There were so many images and references to myths and fairy tales—eating pomegranate and gingerbread as part of her cure stuck out the most to me. Of all the myths you brought together, which is the one you’d most like folks to know about?
I’ve always loved the Hans Christian Andersen story “The Tinderbox.” I love the idea of a matchbox that can grant wishes. In that story, the matchbox summons progressively larger dogs to grant wishes to the person who strikes the matches. I had a storybook of it when I was a kid, and the imagery stuck with me.
Being a witch is a lot like being a counselor, now that you mention it. What do you think is the key to humor in an SF/F story?
Humor is so difficult to pull off, because different people have different definitions! My first professional story, “The Wanderers,” is a dark humor story, and when it was first published, I read this review that said it was “trying too hard to be clever.” I laughed about that and said to my friends, “I am clever! I wasn’t just trying!” But the truth is some people will think you’re clever and others won’t. With written humor, the delivery is more difficult to nail down than when you’re goofing off with friends. Playing with tropes is a good source of humor in SF/F specifically. But having an ear for the rhythm of sentences will help in all humor writing, because that’s where you get to play with delivery.
Is there a piece of wellness or self-care advice you find really useful? Is there one you wish would go away?
I’m a huge proponent of therapy, for people who are able. Through cognitive behavioral therapy and medication, I was able to confront and eliminate a whole host of fears I let build up. And I was in bad shape: daily panic attacks, a fear of flying, a fear of driving, a fear of storms, a fear of my own shadow. I’m all for taking days off from work of all kinds, even writing. Lately, I’ve been using my gas budget on bath bombs, because I’m social distancing and fancy baths are a huge balm. My least favorite self-care advice is anything prescriptive, because of course not everyone will benefit from the same things that have saved my mental health.
The forward motion of the plot seems to stem from the dynamics between one who destroys and one who doesn’t—whether it’s mother/daughter, father/daughter, or girlfriend/girlfriend. As an author, do you have a nemesis? If not, what qualities would you look for in one?
I don’t have a nemesis, but I’m taking applications. Must love dogs.
Whacha workin’ on?
I’m writing much more horror and science fiction these days. Right now, I’m working on a longer piece—maybe a novella, I don’t know—about a queer monster squad.
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