Interview With Yarrow Paisley

Yarrow Paisley
Yarrow Paisley

Yarrow Paisley lives in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts. His fiction has appeared in magazines such as Gargoyle, Sein und Werden, Collective Fallout, and Pulp Modern, and anthologies such as Dadaoism (Chômu Press), For When the Veil Drops (West Pigeon Press), and Bibliotheca Fantastica (Dagan Books). He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, contributed to the collaborative web project The Step Chamber, and served as guest editor for the online journal Gone Lawn. His website is His story “The Metaphor of the Lakes” appears in Issue #17.

Tell us how “The Metaphor of the Lakes” came about.
Perhaps I thought of the line “I don’t know whether I’m alive or dead,” and somehow that blossomed into a little girl’s diary, and the characters cascaded out of the language she employed. I enjoyed the personalities that emerged and the various discoveries I made as the narrative proceeded, and that kept me going. It was like solving a puzzle … sudoku for the soul!

What’s your normal process for writing—or is there a “normal”? Do you strive for a certain page or word count every day?
I take frequent cigarette breaks to mull, but mostly that mulling is an illusion; my mind is scattered across the porch, and I return to my computer empty … I wish there were a “normal,” but for the time being, my discipline is a memory and a will o’ the wisp. (Someday, I hope to catch that wisp.)

How did you celebrate your first fiction sale?
If by “sale,” you mean “exchanged for money,” I think I took my son to Friendly’s for a hot dog and an ice cream, which pretty much used up the paycheck!

What is currently in your cd player/iTunes/Spotify/8 Track?
Martha Wainwright’s recent cd, the title of which eludes me right now, but which contains a magnificently sad song called Proserpina, which was apparently the last song that Martha’s mother (Kate McGarrigle) ever wrote. Martha’s a great songwriter … but this song, I’m afraid, outclasses everything else on the album! Even my 7-year old son noticed it: he asked me once while we were driving, “How does she turn all the fields into stone?” He thought it was magic, but I had to explain about gods and goddesses, and then later look things up on the Internet, and eventually, I ended up getting him a copy of D’Aulaires (a childhood favorite of mine!). So, a very productive song from a childrearing perspective!

What is your favorite Bradbury story/novel?
I can’t remember the title (it’s been a couple of decades since I read him!), but it was a story about a little girl on Venus who pines to see the sun she remembers from her early life on Earth and is deliberately locked in a closet by her classmates on the one day the sun peeks through those Venusian clouds. Meanwhile, they all go out and frolic in the sunshine they’ve never seen before. It raises my hackles just to think of it again!  [Ed: That’s “All Summer in a Day.”]

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