupa. Her stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Nature. Her near future science-fiction novella “Runtime” is available from Tor.com Publications. You can read more about her at eff-words.com.
Shveta Thakrar
Shveta Thakrar is a writer of South Asian–flavored fantasy, social justice activist, and part-time nagini. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Interfictions Online, Clockwork Phoenix 5, Mythic Delirium, Uncanny, Faerie, Strange Horizons, Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories, and Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories. When not spinning stories about spider silk and shadows, magic and marauders, and courageous girls illuminated by dancing rainbow flames, Shveta crafts, devours books, daydreams, draws, travels, bakes, and occasionally even plays her harp. She can be found at http://shvetathakrar.com.