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The House of Four Winds

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Author Spotlight: Theodora Goss

In this week’s Author Spotlight, we ask author Theodora Goss to tell us a bit about her story for Fantasy, “Christopher Raven.”

Theodora GossCould you tell us what inspired “Christopher Raven”?

I’m really not sure. The story had been in my head for a long time, and when Nick Gevers and Jack Dann asked me to write a ghost story for their anthology, it just came together: the four girls, the love affair they dream about. I think it started with the idea of being haunted in your dreams, and then it just sort of formed in my head.

“Christopher Raven” was first published in Ghosts by Gaslight. Did you write it for the anthology? Could you tell us about the process of writing it?

Yes, I did write it for the anthology. I’d had it in my head for a long time, as I mentioned. That seems to be the only way I can write for themed anthologies: I have a preexisting idea that would work with the theme. I struggled at first, because I couldn’t find the right voice to write it in. But then I thought of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, that sort of nostalgic tone, and I wrote in that sort of voice. (At least I think so. Some people can’t hear it. But to me, it’s very “I remember Manderley.”)

Lucy’s return to her school reminded me of Harriet Vane’s return to her college in Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night. Are you a fan?

Of Dorothy Sayers? Oh my, yes! An enormous fan. I’ve been in love with Lord Peter Wimsey for years, and the only reason I can deal with his marriage to Harriet is that she’s so wonderful herself. And you know, I think there is something of Gaudy Night in my story. I was thinking of exactly that sort of gathering. I set my story in a girls’ school rather than a college, but Sayers was somewhere in the back of my head.

Meanwhile, Christopher Raven’s death brought to mind Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.” Do you have a favorite story by Poe?

That’s difficult, because I love Poe. “Ligeia,” “William Wilson,” “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Those are some of my favorites, partly because they’re so wonderful to teach. But I love his poetry as well, particularly the gorgeous “To Helen.”

Lucy and the other girls are haunted by recurring dreams. Can you tell us about any dreams that have stayed with you over the years?

I don’t have recurring dreams. I do have recurring incidents in dreams. In my favorite dreams, I can fly. 

Their dreams subsided after the mystery was solved, but the ghost’s memories still lingered. Do you believe in ghosts?

I believe the world is filled with things we don’t understand. Are some of them ghosts? One of my best friends was a confirmed skeptic until she started living in a house that was, annoyingly and inconveniently, haunted by a relative. She now believes in ghosts. And I believe her.

Your blog says you’ve recently completed your dissertation. Congratulations! Before we go, can you tell us what’s next for you?

Thank you! I’m very, very glad to have finished it. Next, I’ll be working on a poetry collection and my first novel, which I hope to be a young adult novel about girl monsters. I only have a couple of chapters finished, but I’m going to start working on it again as soon as I recover from the dissertation process. I’m impatient to begin …

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Jennifer Konieczny

Jennifer KoniecznyJennifer Konieczny hails from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An alumna of Villanova University, she now pursues her doctorate in medieval studies at the University of Toronto. She enjoys working with fourteenth-century Latin legal texts, slushing for Fantasy Magazine, and scanning bookshelves for new authors to read.