Issue 037 Author Interview: Ella Syverson and “Call To Mind”

Have you read Issue 037 yet? If not, what are you waiting for?! GO! Today we chatted with Issue 037 author Ella Syverson about her short story “Call To Mind.” Enjoy!

LSQ: Your characters undergo something called “artificial amnesia,” leaving them with their names but not much else. What are the challenges of writing characters with memory loss?

Ella: The main challenge of writing characters with artificial amnesia was that it was hard to imagine what their reactions would be when they learned about actions they took in the past, both when Aliyah tells them that they joined her alliance, and when they receive the letter of instructions that they wrote for themselves. For anyone else, the scenarios they learn about would seem crazy, but to agents who are used to routine memory loss, how can they do anything but trust the information they’re given to solve the puzzle of their past? Amnesia also made some aspects of writing easier. At the beginning of this story, you’re really jumping into the middle of Sam and Diesel’s adventure, but because their memories have just been erased, it’s a new beginning for them too. You get to discover what happened before along with the characters.
LSQ: Paranormal creatures incorporating into the normal world is one of my favorite subjects to read about. Where do you find your inspiration?
Ella: Paranormal/magical beings in the real world is also one of my favorite subjects to write about for many reasons, not least of which is that it’s easier to write fantasy in a world you don’t have to create entirely. I like to build on real places and legends I already know. I find inspiration in settings I know, imagining what they would be like in a world where magic existed. I find inspiration in familiar myths like witches and werewolves; their rich literary history brings depth to my world building. One author I look up to on this subject is Neil Gaiman, particularly his books The Ocean at the End of the Lane and American Gods. He does an excellent job of building worlds that are both wholly real and wholly magical. One of the many things I love about his writing is that the rules of the worlds in his books are not always explicitly stated, so he leaves a lot up to inference.
LSQ: What was your favorite part about writing this story?
Ella: My favorite part of writing any story is developing my characters. While the two main characters may have lost their memories, their personalities remain intact. Sam is the optimist, the one who believes in escape. Diesel complements her by adding a valuable cynicism at times. Their relationship is very close, as they’ve been working this job together for years, and find it impossible to lead a normal life with normal friends when they’re constantly traveling and losing their memories. One thing that’s especially important to me when I’m writing is making sure that I have strong, realistic, active female characters. I intentionally made Sam the leader, the driver, the decision maker in her friendship with Diesel, and made Aliyah the leader of the alliance with the paranormals.
LSQ: You’ve built up quite the cast of characters here. Do you have plans to work with them again? What kind of adventures do you see them getting up to?
Ella: I don’t currently have plans to expand on anything in this story, but I’m very prone to changing my mind. I would love to further explore the moral implications of humans and paranormal beings living together. While I don’t exactly paint the Department of Supernatural Control as a villain, it is definitely a cruel and inhumane institution. On the other hand, some paranormal beings present a real threat to people. Vampires need to drink blood. Werewolves may hurt people at the full moon. Goblins tend to hunt household pets. The reason that the alliance in this story is appealing to me is because it shows another way to live, with people and supernatural beings living and working together in peace. I would also love to keep learning about and developing the supporting characters. This was a very short story, and I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted with Aliyah, Saphury, Cora, and the rest of their group.