“Girls Have Sharp Teeth” was such a thought-provoking story about the violence inflicted on girls and women. It’s skillfully told through the eyes of a junior high school girl. Tell us how this story came about.
I don’t usually write this way, but the title came to me before the story. There’s a line from a really excellent Black Widow comic by Marjorie Liu that’s kind of haunted me for years: “Wolves and girls. Both have sharp teeth.” So the title “Girls Have Sharp Teeth” came from that, and from there I asked myself, “Okay, but why do they have sharp teeth? What happened that made their teeth sharp?” And then the idea of a bunch of high school girls getting fake fangs came to me and the story evolved from there.
I particularly enjoyed how in the opening you moved very smoothly between what the protagonist wishes her classmates’ response to Madison’s attack had been and the far uglier reality. Which reaction do you think happens most often and why?
I like to think as a society, we’re trending towards believing victims more often than not, but we definitely have a long way to go. I think part of why is what the protagonist says, “It was much easier to believe in attention-seeking girls than in trust-shattering boys.” It’s easier to think that there was some sort of “misunderstanding” or the victim is simply lying than to believe that some actor we admire, or a person we trusted and thought of as good, is actually a monster. Obviously, there’s a lot more to it than that, but I do think that’s one element of it.
Your protagonist has a particularly mature view on the realities of revenge, can you talk about that a little?
I love violent, feminist revenge stories, and I think the protagonist does too, but that we’re both realists, and in real life, you sadly can’t actually bite shitty men with your new fangs without facing jail time. I think her views on revenge have been shaped by whatever happened with her father because she hasn’t gotten revenge for it.
We never learn of what transpired between your protagonist and her father. Can you tell us why you made that choice?
There’s definitely an unwritten but kind of planned-out version of this story where I get into what her father did. I think that version gets more into the protagonist seeking some sort of specific justice, but I realized I didn’t want the story to be about that. I was also worried about the line between writing about trauma and writing trauma porn. Plus, I workshopped this and polled my classmates, and they agreed that I should leave it out.
What are you working on now, and what can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Right now I’m mainly working on the thesis for my MFA, which is a short story collection. There will be more stories with teenage girls and magic that I’ll hopefully find homes for!
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