“American Jackal” is the fifth part of the Family Teeth series you co-authored with your wife, Sarah Langan. Did you go into this piece of the collaboration knowing which direction you wanted to take it?
We had ideas, and talked a lot about the mythology, but a big part of what I liked about the collaboration is the whole exquisite corpse of it all, working with somebody I can trust to get me off my own path and into more interesting places. And for the record—parts 5 and 6 are all we’ve written so far. Seemed like fun to start in the middle.
For much of the story the supernatural elements take a back seat. Instead the focus is placed on David and Maribel’s growing relationship. Why did you steer the narrative in that direction?
The culture of the coyotes feels a lot more interesting to me than dog-level violence or the mechanics of transformation. Especially in the way romance in America can blur the borders that insulate a subculture. Like the first time Sarah came to one of my Protestant family’s witch burnings.
You’ve written for films and video games, in addition to also being a director. How does having such a wide variety of creative experiences affect your short fiction?
If anything, I’d say visual and interactive mediums have made me mistrustful of too much description of thought. An omniscient and impartial narrator who sees every character’s every thought very quickly starts to feel inherently dishonest to me, putting too much faith in people’s consistency. I don’t really believe in reliable narrators.
Do you feel you altered your normal style of writing because you were working exclusively with another person?
I just told the story as it felt natural to tell it. We read each other’s pages while we were writing and revising, but I think we’re both cussed enough to be pretty stuck in our own voices.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Spread the word!