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Interview: M. Rickert on “Evergreen”

Tell us a bit about “Evergreen.”

“Evergreen” is a Christmas ghost story.

 

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

The inspiration for Evergreen” arose from a trip I took back to Saratoga Spring, New York where I lived many years ago. I went there to spend time with the family I had been a nanny for after the boy I had cared for (grown by then) died. I spent a few mornings in the same coffee shop I had used for a location in another ghost story I wrote, Journey into the Kingdom,” and the main character from that story makes an appearance in this one. The story is populated by the dead from my life and my imagination.

 

Was there any aspect of “Evergreen” you found difficult to write?

No.

 

Why do you write?

Well this is a pretty large question, and I’m not sure I know the answer. I am good at writing, and the lifestyle of solitude suits my disposition very well. I love the work on every level. I love the blank page, I love the arrival, I love the intense engagement with words and meaning and the mystical.

 

Many of your stories are concerned with ghosts and memory.  Why are these such pressing themes in your work?

I’m not sure what it is about ghosts exactly, except that they are rarely frightening in my work but act as conduits of melancholia and, in that regard, probably aspects of memory as well. I am very interested in ideas of perception and suspect this is rooted in my youth as a cross-eyed child. I was younger than six when I began remarking on the pairings I saw in my world, and how strange it was that only one was real while both seemed very present. I think this fascination with existence and reality began then.

 

What are you working on now?

I finished a novel manuscript this summer and it is currently under submission. We’ll see what happens there. I do suspect I’ll find more to pick at there, but for now I am keeping some distance. Since then I have been enjoying writing short stories, most of which feature an older protagonist. I have an idea for a collection of these, but a ways to go before I’ll have enough material.

 

“Evergreen” appears in the November/December 2019 issue of F&SF.

You can buy a paper copy of the issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc2010-19.htm

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