“Unpublished Gay Cancer Survivor Memoir” is a very self-referential title. Did you know all along that this would be the title or did it come to you later, once the story was finished?
Actually the original title of the piece was “The Night Nurse,” but my critique group at the time cheerfully slammed that for being too boring, and it’s good they did, because this title is better.
This story has an interesting take on the idea of a muse, in that it seems more like a confidence boost rather than an aid to creation. When tackling this bit of well-worn mythology, why was that the direction you chose to branch into?
I think I just like looking at classically female monsters who are most powerful as objects of male desire and writing them as dudes instead. Seems like a weird thing to fixate on, but here I am.
Is fostering confidence something you use in your own creative process or something you wish you were better at?
Being a publishing writer requires a certain amount of inherent arrogance—on at least some level, you believe your work is better than the rest of the slush pile and deserves to be read. But you’ll need that arrogance to sustain you through the years of rejection and apathy headed your way. I have a toddler, a marriage, and a menial full-time job, so my “creative process” mostly looks like carving out what writing time I can at erratic intervals, then feeling frustrated with myself for not having the energy to turn out anything good. Hopefully this situation will improve as my kid gets a little older and more independent!
Escape from an abusive relationship is the conflict that drives the events of this story, even though the main character is only peripherally involved in that relationship. Which came first, the situation or the character? Can you tell us about how they evolved together?
Edík came first. I must have three different opening versions of this story, all with Edík as the narrator and primary character. But for whatever reason it didn’t click, so I just left it alone for like five years, and then when I came back to it Sydney happened instead. This is almost more of a play—just three characters, all the action takes place in one room. It’s a little claustrophobic, but I think that worked for this one.
Edík tells Sydney she would have solved her own problem eventually. Is that another way to help build her confidence, or a lack of confidence on his part? Does the muse need a muse?
I think Edík’s mostly placating her. He seems like someone who has gotten very good at saying what other people want to hear. But on the other hand, most people have highs and lows, and it seems doubtful to me that without Edík’s interference Sydney would have maintained a static and unhappy existence for the rest of her life.
What are you working on now and where can readers find more of your work?
Nothing I can talk about, and, I guess by googling my name? I’m not trying to be flip, I’m just not enough of a thing to have a website, and I dropped all social media a couple years ago, so there isn’t really a centralized place you can see my stuff. Nightmare has published more of my work than anyone else, though, so I guess you could start there! I hope you like sad queers and low-key weird shit, ’cause that’s my jam.
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