Over the coming weeks I’d like to share interviews that I conducted with the contributors to Corvidae and Scarecrow. This week we’ll talk with Andrew Bud Adams. Andrew’s Scarecrow story has been a favourite with more than one reviewer, and for good reason 🙂
Interview with Andrew Bud Adams
Please share a short excerpt from your story/stories:
A rustling in the tall yellow stalks woke Okamiko. She heard it all around her, but when she opened her eyes she saw only the blue sky framed in grain. Her first thought was animals–regular animals who couldn’t talk–because she was used to sharing her bed with them; but the rustling was too rhythmic. She sat up, using Take to stand.
The rustling stopped. Surrounding her were four workers, but now that they stared at her, she saw they weren’t from any of the familiar villages. They had red faces with long, curved beaks, and their scaly red hands gripped bundles of grain. The rest of their bodies were covered in sleek black feathers, except for their feet, which were red and taloned like their hands. They wore colorful jackets, divided skirts, and conical hats like people, but were short, almost as short as Okamiko, as if they were children.
They stared a moment longer, appraising her, too, and then went back to gathering stalks.
She watched them wide-eyed, afraid to move, afraid the work was a trick and they were crow-people who had spied her lying as if dead and come to peck out her eyes. The thought made her squint and look away, but she didn’t move. They kept harvesting around her, and it was only when she was several yards in their wake that she stood taller and her expression changed. She cocked her head like a puppy, more curious than frightened, and yelped, “What are you doing?”
They didn’t stop. One looked back at her, that curved red beak swiveling like a bloody sickle. She saw herself in its big round eye, saw how naked and plain she must look to them, but that only increased her curiosity, because they were not angry nor afraid.
“Who are you?” she asked.
There’s a Japanese God who is represented as a scarecrow. It is all-knowing but cannot move. If you could know any one thing, what would it be? In that situation? Definitely telekinesis.
Would it be worth learning the answer if you were forever stuck in one place afterward? Well I wouldn’t be stuck, would I? Telekinesis! I’d float myself around in the lotus position.
If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? I’d look like an owl. I’d be stuffed with crows.
Do you think you’d make a good scarecrow? Why? As an owl? Actually, I think I’d make a much better letter carrier for the wizarding world…though I hear they have to work Sundays.
What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? As soon as a scarecrow comes to life I see it as part of the golem tradition, like Frankenstein’s monster. It may be heroic, it may be dangerous, but either way it’s tragic and misunderstood, forever stuck between two worlds. Like Pinocchio. I’m very drawn to that theme – living in the world but not of the world, discovering a creator’s design, etc. For this particular story, I took inspiration from the Japanese folk tale “The Tengu’s Magic Cloak,” which, instead of a scarecrow, features a straw cloak of invisibility. I couldn’t resist the chance to reverse that trope in a retelling – for my scarecrow to render the invisible, visible. You’ll see what I mean!
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 🙂
Andrew Bud Adams was raised by spider-men and turtle ninjas and ronin rabbits, who are now helping raise his own children. “The Straw Samurai,” inspired by them and the Japanese folk tale “The Tengu’s Magic Cloak,” is one of his first published retellings. When not wandering between fantasy villages or teaching college writing, he can be found on Twitter @andrewbudadams.