In the story, mundane details such as the cleaning of the house are juxtaposed with very human details. There is a level of humor in this at times, but it is riven with a deep sadness. There is also a strong level of intimacy in both these aspects of the character’s existence in the story. How did you go about striking this balance?
We started with the idea that we wanted to show Constance’s intimacy with the house, even if it was a forced intimacy. The attention to detail in the maintenance of the house was meant to express that intimacy. In our final round of edits, we decided to call the house “my house” until the moment when Constance breaks free of the compulsion, when it becomes “the house.” We loved the sense of reciprocal intimacy that came with a sense of possessiveness from Constance. It somehow made the story much more upsetting.
Another theme which resonated with me was the sense of belonging and escape, and the internal and external with the house and Annalee. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on how these shape the main character and the wider story and history.
So there’s a bit of implied history that doesn’t make it wholly into the story. The Baptiste family abducted Constance to place her in eternal bondage to their home. This is more in line with zombification in the traditional Caribbean sense—undead bondage instead of the way it has been popularized in Western media. Even after the Baptistes are dead, the house itself still holds Constance captive. We envisioned the house’s possession of Constance and her burgeoning romance with Annalee as opposing magical forces. The more that Constance feels that she has a place to belong with Annalee—and feels loved and wanted by her—the more able she is able to escape the house’s hold over her. Further complicating the house’s power over Constance is the suggestion that Annalee could be a distant relative of the original owner of the house—a Baptiste—exploring that the power she may have inherited can be either good or evil depending on the wielder.
This one is the obvious question, but still interesting for the reader. How did you all come to write this together? What was the process like?
We wrote this story during Clarion West when we collectively fell in love with the music of Be Steadwell after attending her concert with our classmate Gabriel Teodros. It was week five, we’d already written five short stories apiece, but for some reason, we decided that we needed to collaborate on a story together with her songs as a baseline. We won’t get into more detail because that ruins the mystique. So long story short, in the span of a few days, we all brainstormed the plot, wrote an outline and a rough draft, then all worked our way through the story to add and change things as we went. We also sort of inhabited different aspects of the storytelling process. Emma was the lead writer. They made the language sing and provided much of the rich sensory details within the story. Jess was the chief architect (and editor), giving us our structure and making sure that the thematic and worldbuilding details were internally consistent. Cadwell added the tangible world details, the setting, and the cultural and linguistic components that grounded the narrative. We had an incredible time writing this story.
Finally, what are you all working on at the moment, together or separately, and where else can we find your work?
We’ll definitely be writing another story together in the future. Emma is working on horror and dark fantasy novellas and has a novel in the works. Jess is working on yet another book but is currently preoccupied with earning their PhD in Literature. Cadwell is working on the second novel in a contemporary fantasy trilogy. He’s also developing a shared multiverse called Many Worlds with a collective of authors. You can find links to his personal work at cadwellturnbull.com and learn more about Many Worlds at manyworldsforum.com.
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