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Jael Montellano


First Language(s): Spanish
Second Language(s): English, French


Raised in Mexico City and the Midwest United States, Jael Montellano is a writer and editor based in Chicago. Her work, which explores horror and queer life, features in Beyond Queer Words, Fauxmoir, The Selkie, the Columbia Journal, Hypertext Magazine, and Camera Obscura Journal, among others. She dabbles in photography, travel, and is currently learning Mandarin. Find her on Twitter @gathcreator.


What was your favorite book as a child?

Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. I devoured nineteenth-century English and French literature and I read an English translation of it despite not knowing all the words, with either my mother’s Larousse dictionary at the ready, or if I was in my grandfather’s study, his clothbound etymological tome. I’m an only child who moved and changed schools frequently, and thus the loyalty and camaraderie of the musketeers appealed to me, combined with Milady’s power and intellect. Regardless of gender, I am still weak in the knees for femme fatales.

What was the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?

To create a safe space for myself. As a kid, I carried around a sketchbook portfolio to offer art commissions to my classmates, but after migrating to the United States, I underwent a significant traumatic period in my teens. I ceased drawing, a medium in which it was too easy to locate the disturbances of my life, and turned to writing fiction instead, where I could imagine horrors occurring to someone that wasn’t myself. I still write very dark things, hopeless sometimes, but I am lately trying to reach for the grayscale in between. I find it more interesting.

What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?

I recently traveled to Iceland with the purpose of witnessing the Meradalir volcanic eruption. I planned everything in detail: the 12 km hike, waterproof pants, base-layers, a first-aid kit, water, a headlamp. What I did not plan for was for the volcano to cease erupting days before my hike. Mother Nature is her own mistress. Nevertheless, I was exhilarated to attend because the experience was otherworldly. Over the ridge, the vents exhaled odiferous gases, and when the mists parted, the obsidian lava was spread out below me, the silent but massive craters of Meradalir and Fagradasfjall resplendent in their rich mineral colors. I was awed and felt a deep kinship with this turbulent fissure volcano, as though it were a person that had ejected its grief across the valley and was now at rest.

Do you listen to music while reading or writing?

It varies on my mood. I usually don’t because I write in the morning hours before work, or late at night, and I don’t want to hassle my neighbors. Also, having studied piano, I’m moved too deeply by music and find that I can’t hear my sentences cascading in my head. If I am in the exact mood for writing to music, I’ll listen to classical, something elliptical such as the works of Philip Glass or Ludovico Einaudi. Anything with lyrics, even in a foreign language, is a no, because my brain will seize on the sounds and memorize them, one of my adaptive patterns from migration.


Flash Fiction
Issue Spring '23

Supported by:

Land Steiermark: Kultur, Europa, Außenbeziehungen
U.S. Embassy Vienna
Stadt Graz