Welcome to the wonderful world of Issue 037! Are you enjoying the stories as much as we are? How about getting a glimpse into the mind of one of our authors, Janna Layton? Read on to learn more about her story “The Mare of the Meuse.”
LSQ: The setting of this story is as important as the characters René and Armand. What inspired you to place this story during the French Revolution?
Janna: The French Revolution is just so . . . bonkers. It’s history and humanity at their most complex and messy. If you want black-and-white, clear-cut heroes and villains, look elsewhere. Robespierre, that civil rights lawyer who was against the death penalty? He becomes a mass murderer strutting around a fake mountain as part of the Festival of the Supreme Being. Charlotte Corday assassinated politician Jean-Paul Marat in an attempt to stop the state-ordered killings, but they ramped up instead. People took action with intention, but everything just kept spiraling out of control.
The current reality here in the US is obviously different, but there’s still that sense of extreme disorientation, that reality has been pulled out from under us, and no one knows how it’s going to end up. That was definitely on my mind when putting myself in René and Armand’s shoes.
Being able to include late 18th century fashion was a clear bonus.
LSQ: Your story points out that unicorns are historically dainty and white while the one here is strong and piebald. Tell us why you made her look the way she does.
LSQ: Virgins handling unicorns and the Cheval Mallet – various unicorn folklore is mentioned in this story, but Orinda doesn’t follow the pattern. In writing this piece, how much did you want to follow the known unicorn folklore versus making up your own?
LSQ: What was the most challenging aspect of this story to write and why? What was the most fun?
Janna: I’ll be honest: this story started as a submission to an anthology with a very specific prompt, and was rejected. I was disappointed, because I had thought it would be a good fit. But I loved René and Armand, and couldn’t give up on them and their story, so I had to rework it without the anthology-specific element, which was significant. I doubted myself a lot, but kept going, and loved the eventual outcome.
LSQ: In your mind, does Orinda take the men to safety or to hell? Or, given their circumstances, is there really a difference, as the men seem to deliberate themselves?
Janna: Where do they end up? I’ll leave that to the reader!