Issue 040 Author Interview: Emily Strempler and “All Manner of Wounds”

Hello and welcome to the first of our author interviews from Issue 040! Today we chat with Emily Strempler about her short story “All Manner of Wounds“.

LSQ: Set in what seems to be in a very plausible near-future, this story shows some intricacies of the haves versus have-nots. How has this future you’ve shown the reader influence the relationship between the two main characters? 

Emily: We’re all shaped by the infrastructure we interact with every day. Noemi and Mila don’t live very far from each other, but the way their city managed the construction of its infrastructure has made traversing that distance hard. In the real world, infrastructure meant to serve us often separates us. Across the United States, interstate highways carve straight through historically Black neighborhoods with few turnoffs, providing a fast track to the city center for commuters from the suburbs. The construction of these highways broke up communities, killing some neighborhoods entirely, and isolating others, making it difficult to travel in and out for jobs and services. Noemi and Mila live on opposite sides of a similarly constructed divide. Transportation is slower and more expensive on one side than the other. Services are worse. Maintenance is non-existent. This kind of neglect is easier to get away with because its invisible to most of the city’s residents, including Mila.

LSQ: What do you think Noemi and Mila see in each other? Do they both want the same thing or not and why? 

Emily: Noemi and Mila are complementary personalities. Noemi is practical and serious. Mila is carefree and emotional. Each could probably learn something from the other. Ultimately, both characters are pursuing stability, but they’re just looking for it in different places. Noemi is pursuing financial stability, through education. Mila is looking for stability in her relationships. Their goals aren’t the same, but they are compatible.

LSQ: What was your inspiration for this story? 

Emily: Medical regulation is supposed to make it easier to receive quality healthcare, but there’s a long history of those same regulations being used to restrict access, crush competition, and drive up profit margins instead. The price of insulin has been rising at an alarming rate for a couple of decades now. Drugs that treat chronic conditions are an easy target for profit-seekers, because the people who use them can’t simply choose not to use them. Of course, this works only to a point. When prices become too outrageous to pay, people find other ways to get what they need.

LSQ: What was the most challenging part about this story to write? Was one character easier to write than the other? Why or why not?

Emily: I’d say Mila’s character is a bit more straightforwardly written. Her dialog is simpler. She has no problem saying what she wants, when she wants it. Noemi is cautious and diplomatic. She’s much less open. That kind of character takes more time to write.

LSQ: Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?

Emily: I’m currently working on a historical novel set in the late 1600s in Jamaica. I also have a couple of short stories in progress—speculative fiction, science fiction, and historical.

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