This is the second post in a series in which we profile people’s passion projects and let them explain their work in their own words. Learn more and see a list of all the projects profiled here.
Jamie Krakover is a St. Louis-based engineer who also writes. Her story “Arch Nemesis” was recently included in the anthology, “Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls who Science and Scheme.”
What is “Arch Nemesis”? How did it come about?
“Arch Nemesis” is a short story in the “Brave New Girls: Stories of Girls who Science and Scheme” anthology. It’s about a teenage girl who is trying to avenge her family by killing her “Arch Nemesis” who is an alien using the St. Louis Arch as a secret laboratory to study humans. The story came about when I started asking some what if questions about the Arch and alien life, while also playing with some science and math elements and tying it all together in a single story. It started out as pure goofiness and evolved into something so much bigger.
How did you get involved with “Brave New Girls”?
I saw the announcement for Brave New Girls on Twitter. They were looking for short stories featuring female heroines with a knack for STEM. It sounded interesting so I clicked on the link. What I found was this amazing project that seemed to fit my wheelhouse so completely, not only as a writer but also as an engineer. Supporting women in STEM is one of my passions not only because I am a woman in STEM, but because there are so few of us. After finding out about the project, I immediately thought of “Arch Nemesis” which was a story I had written a few years back. I had edited it but never really done much with it. It was sitting in the literary “drawer.” I dusted it off but wasn’t sure it was a perfect fit for the anthology. I finally told my internal imposter voice to shut up and I submitted it. After that I forgot I even sent anything in until I got the email saying they wanted to include “Arch Nemesis” in the anthology. The rest is history.
What version(s) of Jamie does “Arch Nemesis” bring out? In other words, how does “Arch Nemesis” allow you to express yourself?
“Arch Nemesis” pulls on several elements of who I am as a person and who I was at the time of writing this story. First and foremost, I’m a huge nerd. My stories always have some kind of nerdy element (often many) incorporated into them. That said, this story was written at a time in my life where I was in transition. I didn’t always own who I was as a nerd. I always knew that element was there, but I worried about what other people would think of me because of that. The main character Valerie is also at a crossroads. She’s entering into a battle she’s been preparing for her entire life. Valerie gets her confidence and preparation from me. I wrote her when I was starting to come out of my shell and embrace who I was. Valerie very much knows who she is and what she has to do. At the time I wrote this I was finally figuring out who I was and starting to execute on it. Many times for women in STEM fields, confidence is a huge issue. I envied Valerie’s strength and confidence, until I was able to find it in myself.
How have you fostered those versions of yourself with pop culture?
I love science fiction. I grew up in a house where “Star Trek” was always on the TV and we were always seeing the latest sci fi movies and watching the latest sci fi TV shows. It opened my mind to the possibility of “what if.” Today I love to go back to the what if question. What if our world were a little different or if things weren’t as they seem. A lot of my stories come from my own curiosity about the world and what might be like out there. I love to escape into new worlds and technology and think about what the implications those things might have. It gives me an outlet for my writing. It also allows we to stick strong characters in worlds and see how they deal with all the challenges. We all have challenges in our lives and I often find my own challenges echoed in my writing. In an indirect way, it helps me subconsciously sort through those challenges and learn to adjust and overcome them.
If “Arch Nemesis” had a theme song, what would it be?
Oh, man, such a tough question. I don’t think I can pick just one, so I’m going to cheat and pick two: “Pompeii” by Bastille and “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons. I really really like both songs, and I think each speaks to different aspects of the story. “Pompeii” is about a city coming down, which is basically what Valerie is doing in the story, she’s taking down her “Arch Nemesis.” But the line “but if you close your, does it almost feel like nothings changed at all” speaks to the fact that she’s the only one aware of whats going on. Even if she wins it’s as if no one notices. As for “It’s Time,” it speaks to who Valerie is as a character. The “I don’t ever want to let you down” line speaks to her mission that’s been passed down from her grandfather to her father to her. This is personal. While the “It’s time to begin” part of the chorus speaks to her venturing out to complete what she started and even though defeating her “Arch Nemesis” will change things, it wont change who she is as a person.