Stella Lei (she/her) is a teen writer whose work is published or forthcoming in Honey Literary, Four Way Review, Okay Donkey Magazine, and elsewhere. She is an editor in chief for The Augment Review.
Her flash fiction piece “Girls on TV” is published in Capsule Stories Summer 2021 Edition. The story is one of hope and desire—to be able to love openly, to love freely, to turn on the television and finally see yourself reflected on screen.
Capsule Stories: What came first with this story—the images from the Hubble Telescope, the characters watching TV? Tell us about the story’s conception.
Stella Lei: The first image came from a tweet containing a Hubble Telescope photo of Andromeda. As soon as I saw this image, I thought of television static—how pixels fuzz together like billions of stars. I was coincidentally looping Chloe Moriondo’s single “Girl on TV” (which this story is titled after), and the yearning of that song blended with my mental image of the stars to create this piece.
Capsule Stories: Is music often a source of inspiration for your writing?
Stella Lei: Yes! I almost always listen to music while I write, and I usually match the chosen songs with the content/atmosphere of my work. It helps me get into the mood of the piece, and I prefer having background noise over silence when working on anything, even if it’s not creative writing. Regarding more direct inspiration (like that of this story), I will sometimes turn to favorite songs as prompts if I’m stuck. I actually have a poem partially inspired by Mitski’s song “Pearl Diver” forthcoming this August!
Capsule Stories: What ideas or images did you cut (or add) from earlier drafts of this piece?
Stella Lei: I was lucky enough to have this piece come almost fully formed—I didn’t cut or add much between drafts, and most edits concerned word choice or punctuation. However, I originally intended for this piece to be much longer, possibly in the 1,000-word range. I scrapped this idea when I realized I’d said everything I wanted to within a much smaller space.
Capsule Stories: What other writers have influenced your writing?
Stella Lei: I am generally very influenced by K-Ming Chang. I adore the lyricism of her prose, her innovation with form, and her incorporation of surrealness and viscera in her work. She is definitely a writer whose work I return to again and again.
You can read K-Ming Chang’s short story “Family Tree” in Capsule Stories Spring 2021 Edition.
Capsule Stories: You’re also an editor in chief of The Augment Review. Tell us about the lit mag!
Stella Lei: Thank you for asking! The Augment Review is a quarterly publication focused on amplifying young voices; we typically accept submissions from people ages thirteen to fifteen. Because feedback is such an important part of the writing process, we also have a Critique Corner service and provide free feedback upon request. It’s my hope that all submitters, even those who aren’t accepted, come away feeling uplifted and encouraged in their work.
Capsule Stories: How has editing a lit mag and being a reader for several lit mags influenced your writing?
Stella Lei: Editing and reading for lit mags has helped me tremendously. It forced me to think about writing on a more technical level—analyzing and thinking of concrete ways to improve metaphors, pacing, or character development—and strengthened my critical eye. I applied this to my own work, dissecting what was and wasn’t effective and strengthening both my drafting and editing skills. Beyond pure craft, editing for lit mags exposed me to so many styles of writing, and I cherish every submission that makes me gasp. Submitters constantly inspire.
Capsule Stories: What are you working on next?
Stella Lei: I recently finished and started submitting my first prose chapbook, titled Inheritances of Hunger, which explores the cycle of abuse through five short stories/pieces of flash. This number is subject to change, and the chapbook may never see a life outside my Google Drive, but let’s see!
You can follow Stella Lei on Twitter at @stellalei04 and find more of her work at stellaleiwrites.weebly.com.
You can read Stella Lei’s flash fiction piece “Girls on TV” in Capsule Stories Summer 2021 Edition: Starry Nights.
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