I feel like there are so many appealing aspects to this story: the voice, the source material of Red Riding Hood, the full-circle ending. What was the first thing you knew about the story?
I knew there was a wolf.
Ages ago, I’d started a story about werewolves—I was struck by the theme of embracing the things about ourselves we’d rather keep hidden. But the story never really hung together and I abandoned it.
But time passed, and it tumbled in my head, and it stuck with some thoughts I’d been having about Little Red Riding Hood. If we’re going with “embracing things we’d rather keep hidden,” there’s a lot to unpack there. Frankly, Angela Carter has already done it quite effectively (hence the call-out at the beginning), but I got intrigued by another angle into the story.
What if you thought you could never have your desire? What if you kept trying to squash it down? How long would that last? How well would it work?
I especially enjoyed an aspect of the story that was maybe a little subtle: the idea of how someone could still achieve their lifelong desire, even when it would seem that they’d long since given it up and grown too old to achieve it. Did you have this in mind at all, or was it just a result of the grandmother part?
I did have that theme in mind! I was particularly interested in exploring the idea that “it’s never too late.” Having the protagonist eventually become a grandmother in her own right also underlined themes of cycles and breaking old patterns. Just because something has always been one way doesn’t mean that it must continue to be.
In retrospect, it reminds me of a quote from Ursula K. Le Guin: “When true myth rises into consciousness, that is always its message. You must change your life.”
That can happen at any time. And I don’t think we can ignore the call of our truest desires forever. Eventually, the walls always crumble.
Is there anything special you want readers to know about this story?
In some ways, I see it as a companion piece to a story that I had published at Apex Magazine a few years ago: “The Love it Bears Fair Maidens” (bit.ly/2qf6fGU). They share some similarities—but I think they represent different moments along a journey.
Do you have anything else recently out or coming out soon that you want to mention?
I’ve recently started a new speculative fiction reading series with award-winning editor Jen R. Albert. Funded by the Ontario Arts Council, ephemera explores the dreamy speculative fiction, the fiction that transgresses strict bounds and definitions, particularly focusing on underrepresented voices and emerging writers.
It is held the first Wednesday of every month at the Glad Day Bookshop, Toronto. Find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @ephemeraseries.
Spread the word!