Shimmer #23: Megan O’Keefe

Tell us a little about how Of Blood and Brine came to be.

Megan O'Keefe
Megan O’Keefe

“Of Blood and Brine” was, in some ways, an accident. I had gone to a friend’s house for a write-in and forgotten to transfer the most recent version of the novel I was working on to my laptop. So, I thought, no worries – I’ll just write a new short story. And then I proceeded to stare out of the window for awhile, watching the wind whip through the leaves that crowded the park across the street. The image was so strong that, being a perfumer, I wondered what it might smell like. The rest of the story flowed from there.

This story hinges upon how intimate scent can be — did you do a lot of research for this? What do most people not realize about scent?

I’ve been a professional perfumer for six years so, in a lot of ways I’ve been doing years of research for this story. But when it came time to actually write it, the information was already tucked away in my mind.

When it comes to scent, I think a lot of people realize how tied to memory certain aromas are – but not, necessarily, how evocative of emotion they can be. The olfactory bulb has access to the amygdala which is key in processing both memories and emotions. A given smell can spark fear or joy in a person without them ever being aware of the direct correlation.

Why is a bar of soap like a writing desk?

Neither of them taste as good as they look.

Have you read anything great lately?

So many wonderful things! Though my favorite for the year thus far is Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs. It’s such a lovely story told in a rich, refreshing setting. I highly recommend it for – well, just about anyone.

It’s almost a new year! Do you have any resolutions?

November-December is my busy season, so usually by the time the new year rolls around my only resolution is to take a nice, long nap. Or, you know, find a new bottle of scotch to try out.

Buy Shimmer #23 and read “Of Blood and Brine”


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Speculative fiction for a miscreant world

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