Science Fiction & Fantasy

Null States

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Kat Howard

What was the seed for “A Different Fate”?

I was rereading Lloyd Alexander’s The Black Cauldron. He has those terrific and terrible sisters, Orwen, Orddu, and Orgoch, and they got me to thinking about the repeating pattern of triune women in mythologies. Or, to be more accurate, it plucked that ongoing fascination with triune women out of the back of my brain, and put it into a place where I needed to write something about it. I had also recently reread a bunch of Greek tragedies, and so that was why the story took on the particular flavor that it did.

Did you uncover anything interesting while researching for the story?

It’s odd to think about actively doing research for this story, because in the absolute sense of “did I look up things specifically for this story,” the answer is no—except for checking the kind of fibers that might be used in weaving—I didn’t do any. But in another sense, most of the pieces of this story come from things that have fascinated me for a while, or stuck in my head like tiny, irritating grains of sand, just waiting for something to come along that would let me string them together in a story. Like the question of “What do women want?” and the archetype of the Loathly Lady, from “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”—it’s a fascinating look at desire and consent and autonomy, stuck into a monster story, so of course I want to write about that. Because part of that story is based around the question of a woman’s appearance, I could use that here, combining it with the idea that if there is a triune figure of womanhood, maybe the appearance of those three women changes, and the question of who gets to decide about that appearance—even the other sisters don’t ever want to be Orgoch.

You’ve said that “. . . one of the best things I can do to feed my own creativity is to immerse myself in art that is different than writing.” Did you immerse yourself at all into the art of weaving?

I wish that I had! Fiber arts fascinate me, and I would love to learn more about spinning and weaving, and maybe even be able to do them myself someday.

How can choice exist within the context of fate?

I don’t believe in predestination—the idea that everything is already written and planned out and that all we are doing is dancing a set of steps that have already been choreographed. I very much believe that we have the individual freedom to fuck up, and to be full of grace. I also believe that humans are story-telling animals—we like things to make sense, we like narrative. So when we look back, and try and make sense of things, we impose a context, a narrative, on top of events, and one of the names we call that context is Fate.

Why name the other sister Andromeda?

I needed a name from Greek mythology that wasn’t one associated directly with tragedy, so some of my favorite names—Iphigenia, Phaedra—were right out. And I love that Andromeda becomes a constellation after her death. It’s a good fate.

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Jude Griffin

Jude Griffin

Jude Griffin is an envirogeek, writer, and photographer. She has trained llamas at the Bronx Zoo; was a volunteer EMT, firefighter, and HAZMAT responder; worked as a guide and translator for journalists covering combat in Central America; lived in a haunted village in Thailand; ran an international frog monitoring network; and loves happy endings. Bonus points for frolicking dogs and kisses backlit by a shimmering full moon.