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Interview: “The Voice in the Cornfield, the Word Made Flesh” by Desirina Boskovich

Tell us a bit about “The Voice in the Cornfield, the Word Made Flesh.”

It’s a cold hard November in Mennonite farm country and something from outer space crash-lands in a cornfield. For a girl who’s always wanted something more than what she knows, it’s time to make a choice.

 

What prompted you to write this story?  Can you discuss the background of the story and its inspirations?

When I was a small child, my parents made the peculiar decision to join a conservative Mennonite community in rural Oregon. We were Mennonites and that was my life, until I was around thirteen and my parents decided to embark on their next round of unlikely life choices.

Those rural religious communities look so peaceful from the outside. But you want to beware of peaceful-looking places; they tend to harbor nasty secrets. Under cover of insularity and isolation, cruelty flourishes and abusers thrive. No one tells the truth. It’s just not done.

I’ve spent years trying to figure out how to write about this, one of the defining experiences of my life, without actually writing about it. Because I knew I wanted to tell the truth but I didn’t actually know how to start.

But that world is the world where I think my weird stories live — my weird stories happen to children who can’t trust anyone, to people just different enough that no one would believe them anyway. They happen in isolated communities where no one really knows what’s normal because they’ve been deluding themselves for so long. They happen at the edges of the “real world,” to the lost, vulnerable, unseen people who’ve been here all along.

So I decided, fuck it: it’s time to face this thing head on.

This story also owes a lot to James Tiptree, Jr., whose work I’d been reading extensively for an essay in Weird Fiction Review. So many of those stories are about encountering the alien in all its uncanny magnitude, the sublime and terrible, the gorgeous and horrifying, the sex and the death.

Those thoughts were in my head when I started thinking about the cornfields, where secrets thrive, and I knew exactly the kind of thing that might live there.

 

What would you want a reader to take away from “The Voice in the Cornfield, the Word Made Flesh?”

That redemption can be found in the sacrilegious and profane. That the universe is so much bigger and more beautiful than our minds could ever hold — but we should try.

 

What are you working on now?

I wrote a very weird little novella about three children without memories, the silent aliens who treat them like lab rats, and a vast structure that speaks. It’s a story about the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, and what they mean. It’s called NEVER NOW ALWAYS, and it’s coming out this winter from Broken Eye Books, which I am very, very happy about.

And now I’m working on a handful of short stories and edits to a novel and you know, pretty much the same stuff I’m always working on.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

As I was writing the last paragraph of this story — like, literally the final couple of lines — all the emotion of this piece of writing was just pouring over me, I was super sweaty, slightly crying… working out exactly how the words should flow… when someone started pounding on the door, sending my dogs into a barking frenzy. When I answered, it was a cable internet salesman, asking me if I’d like to upgrade my current service. Fueled by several types of adrenaline, I got a little snippy with him about the “No Soliciting” sign prominently posted nearby; then he got real dickish with me about the fact that I’m already a customer of his company so he can come around soliciting anytime he wants. (What? I don’t know either.) Anyway, whatever I was about to write before that interruption is lost forever, so we’ll never know how brilliantly this story may have ended were it not for the machinations of Mediacom.

 

“The Voice in the Cornfield, the Word Made Flesh” appears in the September/October 2016 Special David Gerrold issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1609.htm

You can subscribe to F&SF here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/subscribe.htm

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