Angela Slatter’s short story, Bluebeard, appears in the Summer 2006 issue of Shimmer.
Questions About the Story
Where did the idea come from?
It actually started out as a story called “Champagne” for lack of anything better – mainly because of the line about the breath smelling like champagne. It just began with the idea of a small, very intelligent girl watching her mother, who’s a courtesan in Paris in the early late nineteenth century…I don’t know why! This is what I think about! It’s not my fault!
How did the story change as you developed it?
I wasn’t sure where to go after the first page and a half, really … I had to leave it alone for a couple of weeks. Then I started to think about the clients the woman would have and I got a really clear picture of Davide as bear-like. I loved Lily’s voice, how incisive and clever and cynical she is, and yet childish at the same time. Eventually I started to think “hey, what if a Bluebeard story was told by a little girl?”, and when I decided not to make Davide the villain, but his creepy mum, it all fell into place. I like the idea of Lily and her mother saving each other instead of depending on an outside (male) force to save them.
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?
There wasn’t too much that I lost from this story that was hard to cut. Joy and Beth at Shimmer did a great job on editing and asking all the right questions of an author (like “What does this mean?”) and making me think about what I’d written – and I’m eternally grateful to them for their help, although at the time it may not have seemed that way! It was a learning experience for me, too, as it was the first time I’d been edited by proper editors!
How is this story like your other work?
I think the voice is different because it’s a child’s voice – a very intelligent child, but a child all the same. I think it may be my creepiest story – my supervisor loves bears but she said after reading this story she had a nightmare about them…so my work is done!
Questions About Writing
How did you celebrate your first sale?
With a blueberry Danish – actually, that’s how I celebrate everything. There may well have been a drink or two in the student bar at uni…then a few more on the back deck of my home.
Does your work tend to explore any particular themes?
Errrr, the nasty creepy dark stuff? Dead children seems to be a theme…how people’s insides and outsides are very different…also the nastier elements of sex as a weapon…honestly, I’m more well-adjusted than I seem!
What people have helped you the most with your writing?
My supervisor, Dr Nike Bourke (superb writer, incisive editor), my friend Anita Bell (finance and fiction writer, who gave me my start by saying “you don’t seem too abnormal, wanna write something for me?”), my friends Azra and Jaimie and Donna who read everything and tell me what’s crap and what’s good.
Favorite book you’ve read recently?
There’s always about five on the bedside table…the standouts this month are:
”The Black Angel” by John Connolly
“The Blue Jay’s Dance” by Louise Edrich
“The Wave in the Mind” by Ursula K Le Guin
If you have a day job, what is it? What do you like about it?
I’m the admin-nerd at a uni in Brisbane, Australia. I push papers around a desk at the Creative Writing & Cultural Studies discipline – which is great because I’m working with writers every day. If there are no papers to push, they let me write as long as I show them what I’ve written. I like the people, all nicely quirky and quite loveable (most days).
Lemon meringue pie by my Mum.
What are some of your hobbies?
Writing (d’uh), reading…nope, that’s it.
All-time favorite movie?
Awwwww, so much exclusivity! All-time favorite…I love Kevin Smith’s “Dogma”, I love “The Great Escape”, and “The Nun’s Story”…”Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” is great…and “Life is Beautiful”…can I have highlights? They’re the highlights…
What do you want to be when you grow up?
A writer who can support herself by writing (and yes, I believe in the Easter Bunny too!)