Author Interview – Christopher Yusko

His Other Work

"The Drifting Bodega" appears in Issue 12 of Speculative City
"My War on Christmas" appears in Of Silver Bells and Chilling Tales, from Jazz House Publications

Story Art Sneak Peek

Amazing Artwork By Daniela Rivera


Anthology: Paramnesia
Release Date: April 7th, 2023
About the Author: Christopher works as a librarian somewhere in the frozen wastes of Canada, where he lives with his wife, his two daughters, and a cat named Dave Waller. His short fiction has appeared in Speculative City, and in the Christmas anthology Of Silver Bells and Chilling Tales.
Q & A

How does it feel to have this story published for the first time?

It’s a thrill. Maybe it’s possible to get jaded about seeing a story in print, but I sure haven’t reached that plateau!

What inspired the idea for your story?

Changeling began as a nightmare, in which I was trapped in a mysterious black house with three strangers—a teenage girl, her younger brother, and a terrifying old man who was dying of cancer (think Bob, from Twin Peaks). The old man relentlessly pursued the kids, and he was bent on transferring his consciousness into one or the other.
This was all so troubling and mysterious that I was determined to craft a story out of it, but aspects ultimately didn’t make for a coherent narrative. Like, in my dream the kids were childhood alcoholics, which seemed critical to preserve for some reason (Google assures me isn’t a thing).

So I wrote the opening paragraphs and could get no further. I didn’t have a grasp on the character, or the stakes. The story got shelved for a few years.

When I returned to the idea, I was determined to make it work. I came upon an essay by D. L. Ashliman that suggested that stories of changelings were a way of understanding why ‘some children fail to develop normally’. This is awful (and the word ‘normally’ makes me uncomfortable here) but you can see the logic at play. It struck me: if this is true, we might also say that changelings are monsters formed from expectations of parenthood. With that thought, I saw an entire plot in front of me.

Tell us about your favorite author. What about their book(s) call to you and how do they inspire your own writing?

If I can only pick one, I’m a huge fan of Haruki Murakami, and I’ve read just about everything he’s written. I like the weirdness, the open-mindedness of his stories. I don't know of another writer who captures the rich inner-life of introverts so well. Also, I love the way the mundane borders on the mythic in his fiction. How only the thinnest veil separates daily life from a deeper, darker reality.
Alright, so maybe there is some influence here. Definitely in my approach to character. Changeling doesn't end with a typical shock, for instance. It's ultimately about someone trying to process an awful thing that happened.

We know that writing can be a tumultuous journey with a lot of obstacles, what is your kryptonite as a writer?

I write slowly. I work full-time and I’m an engaged parent, so setting boundaries and carving out time is the hardest thing. And there are always moments of despair when I wonder if I've spent months on a piece for nothing (lucky for me that I’m stubborn).

Clearly, you’ve succeeded at writing a captivating story for GrendelPress, but we all start somewhere. What advice would you give yourself as a young writer?

Sit down. Write. The story emerges in the process of writing, and each time you come to the keyboard a little more of it appears. And if it doesn’t work out, so what? Time is passing anyway. You might as well try.

We’d like to argue that every good story makes both the author and the readers feel something. What perspectives or beliefs have you challenged with your story?

This story maybe explores more than it challenges, but at its core it asks: can love be monstrous? And also: What constitutes innocence? How does one navigate guilt, when something was not in our control?

What do you love most about your story’s genre?

I love that horror, and especially modern horror, is so versatile. It can be a vehicle for dissecting our deepest beliefs and assumptions. Horror can be transgressive, cathartic, playful, or tragic. Horror is a memento mori, and one of the few spaces in our culture where this message is tolerated.
Also, it goes without saying that it’s always entertaining to be scared!

What are some other genres you’d like to break into and why?

I’m broadly interested in speculative fiction, and I have ideas for graphic novels, fantasy and even a space opera. Also, I love high concept science fiction in the vein of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson and Thomas Pynchon. I’d love to try my hand at a cyberpunk story some day.

If you had to pick another story of yours to share with your readers, what would it be? (Feel free to give us a 1 paragraph summary!)

My story 'The Drifting Bodega' shows a weirder, quirkier side of my writing. In it, an aspiring concert violinist suffers a quarter-life crisis, so she goes hunting after an urban legend: a spectre called the Attendant, who is said to be found inside a burned-out bodega. Rumour has it the Attendant can grant one’s ‘heart’s true desire’...but naturally, our violinist gets more than she bargains for.
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(1) Comment for this blog

  1. Earlene Angevine
    January 30, 2023

    Loved the interview. Look forward to “the Drifting Bodega”

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