K.M.’s latest Shimmer story, “The Earth and Everything Under,” was published in Issue #19 . She was also published in Issue #13 with her well-reviewed tale “Bullet Oracle Instinct,” and “The Bird Country” appeared in Issue #15.
Tell us how “The Earth and Everything Under” came to be.
I was thinking a lot about what witchcraft might look like in rural America, and sort of trying to dig a little bit into the inherent strangenesses that might bring about such a thing. I was also listening to Daniel Hart’s score for the film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which I think influenced the story significantly. In the end, without intending to, I drew on some of my own memories of living in Montana for a year, and the peculiar isolations there that play into loneliness and beauty.
Birds factor into your work a lot. Angels, too. What is it about creatures that fly?
I don’t know! The first real, serious story I wrote, the first one that could reasonably considered “part of my body of work,” was about a group of brothers with bird names who are suddenly afflicted with some kind of sickness in which they cough up birds and waste away. After that it just sort of… continued. I think a lot of it probably has to do with the weird connection between angels and birds, like the idea that angels are basically a kind of animal-human, and yet are considered more sacred than either. Also the bird is frequently identified with the soul, the part of a person that isn’t physical and mortal, and that is somehow slightly alien for that reason.
Any plans for a novel-length work?
I don’t know if I could write a novel? It would require a huge amount of free time and concentration, which I don’t have at the moment. I have written a novella, though: sixty pages, which I didn’t think I could do! (There are also birds in that, though not as many.)
What’s in your itunes/Spotify/8-Track?
I listen to a lot of opera– everything from Mozart to Nico Muhly. I’m a big fan of a Hungarian violinist called Lajkó Félix. Also an Icelandic singer-songwriter, Ásgeir Trausti. Oh, and French rock musicals, which are kind of terrible but in the best way.
Can you share anything of what you’re working on now?
I’m in my last year of an MFA program, so I’m working on my thesis– of which this story is actually a part! I have a story appearing on Tor.com in the future, which is super exciting. I also write fan fiction in my downtime between stories, which I think is an excellent way for a writer to stay on track.