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Notes from a Horror Writer - Interview with Leonie Rowland
We chatted with Leonie about her upcoming publication with EXIT Press - This Time of Life is Meant for Savages - to explore what inspires her and what the collection is hinged (or unhinged) upon.
What inspired you to write This Time of Life is Meant for Savages? Were there any specific works, writers, artists or experiences that influenced your creative process?
This Time of Life is Meant for Savages was written from a place of love, which is a strange thing to say given that, three stories in, a woman has her breasts twisted off. But it was, and without some misguided attempts to love well in the real world, my characters couldn’t have loved badly in the fictional one.
Sayaka Murata, the author of Convenience Store Woman and Earthlings, is always an inspiration to me. Her work makes sense, which, again, is maybe a strange thing to say given that it involves women falling in love with convenience stores and eating their childhood friends. I have, at the time of writing, done neither, but who knows what the future holds?
How did you approach crafting each individual story to make them stand alone while contributing to the overall cohesiveness of the collection?
The collection came together quite naturally, perhaps because it was written over a fairly brief and intense period of time. There are a few recurring transgressions, but I wanted them to reoccur in a way that adds to their complexity rather than resolves it—this being, maybe, the only meaningful resolution.
My favourite things made by other people involve intense emotions that are not sustainable or desirable, but are experienced fully so they can flourish and pass. I wanted to do something similar with This Time of Life is Meant for Savages, where the individual stories begin and end with seemingly endless feeling, but the collection as a whole tenses and relaxes as these feelings shift and change.
What is your intention for this collection? How do you want to make your readers feel?
Horror for me has always been permission to feel fully, which is something my characters struggle to do. They are stuck between what is said and what is meant—a place I often find myself. When I am writing, this is a very creative place to be, but when I am living, it can be very disconcerting. I hope the people reading my work feel both of these things.
On this subject, it still amazes me that we are able to respond instantly in conversation! Someone speaks to you, and without really thinking, you know what to say. Whether or not it’s the right thing is a different story… and perhaps the only good one. So many painful and lovely things come from misunderstanding and then trying to understand.
What made you want to publish your work with EXIT Press?
I had an early meeting with the EXIT team where they asked me if my most unhinged writing was in the collection yet. It made me smile, and it also made the collection better. An invitation to unhinge is always welcome. So, I am very grateful to be publishing with them.
Note from us at EXIT Press
We can’t wait for you to get the chance to read Leonie’s brilliant, peculiar, bizarre stories and prose poems. Working with her has been an absolute delight and we strongly urge you to keep an eye out for this and any of Leonie’s future work. You can find Leonie at her website or on Twitter/X (no we don’t like calling it X). You can also catch her at Grimmfest in October.