Angela Slatter is a Brisbane-based writer. Her short fiction has appeared in Australia, the UK, US and Canada, in publications such as Shimmer, Strange Tales II by Tartarus Press, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Twelfth Planet’s 2012 anthology. Three of her stories gained honorable mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror #20, her story “The Angel Wood” was short-listed for the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Short Story, and she was short-listed for the Ditmars Best New Talent award in 2008. She is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing.
Her story The Hummingbird Heart appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Shimmer.
Interview 4: The Hummingbird Heart
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STORY:
Where did the idea come from?
Chrissy Ellsworth’s wonderful artwork and the idea of a princess demanding three amazing dresses, as in the fairytale “Donkeyskin”.
How did the story change as you developed it?
Mmmmm, it didn’t really.
You know the advice “Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.” Was there a scene or line that it really hurt to cut, but cutting it made the story stronger?
Basically the only thing I really changed was Justin’s first name – originally it was “Evelyn”, which to an English person is a perfectly reasonable upper-class male name – but Americans tend to ask “why does he have a girl’s name?”
How is this story like your other work? How is it different?
It’s the same in that it has a core of a fairytale element, but different in that it’s been stretched away from a traditional fairytale setting and structure (I think), compared to some of my other work.
Questions About Writing:
What writing projects are you presently working on?
A novel, Narrow Daylight, for my PhD; various short stories as procrastination; a series of interconnected tales, The Bones Remember Everything, which follows different generations of a ‘cursed’ family.
Are you satisfied with traditional labels for genre fiction? Do words like “speculative,” “slipstream,” and, for that matter, “genre” cover it? What would you suggest?
I’m quite happy with ‘speculative’ – it’s got a much broader ambit than either ‘horror’ or ‘fantasy’; I do like Mieville’s definition of ‘weird’ writing – but I think ‘speculative’ best covers the realms of ‘what if’ that we deal with in the genre.
Do you have a specific food or drink that you consider a writing staple?
Coffee, obviously (caramel-flavoured); TimTams (very chocolatey Australian biscuits); water. That’s all a bit sad, isn’t it?
Do you work with a critique or writers group?
A loose consortium of writers – all very respectful of and helpful with each other’s work.
Does your work tend to explore any particular themes?
Mmmmm, my supervisor once said “more dead children?” – I prefer not to comment on that! I think the darkness that gets hidden in tales that are supposed to be harmless – the things that wait around the corner and hide in the shadows of life.
It’s been said that readers can be divided into two groups: those who like The Iliad and those who like The Odyssey. Which camp are you in?
Oh my, how deep! Actually, I like both, having done a major in Ancient History in my undergrad degree (many, many years ago). I like the poetry of the Iliad, and the sheer ‘story’ of the Odyssey. I like that people think they know things are from the Iliad when it’s often from the Odyssey (which is probably the more ‘forgotten’ of the two works)… Everyone should read Margaret Atwood’s “The Penelopiad”, which is her interpretation of the years Odysseus was away through Penelope’s eyes.
What is your darkest secret?
If I told you it would hardly be a secret now, would it?
Have you ever eaten a crayon? Tell us about it.
No…but in kindy I used to eat the playdough – was very salty. Hey, at least I wasn’t the kid who ate dirt!!
Fast food: Yea or Nay?
Temptingly evil…so, only on the nights when I’m late home and too tired to make toast…then it’s pizza…
All-time favorite movie? Ah, The Great Escape, for it’s so very cool; Mira Nair’s The Kama Sutra, coz it’s so beautiful and sad and contains the wonderful line “My heart is as open as the sky”; The Company of Wolves, coz it’s so lush looking and generally close to what Angela Carter wrote; and the first Blade movie – the vampire disco just never gets old.
What are some of your hobbies?
Writing, writing, writing…reading, listening to music…annoying people…
Is there anything that you would sell your soul for?