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Interview: Rebecca Zahabi on “It Never Snows in Snowtown”

Rebecca ZahabiTell us a bit about “It Never Snows in Snowtown.”

Our main character decides to take a guided tour of their hometown to learn a bit more about the history of the place. But despite its cotton candy and ice-skating rings, Snowtown turns out to be a lot more sinister than it seems… After all, what is this thing falling from the sky, if not snow?


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

I had a dream in which I was the main character walking around Snowtown, and I had an awfully bad feeling about the snow. It kept nagging at the back of my mind that the snow wasn’t right. My guide seemed nice enough at first, but in the strange way dreams have, he started mutating, turning into something monstrous. Then I woke up and wrote the end of the dream.


Was there any aspect of “It Never Snows in Snowtown” that you found difficult to write?

A few days after this dream, I got together with some friends and we decided we would all write a Christmas ghost story. So now I had the theme/genre, and my subconscious had given me most of the plot. The main difficulty lay in making sure the story was subtle enough that it kept that dream-like quality, without becoming confusing. The other difficulty was keeping the main character gender-neutral throughout, so people could project a man or a woman there, as they wished.


The theme of apparent perfection concealing its own moral corruption has a long literary history. What made you wish to engage with this theme, and in what ways did you strive to put your own spin on it?

I find Christmas to be an awkward period of the year. Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas. But suddenly we’re all rushing out to buy presents and toys for people who don’t always need or want them. We know that a lot of our cheap goods come from people who are paid badly, and treated worse. But we still go out and buy them. With that in mind, I tried to write a story that would work on two levels: as a speculative story by itself, and as a metaphor for what we might discover, should we choose to look more closely at the world we live in. We might not like the answers we find.


What are you working on now?

I’m working on a novel inspired by the world of e-sports. To put it simply: it is e-sports, if e-sports were magic. Or maybe it’s Pokémon gone wrong, in which letting semi-conscious creatures fight for entertainment is nastier than it sounds. Hopefully I’ll be able to tell you more about this project at a later date! I’m also working on an online comic with my sister:


“It Never Snows in Snowtown” appears in the November/December 2019 issue of F&SF.

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