“Red Run” begins with a detailed, almost comforting, description of setting and mood, and then delivers a gut punch that drives the story home, seeming to blur the line between science fiction and horror. Do you rely on genre labels when writing a story, or do you prefer to let the characters and situations develop and see where they lead?
I tend to focus more on creating a character-driven narrative. I think it’s important to be aware of the genre I’m working within, but I always spend most of my time on the characters and their motivations, letting them guide me through the story.
No matter their gender, self-identification, or preference, many in the queer community suffer from depression. What of your own experiences, if any, went in to writing this story?
Unfortunately, a lot of the experience with depression detailed in “Red Run” is similar to my own. When I began to question my sexuality, I met a lot of resistance from my family. When I came out, they didn’t talk about it. No one did. I was met with silence and blank stares, the shrugging of shoulders. Having to internalize so many things that defined who I am destroyed the trust I had in those around me. I questioned my place in my world. I hated myself for not being what everyone expected and wanted. Sadly, all this seems to be a pretty common experience.
Hinahon’s relationship with Natalie is almost secondary to the issue of her depression. The story could easily have been written with a heterosexual character, yet your choice to make Hinahon a lesbian lends the story a weight that makes it hard to deny. Do you feel that representation in fiction of any stripe can serve as a stepping stone to push back the weight of depression and the looming shadow of suicide?
I don’t know if I want to say that it can do all that, but I’d like to hope visibility helps in some way. I know it’s a great comfort for me to hear about queer anything being published. It’s wonderful to see ourselves in stories. All representation, I feel, however, isn’t good representation. Some stereotypical portrayals of queer characters probably do more harm than good. But I hope, on a whole, representations of queer characters lead others to understand the complexity of sexuality and gender.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? When did you first decide to address issues of queer identity in your work?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t think I could actually make it work until I was about two years into college, miserably making my way through as an art major. When I started to reevaluate what I was doing, I realized the only thing I really enjoyed in college was the writing, and it was something I’d always enjoyed, something that was always there, so I turned to it completely. I believe the first time I began discussing queer identity in my work was at the end of high school.
Are there any queer writers out there who inspire your readings or writing?
A major inspiration is Benjamin Alire Sáenz. I recently read his collection of short stories, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club, and I was blown away by the beauty of his language and the emotional impact of narratives.
What’s next for A.M.J. Hudson? What can readers expect from you in the coming year?
I’m working on several creative non-fiction essays at the moment, working with the faculty of my university in preparation for my thesis. Many of these tackle my identity as a queer, bi-racial woman. I’m also in the process of outlining some fiction that further explores the idea of memory and identity.
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