LSQ: “Blood Feathers” is an absolutely gorgeous story. It gave me so much but also really made me think about how every piece of it fit together as I read. What was your inspiration for it?
Christi: Thank you! The inspiration for this story began six years ago, but I didn’t have all of the pieces at first. I went through a personal crisis that culminated in finding feathers daily, everywhere, in all shapes and sizes. Each feather was a reminder of my true self and the freedom of being that self. It was a profound and painful experience and led to the loss of important relationships, but it was also deeply rewarding. When I wrote the story, I couldn’t figure out my ending. And then when I revised it this year, I saw that it was a circle, with the beginning and ending completing each other.
LSQ: Ren is wonderfully complex. When I started the story I thought “Ah, I get what kind of person she is,” but then learning more about her history and the accident and Cousin Cornelia, my assumptions get completely turned around. When you first thought up Ren as a character, where did you start?
Christi: Ren came to me as the person trying to be a good mom—or partner, or worker—doing her best but not tapping into who she really is. She goes so far as to misunderstand herself, telling herself she’s a linear person, when she’s really creative and flighty (which isn’t a bad thing!). I have been this person many times in my life (particularly in the life crisis mentioned above), and I meet people in my classes and work who have failed to recognize the need for their creativity and want to change that. To me, Ren’s accident, and her connection to her otherworldly cousin, are deep, hidden reminders of who she once was and is meant to be.
LSQ: Your descriptions are rich and vivid throughout the story, but the description of the feather ring is particularly fascinating to me. I also love your depictions of birds, and Ren’s own feathers coming to life. Are you a birdwatcher? Do you have a favorite bird?
Christi: I do love birds but I’m not an expert by any means. I admire feathers, and as I began noticing them, I started to draw and paint them as well, mesmerized by this small unit that provides warmth, strength, structure, and protection. By itself, one feather is stunning, and if you look closely, there’s mystery in the symmetry: a microstructure of tiny branches. A feather is flexible, resilient, and able to shed water. A bird’s feathers work in concert, providing warmth close to the body and enabling different skills for flight depending on shape or placement on tail, body, or wing. I love them as symbols of creativity, because our creative souls are all meant to fly.