Ali is a rich, intricate character, shadowed by Eleanor—the woman she was and the woman she wasn’t. What was it like writing your way into the head of a changeling and skinwalker, someone who can change her appearance yet still wants to be unseen?
Truthfully, I didn’t think of her in any of those ways. I mostly thought of her as someone who’d left an abusive relationship and was putting herself back together. Everyone goes through that experience differently, but for this story, for Ali in particular, what she wanted mostly was space. Everything comes from there.
Tell us something about the inspiration for this story. How were you first introduced to Ali and the man with red boots?
I come to a lot of stories with a scene, or a couple of lines, and I build out of that. I usually don’t have characters at all. With this story, I wasn’t much different. I had the image of a woman peeling off her skin in a cheap motel. If I remember right, my first thought with the story was to write about spies, or sleeper agents, but as with most of these things, the further you go into it, the more the story shows itself to you.
I appreciated the layered setting, how something as basic as a kitchen table with a glass and a bottle of cheap wine can speak volumes about the world. When you sit down to write, are you deliberate in how you craft the setting, or do you let it evolve as the story unfolds?
It’s a mix, really. I tend to edit a lot as I write, and that kind of writing tends to let you have the best of both worlds, though I suspect it’s a bit slower than other methods (such as editing complete drafts).
Given the opportunity, would you use the red-handled knife?
I mean, I’d use the knife for a lot of things, if I had it, but I guess you’re asking if I’d cut my skin off and make myself anew. Some days I would. Some days I’d go in for being fitter and healthier and younger and just being able to start anew, and some days I’d pass and just enjoy being the shambling bit of a wreck that I am with all my damages and regrets. Guess it’d be how you caught me on the day.
Readers are forever looking forward to a writer’s next project. What projects do you have in place for the second half of 2021?
Nothing, really. I’m writing a novel at the moment, and that’s a bit all-consuming. However, if you want to send me blocks of cash cause you like what I write, well, hey, cool.
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