What’s this? An Issue 044 author interview on a Friday? Just consider it an early weekend treat! Today we’re spending some quality time with Kayla Whittle and her story “Of Moonlight and Music.”
LSQ: What a beautiful journey of a story! Elsie is perfectly positioned as a narrator, someone who can appreciate the magic of the circus but not get so caught up in it she misses the other marvels. What aspect of this story did you enjoy writing the most?
Kayla: I really loved getting to know Elsie as a character and viewing the story’s progression through her eyes. Writing the scene where she first enters the circus and is impressed and afraid all at once was the most exciting for me. I tried to think of what she would notice, what would be most tempting to her, and those are the aspects of the circus that are described best—at least, until the Ringmaster appears and Elsie is thoroughly distracted. Their dialogue back and forth was fun for me to write, too—it was entertaining to think up things the Ringmaster could say that would fluster Elsie the most!
LSQ: The circus has a fae feeling to me, and the performers themselves have that same sort of otherworldly-but-just-around-the-corner feel. It reminds me a little of the Faerie Market from Stardust. What inspired your circus?
Kayla: Stardust is one of my favorite novels so I’m thrilled by this comparison! I wanted my circus to feel like another world that’s self-sufficient and doesn’t need to have much to do with reality. Where visitors feel more like outsiders and are only allowed to view what the performers want them to see. One of my favorite books that beautifully balances a realistic setting with fantastical elements is Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. In it, the city of Weep was a place unlike any other, spurring legends and incredible stories. In my story, I tried to mesh together typical things you’d find in a real circus, the exciting performances and atmosphere, and give each a surprising twist. To make things almost familiar, and also just foreign enough that you don’t quite know what Elsie might see next.
LSQ: This story works wonderfully as a short, but it’s got a lot of potential to build on. Would you ever consider writing a continuation of Elsie’s adventures into and out of the world of the circus and the Ringmaster?
Kayla: Thank you! I like my endings to be satisfying but to also invite readers to imagine what could come next for the characters. There are so many different ways the story could go from here and sometimes it’s most fun not to settle on one solid answer. So I can’t say I think I’d ever do a direct continuation, but might one day write out one or two of Elsie and the Ringmaster’s future adventures. Maybe beginning a different story set in the same world, too, with a peek into their lives. No promises!