From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Razor Blade Valentine: Gay Partington Terry

A Manx insomniac who grew up in northern Appalachia, Gay Partington Terry‏ assisted her dad in his magic act as a teenager and since then has been a waitress, factory worker, welfare worker, catalogued tribal arts for Sotheby’s and worked in Margaret Mead’s office. She’s had poetry and short stories published in ezines, fantasy magazines and anthologies, and wrote Toxic Avenger II and III. She has spent 30 years studying tai chi, qi gong and yoga; has two married children, a long-suffering husband and is watched over by the ghost of a loyal (canine) Australian Shepherd. She lived in NYC for 32 years but now lives in Brooklyn, thank goodness, where she’s pretty much a slacker who enjoys teaching her granddaughter “weird stuff.” Visit her at Dawgirls.com.

How did “Timepiece” come together? Was it easy or difficult to write?

Our dog did gnaw at the hands of a grandfather clock when it was taken apart for a move. The move turned out to be pretty surreal and the clock has never been the same. There’s a lot of truth in this story . . . There are easy and difficult moments writing anything. I didn’t have an inordinately difficult time writing “Timepiece.”

After the dogs chewed the hands off the clock, we had only the chimes to remind us of time. If we were engrossed in our work and missed the sound of them, we lost the hour. This occurred often, as you might imagine. Winding the clock became the most crucial task of our day.

What authors do you hope to be compared to some day? Are there any writers whose work you enjoy, but who you wouldn’t want to be told you remind people of?

The story of my life is that I never seemed to fit into any group or category so I can’t imagine being compared to anyone. Lately, my guilty vacation reading is Elizabeth Peters mysteries — don’t want to write them. I would definitely like to remind people of writers I enjoy: Marquez, Millhouser, W.G. Sebald, Flanery O’Connor, Jeffrey Ford, Carol Emshwiller.

What was the first piece of writing that you completed? Are you still proud of it today?

It wasn’t the first, but: I was thrown off my high school newspaper for handing in a Valentine poem that the advisor asked me for knowing full-well I was NOT the mushy Valentine type. In it, a jilted lover swallowed razor blades “internally slitting his throat” — in iambic pentameter! Despite the fact that I don’t normally write graphic or violent pieces, I am proud.

If you could have one mythic creature for a pet, what would you want and why?

Oh, gee, I’ve had my share of invisible friends and my dog, Lucy, has taken on mythic qualities since she died. She watches over me and I’ve been doing fine under her protection . . . BUT I’ve always been fond of dragons — the lucky Chinese variety, not the vicious European kind. When I was a kid I loved the book “David and the Phoenix.” If I could have that phoenix . . . Do cartoons count? the Backyardigans could teach me to dance. Rocky and Bullwinkle. One of the “friends” from PeeWee’s playhouse. A Hobbit might be fun . . . No, R2D2, definitely.

If you could only write for one medium (TV, film, short story, novel, video game, whatever) for the rest of your life, what would you chose?

Short story.

What do you think short stories can do that other kinds of writing can’t? What about them do you like to write?

I don’t think there’s anything short stories can do that other kinds of writing can’t. I like the preciseness short forms encourage. They’re small and cuddly, easy to hold on to and snuggle with.

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