An Interview with Kama Shockey, "When the Sun Rose in the West"

What inspired this story? 

The inspiration for this story was two fold. First off, my husband is a Marine and living for seven years within such a foreign (to me) way of life, I was astounded by the number of spouses who would sneak off in the proverbial middle of the night when their Marines were on a deployment, never to be heard from again. I wanted to explore what the combination of the trauma incurred in combat and coming home to such a loss would do to the psyche of the warriors, which gave me the plot of the story. Second, when my husband was in a remote village in Afghanistan, the enemy combatants rigged up a donkey as a remote detonated bomb, attempting to take out my husband’s unit. This one event made the surface level exploration of a Marine’s trauma a deeper one, in which I was free to explore what happens to everyone affected by such an event, including family members, politicians, reporters and the warriors themselves. This became a modern day war story for me; one to share with readers what goes on beyond the borders between countries, where the human in all of us resides.

What work has been most influential to your craft? 

The body of work that inspired my collection was actually from an author named Eddie Chuculate, who I studied in my first graduate level fiction workshop. He wrote a linked collection entitled Cheyenne Madonna in which many characters and points of view were introduced, all effectively and seamlessly. He came to our class to do a reading and spoke of what the linked short story collection meant to him and how it differed from an unrelated body of work. This conversation allowed me to view the work I had been doing—seemingly isolated short stories revolving around the same event, in a new, sharper light. I began to view them in the context of the linked collection and with that, ways of telling each character’s story began to emerge and refine themselves, beginning with When the Sun Rose in the West. Adam’s story is the pivotal one for this particular project, but certainly not the only one that needs to be told.