Project Silmo: Reconstructing a Nation
By Lulu Sha
I’ve been analyzing and thinking about The Silmarillion for years now. After multiple rereads, hours upon hours of research, drafting, and redrafting, here are my final thoughts on Tolkien’s legendarium. There’s so much to work with because there are so many questions he left unanswered. My podcast is the beginning of an answer that will undoubtedly take many more years to finish formulating.
The Silmarillion has been a longtime obsession of mine. Growing up, I’ve always been fascinated by Tolkien’s works, and to an extent, I even felt embarrassed about it. But here I am, publishing my own thoughts about the legendarium.
Meet the Pair
MENTEE LULU SHA & MENTOR SOPHIE FLACK
Lulu’s Anecdote: I feel like as women, we’re pressured to prove ourselves and our writing skills to the rest of the world. We have to work twice as hard to sound half as smart as men, and it shouldn’t be that way. I’ve always been shy and self-critical, so very little of my writing ever sees the light of day. Having Sophie as a mentor taught me to write as myself—to be as raw and candid in my writing as possible. Working with her allowed me to come out of my shell as a writer, because history deserves to see the genius bottled up inside each and every one of us.
Sophie’s Anecdote: I’m often not sure who is mentoring whom. Lulu is a gifted short fiction writer, and because she takes on such weighty subject matter—exploring themes of entrapment, immigration, class struggles, gender and sexuality—I sometimes forget that she’s only seventeen and treat her as a contemporary. We initially bonded over our shared love of flavored popcorn; she likes cinnamon sugar, while I prefer cheddar cheese. But then I discovered her jaw-dropping storytelling abilities and now I mostly just sit in awe at how the words seem to effortlessly tumble out of her. I studied English in college and find fiction torturous, and Lulu finds literary analysis tricky, so we complement each other’s strengths in a really lovely way.
Lulu Sha uses sci-fi and fantasy to explore modern issues, in particular colonialism, socialism and national liberation movements. She believes in having strong leadership for Asian American youth and incorporating Asian American history into high school curriculums. In her free time she loves to sing rock covers and figure skate.
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