In celebration of the publication of Fae, Kristina Wojtaszek and I took turns interviewing each other about our stories. Below you’ll find my questions to Kristina about her tale, “Solomon’s Friend.” You’ll be able to see her questions to me starting on Wednesday, over at her blog Twice Upon a Time.
What was your inspiration for “Solomon’s Friend”?
I have a son with Asperger’s, and the story was sort of a creative way to find my own courage to get through a difficult time with him. At the time when I heard about the call to submissions for a fairy anthology, I was really struggling with myself as a mom—feeling defective as I so often misunderstood or failed to interpret my son. But when I took the almost alien viewpoint of a fae creature, I saw my son in a different light. Rather than seeing him as an upset little boy who couldn’t always socialize in appropriate ways, I saw him as being special, being more than human. And that’s the way I figured the hob, who is typically frustrated with much of humanity, would see him. I also used the hob to reassure myself, because when I looked at our situation from an outsider’s perspective, I realized all my guilt and feeling inept was only making things worse. So “Solomon’s Friend” is really the story of my son and I, with a snarky old hob thrown in for fun. 🙂 But I really hope it reaches at least one parent who has felt the way I did, and gives them a chance to feel a little better about themselves and the relationship they have with their child.
You said viewing your son from a different POV allowed you to see him in a new, better way (which is lovely and made me a bit misty-eyed), and that you hoped to reach other parents who were in similiar situations. Other writers might have chosen to do so through, say, a personal essay. Is storytelling how you instinctively shape your experiences? Do you think there are advantages in using a story to convey your experience, as opposed to non-fiction?
I think that the emotional factor in fiction hits us unexpectedly, and that can make it all the more powerful. There you are, reading about hobgoblins and other faerie creatures, when suddenly the story touches on a subject that may as well have been ripped from your own life. Or maybe not, but it’s still something you’ve heard about others experiencing—a little piece of the real world. This, I think, is one of the goals of speculative fiction—to have a real enough feel to keep the reader emotionally engaged, despite the mythical, magical, utterly UNreal parts of the story. But I didn’t initially set out to tell this very personal story of my son and I. I never set out to tell personal stories, but it seems to happen quite a lot anyway. Perhaps like the fae, writers are bound by a few mysterious rules of our own, and some truth must always be told, even if only in part.
The hob’s personality is extremely vivid—I for one wouldn’t mind buying him a beer and listening to him natter on for a few hours. Did you begin writing with Hobby clearly in mind? Or did he develop out of the process of seeing your son in this new light?
I honestly can’t remember which came first, the plot or the hob. I think I had a vague idea about a little Mexican dude with a sense of humor and a bad attitude that just begged to be made fae (because I so wanted to get as far away from that image of delicate, winged females as I could). And at the same time, I was dealing with these issues with my son, and my own self-doubt as a mom. I might not be able to succeed at parenting an Aspie the right way every day, but I could come up with a hob, and if I could do that, why couldn’t I work some magic into my day-to-day life as well? This story was an attempt to do both, because I needed a fairy tale ending as much as I needed a radically different point of view.
Do you think you’ll write more about Hobby, perhaps as your son grows older?
I’m not planning on it, and at this point, my son knows nothing about Hobby or the story (nor does he believe in anything imaginary other than possibly the tooth fairy who may or may not have left a dollar under his pillow a couple of weeks ago). I’m actually a bit worried about what he’ll think of this story when he comes across it some day. Hopefully he’ll be confident and wise enough to laugh it off as just more of mom’s weird storytelling. The last thing I’d want is for him to think there’s a need for any magical intervention in his life. He’s magic enough, just as he is.
And I think that is a perfect note to end on. Thank you, Kristina, for your heartfelt answers to my questions! Readers, be sure to check out the Fae anthology, out now from World Weaver Press.