Into the Mystic, Volume Three is a short story anthology featuring nine paranormal short stories that center on a lesbian/bisexual romance. I’m super excited about it, since I feel there is a lack of LGBT fantasy romance especially ones that focus on the ladies. Since I know a few of these authors, they let me interview them!
By Candlelight – A girl and her ghost await a funeral.
Ziggy is a small-town queer kid who has escaped to the big city of Vancouver, BC. She loves comic books, monsters, and hard fought happy endings. Her writing has appeared in Behind the Mask (Meerkat Press, 2017), Daily Science Fiction, and she is also the cowriter and producer of Crossing Wires, a hopeful post-apocalyptic podcast. When not writing, she spends most of her time in haunted houses, spinning ghost stories for anyone who will stop and listen.
- Tamora Pierce
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- Ivan Coyote
- Maggie Stiefvater
- Neil Gaiman
Leaving Lis Valentine behind in a crazy South Dakota bar, L.J. dashes into… a Canadian graveyard. It’s surprisingly peaceful here. No traces of monsters just a few ghosts in the chilly curls of mist.
A gender-ambiguous person in a hood with a scythe waves L.J. over. Then notices the scythe and quickly puts it under the robe.
L.J.: Ziggy Schutz?
The figure nods.
L.J.: I’m here to interview you about your story in Into the Mystic. Uh… “By Candlelight”?
Again the silent figure nods.
L.J.: Well, this is gonna be a strange interview. What draws you to F/F romance?
The figure begins a muffled answer. Then realizes and pulls down the hood. Ziggy has the most excellent dimples.
Ziggy: Oh Gosh! Forgot I had that on. Hi. Yeah so… as someone who grew up feeling the absence of F/F stories, especially stories where girls were allowed to really fall in love, as opposed to just kissing as a way to titillate the male audience, I try to create the stories that I wanted when I was younger. Even in the space of queer fiction, sapphic romance is so underrepresented, after all. Especially in genre fiction.
They walk through the graveyard.
L.J.: Couldn’t agree more. I came from a small town too and there was zero representation. So, “By Candlelight” has a really interesting version of ghosts.
Ziggy: Oh yeah. Ghost is a job title, like a personal reaper. The world, and this version of ‘ghosts’ already existed. Just left to collect dust with a half finished novella, so when I saw Into The Mystic calling for paranormal, sapphic stories, I went ‘hey, I might have something for that.’ Separate from that, I was playing around with the idea of who funerals are for, and the trope of getting to attend your own. Combine all that, and you get “By Candlelight”!
They pass several mausoleums and a row of carved stone angels.
Ziggy: In this world, when someone dies a ghost comes, sends them on their way, and takes on their appearance so that they can tie up any loose ends. The ghost who comes to help Zoe move on is very good at her job. She’s been doing it as long as she can remember, doesn’t recall ever having her own name or face. And she hasn’t had anyone turn into a spirit – refuse to move on until all humanity is leeched from them – on her in a very long time.
Some of the carved stone angels turn to watch as they walk past.
Ziggy: But Zoe has known she’s going to die for years, most of her last years being defined by that fact. It makes sense that in coming to terms with dying young, she’s become obsessed with death – what it might look like, what comes after, both for herself and for her family and how to make it easiest for them. She is stubborn and single minded, which is why when a ghost that looks like a healthier version of her shows up when she dies and tells her not to worry, the ghost will take it from here, she refuses to move on without explanation.
Ziggy notices the stone angels following them and brandishes the scythe until the angels go back to the way they were before. L.j. doesn’t notice.
L.J.: There’s so much in there that is really intriguing. Really original take on ghosts. Did you have any challenges while you were writing for this call?
Ziggy: Fantasy is something I’m very comfortable with, romance is… not so much. The challenge was really in making sure the subtle romance of the story shone through, really making sure each scene and interaction between Zoe and her ghost carried the weight it needed to feel genuine.
They arrive at the far gate of graveyard.
L.J.: Any advice to new writers?
Ziggy: is it too cliche to say ‘write.’
L.J. shrugs and makes a face because that’s the advice she usually gives and she thought it was pretty damn good advice.
Ziggy: Challenge yourselves. Write a romance, or a sci fi heist, or a high fantasy piece. You’ll never know when you stumble upon something, some new genre or type of story that you never would have tried if you kept to what you knew you could do. And don’t pay too much mind to what people say is marketable. So much of that is based on an outdated, narrow view of the narrative.
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