A two-sentence summary:
What would’ve happened if Buddha had never become Buddha? In its way, it’s a tale of first contact.
How did your characters come to be?
I was gazing up at the full moon as I drove home from work one night last fall, and the thought struck me how much it looked like a silvery pendulum at rest. Not long after, I typed out that image, and before I knew it, I was writing about a jeweller who loved the moon and wanted to recreate it in her own style. Her lover soon followed, unintentionally bringing the seeds of conflict with her.
Why this setting?
Siddhartha Gautama, the man who didn’t become Buddha, is very much a product of his world. Besides, ancient Nepal seems like it would have been an exciting place to be, especially when you bring in steampunk technology.
You’re in an antho of lesbian steampunk stories. Obviously you are writing about lesbians. How does lesbianism fit in your setting?
Definitely accepted. I wanted to write a story where sexual orientation wasn’t an issue, so the characters, who were already in a loving relationship, could go on to have rollicking adventures, solve mysteries, save the world, and all that good stuff.
Also, even if Siddhartha didn’t go on to become Buddha, I imagined he would still be a wise and compassionate man, so his kingdom should reflect that in its acceptance and empathy. (Whether that’s actually the case or not, well, you’ll have to read the story to find out!)
What was the funnest, or most 'hair-tearingly frustrating thing in writing your piece?
I’ll go with option B. Oh, wow, the characters came so naturally, but trying to get the plot together was something else. It sprawled in all directions, and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I was seriously close to tearing out my hair; just ask my critique partners! But somehow, after much gnashing of teeth, I eventually found the story’s heart and built it into a more coherent foundation, embellishing from there. (My critique partners could not be more grateful that they don’t have to hear about this anymore.)