Science Fiction & Fantasy

Beren & Luthien by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Joseph Allen Hill

What inspired this story?

The original spark came when I was brainstorming an urban fantasy novel that I ended up shelving. It was meant to be about young people in the city doing magic stuff while having a lot of young people feelings. The image of people using a love potion like a recreational drug was the only bit that stuck with me. As a trope, magical love potions are usually presented in ways that are either really goofy or really troubling, and I was interested getting at both of those aspects, as a way of meditating on some of the ways romantic relationships can be both goofy and troubling.

The story twists in such a funny/horrible way once they drink the potion. Did you have this in mind from the start, or did the story take you there?

I think the original conception was a little quieter and more contained. When I first started writing, the potion was going to cause them to act more like Tristan and Isolde or Romeo and Juliet, deeply “in love” but still possessed of human reason and the ability to form thoughts that were not complete nonsense. That idea ended up just going in circles. Since they already start off loving one another, though in the context of a failing relationship, the potion doesn’t really make them “fall in love” so much as turn them into grotesque parodies of what they hope and fear love is. Any scene that didn’t escalate in some way from the previous felt like I was just repeating myself. Once I realized that, it got weird really quickly.

Almost every emotion is touched upon in the story. Are you a very emotional person or did Anthony and Audrey as characters inspire that aspect?

I guess a little of both. I’ve certainly been accused of being a young man with more than my share of feelings, and I’ve always been fond of fiction with a little opera to it. At the same time, I think that the love potion as a plot device almost demands a certain level of grand emotionality. It’s such a big, goofy conceit to begin with, it’s very easy and fun to have the characters go big, too.

What draws you to writing? Have you always written, or do you work in other creative mediums?

I’ve been writing since I was a young teenager. I got into it mainly to write rip-offs of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on anime forums, and it’s become a big part of my life. I feel that literature is the most effective way to convey the experience of being, and I enjoy the interplay of words and concepts and images. Plus, sometimes people pay you to make jokes about butts. I also dabble in music. I used to play in bands, though now I mostly do boring computer music and banjo covers of popular songs.

What are you currently working on?

I have a couple short stories kicking around in various states of completion, and I’m working on a novel. It’s sort of a science fiction/fantasy riff on Internet relationships, which mainly entails cosmic superheroes and unfathomable ultra-monsters posting pictures of hamburgers on Twitter.

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Lee Hallison

Lee Hallison

Lee Hallison writes fiction in an old Seattle house where she lives with her patient spouse, an impatient teen, two lovable dogs, and the memories of several wonderful cats. She’s held many jobs—among them a bartender, a pastry chef, a tropical plant-waterer, a CPA, and a university lecturer. An East Coast transplant, she simply cannot fathom cherry blossoms in March.