Miyuki Jane Pinckard is a writer, game designer, educator, and the co-founder of Story Kitchen Studio, a community for exploring writing techniques. Her fiction can be found in Strange Horizons, Flash Fiction Online, and the anthology, If There’s Anyone Left, Vol. 1. She was born in Tokyo, Japan and now lives in Venice, California, with her partner and a little dog. She likes wine and mystery novels and karaoke. “Boundless” is her second appearance in Uncanny, a powerful story of love, grief, and hope.
Uncanny Magazine: “Boundless” is a poignant tale of a grieving spouse; a story that looks at ambition and love, and explores the challenge of finding balance between careers and relationships. What was your starting point or inspiration for the story?
Miyuki Jane Pinckard: This story actually started with the dogs! I was thinking about how dogs, in their inexhaustible love and faith, deny death, in a way. To a dog, their beloved human is always alive. They’ll believe that person is coming home to them until the end. I wanted to capture that feeling with this story—that inexpressibly heartbreaking poignancy of a dog that never gives up hope.
Uncanny Magazine: The love story in “Boundless” happens mostly off the page—we don’t see Anna and Terumi together, but instead get glimpses of their past relationship from Terumi’s perspective. Why did you choose to structure the story this way?
Miyuki Jane Pinckard: It was a bit of an experiment in timelines, first, and also in shaping their love story around this hole that exists for Terumi now that Anna is gone. I’m definitely asking the reader to infer A LOT about Anna and Terumi, to fill in a lot of the pieces that aren’t there. To me that’s a little like the work that we do when we try to remember someone we’ve lost. It gets harder and harder to fill in the pieces because our memory is so fragile, in many ways, and so unreliable. So we end up inferring a lot to fill in the gaps, and it’s hard to do and leaves you feeling a little unsatisfied, like the memory is just out of reach. I hope it added to that feeling instead of creating frustration for the reader!
Uncanny Magazine: This story evokes a sense of loneliness and isolation, but the sadness of the story is balanced by the comforting presence of the dogs and Terumi’s hope for the future. What are some of the things that bring you comfort and hope right now?
Miyuki Jane Pinckard: I don’t often make new year’s resolutions, but for 2022, I resolved to be more intentional about nurturing my friendships. As you get older, you witness more tragic events that happen to you and your family and your friends, and that’s accelerated now during the pandemic. So it’s all the more important to me to consciously contact friends and family and stay in touch and really not let those bonds wither away. For example, I began writing letters by hand to people this year, and it’s brought me a lot of comfort and joy. Honestly, all we have is each other, in the end.
Uncanny Magazine: If you had the opportunity to do a six-year mission to Mars, would you want to go?
Miyuki Jane Pinckard: Oh god no. That sounds terrifying. Also I couldn’t face the idea that my 11-year-old Chihuahua-terrier mix would be gone by the time I get back! But I admire the courage and drive of the voyagers who’d choose to go!
Uncanny Magazine: One common thread I’ve seen in your fiction is the importance of interpersonal connections and community. This focus is reflected in your work in the SFF community as well—can you tell us about some of the community-building projects you’ve been working on?
Miyuki Jane Pinckard: Oh that makes me so happy to hear you say that! I think that’s true, and especially with grief. The burden of grief when you’re alone is so overwhelming and the only way to get through it, in my experience, is to share with your community. I also just love collaborating in general, both on creative projects as well as on policy and social change projects. At the moment I’m on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee in SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America). My friend Maureen McHugh and I have started a project called Story Kitchen [https://storykitchenpodcast.com/], because we’d spend so many hours talking about writing between ourselves and we wanted to invite others to join us at the metaphorical kitchen table!
Uncanny Magazine: What are you working on next?
Miyuki Jane Pinckard: I have a gothic dark academia novella I’m in the middle of revising! It’s set in New England in 1908, and it’s got queer romance vibes and, of course, creepy ghosts. I love gothic romance and horror and I kind of can’t believe I haven’t written one before! I’m enjoying the process so much.
Uncanny Magazine: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!
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