Issue 036 is out and lovely and we’re here today to share a chat we had with Issue 036 author Anna Catalano about her story “Cry Sanctuary.”
LSQ: The ability to make things disappear/reappear at will is a skill I think a lot of people would covet, but then likely use for selfish reasons. In your story, the characters use these powers for good. What made you marry this concept with this character type? What does this say about Reina, Ethan, and Nua?
Anna: The twist that each of the characters developed magic powers was actually something that wasn’t intended from the start. It was only when I was envisioning the final confrontation at the end that I had the image of Reina kind of zapping Josiah out of existence. From there, everything clicked into place for the other characters as well, and it became clear that each of their particular abilities corresponded with the specific kind of abuse they had suffered.
Over the course of the story, the characters’ powers are used for good in the sense that they served to keep their little found-family together. For me, it was important to show that these characters needed each other. As for the future, who’s to say how their abilities are used—I didn’t want to take any particular stance that any survivors of abuse will either A) always be kind and selfless and sit on a morally pure pedestal or B) lash out and continue the cycle of violence. I can’t speak for other situations (as everyone, real or fictional, is different), or how these characters will behave in the future. But for right now, it was their priority to help whomever they could.
LSQ: There is a lot of tough subject matter in this story. What was the most challenging part of this story to write and why? What was the most enjoyable aspect?
Anna: The most challenging part of writing this story was the portrayal of abuse, and wanting to make sure I didn’t unintentionally misrepresent or treat that theme lightly. The writing process was heavy and emotionally draining, but it was a story that I knew I wanted to tell. But through that, what I found most enjoyable was seeing each individual magic ability manifest in the story, as well as the chemistry between the main gang when they’re talking and bantering among themselves.
LSQ: How much about the background of these characters, especially Tuppy, do you know? What was the final straw that made Tuppy leave her home situation?
Anna: I know the vague basics about the background of the supporting cast, though I know the most about Tuppy as of right now. In regards to what made her decide to finally leave, I don’t necessarily think it was any one particular incident. We know that fairly recently Josiah lashed out violently and bruised her arm, but based on the time it would’ve taken for Tuppy to build up a secret stash of escape money, she was likely considering all the details of a possible escape for maybe a couple of months before the story begins. I believe that at this point in her narrative, anything could have been the straw that broke the camel’s back—she’d spent so many years with this building and building inside her, and I personally think it took some time for her to even realize just how bad the situation had become.
LSQ: This story breathes a hopeful tone into some dire situations. How do you think readers can take your story and apply it to similar situations they may know about or identify with?
Anna: With a story with subject matter as heavy as this, I did want to leave it on a hopeful note, especially since none of the characters have to struggle alone anymore. Since I’ve never personally experienced anything close to what these characters have, I don’t feel like I’m in a position to give much advice to people who might be struggling with similar situations in the real world. But if there’s anything that I had hoped might be a take-away from this story is that you are not alone. There are others who are dealing with the same (or similar) things, and there is only strength in asking for or accepting help.
LSQ: Do you know from where your characters received their powers or do you prefer to leave this a mystery, even to yourself?
Anna: I always intended the characters’ powers to be magical realism, as I have no idea how they would have originated, especially in ways that are so personal and specific for each character. In my opinion, the origin of the abilities is not particularly the point, but I definitely understand if anyone feels like speculating on that just for fun!
LSQ: Are you working on any other projects at the moment? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
Anna: This past year, my main project has been working on the second draft and revision of a fantasy novel. The story follows a diverse group of misfits who must band together to save a cursed prince from a fate worse than death. There’s magic, snarky characters with gray morality, and a whole lot of angst. I also have several other fantasy novels in the works, some new short stories, and a few experimental projects that I’m not sure the genre of yet. While I enjoy toying with different genres and not committing to one specific one, all my stories feature diverse casts, existential philosophical questions, and a hint of romance.