Friday 15 September 2023

Micro-interview with Davian Aw

We welcome back Davian Aw, author of “Between the Shadow and the Soul” in TFF #66 for a brief chat about virtual worlds and escapism.

Art © 2023, Toeken
TFF: What does “Between the Shadow and the Soul” mean to you?

Davian Aw: The escapist allure of guilty pleasures that save us even as they destroy us, and how those two things can't always be separated. I think many of us—especially from marginalised communities—have secret dreams and aspirations (and favourite media) that may not always be the most aligned with our political beliefs and values, but where those may sometimes be among the few things that keep us going or bring us joy. So that was the tension I wanted to explore here, and the ways in which we disengage from reality when the world makes it unbearable for us to exist as ourselves. Separately, I started writing this story while homesick for New York City after working there a few months, and a lot of the scenes were snapshots of places that I wanted to remember.

TFF: Did you ever wish to be someone else?

DA: All the time. Part of it is that need for escapism, which faded as I grew older and things got better and I found my place in the world. But there's still that curiosity and a kind of grief that we can only ever experience such a limited part of all that this world has to offer. There are experiences and perspectives that are forever inaccessible just because of who each of us are, and I've always been sad about that. Stories are the next best thing we have to get those intimate glimpses into lives we will never live, in this world and beyond.

Personality modules spin into motion and transform Johanna into Ashley. She turns to the window and meets the sight of her beautiful face framed by sun-gilt hair. Crafted memories rush over her own until that face is no longer a stranger’s, but hers, drawing her deep into the soft embrace of Ashley’s perfect life. It’s her life, now; her memories, her body, and everything is all right.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at

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