Ryan Shane Lopez in the spotlight

Ryan Shane Lopez in the spotlight

Ryan Shane Lopez in an orange jacket

Ryan Shane Lopez, whose story ‘Two Sons’ appears in Lucent Dreaming Issue 9, is a teacher with an MFA in fiction from Texas State University. His writing has appeared in numerous magazines, including Hypnopomp, Deep Overstock, Porter House Review, Lunate, Fudoki, Patheos, and The Bookends Review. He lives in Texas with his wife and their two daughters.

So, what inspired your piece ‘Two Sons’? Can you tell us a little more about what it’s about?

‘Two Sons’ was the second or third piece I attempted in a series of retellings which blend classic fairy tales with Christian parables. The first, ‘Party of Eight,’ was kind of a happy accident. During an MFA workshop with the amazing Karen Russell, we were assigned a short ghost story. As I’ve never cared for ghost stories, I immediately began brainstorming unique angles on the prompt. I found myself leaning toward demon possession, which brought to mind that perplexing parable of a demon who is cast out only to later return with seven of its demon buddies. Focusing on the number seven, I then made some associative leaps to the Seven Sins and then the Seven Dwarves. That’s when the light bulb went off: What if I rewrote Snow White, replacing the dwarves with demons and narrating it from their perspective? The fire was lit. Less than a month later, that story appeared in issue 6 of Hypnopomp. A few months later, I decided to test out more fairy tale/parable mash ups and began by systematically working through which might make the best combinations. Hoping to include some lesser-known fairy tales, I remembered the Grimms’ delightfully bizarre “Hans-My-Hedgehog,” which I had discovered via Jim Henson’s The StoryTeller. This story paired naturally with “The Prodigal Son” since both included a seemingly ungrateful child abandoning his father and his home in pursuit of, well, something better? I asked myself what might have happened if the prodigal had actually found everything he sought, if no famine ever sent him crawling back home, if the father had to come begging him for help. From there, my creative neurons began firing on all cylinders. Half a dozen drafts, a workshop, and a handful of other Biblical allusions later and the result was ‘Two Sons.’ As much as I enjoyed writing this series, I constantly feared that the first fairy tale/parable had been a fluke and I’d never find another journal willing to publish one of my niche little chimeras. I’m terribly grateful to Lucent Dreaming for being one of several publications to prove me wrong.

What are some of your favourite books and art (including shows, videos, music) – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites?

I am delighted and inspired by fairy tales and most things adjacent, such as fables, myth, parables, folklore, fantasy, and magical realism. Therefore, I am not surprisingly a great admirer of children’s literature. While I seek to read widely, I always gravitate back to children’s stories, which I tend to enjoy most and be most changed by. My favorites are Le Petit Prince, The Wind in the Willows, Watership Down, Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Velveteen Rabbit, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Winnie-the-Pooh, to name a few.

What, if anything, are you looking forward to right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?

I am nearly always in the throes of multiple projects at once. Currently, I’m chipping away at finishing the short story collection which served as my MFA thesis. I envision this as a mosaic of short works stitched together by a candid, whimsical exploration of modern misconceptions of Christianity, to include my series of fairy tale/parable mashups among other oddities. Meanwhile, I’m actively submitting a Sci-Fi novlette which I eventually hope to expand into a collection of connected short stories. This past fall, I also worked on some original poems, contributed a few liturgies to a collaborative project, and published a personal essay on what it means to be (or not be) a writer of color. Since I teach full time and have two small children, right now, I’m mostly looking forward to the day I’ll have more time to write.

Can you tell us about how you got into writing and art? Is there anyone whose support or encouragement really inspired or motivated you?

I’ve made up stories ever since I was a kid. For many years, I dreamed of becoming a great musician, but even my original songs were mostly stories of one sort or another. After finishing a Bachelor of Arts in Music, I found I couldn’t stop thinking of ideas I wanted to write down. Eventually, I decided to start taking my writing more seriously–sharing it with friends, taking workshops, submitting to journals, etc. It’s been a long process of slow steady growth full of frustrations and disappointments. But I love creating stories. I don’t think I’ll ever stop. As a dad now, it’s super fun to pass on this love to my daughters. My oldest is five and she tells stories nonstop. Her creativity never ceases to amaze. My wife, also a writer, is my biggest fan and strongest supporter. She always has been. So in addition to my faith and the literature which I mentioned above, I’d say my family is my greatest source of inspiration and motivation.

Where can people see more of you and your work? 

They can follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @rslfiction. They can also find links to all my publications, including more fairy tale/parable mashups, on my Link Tree: https://linktr.ee/rslfiction.

Lucent Dreaming is an independent creative writing magazine of surreal writing and art, and publisher of emerging authors and artists worldwide. Subscribe to Lucent Dreaming now, support us on Patreon and follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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