Science Fiction & Fantasy

IntheNightWood-Banner_Final_Lightspeed Oct 2018

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Jennifer Stevenson

There’s so much great musical background in this story. Are you a musician or did you do research for the story? Were there any neat details you weren’t able to fit in?

I spent my first twenty-five years as a musician in a family of musicians. The funny thing is, none of them were into rock’n’roll. Classical, Dixieland, Chicago jazz, early polyphonic choral music, even screech’n’fart, as we fondly called stuff like Charles Ives and Arnold Schoenberg. As a child I was told that rock’n’roll is a gateway drug to heroin, so I didn’t discover it until I went to college. But music is music, eh? Kind of my point in this story.

Only at the end did I realize the significance of the protagonist’s name: Dawn. Did you know that when you started writing, or come up with it after you’d figured out the story?

I recall that the last two lines of the story were serendipity. I came up with it at the end, when he very naturally asks her her name and I thought, “DUH, it’s Dawn, ka-ching!” Then I went back and added her name to the beginning.

At the beginning of the story, Dawn has big ambitions for her musical career. After this solstice party, seeing the real power of her music, do you imagine that she’s going to continue on the same track?

I don’t see why not. In my fantasy universe, you get rewarded when you preform services for the gods. So she probably has excellent chances to fulfill her ambitions after this.

Is there any particular reason you used the setting of “near Madison, Wisconsin”?

I wanted a specific kind of terrain, hillier and stonier than my native northern Illinois, so that the hostess’s house, built into a hill, would be geologically likely. If you’ve ever seen the Blue Mound area, such as at Black Earth, Wisconsin, you know what I’m talking about: a series of little round hills like tits, too small to be mountains, located in lightly rolling farm countryside. These hills are left over from 400 million years of erosion since the retreat of the Silurian Sea. Such a landscape used to cover the entire Great Plains. However, weirdly, this part was never scraped flat by retreating glaciers, as the Great Plains were. So these lovely mounds, capped by Niagara dolomite, remain. It’s an eerily peaceful area that feels populated by its hills. The sense is that somebody important lives here, but you’ll probably never meet them.

I loved the idea of this amazing party to bring the sun back at the winter solstice. Do you think there is a corresponding event at the summer solstice? What would that be like?

Hm, great question! Now I have to think about that story. Give me six months and I’ll come up with one. Meantime, I refer the reader to the end scene of John Crowley’s Little, Big, which is a summer solstice party, I think. I suspect my own version would have some passionate triangles, because while the winter solstice is about death and rebirth, the summer solstice is for emotional carrying-on like idiots, as if this day will never end.

What are you working on now?

When my paranormal romcom Slacker Demons series ended, I had a fabulous man-lair left behind, empty, because I’d married off all the sex demons who’d been using it. Now a team of succubus trainees has moved in. I’m building a new series called Coed Demon Sluts. This is new territory for me. The succubi don’t have the same motives as their male counterparts for taking the job. This series is still funny, but it’s women’s fiction, exploring what moves women to change their lives. Like Slacker Demons, Coed Demon Sluts takes place in the same reluctantly magical contemporary universe as my first series, Hinky Chicago. Look for cameo appearances of characters from earlier books.

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Laurel Amberdine

Laurel Amberdine

Laurel Amberdine was raised by cats in the suburbs of Chicago. She’s good at naps, begging for food, and turning ordinary objects into toys. She currently lives in San Francisco where she works for Locus Magazine. Find her on Twitter at @amberdine.