The Mire reached out to Maya Shimamura, a writer featured in this issue, for one of our favorite short stories, The Sound of the Universe. Shimamura explores queerness, heartbreak, the common sounds, and how they all intertwine to impart meaning from the changes that the main character goes through, which makes it perfect for The Mire. Read below to see her take on the writing process, the inspiration for this story, and how Shimamura connects to music.
Emma Storm: What inspired you to write The Sound of the Universe?
Maya Shimamura: I really wanted to write a story about a queer character where the main issue is not that she is queer. I think that oftentimes in crafting stories about gay characters, authors feel the need to explain queerness and the abundance of self-realization that ensues. I wanted, to an extent, to normalize queer relationships, to show the ending of two relationships and how they are the same.
Emma: How long did the writing process take?
Maya: Far too long. I wrote this for a class, so most of my time was spent on making major revisions to the story. I’d say it took about three months.
Emma: As a high school student, did you enjoy writing this story?
Maya: I think that writing about heartbreak was natural in deciding to write about a high school relationship. Bad break ups are quintessential to the high school experience, but expanding the heartbreak in parallel with her father’s final one was the most interesting aspect in writing the story.
Emma: Are the characters based on anyone in your life? Or even yourself?
Maya: I’ve always been hyper aware of sounds, so it became very easy to communicate these sounds as Parker’s feelings. I didn’t base characters in the story solely on anyone in my life, but I did take certain characteristics of different people I’ve known in describing the characters.
Emma: You talk about a lot of constants throughout the story, do you like your life to be stable and consistent?
Maya: I like little stabilities in my life. Every morning I have a routine to start my day, but after that I think I surrender to the inconsistencies of life.
Emma: How does music shape your life?
Maya: I think that for my entire life, music has been a way of coping and expressing myself. I love to play instruments, and after every summer I buy a new speaker or musical accessory with a portion of one of my paychecks. Music has always been a constant, and I think what’s so great about it is its ability to reflect the culture and the changing mentality. It’s like a time capsule, which I love.
Emma: What are you listening to now?
Maya: I just started making a playlist of what I’ve been listening to every month. Currently I’m into (artist wise) Rizha, The Beths, and Donna Missal. I’ve also been into these spanish songs for some odd reason: “Muérdeme”, “No Me Acuerdo”, and “Nada Sale Mal”.
Maya Shimamura is a senior at Indian Springs High School in Birmingham, Alabama. She hopes to earn a dual degree in Economics and Biochemistry. In the meantime, she plays softball, volleyball, and the bass. She likes dogs, straight lines, and the sound of the AC unit in her dorm room. She will be attending Georgetown in the fall.