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 Megan Fennell. Megan is one of only three authors to have work in both Corvidae and Scarecrow and her Scarecrow contribution contains some of my favourite characters in fiction. Like, all fiction, not just fiction I’ve edited.
Interview with Megan Fennell
Please share a short excerpt from your stories:
From ‘The Valravn’ (in Corvidae):
“You spoke of Heidelberg,” I said. “What is that?”
I didn’t think his expression could grow any brighter, but somehow it did, making his eyes sparkle. “Why, it’s a castle, little frauline. The most glorious castle that I’ve seen in all of my travels. The peaks of the roof tickle the belly of the clouds. You can spy them with a day’s journey yet before you. Have you never seen a castle?”
I shook my head, stung by a curiosity that overcame any embarrassment at my lack of knowledge. I was not about to admit to him that I hadn’t seen further than the edges of the great forest. My mind constructed fantastic lands in my dreams and my desire to hear of the places Rikard had seen gnawed at me as real as hunger.
“If you’re under our roof and eating our food, I think we deserve at least a story or two out of you,” I said primly, my mother’s voice issuing from my mouth. My cheeks burned again and I unpicked a knot from my mending while Rikard laughed.
“And so you shall have them, little lady of the pines,” he said. “A story… Hmm. A story about castles? Or about the sea? I’d wager my cloak you’ve never made it as far as the coast.” He studied me, toying with the feathers in his hat as they dried and giving the matter more contemplation that I thought it warranted. “Yet here you sit, perfectly unmoved in the heart of this terrible storm. Perhaps I have a more discerning audience than I thought. Perhaps I’ve found someone worthy of hearing the secrets of the Valravn.”
From ‘Kakashi & Crow’ (in Scarecrow):
We parked the car just off one of the streets that funnelled out onto the bridge and started out on foot from there. Kakashi had turned tense and silent, his sickle tucked under his jacket. The gravel crunched under our boots as we went off the path and started down the slope to get ourselves beneath the bridge.
“I can feel him,” Kakashi murmured, “He’s here.”
“Told you, didn’t I?” I said. I could feel the presence of the rogue buzzing against my nerves too, like the whine of power lines in high wind. “Are you scared?”
The shadow of the bridge fell over us and it felt suddenly colder.
“No, Johnny,” Kakashi said, “I am not. Are you?”
I shook my head, stuffing my hands into the pockets of my jacket, turning the stolen lighter over and over in my nervous fingers. “Nah.”
We trudged a little further. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end and goosebumps rushed down my arms. Kakashi slid the sickle out from under his jacket.
“Were you lying a little just now?” I asked.
“Perhaps,” he said.
I grinned. “Perhaps me too.”
What is it about corvids that inspired you to write about them? Since I was young, I’ve always loved the brash, clever nature of corvids. They tend to be far more ‘chatty’ than most other birds with a far less musical song, to many peoples’ annoyance. I adore that most individual species of corvids have such rich mythological backgrounds as well; folks have been fascinated by these noisy, ballsy critters long before the likes of us!
Was there one corvid characteristic you wanted to highlight more than others? Their trickster nature. In most mythology, it seems like corvid-characters tend to lie and laugh their way through life at the expense of all those around them. They have a touch of Loki about them, and I adore that.
Do you think you were successful? I hope so! The main corvid I have in play is, after all, a bard.
If you were a corvid, what would you build your nest out of? Something nice and cozy. I’m a comfort-driven creature. I’ve seen magpies swoop in to steal dog fur for their nests when somebody’s outside getting brushed – seems like a good strategy to me!
What’s your favourite ‘shiny’ thing? Hoo-boy, I adore shiny things! I have far too many sequined things in my closet and have had glittery makeup forcibly removed from my possession for my own good. The phrase ‘That might be a little too sparkly’ has yet to pass my lips!
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? Seriously, why didn’t they just fly the One Ring to Mordor on the eagles….?
Would it be worth learning the answer if you were forever stuck in one place afterward? Absolutely not! I’m too much of a fan of travel for that.
If you were a scarecrow, what would you look like? What would you be stuffed with? Something fireproof… mwuahaha, now I’m invincible!! Maybe with a bit of weight to it so I don’t blow away in the wind. Hard to maintain your dignity through that.
Do you think you’d make a good scarecrow? Nah… I’m not very good at sitting still, and my dance moves aren’t as good as Dorothy’s scarecrow either. I could make a damn good Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube-Man though!
What is it about scarecrows that inspired you to write about them? I was honestly more interested in the dynamic between a scarecrow and a crow, and the type of polar-opposite characters that could manage to work with each other. Johnny Crow was born first, and Kakashi followed as his natural counterpart.
Since you have work in both anthologies, which came first? The corvid or the scarecrow? I wrote my scarecrow story first… But it’s told from the perspective of a corvid character, so that question remains up for debate.
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’m writing in from Lethbridge, Alberta, where mischiefs of magpies and murders of crows rule the coolies!
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?) ‘Kakashi & Crow’ was helped along by my shameless love of buddy cop movies and a long-held interest in both Native American and Japanese folklore. Fusion platter! As for ‘The Valravn’, I stumbled across this legend while brainstorming for ideas and was instantly won over. It had that terrific Grimm’s fairy tales ‘wow, did they really just go there in a kid’s story?!’ feel.
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?) Don’t get your feathers all ruffled! Magpies are absolutely my favourite. And I can prove it too, because I have two of them tattooed on my back. Going with the old magpie-counting rhyme, that ensures I always have ‘two for joy’ with me at all times.
Megan Fennell is a court clerk, cat owner, and writer of strange tales, currently living and working in Lethbridge, Alberta. Although loving magpies to the point of having two of them tattooed on her, it was the Danish myth of the Valravn that held her corvid-like attention span for this anthology. Her stories can also be found in Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts 18, Tesseracts 17, OnSpec Magazine, and the charity anthology Help: Twelve Tales of Healing.