So, is this a zombie scenario or are we looking at a Monkey’s Paw type of situation?
Yep, this is a zombie apocalypse! Which is so funny, because it didn’t start out that way, and I never thought I’d write about zombies. When I started writing this piece, I was envisioning a world in which dead people were coming back to life, and I wasn’t imagining it as sinister or scary. Instead, I imagined it to be a happy occurrence—who wouldn’t want to be reconnected with their lost loved ones? But as I wrote, the story took a turn and became something else entirely (which happens a lot). I mean, dead people? Coming back to life? There’s no world in which that isn’t absolutely horrifying. Plus, I wrote this around Halloween, so it was easy to get carried away.
I really appreciated that the perspective was not that of the wife, but of a secretive mistress. The longing was less romantic and more human, which made the return of the dead feel almost creepier. Why’d you choose the mistress over the wife?
Again, I did so almost unintentionally. I began writing, and I was thinking about longing. About wanting someone so badly it hurts, someone who isn’t there. Putting that into the context of the story, I wondered: what could be keeping this man away from her? If the dead are returning home, then why is she still longing for him? Why is she still waiting for him? It evolved from there.
I loved the description of the mistress sitting calmly on the porch, waiting. I’m assuming in the story that her reaction wasn’t typical. How do you think you’d respond in a situation like this?
I would definitely not be as calm! I have no intention of surviving a zombie apocalypse.
If you had a message for readers about this story or writing in general, what would you say?
My message is this: keep going. Writing is hard. I don’t think people get how hard it is. And for every reason why writing is hard, there’s a piece of writing advice that may not work for you. My only message is to keep with it. Keep going. Don’t give up on a story. Don’t give up on your craft. It’s so easy to get down on yourself. “Pyres” got rejected again and again before The Ginger Collect accepted it. Every time I got a rejection, there’d be a moment of maybe I should just shelve this one. I’m so glad I didn’t, because I love this story a lot. I loved writing it. I loved editing it. I love the weirdness of the story. I love the creepiness. I love the universe I created, and chances are someone who reads it will love it, too.
Believe in yourself and your work. Keep going.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
I’m extremely proud of my story “My Body is a Destroyer” in Hypertrophic Press. I think it’s really representative of what I’m interested in (as is “Pyres”). I like stories that focus on human experiences and emotions but are set during these grandiose or supernatural events. In these stories, it’d be easy to lose focus on the human aspect, but I think that’s why I love it. The human stories are important.
You can read Hannah Gordon’s piece “Pyres” in Issue Eight of The Ginger Collect!