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Interview: G. V. Anderson on “Down Where Sound Comes Blunt”

G.V. AndersonTell us a bit about “Down Where Sound Comes Blunt.”

It’s about a scientist called Ellen who’s studying a colony of selkies in Greenland while also looking for answers about her father’s disappearance.

 

What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?

Mermaids and/or selkies are some of my favourite mythological creatures, and I’d wanted to write a story about them for some time. I think the idea for ‘Down Where Sound Comes Blunt’ came about after watching David Attenborough’s Blue Planet and seeing the amazing variety of life in our waters; and there was a fun mockumentary called Mermaids: The Body Found some years ago which presented ‘evidence’ of mermaids. This led me to read about ‘the Bloop’ – a strange underwater sound recorded in the 90s. So there’s no single spark of inspiration, but lots of little sparks working together.

 

I don’t want to spoil the story, but it leads the reader down a path different from the one that the narrative signals: did you know from the start the turn that the story would take, or did it develop as you wrote it?

I always knew it would end that way, and the ending as it appears in the magazine is almost exactly the way I wrote it in the first draft. It’s everything else I had to change in order to give the ending the support it needed!

I’d like to think it’s the kind of story that rewards a second read.

 

“Down Where Sound Comes Blunt” puts a twist on quiet, literary, selkie stories, and your previous F&SF story, “I Am Not I” reveals an extra layer to what appears to be a grotesque Victorian-flavored fantasy.  Would you say that subverting readers’ expectations is a theme that runs through your work?

It’s not something I’ve considered before, but I certainly hope I’m subverting expectations – there’s a lot of incredible fiction out there right now so I always try to bring something different to the table. And it’s very fun having my own expectations subverted when I’m reading a book, so perhaps subconsciously I’m bringing that to my own work in order to elicit the same response.

 

How does it feel to win the World Fantasy Award, and is there anything you want to say about your experience at WFC, or about how it’s impacted your work?

For me, winning a World Fantasy Award felt like a daydream made real, with everyone around me in on the joke. It was my first professional story; I felt like I was taking up space on the ballot. But I’ve had a few months to adjust to the idea of it, and I think it’s had an incredible impact on not only my work, but my work ethic. I take my writing more seriously now, and feel more assured in writing the things that speak to me, rather than what I think people want to read.

WFC was quite the experience – my first overseas convention with a much bigger membership than any con I’ve experienced in the UK – but thanks to my writing group I had people to look out for me, and my other half came along for moral support as well. Although I was very nervous the whole weekend, I had a great time and hopefully made lots of long-lasting friendships there.

 

What are you working on now?

I’ve always had my heart set on long-form and I finally feel ready for the challenge. So I’ll be working on the first part of a duology for the remainder of 2018, with the aim of entering the query trenches by the end of next year. Wish me luck!

 

“Down Where Sound Comes Blunt” appears in the March/April 2018 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1803.htm

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Amazon UK (Kindle edition): http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

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