If you saw my last post, Wicked Women, the latest anthology from New England Horror Writers, just dropped. This one was a ladies-only anthology. It was edited by Scott Goudsward and Trisha Wooldridge, and features a cover by the super cool Lynne Hansen. I thought it would be fun to do a sort of author blog hop and learn more about the stories and contributors.
First up is Christine Lajewski, author of Child of Reason
Ok, who are you?
Christine Lajewski is a writer, retired alternative high school teacher, a naturalist at Mass Audubon, and a haunt actor. She was born and raised in Flint, Michigan and now lives in Cumberland, RI close to her adult daughter and son.
Her first novel, JHATOR, was published in 2014. It is a spiritual fantasy in which a grieving woman’s conversations with animals help her find joy again. Her collection of horror short stories, ERRING ON THE SIDE OF CALAMITY, and a horror novel, BONEBELLY, were published in 2018. She has had short stories published in Dark Tales, Sanitarium, The Flash Fiction Press, Siren’s Call, and the anthologies A Shadow Over Deathlahem, The Misbehaving Dead, Shallow Waters Vol. 5, A Bird In The Hand and Still Waters (poetry), and Wicked Women (New England Horror Writers).
What is your story about?
My story, “Child of Reason” is a dark fairy tale about a seven-year-old boy whose whole world is Mother and her farm in the middle of a forest. His life is filled with song, but it is only that spring that Beylie realizes it is the flowers themselves that are singing. Mother begins to teach him her magical husbandry and lore. Meanwhile, the flowers swell into a horrifying fruit that the boy dares not turn his back on. He destroys them, which earns Mother’s wrath and brings his mysterious father for a visit. Beylie learns the reason for the demon fruit and, on his own, devises a way to bring about the wicked harvest his parents have so long desired. It does not turn out well for his parents or the people of the nearby village.
What inspired your story?
Many of my stories are inspired by the flora and fauna of the natural world. I was actually working on a novella of a demonic farmer. After four months of work, I scrapped the whole thing when I realized I needed to go further back in the main character’s life to illustrate who he is and how he got to be that way. My stand-alone story in Wicked Women is an adaptation of the first chapter of the new novella.
What drew you to writing?
There was not a time I was not writing. My first stab at it was when my kindergarten teacher asked all of us to describe the sun. I had an inspiration that I knew was some kind of poetry, so I raised my hand and said, “When the sun is real shiny, it’s too loud for my eyes.” My teacher responded, “You think you can hear the sun?” I remember thinking she just didn’t get it.
Who are your favorite authors?
My tastes are eclectic: Shirley Jackson and Poe, Stuart O’Nan, Charles Dickens, Victor Frankl, Emily Dickenson.
Ok, it’s 2020. What guilty pleasures are helping you cope?
I spent 5 ½ months downsizing, packing and moving during Covid-19 shutdowns and delays. Not a lot of time for guilty pleasures, except woodland walks, which are not guilt-inducing.
What’s your favorite line or snippet from your Wicked Women story?
“A woman cried, ‘Where’s the babe? Where is my child?’ while an infant floated magically above the darkened road. As it passed, Beylie spied sixteen little legs working in unison under the body, bearing the squalling prize into the cover of the forest.”
What are you currently obsessed with?
What are your writing mantras, rules, and/or rituals?
Writing rules and rituals: I don’t think I have a mantra for writing. Rules: A. When you’re stuck, allow your characters to show you which way you go. If the action is not true to your character, you’ve blown it. B. Write something you know is crap, rather than nothing at all, just to get yourself to the scene you want to write. C. If you want to improve how you write descriptions or set the mood, read poets for inspiration. Then read your scenes out loud and listen for the poetry. My rituals: I write as early in the day as possible. If I’m stuck, I can’t stand staring at an empty screen and doing nothing else. So I putz around the house, run errands, work in the yard or cook something, mulling over the WIP. This is not procrastination. I wrote about 60% of BONEBELLY in my head during my 25 mile commutes. When I finally sat down to write it, the words exploded from my fingertips.
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
John Stuart Mill, 1867