Jen Fawkes talks AI and Daughters of Chaos

"...all my work involves some degree of speculation."
Jen

Scifipulse recently caught up with Jen FawkesShe is the author of Mannequin and Wife as well as the short story collection Tales the Devil Told Me. Charles Yu, author of Interior Chinatown. Has called her upcoming book Daughters of Chaos “A dazzling synthesis of history, myth and sheer invention”. Which Jen discusses in this interview. Jen is also a prolific short story writer whose work can be read on her website. In this interview Jen talks about AI, feminism and advice for aspiring writers.

 

SFP: What made you want to be a writer?


Jen Fawkes:
My mom was a voracious reader who wanted more than anything to be a writer. She instilled a love of books in me and encouraged me to write, but I never imagined I could create a world anyone would want to inhabit, to hold the attention of a reader for hundreds of pages. The year I turned 30, I was struggling in many ways, and I threw myself headlong into writing fiction. It took years of trial and error to figure out anything at all, but I kept going, as nothing has ever provided me with a deeper sense of joy.


SFP: I notice that a lot of your short stories are magical realism. What is it about this genre that attracts you to it?


Jen Fawkes:
I didn’t set out to write a particular sort of fiction, but all my work involves some degree of speculation. How much of this can be chalked up to the fact that I read and viewed tons of fantasy and sci-fi while growing up, and how much to my unquenchable, lifelong desire to witness magic in the workaday world, I cannot say.
The only place I’ve ever found magic is on the page or screen; still, the characters that speak to me, and through me, exist in realms that combine the “magical” and the “real.”


SFP: Please can you tell us a bit about your upcoming novel Daughters of Chaos?

 

Jen Fawkes: In Daughters of Chaos, women can radically alter their bodies—transform into animals or monsters—and the perils of childbirth, not to mention motherhood, permeate the novel’s pages. In our precarious, polarized present, this alternate history defends the sanctity of bodily autonomy while celebrating the ancient, unruly power of the female.
Sylvie Swift and her twin daughters belong to an ancient Cult dedicated to the original supreme being—Chaos—that aims to bring society back into alignment with nature by placing power in the hands of women. Inspired by both Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and the true story of Nashville’s attempt to exile its prostitutes during the American Civil War, Daughters of Chaos weaves together “found” texts, the fantastic, and queer themes to question familiar notions of history and family, warfare and power.


SFP: What is your position on AI’s use in the creative arts?


Jen Fawkes:
I’m adamantly opposed to it, but I was raised on The Terminator, so a healthy fear of AI is omnipresent in my brain. AI may have useful applications in the world humankind has built, but I don’t believe we’re capable of creating anything that comes close to possessing the spark of magic or mystery or alchemy that enables life, creativity, art.


SFP: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?


Jen Fawkes:
Read, read, read! Read everything you can get your hands on, in your genre (of course) and outside it. And write, write, write! Most of what you produce won’t see the light of day, but you’ve got to write through your material, and then re-see it (more than once) to discover not only what you think, but what you want to point out to others.

 

SFP: How would you explain why the world needs feminism to someone who identifies as an incel or mgtow without them feeling attacked?


Jen Fawkes:
I’m continuously shocked that feminism—i.e. placing the same value on female humans that we place on male humans—is something anyone would dare to challenge, or that anyone needs to defend. There are no differences among humans except those we have constructed and agreed, collectively, to believe in. For me, those distinctions don’t exist on any actual, biological level, so it’s quite impossible for me to answer this question—to be honest, I can’t even hear it.


SFP: Do you think that the publishing industry has changed since you first started writing?

 

Jen Fawkes: It has changed, most assuredly, in terms of the consolidation of the big publishing houses, the proliferation of small presses, the rise of e-readers and audiobooks, and the societal concerns generated by our zeitgeist. What hasn’t changed is how incredibly difficult it is for anyone to establish a writing career, and how overwhelmingly luck and timing—as opposed to talent, dedication, or hard work—dominate every author’s publishing experience.


SFP: And finally, what 5 fictional characters would you invite to dinner and why?

 

Jen Fawkes: Lyra Belacqua, (from His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman) Fleur Talbot (from Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark), Genly Ai, (from The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin) Dora Chance ( from Wise Children by Angela Carter), and Piranesi (or Matthew Rose Sorenson) (by Susanna Clarke). These characters are all masterful story-spinners, which is a big reason I would want them at my table.

 

Scifipulse would like to extend our most heartfelt thanks and warmest best wishes to Jen Fawkes for so graciously taking the time to answer our questions.

 

Jen’s website: Home | Jen Fawkes

 

Her Twitter: Jen Fawkes (@fawkesontherun) / X (twitter.com)

 

Her Bluesky: Jen Fawkes (@jenfawkes.bsky.social) — Bluesky

 

Check out our Chris Bonnello interview here

 

Check out our Kaia Sonderby interview here

Autistic writer who loves sci-fi, cosplay and poetry. Actor with Theatre of the Senses. He/him.
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