Welcome to Fantasy Magazine! We’re so pleased to bring your story “Broodmare” to our readers. Can you tell us how this story came to be?
“Broodmare” is a story I have been mulling over for a few years. Back in 2019, I read an article in Mother Jones about the lack of abortion access in the south. The article focused not only on those who had to travel several hundred miles to obtain safe abortions, but also on the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund and specifically a woman named Laurie Bertram Roberts. Roberts, her daughters, and her partner physically pick up people in need of an abortion and transport them across state lines to get them the medical care they need.
This was the fall of 2019. It would be another three years before the Supreme Court overturned Roe. I think everyone with a uterus was understandably terrified after the 2016 election, and I couldn’t get this image out of my head, of a woman and her family traveling in a van across the country to help maintain reproductive justice.
In October 2021, I took a short story workshop and committed myself to writing and finishing this story to present to the class. I knew I had to get it out now, because history was moving faster than my pen. The class lit a fire under me to finally tell the story.
What was the most difficult part of writing “Broodmare,” and what came easiest?
To be completely frank, the most difficult part of writing “Broodmare” was writing it. My writing practice has been spotty at best, completely absent at worst. When the pandemic hit, I lost a lot of the freelance work I was doing, and suddenly had more time. So I started writing again. Over the last two decades, I’ve done little bits of writing, but nothing longer than flash fiction. So I felt rusty, figuring out how to organize my thoughts and ideas, and work out story details and structure. The workshop was the best thing for it, because it forced me to finish it within a tight timeframe. If I wanted to get the most out of the workshop and if I wanted the critiques—which I needed, shout out to my fellow workshoppers, whose insight and input proved invaluable—I had to finish this story.
I think people might hate me for this answer, but the easiest part of writing “Broodmare” was also writing it. I had been getting into a van with Marge for almost three years. In the beginning I didn’t know her very well, but I spent many nights falling asleep imagining myself in the van with her, looking out the window at the countryside, picturing the towns she stopped in and the people she visited. I found the story in all those imaginings; it felt like it presented itself to me. The horse stuff was also easy. I am incredibly allergic to horses, but I’ve always loved them—I’m the saddest Horse Girl in the world. When I was little, I was obsessed with the book “Black Beauty.” I think I was about 10 when I had to write a book report on it, and instead I handed in an epilogue describing Black Beauty’s experience with his new, kind owner. That was my first real experience writing fiction. The teacher gave me a passing grade because she said the writing was good, but admonished me for not fulfilling the assignment. It wasn’t intentional, but now it feels like there’s a reason I put horses into a story that brought me back to writing.
The poor roan’s story encapsulated the risks so many pregnant people face, now and certainly even more so in the future. It’s a moment of real visceral despair that I found absolutely haunting. Short of magic like Marge’s, where can we find hope?
I think we find hope in people like Laurie Bertram Roberts and her family, who perform magic without any supernatural abilities whatsoever. Marge couldn’t exist in a vacuum. She needs her community to keep doing what she’s doing. It was important to me that the people around Marge, supporting Marge, be normal, everyday people. That includes Trace and Dolores, and the little old lady at the grocery store. Their real power comes from working together, and that’s where our power comes from too. We find hope in the people who don’t stop fighting for reproductive justice and refuse to accept the barbarism imposed by the opposition.
Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about this story?
This story haunted me for two years before I finally got it out. It taught me that if I can’t stop thinking about something, I should probably start writing it down. Pay attention to your ghosts.
We were thrilled to learn that this is your first short story sale—congratulations! It’s an honor to be part of this milestone for you. What has your writing journey been like up to this point?
As I mentioned, my writing journey has been fairly rocky up to this point. I wrote more when I was younger, and studied creative writing in college, but my practice fell off once I graduated. I feel like I’m still finding my footing with a daily writing practice. My parents run an online air cargo magazine and I’ve flexed my writing muscles on short nonfiction pieces there and elsewhere, but I’m still figuring out fiction. I discovered Cat Rambo’s writing community and that has been an incredible resource. The classes and teachers have helped me tremendously, and the community itself has been so supportive and welcoming. I never thought I’d find a writing community in the middle of a pandemic!
What are you working on now, and what can our readers look forward to seeing from you in the future?
I’m currently being haunted by a short story around identity and assimilation. My mother is from Pakistan, but that’s a part of my identity I’ve felt a little disconnected from for most of my life, and I’ve wanted to reclaim it. I’m also excited because I’m participating in a 2023 Story a Week Challenge to push myself more. My hope is to get at least a handful of good first drafts that haunt me this year.
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