We’re continuing to celebrate our 35th (!) issue. We had the recent opportunity to interview our Issue 035 author Patricia Correll and chat about her short story “Faithful.” Go read it then come back and get the insight behind it.
LSQ: Firstly, let me say what a lovely, bittersweet story you’ve written. It’s tricky to write these sorts of pieces, balancing precariously between melodramatic loss and sticky sweet memorial but you’ve managed nicely! Please tell us where this idea came from (was it inspired by a pet of yours?) and what it felt like to write it. Was it emotional for you to write this?
Patricia: In 2006 my husband and I went to Japan on our honeymoon. The one thing I insisted we do was go to Shibuya Station to see the statue of Hachiko. Hachiko was an Akita who accompanied his master to the train every day when he left for work and met him when he returned home. When his master died suddenly in town and never came back, Hachiko continued to meet his evening train every day for ten years, until his own death. This true story happened in the 1920s and ’30s, but even after all this time Hachiko has the power to touch people with his display of loyalty. When I wrote “Faithful,” I was working on the notion that perhaps Hachiko wasn’t necessarily waiting in vain. I often have the sense that animals can see things we can’t, and it’s comforting to me to think old Hachiko was never really without his beloved master.
I wrote the story quickly (for me – I’m a slow writer!) in a few days. As a dog lover it was emotional for me to write and hopefully emotional for readers as well. Dog stories usually are!
LSQ: The sensory details are so crisp in this short piece; how easy was it to place yourself in this world? What was the easiest part of this story to write? What was the hardest and why?
Patricia: I’ve been to Shibuya and while it’s very different than it was nearly a century ago, the smells and sounds of a busy train station don’t change much. Tokyo is an interesting amalgam of traditional and ultramodern, so many of the narrow streets and even old houses can be found without too much searching. It was surprisingly easy to tell a story from a dog’s point of view, with its limited understanding. More difficult was my concern about using such a well-known event as a basis for fiction, and making the story uniquely my own.
LSQ: Can you name a few authors you admire and why?
Patricia: Ursula K. Le Guin’s recent death left me bereft; I’ve rarely seen an author with such a deep understanding of the human heart combined with a lyrical writing style. I also love Ray Bradbury, Mary Renault, and Shusaku Endo.
LSQ: Are you working on anything else right now? If so, can you tell us about your other projects?
Patricia: My novel The Unseen World, a YA fantasy, will be released through Kindle Direct Publishing this month. And my short story “Dearest Willa” will be released in a ‘twisted Gothic’ anthology set to come out in early 2019 from FunDead Publications. I’m also working on an LGBT retelling of the Japanese folktale “The Peony Lanterns” and a sequel to my YA novella “The Corpse-Eater.”