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Interview: G. V. Anderson on “A Strange Uncertain Light”

G. V. AndersonTell us a bit about “A Strange Uncertain Light.”

It’s about two women, a century apart, whose lives intertwine on the Yorkshire moors. One is Anne, who elopes with a man she barely knows in 1938, and the other is Mary, who’s looking for her lost childhood friend in the 1830s. Each of them see visions of people, including each other, but they understand their gift very differently.

 

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

I came across ‘chime children’ when researching British folklore and knew I had to use it for something. The 20th century folklorist Ruth Tongue coined the term for children who were said to gain special abilities depending on when they were born, and these abilities ranged from seeing ghosts and fairies to having control over animals. It sounded really cool and I still think there’s a lot of potential there for another story in the future.

I’d also wanted to write a Gothic horror about an aging country estate with shades of Rebecca for some time; the two ideas came together really well in the end.

 

Was “A Strange Uncertain Light” personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

It’s personal in the sense that I felt I’d taken a step upwards in my craft while writing it. I also named my main character Anne in memory of my grandmother.

 

Was there any aspect of “A Strange Uncertain Light” that you found difficult to write?

This story touches upon several sensitive subjects, which required a lot of rewriting and a lot of generous feedback from beta readers. For instance, Anne’s gift is misdiagnosed as mental illness, so I wanted to portray that as carefully as possible. And although I based the action around a fictional country estate because I enjoy the aesthetic, it became impossible to write about Rannings without addressing the connection between Britain’s country estates and their owners’ roles in the slave trade.

It was difficult in other ways as well: This is my longest published story to date, so I learned a lot about pacing and how to build, and then sustain, tension.

 

Why do you write?

It’s a compulsion! I can’t imagine not writing, even on days when it’s hard.

 

Who do you consider to be your influences?

Both in general and for this particular story, I would say Sarah Waters and Daphne du Maurier. I try to emulate their ability to convey tone because they do it so well. As for more contemporary influences, I’ve fallen in love with Helen Dunmore’s writing recently; I also admire Sarah Perry, Celeste Ng, Naomi Novik, and Carmen Maria Machado.

 

What are you working on now?

At the moment I’m writing a fantasy novel set during the Blitz. I’m also releasing a new horror story each month through my Patreon.

 

“A Strange Uncertain Light” appears in the July/August 2019 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1907.htm

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

You can subscribe to the electronic edition of F&SF at the following links:

Weightless Books (non-Kindle): https://weightlessbooks.com/category/publisher/spilogale-inc/

Amazon US (Kindle edition):http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZ4O8/

Amazon UK (Kindle edition):http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B004ZFZ4O

You can reach Ms. Anderson’s website by clicking on her photo.  Her Patreon is https://www.patreon.com/gvanderson

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