Rappahannock Review Contributor Spotlight: Tara Isabel Zambrano
The Fiction Editors, Rappahannock Review: On your WordPress, you state that you work as an Electrical Engineer. How do you balance that profession with your work as a writer?
Tara Isabel Zambrano: I believe you always find time to do things you love the most. I have a full-time job at a startup company and a family at home. The struggle for time to write is real. I write whenever I can. I write when I am waiting for simulations to finish, I write when my code is compiling, I write in my lunch break. Sometimes a word comes to me when I am rolling out chapatis (Indian bread). I hold that thought and write it down in the Notes section of my iphone ASAP.
RR: In “The Moons of Jupiter,” you reference the actual moons of the planet Jupiter. What led you to link this feature with the author’s condition?
TIZ: The common element between the two is, of course, sight. And to me it seemed like a great contrast how Ramirez liked watching distant objects while the narrator struggled to even see. When I was growing up, I used to think that celestial objects are the eyes of sky. Somewhere, that thought/concept gave way to this connection.
RR: In “The Moons of Jupiter”, the gender identity of the speaker isn’t explicitly stated. What inspired you to make this choice?
TIZ: I don’t know the exact reason but my first drafts are always in first person. And sometimes, I forget to point out that the narrator is of a certain gender. In this case too, I did not realize I have not explicitly stated the gender of the narrator. I thought about changing it but reading it over and again, I realized that it read better when certain aspects were not obvious. Some of this economy also comes from writing flash on a regular basis, I take out details that are not relevant to the story.
RR: In “The Moons of Jupiter”, the speaker briefly reflects on their parents, who live in India. How do you think your own transition from life in India to life in the United States has informed your writing?
TIZ: Growing up in India has given me values, cultural heritage, secular ethics and being in The United States has exposed me to international diversity, western philosophy and charity. I believe that if not all, some of it is reflected in my writing and hopefully, in a good, meaningful way. I consider myself lucky to call these two great countries as my home.
RR: Your piece, “The Moons of Jupiter,” is certainly unique – using sex, blindness, and planetary imagery to create a portrait of this speaker was a gorgeous read. What was the motivation behind weaving together these themes that ordinarily have nothing to do with each other?
TIZ: I had this idea of writing a story about sex and losing one of the senses afterwards. Maybe because I consider sex as mentally and physically transformative. In the beginning, I considered making the narrator go deaf after an intercourse but then settled with blindness. Eyes are associated with light and so is the planetary image. What we see sometimes comes to us after years of traveling, and by that time the source of it has transformed. Either it has fused with a brighter object else gone dark giving up all it has to offer.
“The Moons of Jupiter” appears in Issue 4.2 of Rappahannock Review
Tara Isabel Zambrano lives in Texas with her husband and two kids. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Moon City Review, Lunch Ticket, Storm Cellar, Parcel, Gargoyle, and others. She moved from India to The United States two decades ago and is an Electrical Engineer by profession.