All month long, I’m going to be talking with Shimmer #17 authors! Today, I talk with Helena Bell and Alex Dally MacFarlane, two writers who constantly work in Shimmery veins. There’s an image for you. Read on!
Helena Bell, “Sincerely, Your Psychic”
Tell us how your came about.
A few years ago a friend of mine gifted me a session with an astrologer. The entire experience was a bit weird in that she didn’t believe that she was a fortune teller, but she really believed in the accuracy of astrological charts. I’ve always maintained that you can have really great, insightful experiences with Tarot readers, psychics, palm readers, etc, so long as the person doing your reading has an extraordinary level of empathy. So I went into it with an open mind, but I still have an unhealthy level of snark in me and so a few of the things she said just rubbed me the wrong way. This story actually began as an attempt to poke a little fun at the whole practice, but it quickly veered into another direction entirely. It’s not fair to mock something that most people don’t take seriously to begin with, and so I became more interested in the idea of negative space: the decisions we didn’t make, or the decisions we regret, and the solace we take from wondering about ‘what ifs’.
Alex Dally MacFarlane, “Out They Come”
Tell us how your story came about.
It started with a Google image search for foxes in medieval illuminated manuscripts. I found one of a woman with what looked like a fox falling out her mouth. Either that or she was playing it like bagpipes. I shared it on my blog, adding: “She speaks of them so often, out they fall!” and then my friend Brooke Bolander and I got to talking about how it should become a story. We both wound up writing one.
Mine started with the idea that an injustice had been done to a woman, Stey, and the foxes she vomited up would help her fight against it. It took realizing that I wanted to write about sexual assault to get the story really going. “Out They Come” is about anger, and it’s not a nice story: it’s not about things getting better, it’s about feeling that they never will. Anger is something that some people like to suggest is a choice: “Why are you so angry?” or “You’d feel a lot better if you weren’t so angry.” Well, I would, and I wouldn’t choose anger if it was a choice. It’s not. It’s overwhelming, sometimes, when some people suggest that sexual assault isn’t a big deal.
I also enjoyed writing about someone vomiting up foxes.
Next week, join us for four more authors!