Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Author Spotlight: Tananarive Due

How did “Like Daughter” come about?

I think I was challenging myself to write a science fiction story—which I don’t often do. Usually I write fantasy. But cloning was in the news—there had been a recent court decision about it—and I wondered what kind of society we might be if we actually did regulate cloning. What might go wrong? To me, clones are nothing more than glorified offspring—they have identical genes, but they’re shaped by their experiences just as we were shaped by ours. My clone, in a different environment, would be very different person. The question I always asked myself was: Who are these people who are so eager to clone themselves? What’s the point? This story was an answer.

What were the challenges/rewards of the way you structured the story and the slow reveal?

I’m pretty sure I envisioned the slow reveal from the beginning, so the entire challenge of the story was to make the premise and characters so interesting that the reader would be willing to wait to see the clone.

Many years ago someone told me that Jung had a theory along the lines of “People tend to re-enact unresolved traumas of their childhood in order to seek a more satisfactory ending.” Was this or any other psychological theory in the back of your mind for why Denise makes the choices she does?

I have always considered myself a very fortunate person, which is one of the reasons I write such dark fiction—I’m trying to prepare myself for future traumas. So I’ve had this awareness that other people hadn’t had two parents, hadn’t had parents encouraging them, didn’t live as comfortably as we did. That’s where Denise came from: this idea that the luck of the draw separates a good home on one side of the street from a terrible home on the other. And as children, Denise and the narrator were grimly aware of the great chasm between them. So Denise had a specific model of the kind of home she wishes she’d had and wants to give to her daughter.

Are all parents at least a little like Denise? Seeing their children as a second chance for themselves?

Absolutely. To me, clones are no more than very expensive offspring.

What drives Paige ultimately to take in little Neecy: Is she, too, looking for a second chance?

And here’s the irony: Just as Denise was so misguided in believing she could create a second-chance life, now Paige has entered the world of her madness. She will try to “fix” Denise too. Who knows? Maybe she’ll succeed.

Whose works of science fiction destruction do you admire?

My favorite science fiction writers are Octavia Butler and my husband, Steven Barnes.

Any projects you want to tell us about?

I’m researching a historical story now set against my family history in Florida—and the research alone is scaring me so much that it’s hard to imagine how I can make it scarier with a supernatural element. I also just released a short film I co-wrote and co-produced, Danger Word, so I’m very excited about that too. Here’s the link: www.dangerword.com.

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.