By L.S. Johnson (https://traversingz.com/)
Sean Patrick Hazlett is an Army veteran and speculative fiction writer. His short stories have appeared in publications such as The Year’s Best Military and Adventure SF: Volume 4, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 3, Terraform, Galaxy’s Edge, Writers of the Future: Volume 33, Grimdark Magazine, Abyss & Apex, Perihelion, Unnerving Magazine, and Weirdbook, among others. He holds an AB in History and BS in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Tell us a little about your story, “Mukden.”
“Mukden” is a historical retelling of the prelude to its namesake military engagement. The Battle of Mukden, which took place in early 1905, was one of the largest land battles in history prior to World War I. The tale follows the mystical journey of Japanese soldier Captain Tanaka Hideki, a member of an occult organization known only to Japan’s senior leadership as Unit 108. His mission is to work with local Chinese bandits to determine the size, location, and disposition of Imperial Russian forces operating along the Manchurian rail line, but along the way, he discovers something far more sinister.
Your story is set in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War. In choosing to write about Manchuria, were you drawing on personal experience, research, or both?
To craft the story and build the world, I spent a great deal of time learning about the events, personalities, and weapons of the Russo-Japanese. My experience as an Army veteran and cavalry officer was also helpful for making the narrative seem more real. I spent time researching Japanese mythology in order to populate this world with the demonic entities that hunt Hideki. Lastly, I tried to infuse the story with a Lovecraftian aesthetic, invoking it with a sense of dread and hopelessness.
What is your relationship to California, and does California influence your work?
While I’m an East Coast transplant, I’ve lived in California for nearly half my life. I’ve spent about three-quarters of that time in the San Francisco Bay area and the remaining quarter in Southern California’s Mojave Desert. I moved to California for the first time when I was 18 years old for college. 47% of the stories I’ve written and 44% of the stories I’ve sold have taken place in California, so it has obviously heavily influenced my work.
Where can readers find more of your work?
You can find my work on my Amazon page here.