Eliza Chan, "Fathomfolk" (Orbit, 2024)


Eliza Chan’s debut novel Fathomfolk (Orbit, 2024) takes place in the semi-submerged city of Tiankawi, where humans and fathomfolk - a collection of peoples including sirens, seawitches, kelpies, and kappas - navigate an increasingly tense political situation. The novel follows half-siren Mira, the recently promoted captain of the border guard and Nami, a young exiled royal from a neighboring city as they push for political change and grapple with the city’s growing violence and social unrest.

In this interview, Chan discusses setting-as-character and the depiction of pollution and climate catastrophe in fantasy. She describes her love of folklore, the importance of depicting supportive male partners, and the role of class and poverty in the book. We also chat about creating fictional diseases and the role of motherhood in the novel.

Fathomfolk is a unique and imaginative story and it was a joy to discuss it with the author.

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A. E. Lanier

A. E. Lanier is a short fiction writer and educator living in Central Texas. More about her work can be found at aelanier.com.

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