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 Katherine Marzinsky. Katherine created one of my favourite scarecrows, Strel.
Interview with Katherine Marzinsky
Please share a short excerpt from your story/stories:
“So,” Rosa began, her voice the temperature of the water on the bedside tray, “you’re still wandering around with that stupid straw-man of yours?”
“Yes,” Vicente replied with equal coldness, studying the IV line running into his wrist. “He’s my hermano de tinta. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“I’m just a little surprised.” Rosa crossed one leg over the other. “I thought you’d have scrapped him and run off with some new, half-baked story by now.” She met Vicente’s eyes. “After all, that’s what you did with us, your real brother and sister.”
Vicente looked away.
“… I wasn’t ready to handle all that nonsense.”
“We’re nonsense?” Rosa’s eyes widened. “Your family is nonsense? And just what do you think that damn scarecrow is?”
“I needed time for myself.”
“All you ever think about is yourself.” Rosa uncrossed her legs and braced her palms against her thighs. “Mamá and Papá didn’t raise us to act that way. Do you know how ashamed they’d be if they knew how you abandoned us? Abandoned your life and their memory? Luis is almost a teenager now, and he doesn’t remember anything except Mamá’s coffin and you walking away.”
“Shut up.” Vicente knotted his fists around the bed sheets and squeezed until his veins bulged like worms. “You don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. You don’t know me; you never knew me.”
“Who does then?”
Feeling the pain rising from the IV needle on the back of his hand, Vicente let go of the sheets. He closed his eyes for a moment, and then shrugged the best he could in his cocoon of linens, gauze, and plastic tubing.
“Strel’s the only one. Not like you’d ever ask him though.”
“That’s bullshit, Vicente. Your scarecrow can’t even talk.”
“Maybe you just don’t know how to listen.”
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?Would it be worth learning the answer if you were forever stuck in one place afterward? I tend to be an extremely anxious person; I worry constantly about everything, and if there’s nothing to worry about, my brain will create something to worry about. With that in mind, if I could know any one thing it would be the secret to perfect mental peace. If I was forever stuck in one place afterward, then I’d be okay with that. I would much rather be peaceful in one spot than a fearful and restless wanderer.
If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? For starters, I would be much thinner, and I would definitely want some kind of animal skull as a head. I originally envisioned Strel, the scarecrow in my story, with a deer skull as his head, so I’ll go with that. A ram skull might be pretty cool too, though. As for my stuffing, I would love to be stuffed with crumpled up pages ripped from literature and art textbooks. That way, I’d always know that I was beautiful on the inside, even if my outside got tangled in thorns and covered in bird droppings.
Do you think you’d make a good scarecrow? Why? Honestly, I probably wouldn’t make a good scarecrow. I can’t stand the heat, and most crops are grown in the hotter months. I could also see myself stressing about all kinds of potential catastrophes, like a plague of locusts, or a wild fire, or a devastating storm, or falling over and being unable to get back up… I’m sure the crows would learn pretty fast how to take advantage of my distraction.
What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? I think my affinity for scarecrows began after playing “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” when I was a kid. The antagonist in that game is a creature called the Skull Kid, and although I don’t think he actually is a scarecrow, he certainly looks like one. The combination of creepiness and vulnerability that his character, and scarecrows in general, represents has continued to fascinate me to this day.
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?) I have lived my entire life in a rural area of New Jersey, a place with more farms than city streets. (Believe it or not, Jersey does have areas like that.) This may have helped foster my general interest in scarecrows, but it certainly didn’t inspire the setting for my story. “Waking From His Master’s Dream” takes place in Cielotriste, a fictional city in a fictional Latin American country. I have a Venezuelan friend and it was his descriptions of Caracas that inspired Cielotriste.
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?) The main characters in my story started off as minor characters in a larger, novel-sized piece set in the same universe (which still remains unfinished after six years). Somewhere along the way, I became very attached to this particular group of characters, and I knew they deserved more than bit parts in another’s story. Vicente describes his scarecrow and fictional creation, Strel, as his “hermano de tinta,” meaning “ink brother;” he created him in response to some very difficult situations and emotions. I think Vicente is my hermano de tinta. He represents a lot of very personal things to me, and writing about him has been almost therapeutic.
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?) Sorry, Magnus, but crows are my favorite corvid, mostly because they’re the corvids with which I am most familiar. Crows are very plentiful where I live, and they’re always a joy to watch. I had never even seen in magpie in real life until I took a trip to Norway in 2012.
Katherine Marzinsky is a writer and student currently residing in New Jersey. She attends Kean University, where she is working toward an undergraduate degree with a major in English and a minor in Spanish. Her previous work has appeared in “Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine,” “A Cappella Zoo,” “Cease, Cows,” and “The Inanimates I” story anthology.