Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I (and Magnus) conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Angela Slatter. Angela never actually submitted to Corvidae, but when I read her story in another anthology I just knew it would be the perfect way to end mine, so I emailed her and asked if I could reprint it. Happily (for everyone) she said yes 🙂
Interview with Angela Slatter
Please share a short excerpt from your story/stories:
The feathers were tiny and Emer hoped they would stay so.
Indeed, she prayed they would fall out altogether. They were not downy little pins. Small, but determined, their black shafts hardened as soon as they poked through her skin, calcifying under her touch as she stroked them in dreadful fascination.
All day she’d felt something happening beneath the gloves hastily donned after her morning’s escapade. The sight of those ladylike coverings had brought approving nods from both her mother and governess, as if they were a sign she was finally listening to their exhortations. A princess does not run. A princess does not shout or curse. A princess keeps the sun in her voice, but off her fair skin. A princess sits quietly, back straight. A princess smiles at a gentleman’s tasteful jest, but never laughs too loudly. A princess never furrows her brow with thought. A princess does not chew her nails.
Emer had been determined that nothing untoward was occurring; that the healing salve she’d sneaked from her mother’s workroom would put everything to rights.
But that night, when Emer closed her bedchamber door and finally peeled away the doeskin gloves, she found that the wound in her palm was sprouting dark fronds around its ragged edge. They looked like the collar of her mother’s favorite cloak—except those feathers with their vibrant eyes were from the palace peacocks. A great ball of fear threatened to stopper her throat.
What is it about corvids that inspired you to write about them? I think it’s the sheer wealth of lore behind them: they’re thieves; they’re clever and sly; they cross many mythologies; they’re quite lovely-looking (what’s not to love about black feathers?); they can be sinister and clownish at the same time.
If you were a covid, what would you build your nest out of? The pages of books, so I’d be comfy and have something to read.
What’s your favourite ‘shiny’ thing? The various rings I’ve inherited from aunts over the years because (a) shiny-shiny, and (b) they have a family and emotional connection for me. I’ve got an emerald and diamond one of which I’m especially fond.
As you may know, one of Edmonton’s local Twitter personalities is Magnus E. Magpie who haunts Twitter as @YEGMagpie. I invited him to read an advance copy of Corvidae and Scarecrow and offer a short cawmentary on each story from a magpie’s point of view, which he did. When he was finished I asked if there was anything he’d like to ask the contributors. The italicized portions are mine because Magnus didn’t ask straight-forward questions on account of he’s a magpie 🙂
Mr. Yegpie: It would be cool to know where all these stories came from, I mean geographically – like I think I could tell who was from Edmonton and who was from Vancouver! (Where do you live, and did that affect your story/poem at all?) From Australia.
Mr. Yegpie: I also would sure love to know where they got their ideas from! I caught several familiar references from existing books and mythology and fairy tales; I like seeing people riff off stuff. (What inspired your story/poem?) I work a lot with European fairy tales and myths as my base, and “Flight” is a mix of “The Raven” and “White Bride, Black Bride”. I’d tried to write this story years ago when I was doing my MA and failed. I gave it another go when I was asked for a story for Once Upon A Time: New Fairy Tales by Paula Guran. This time I won.
Mr. Yegpie: I think I would like to know what people’s favourite corvid is though; and if it isn’t a magpie, WHYEVER NOT?!? (If they come back with some guff about crows using tools, PLEASE LET ME KNOW AND I WILL SEND THEM A COPY OF MY ROGERS BILL. Pffft, crows.) (What is your favourite corvid?) The raven. It’s got the best name. It guards the Tower of London. It’s cool.
Queensland Writers Fellow Angela Slatter is the author of the Aurealis Award-winning The Girl with No Hands and Other Tales, World Fantasy finalist Sourdough and Other Stories, British Fantasy Award-winning “The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter,” Aurealis finalist Midnight and Moonshine (with Lisa Hannett), as well as The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Black-Winged Angels, and The Female Factory (also with Lisa L. Hannett). She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, and is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006. She blogs at angelaslatter.com about shiny things that catch her eye.
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World Weaver Press