For me, one of the great pleasures of your work is how fluently you commit to a mode of storytelling, in this case the voice of a classic fable, even specifically a very traditional European sort of fable. Where does that sort of choice of form come into the writing process for you?
I think the decision comes really early in the creative process, usually while the idea is floating in my head. I know a story needs to be written when I can hear the cadences of the first paragraph in my head. How my brain decides what the cadence should be, I have no idea. It just happens. No one tells me anything, damn it. Ahem. In the case of this story, it came almost immediately as the story was intended to be a bit of a retort towards the original fable. I didn’t like how Mary was portrayed, or how Mr. Fox was simply treated as a pointless monster to be murdered by dashing human men. And because it was meant to be a retort, I just had to reply exactly in kind.
The cheerful, self-indulgent violence of Mr. and Mrs. Fox is such a pleasure to read. They don’t have that clinical, serial killer affect, or some conceit of being artists, instead you get the sense that it’s simply fun and that it’s what they were made for. And while the fable-ness of it all gives that a mythic aspect, it’s also just . . . romantic. Especially when held up against all of Mary’s failed and jealous suitors who don’t share her predilections. That combination of horror and romance and even the domesticity of telling the tale and sharing the hunt with their children is compelling—what drew you to that particular combination or intersection?
That’s a really interesting read on the two of them! It’s somewhat different from my own, and I like it. Both because of the nature of the analysis and because it is a reminder of how nuanced the consumption of media can be. I guess what I really wanted to do was to present the two of them as they are: animals, without apology or adherence to the idea of humanity. Like you said, it’s fun for them. It’s fun and it is for sustenance and it is as natural to them as the whole idea of eating livestock is to us. I wanted to see how genuinely bestial habits would translate in human terms, and I wanted to hold up that vicious honesty against the pettiness of the human animal.
Just FYI, “I am pleased to look well, Lord Petty” is a line that I plan to use in conversation at the earliest opportunity. Which isn’t a question, sorry. The question is: What do you think it is about foxes that makes them pop up as crafty, wicked characters in the myths of so many different cultures? What are they to you?
I think as a species we’re terrified of things that are smarter than us, and that’s mostly because that’s how we identify our superiority over the natural world: We’re smarter than it. So, the idea that there could be something small and sleek that is infinitely more canny than us immediately makes us scared. And what do humans do when we’re terrified? We make them into monsters so we can summon our peers to the hunt. As for what they are to me, well, that’s a long story best told in another fable, yes?
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Oooh! Video games mostly, at this point. But my agent and I are in the process of finishing up something that has me really excited, so stay tuned.
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