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 Virginia Carraway Stark. A writer so dedicated that even being hit by a car barely slows her productivity!
Interview with Virginia Carraway Stark
Please share a short excerpt from your story/stories:
“Edith watched them and fed them her scraps. She no longer had the eyes of a young mother. She had aged along with the year and she watched the pigs with the same canny appraisal that the magpies and crows had watched us plant our seeds that spring. She was the crone now and barren. We must prepare for the maiden of spring together, we must make the path rich and clear for her young, bare feet when she awoke in the growing light of spring.
The next day she brought the kitchen knife with her. It was long and sharp. The blade curved inward from being repeatedly being sharpened year after year. It was the same one she had cut the gourd’s free from their vines with.”
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? This is a difficult question for me because I don’t know who I would be getting the answer from and I don’t really believe that many questions have definitive, finite answers, so a lot of this would be down to the source. I guess I don’t really believe in answers being just handed to you. Answers are found by searching and otherwise you risk the answers of oracles that could make sense in a thousand different ways. If I can’t find an answer for myself I question whether or not I would be able to understand the answer. Knowledge does not bestow wisdom.
Would it be worth learning the answer if you were forever stuck in one place afterward? And from this, perhaps you can see why I am so cautious to choose a question to have answered. ‘Free’ knowledge so often comes with a price. I wouldn’t want to sacrifice my freedom of movement and I can’t think of any question or answer worth getting for such knowledge.
If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? If I were a scarecrow I would like to a dressed in my grandmother’s gardening clothes and wearing her sunhat. I would be smiling, but sadly and somberly because fundamentally I have been reduced to the role of being a passive observer and I would be stranded from helping or changing the course of things. I would want to be smiling so that the people who saw me would smile back and know that someone cares about them. I would likely be stuffed with corn husks, or I would hope I would be. They smell lovely and are soft but firm.
Do you think you’d make a good scarecrow? Why? I think I would be alright as a scarecrow but I think a lot of things would make me sad, in particular frost and winter and not being able to run or swim. I would enjoy watching the trees and the garden and unfortunately for the crops, I would love watching the birds. That would be big failing in a scarecrow and it pushes me more into the direction of: No, not scarecrow material.
What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? Scarecrows fall into a similar category to dolls, they look like us but they don’t have souls or life of their own. This makes them eerie and because they are stationary, they also see no end of things. They are witnesses to more of our lives than we might be comfortable with and at the same time they have nothing to do but sit and ponder what they have seen. Who know what conclusions or attachments they might make. In Edith and I the scarecrow is drawn to Edith because she is his goddess. She comes and goes as she pleases and she decrees when it is time for the harvest and time for the sacrifices to nature. Like many ‘goddesses’ she doesn’t realize the sort of attention and devotion that she has created and she is left vulnerable to being courted or stalked.
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 live in Northern British Columbia and I feel that the connection to the weather and the intensity of the seasons makes autumn a poignant time of year. I think that if you were a scarecrow it would be a frightening and intense time, all the more so for how long and deep the freezes are.
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?) My grandmother inspired my poem. She loved the garden and I learned so much from helping her in the garden when I was little. She always treated her scarecrow with such dignity and respect that I wanted to show the story from her scarecrow’s perspective as I imagined it. I always thought that he would be in love with her. After all, she was his mother and would be the only woman who dressed him and cared for him when he was injured. If he was damaged or knocked over she would mend or repair him or put him back up on his post. That’s a strange but romantic relationship.
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?) My favorite corvid is the blue jay. I had a stellar jay land on my hand and eat from it and I’ve been enchanted by them ever since. I’ve also had a lot of interactions with magpies and crows and ravens. I like the crows the best because they will often have voices and speak to me. Maybe if more magpies were willing to have a conversation they would be my favorite.
Virginia Carraway Stark started her writing career with three successful screenplays and went on to write speculative fiction as well as writing plays and for various blogs. She has written for several anthologies and three novels as well. Her novel, ‘Dalton’s Daughter’ is available now through Amazon and Starklight Press. ‘Detachment’s Daughter’ and ‘Carnival Fun’ are coming later this year. You can find her on Twitter @tweetsbyvc, on Facebook https://Facebook.com/virginiacarrawaystark and on the web: www.virginiastark.com