For our third interview is with Gretchen Tessmer who wrote ‘Sparrows Falling’ for the first issue of Fantasy Short Stories.
Can you tell our readers a little about ‘Sparrows Falling’ and how you got the idea for the story?
‘Sparrows Falling’ is a short fantasy piece set in a land far, far away that follows an enchantress dealing with the imminent betrayal of her powerful mentor/lord of the castle. She’s put all her trust in this seemingly honorable man and suddenly he scraps all his principles in favor of a path that will eventually lead to the death and destruction of a whole lot of innocent people. She’s left blindsided, confused and terrified of what this means, for herself and others.
I have been thinking about this story for a while. I used my own experience with a former mentor and obviously heightened the stakes and emotion. Betrayal is a timeless feeling—the wanting to lock yourself in your room and hide feeling, the frustrating speechlessness that comes when you realize that someone you trusted completely has failed you so miserably. It’s not a happy feeling and that’s what I was trying to capture in this story.
Who are your favourite fantasy fiction authors, and why?
Love Neil Gaiman for his wit and humor. I haven’t read a book by him that I haven’t enjoyed on some level. ‘Neverwhere’ is brilliant. I’ll always sing C.S. Lewis’s praises because as a child I couldn’t get enough of Narnia.
Are there any authors that you admire from other genres?
Yasmina Reza is currently my favorite writer in any form/genre. A good friend introduced me to ‘Art’ a couple years ago and since then, I can’t get enough of her work. ‘An Unexpected Man’ is one of the best plays I’ve ever read. I enjoy Tom Robbins’s style of writing and adore John Steinbeck. Margaret Atwood writes lovely prose. I read a lot of Thomas Hardy too.
How did you get into writing, and why did you choose to write fantasy?
I’ve been writing forever. I devoured books while I was growing up and writing was a natural next step. Fantasy is my favorite genre, followed closely by historical fiction. I write fantasy because I enjoy reading fantasy. The otherworldly settings, the ideas of mysticism and magic, the old world dress and powerful dialogue are all so much fun to sink into. In fantasy, situations tend to be more life and death so the level of emotion involved is higher too. And strong emotion is an absolute thrill to write.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’ve been a paralegal for five years. It’s not the most glamorous line of work but it pays the bills. When I’m not working, my life is an endless parade of music, friends and family. I’m usually on a breezy porch, balancing on the railing, drink in my hand, listening to somebody play a song written fifty years ago.
Are you working on any other short stories or novels at the moment and if so can you tell us a bit more about them?
I have two major projects in the works. I just finished my first book length historical fic, a short novel set on the Titanic entitled ‘May It Be.’ There’s a slight fantasy/supernatural element to the ending and I think the pace and narrative style of the story will appeal to a wide audience, fantasy readers included. I’ve self-published through Blurb Books but am actively seeking an established publisher to give it a wider release. I’ve also been working on a series of inter-connected fantasy shorts, all self-contained but set in the same universe as ‘Sparrows Falling.’ I hope to create either a short story collection or a novel from this series.
What are your ambitions as a writer?
I’ll write until the pen runs dry. And then I’ll reach in the drawer and grab another one. Or go out to the porch and listen to sad songs until I feel like writing again. One word at a time…
You can find out more about Gretchen at her poetry blog and also at the website for her story ‘May It Be’.