Welcome to Fantasy Magazine! In your story “10 Steps to a Whole New You,” each of the ten steps and the intervening text seamlessly flow between standard Western English and Caribbean patois. Can you tell us about your decision to incorporate both in the narrative?
What I remember is that I had originally conceived of this story walking back from rescuing an injured starling and handing it in to The Humane Society, near Queen and Broadview, around the middle of December last year, and had planned to do this story as an assignment to turn in as part of Richard Thomas’s Short Story Mechanics class. Based on how the course was designed, that didn’t work out. But I still wanted to work on it, seeing as I had never done a story in this way before. Writing a story in complete Patois had been done; writing small segments of a story in Patois I’d done in “The Ace Of Knives,” my first ever published story. But actively switching between standard English and Patois? I hadn’t seen that done yet. So I’m assuming that’s how it got started, because I’m always striving to do something I hadn’t done previously in my work.
Can you describe the circumstances under which you first encountered the Soucouyant mythos?
There wasn’t any one ‘circumstance.’ I’d grown up in Trinidad, even though I’m Canadian born; my family’s of Caribbean descent, and my parents were born in other Caribbean islands. I grew up like any other kid hearing folk tales.
With each step, Azelice’s reservations soften, and when Francine reveals her true nature to Azelice, she seems poised to back away but doesn’t. What continues to draw her in?
Fascination, and the carrot that’s been dangled before her: a chance out. Azelice, at that time, was a tolerated ‘madwoman on the street.’ Mental deterioration’s my worst fear: losing control of my mind. I kind-of worked that into the story.
Aside from the Soucouyant mythos, are any other folkloric elements present in the story that you’d like Western readers to understand? Any that consistently find their way into your other works of fiction?
The first-ever novel I started writing was a vampire novel centered around a former slave who was turned. The first novel I completed was one with a Soucouyant as the main character (Azelice), and her partner-in-crime is an East Indian Trinidadian woman who was turned by a Western vampire. This story’s background info is sourced from a portion of that novel that details Azelice’s origin story, but there’s nowhere near the extensive code-switching in that novel that occurs in this piece.
At the end of the story, with Azelice engulfed in pain, we get the sense that she may have regretted her decision. Do you ultimately feel that she is happy with her new life as a soucouyant?
Azelice was ultimately misled, and it’s only going through the process of transformation does she realize the lies she was told. She’s forever altered, and she can’t go back but, based on the transformation she’s endured, it becomes clear that she doesn’t want to.
What are you working on now, and what can our readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?
I’m currently working on completing the second-ever novel I’ve started, and the novel that Azelice is in’s being shopped around to find a forever home. I was encouraged by an agent who, even though they said that novel wasn’t the right fit for them, said they loved my writing and that they thought I was a ‘brilliant writer.’ My short story “The Ace Of Knives” is being reprinted over at Apex Magazine January 2021 as well, so I’m very happy with that!
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