Smoking With Caitlin Corrigan

by Camille-Yvette Welsch Read the Story December 15, 2014

After reading your story, I thought about the Winchester Mystery House with its stairs to nowhere, doorways without thoroughfare, rooms leading to rooms leading to dead ends, chimneys built just shy of the ceiling, and how it might have come into being in the world of your piece, how literal a structure dysfunction might take. Where did you get the idea for this story and how does it play with our beliefs about sex and responsibility?

At heart, I think I’m still a ten-year-old watching a laser disc presentation on human sexual reproduction in science class. That we, as human creatures, contain a drive and capability to create new life using only our own bodies is just a wild concept.

This story came out of thinking about the various privileges associated with reproduction, the access points that are afforded depending on gender, sexual orientation, ability, financial resources, family support, etc.

Then I started thinking of other privileges, other needs. What if instead of more humans, we could create our own shelter?

In your new world of building, what edifice would be created from the most beatific bumping of uglies, grinding lovingly upon one another?

This story is pretty sweet, and everything works out in the end for these two kids, but I’m even more interested about what could go wrong or get messy in this world.

I have a tendency to cannibalize my own stories, even after they feel “done,” to figure out something I may have missed, and I think that may be the case with “Builders.” The idea that there’s one “right” way to go about this is coming from our teenaged protagonist, and I don’t know that we can trust her assessment of things.

So I’ll say I’m less curious about the perfectly executed building than I am about the less traditional but still totally functional and useful structures that other people may be making out there in this world.

What would be the life of the foyeur/voyeur in this new world?

Lots of blogs and social media accounts featuring real time updates of buildings in process, celebrity buildings, “amateur” buildings, etc. Pictures and videos of architectural details mixed in with some more hardcore stuff.

Probably aesthetically similar to that guy filming porn with drones, but with more turrets and buttresses.

Tell me about building words—make love, procreate, reproduce, all replication and creation, blueprint and DNA. How are you playing with those ideas? What words should we add for this? What new ones would be better? Give us a new metaphor for the everyday.

Oh, this is a great and hard question. I spent literal years thinking about and revising different versions of a story of mine in which a couple finds small baby parts and slowly, creepily assembles them together in a bassinet, so I guess I’m officially fascinated by playing around with alternative, fabulist modes of reproduction.

I’m not sure what the new words are, though. I’m still trying to find them! :)

Celebrity couple buildings—GO! What would they look like? What would they build?

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

A perfectly spherical structure lined with cameras and displays so that everything is filmed and broadcast along both the outer and inner walls.

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart

A smoky, dark bar with secret passageways leading to private rooms that no one else has ever, or will ever see.

Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft

Never finished. Just room upon room of brightly lit windows and gorilla costumes and gowns hanging from the rafters, the walls always shifting to accommodate fresh renovations.

About the Author:

Caitlin Corrigan lives in Portland, Maine. Her fiction has appeared in Word Riot, Monkeybicycle, NANO Fiction, Literary Orphans, Bartleby Snopes, Juked, and the Tin House Flash Fridays feature. Reach her on Twitter @corrigancait.