[photopress:hobson_07a_1.jpg,thumb,alignleft]M. K. Hobson’s fiction appears in Fantasy and Science Fiction, SCI FICTION, and Realms of Fantasy, and it has received Honorable Mentions in Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and Year’s Best Science Fiction. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2003. Visit her site or LiveJournal for more.
Her story The Hand of the Devil on a String appears in the Spring 2008 issue of Shimmer.
Interview with M. K. Hobson
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE STORY:
Where did the idea come from?
There’s an old belief that if you use the severed hand of a hanged thief as a candleholder, you can walk around unseen. Also, I used to visit my grandparents’ house in Baker, Oregon a lot when I was growing up, and I thought about that small town a lot when I was writing this story. And I have been known to visit beauty parlors and wear acrylic nails from time to time. How all those three things came together in one story is a complete mystery to me.
How did the story change as you developed it?
I really liked the idea of having someone tell a story inside another story, and have the two stories be connected, but I found that harder to pull off than I thought it would be. I had to try a whole bunch of different strategies until I finally found one that worked. The key was figuring out how Mrs. Dee’s story was really Seff’s story, and how they illuminated each other.
How is this story like your other work? How is it different?
I write a lot of dark humor, and I’d say this story falls squarely in that category. I doubt I could write anything that didn’t have some aspect of the ridiculous in it; humor is a fantastic tool when it’s harnessed in the service of meaningful storytelling. But striking the right balance is tough. A little too far to one side and you’re silly and trivial; a little too far to the other and you’re bitter and cynical. Hopefully I get a little better at walking that line with each story.
Do you believe in ghosts or the supernatural? Why?
Calling something supernatural implies that it is outside of nature in some way. I don’t believe that anything can be supernatural. But do I believe that there are natural phenomena that we haven’t explored or simply aren’t capable of understanding? Yes, certainly! How’s that for a nit-picky answer?
By the way, I once spent the night in a haunted building, as part of a college project. It was very scary. Lights went on and off, there were mysterious noises, and my assignment-partner and I couldn’t make it through the whole night.
Do you check your horoscope?
I am an obsessively superstitious person, so I check my horoscope in multiple places every day. My online favorites are astrologyzone.com and freewillastrology.com. I also really like the tarot tools available at tarot.com and façade.com.