What was the genesis of this story—was there a particular image or idea that popped into your mind before you started writing it?
I was staring at a blank page for way too long, so I browsed Reddit as a distraction. I came upon a post with a quote from Ben Franklin, and I’m paraphrasing here: some people die at twenty-five but aren’t buried until they’re seventy-five. It really affected me, and then the first line of the story popped into my head and I just went with it. But, it took a few more points of inspiration before it became the story here.
One of the things I admire about “Lucy Ignores Death” is how it slips the reader into magical realism casually, in a matter-of-fact tone. What led you to make this decision?
I’m not always known for subtlety, but for whatever reason it felt natural to approach her death in a subtle, matter-of-fact way. Maybe I ended up doing it like this because allowing parts or all of our true selves to metaphorically die in order to please others or fulfill responsibilities is something we as people do all too commonly.
What authors (if any) have inspired your writing? Or do you look to other areas for inspiration?
I’m inspired by so many writers, past and present, but normally I’m not really aware of which ones, how and to what extent when I’m writing a piece. But for this story I can actually tell you that. It was completed after reading “How to Catch A Sun” by Yun Wei. Wei’s story also covers a character’s entire lifetime but in a completely different way. This wasn’t the first time a specific piece inspired the bones of my flash. If I do encounter one I really love in the wild, I sit down and think about what exactly I love about it and whether I’m able to extract this aspect in a way that can ensure the new story is my own. Aside from this, inspiration comes from everyday life: hearing a quote or watching a news report or having a weird dream.
Your story makes good use of an expanse of time. Is this a theme to your work in general? If not, how would you characterize your themes?
I try to experiment with different themes as much as I can, but certain ones seem to repeat: the mischief of youth, family and loss, the dangers of conformity without question. The list goes on. But, I’d say focused moments or short time spans are actually much more common in my writing, even in the longer work. This story took on such an expanse in a Kathy Fish workshop. She invited Megan Giddings as a facilitator for one of the days and Megan prompted us to write a lifetime in a thousand or less words and gave us the Yun Wei story as inspiration. Before all this, I hadn’t quite had the level of detail and the breadth I wanted at each point in Lucy’s life. Then, another writer in the workshop suggested the title, so I guess you could say five different writers, a random Reddit poster, and Benjamin Franklin all contributed to the creation of this story to some degree!