Issue 039 Author Interview: Lisa Fox and “Seeing Utopia”

Dear readers! Hope you’re enjoying our Issue 039 as much as we are! Today we’re chatting with one of the thirteen awesome authors featured in our current issue — here’s Lisa Fox to tell us about her short story “Seeing Utopia.”

LSQ: The story starts with a queen completely fooled by her suitor, a tragic mistake for herself and her kingdom. Tell us more about Queen Aclara. How were you able to create this character who was incredibly vulnerable and yet still strong?

Lisa: Queen Aclara is someone we probably can all relate to. Everyone thinks they’re a good judge of character, yet everyone in their lives has been burned at least once, twice, by someone who pretended to be something they weren’t. In Aclara’s case, and in her position, being deceived as she was had much higher stakes. She is a leader, a ruler with responsibilities that still exist even with the mistakes she made and with the guilt that weighs upon her. But as good leaders do, they seek advise and counsel from others around them. They allow you to see their human side – shortcomings and all – while maintaining a resolve that engenders trust. I suppose I painted her after the best leaders/managers I’ve had, my own experience as a manager of people in the corporate world, and my experience “managing” my two sons. You’re going to make mistakes. Things are going to go wrong. It’s how you handle yourself in the difficult times that defines your character. And your effectiveness as a leader.

LSQ: The dichotomy of the sister witches, Myth and Janin, is endearing and enjoyable and really the crux of the story itself. Are these two characters based on individuals you know or perhaps based on pieces of yourself? What was it like to create these too almost opposing yet benevolent forces? 

Lisa: Definitely based on two sides of me! And a little of the whole left brain/right brain thing, too. Sometimes I think it’s easier to be Myth and harder to be Janin, but as we see in the end, both sides coming together are really critical. I had a lot of fun creating these two – their quirks, nuances, and most of all their interactions.

LSQ: The loss of the queen’s sight is both literal and metaphorical. Did you know how this story would end when you started writing it or did it figure itself out as you went along? 

Lisa: This was one that I definitely wrote from end to beginning. I knew how it would end from the moment I started writing it. Aclara’s journey and key question is “what is a leader without vision?” She consults the sisters (who had the vision to defeat the king) to help be her “eyes” as she looks to rebuild. The “friendly competition” Aclara establishes to bring the people back out again is an example of Aclara still maintaining her vision as a leader even though she doubts herself. It’s funny, the more I think about it, that Aclara’s journey is a little bit like in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy realizes she had the power within her the entire time – she didn’t need shoes, just the help of others to give her the confidence she needed to find her way. I think the same can be said of Aclara.

LSQ: What was the most difficult part of this story to write and why? 

Lisa: Bringing in three distinct points of view, three distinct voices, in a short space without it feeling disjointed. And getting around the potential for infodump with all the backstory. The story itself was the easy part. The mechanics took a while to get where I needed them to be.

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

Lisa: Right now I’m focused on short stories, so there’s a lot of ideation for new pieces and revision of pieces that have been drafted. I do have a few that are begging to become novels, so we’ll see where that goes.