Rachael Angelo here, your friend at Running Wild Press, and I am happy to introduce you to Sara Marchant with our interview today. Sara is the author of Let Me Go, which appears in our upcoming Running Wild Press Novella Anthology, available for pre-order on Amazon, (November, 2017).
RA: Where did your inspiration for this story come from?
SM: ‘Let Me Go’ was just an image I had of a girl walking down the empty streets of a small town. She had a broken boot heel, a toothache, and it was so hot that she wanted to cry. This image was so strong that in order to give the poor girl some relief I imagined walking into an overly air conditioned house; this image was accompanied by the scent that overly chilled air gets when you have the a/c cranked up all the way for like, days because it’s just unrelentingly hot. Then I thought, ‘well, what’s the backstory? And why? And when?’ The story just grew from that girl who popped into my head.
RA: Is there anything about your story in particular that is close to you?
SM: I think I’m more interested in the parts of the story that aren’t close to me; the parts that after I’ve let the MS sit for a few days and then come back to it, I go ‘whoa, who wrote that?’ I’ve had people say ‘I think that character is you.’ Which I think is hilarious because they are all me. I am the girl walking down the street, yes, but I am also the mean grandmother shoving the baby off her lap who ultimately drinks drain cleaner. I’m the baby on the lap. But when I read a section that I can’t remember writing but that I find really interesting, those are the days and the parts I enjoy the most.
RA: It felt like there was a lesson to be learned here about our choices, especially in Sylvie’s case with the hand she was dealt, at least what I took away from it, was that your intention?
SM: Oh gosh, I hope not. I didn’t set out to write a morality tale. I certainly didn’t mean to inspire pity for Sylvie because I don’t pity her. She’s too strong to pity. I did occasionally wish I could cut her a break, but without conflict there is no story. Sylvie was an enjoyable character to spend time with. I loved that whatever I threw at her she handled it, maybe she didn’t handle it the way society and her family and the patriarchy would prefer that young females handle things, but too damn bad, you know?
RA: Sylvie, she is definitely a tough girl and I gathered she is “troubled” but I feel as though she’s been misunderstood and given titles not support, am I correct?
SM: I think the family is troubled, not Sylvie. By titles you mean labels? The ‘bad girl’? Maybe, but I think Sylvie would say she worked really hard to earn that title and consequently be very proud of it. Which is part of her problem. Children who do not receive attention will do anything to get it, even if it’s all negative attention. Coming from a family with a history of suicide, alcoholism, and rampant selfishness on the parent’s part, I think Sylvie turned out amazingly well. And here I go getting all protective over a character I made up!
RA: The sheriff, does he actually hate Sylvie’s existence or is it more that her presence reminds him of what he feels he lost? Can you also explain the complexity of their relationship?
SM: Oh, Buddy! I love Buddy. He is such a twisted weirdo. I think Buddy would like to hate Sylvie, but can’t. He can’t because her mother was the only woman he’s ever loved and Sylvie is the only reminder he has of Polly. He can’t hate Sylvie because she looks like Polly, but is far stronger than Polly ever was emotionally and mentally, but he also resents her for those very same reasons. He also can’t hate Sylvie because he suspects he might be her biological father, in which case he bears some blame for Polly’s final descent into the depression that took her life. Plus, there’s that creepy quasi-incestuous attraction thing they have going on. Gross. But I still love Buddy.
RA: I have to ask, the Asylum there in that town, is there more to that building? I feel as though there are many stories. For example, why would the doctor release Sylvie’s mother? How was that allowed?
SM: Sylvie’s parent’s backstory was entirely inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night. The doctor has a beautiful patient with whom he becomes involved, marries her and has a couple of children. By the end of the book, the supposedly insane wife has left him for another man and the doctor is an alcoholic who has lost everything. In my story, the doctor gets involved with Polly in the asylum (yes, this means he is a very bad doctor and lacks all morals). When it found that Polly is pregnant he releases her from care so that he can marry her. But she was involved with Buddy both before and after her brief hospitalization. Could this happen in real life? It probably has, it’s just not the type of ‘how we met’ story families share at Thanksgiving.
RA: Before I wrap up, I have to ask what your writing process is? With this story I am rather intrigued on what makes you pick up the pen.
SM: I don’t understand my writing process, either. I really don’t. Like I said above, with this story I had the image of a girl, who became Sylvie, walking down a hot, deserted road, and I decided to fill in the blanks. I couldn’t stop with this story until I understood why she would be outside, alone, in 112 degree weather, walking on a broken boot heel. Where was her family? Why was her boot broken? Why was she so angry? I kept writing until I answered the questions. Some people write every day, and students are always told ‘write every day!’ like it’s some kind of law. Well, I don’t. I write when I have questions I want to answer. And this is true of both my fiction and the essays that I love to write. Luckily, I have a lot of questions. But I can tell you this: I started seriously writing when I became too old to play with Barbies. The events are linked.
RA: To finish up I have one more question, can you tell us what your next project is?
SM: Thanks for asking! I’m currently doing re-writes on another novella, ‘A Driveway Has Two Sides.’ I’m developing curriculum for Pen & Paper Writing Workshops where I’ll be teaching non-fiction in January 2018. I’ve another novella in the embryo stage that’s been put on hold but it’s tickling the inside of my mind (that’s sounds creepier than I meant) with so many questions. My editing work at the resistance-themed literary magazine Writers Resist is on-going, and my latest essay will be published there soon (shameless self-promotion alert!) Life is full, and full is good.
RA: Thank you!
SM: Thanks so much!
You can read Sara Marchant’s Let Me Go and stories by more authors in the upcoming Running Wild Press Novella Anthology, available for pre-order on Amazon. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest.