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Interview: Cassandra Rose Clarke on “The Adjunct”

Tell us a bit about “The Adjunct.”

The Adjunct is my take on H. P. Lovecraft and teaching freshman composition for less than minimum wage.


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

I wrote this story during my last semester as an adjunct English instructor. At the time, I was teaching six classes for two different colleges. I had over 100 students (which meant I was grading over 100 papers at any given time.) I loved teaching, but I was also frustrated with it—including my students’ inability to learn any kind of citation system. The very concept seemed to drive them to unspeakable madness. It seemed only natural to explore these frustrations in a Lovecraftian milieu.


Cassandra Rose ClarkeWhat was the most difficult aspect of writing “The Adjunct,” and what was the most fun?

The most difficult aspect was taking the basic idea (evil citation system!) and turning it into an actual story with a plot arc and such. The most fun was definitely creating said evil citation system and trying to make it as confusing and opaque as possible.


Why do you write?

I’ve always loved stories in all their various forms—not just books, but movies, TV shows, even music and art. I love how we can use stories to explore complex ideas that might be difficult or boring to talk about otherwise. I also love playing with language.


Who do you consider to be your influences?

My biggest influence is definitely Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The first time I read One Hundred Years of Solitude it absolutely blew my mind. I’ve also been influenced by Margaret Atwood, Kelly Link, and Charles Baudelaire.


What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to my forthcoming Halo book, a new fantasy novel, and a poetic sequence about ballet and black metal.


“The Adjunct” appears in the July/August 2018 issue of F&SF.

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Clicking on Ms. Clarke’s photo will take you to her website.


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