Two-time Bram Stoker and one-time Shirley Jackson award nominee Kate Jonez’ new short story collection is one of the best I’ve read in recent years. I kept thinking, “man, this would be an awesome novel.” Kate later mentions in her interview that she feels like she’s, “wasting a world” when writing a short story and it makes sense – while I liked some stories more than others, I got the feeling that each one had the potential to be the length of at least a novella. They were all just perfect female centric snapshots…huh, what a great title! Lady Bits collects sixteen short stories including her Bram Stoker nominated, All the Day You’ll Have Good Luck.
The theme of this collection is female protagonists. Whether it’s a mother, struggling drug addict, serial killer, carny, or a truck driver, the characters are incredibly diverse and fully fleshed out. So much so, that I often found myself wondering what happened after the story ended (especially with A Thousand Stitches and Carnivores).
My personal favorites included Carnivores, A Thousand Stitches, Like Night and Day, and Fairy Lights. Like Night and Day being the highlight of that list. It’s a fantastic story from the perspective of a helpless mother in the face of the otherworldly…I can’t really divulge too much without spoilers, but I’ll say it’s one to keep an eye out for.
I would and have recommended this one to both horror and non-horror fans. Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy.
Who are your inspirations as a writer?
Early on was inspired by Katherine Dunn author of Geek Love. I was drawn into the world of freaks and the language manipulation intrigued me. The first thing I ever read that made me want to stop everything and try writing myself was Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle by Vladimir Nabokov. I loved how magically the words and ideas intertwined. For an example there’s a character named Marina who’s driven crazy by a leaking faucet that drips to the tune of an Italian opera. So, an Italian woman named for water is driven insane by water dripping in Italian… Games with words fascinated me when I first started writing. I’m over that now, but can still appreciate the ideas.
Lately I really love Alma Katsu, Victor LaValle, Paul Tremblay, Nnedi Okorafor, Karen Russel, Kaaron Warren, Stephen Graham Jones, Kaitlin Kiernan and so many others. I’m inspired by many of the writers I edit. In fact, I have to be careful not to borrow style elements from them. I catch myself doing that on occasion. I’ve learned a lot about writing by working as an editor. I recommend it. Something about asking what makes a story work makes your writing brain work better.
I got a very Twilight Zone feeling while reading some of your short stories. You have a great knack for a surprising and satisfying twist ending. Do you begin these stories with the twist in mind?
Sometimes I know the ending. Sometimes I don’t. The endings are my least favorite part of stories. That and fight scenes. I rarely have the need to fight in my own life. I always feel like a fraud when I’m writing action and murder. But back to the endings. I think I’d be perfectly happy to wander around in the middle of a story forever. So many stories would be better without their crappy tacked on endings. I realize endings are my weak spot, so I give extra attention to the end of a story and come up with several options before choosing which way to go. That's a pretty good piece of writing advice: throw out your first and second ideas.
Do you have a preference between writing short stories or novels?
I’m not a fan of writing short stories. I write them because I can, and they turn out pretty good sometimes. I feel like I’m wasting a world when I do it though. No matter how long the story is you still have to create a world. Using one up on a short story feels like a waste.
Your biography mentions a cabinet of curiosities. Anything you’re particularly proud of? Anything you’d like to have?
I’ve got a fetal pig. He’s sooo cute. And a dried bat and an armadillo… Please don’t make me choose my favorite child. I’ve got my eye on a life-sized double gallows that would be beautiful in my living room. Also, I think it would be extremely cool to invite people over for dinner served on an autopsy table.
There are a lot of unique creatures in your book. Are there any monsters you’ve wanted to write about that didn’t make the cut for this collection?
One year at Omnium Gatherum I got something like fifteen submissions featuring vampires. I made a spreadsheet of all the other supernatural beings I could find just to prove vampires aren’t the only story to tell. Adding to this list is also a really effective way to procrastinate. The list is up to 300 or so and when I need story inspiration I’ll sometimes pick at random. I keep coming back to the drowned spirits of young murdered women. Every culture has them haunting rivers, lakes and ponds. History hasn’t been kind to pregnant teenage girls.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection and look forward to reading your work again in the future. Finally, one last question – do you own a jenglot?
Sadly, I do not, but if someone would like to give me one, I promise I’ll take very good care of it.
Follow Kate on Twitter HERE
Check out her book on Goodreads HERE
And check out her site HERE
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