Issue 040 Author Interview: Allyson Shaw and “Gald”

Welcome to our chat with Issue 040 author Allyson Shaw where we discuss her short story “Gald.”

LSQ: There’s a rich backstory here that’s not overly explained, but rather hinted at through the narrator. What would you say are the pros and cons of letting readers fill in the blanks when it comes to world building?

Allyson: Genre has such transportive powers. As readers we can be immersed in strange new places. I love the sensation of wonder I get from reading invented worlds, and I trust readers will be great lone travelers in these worlds I build. As a writer I wonder how much of a tour guide I need to be. Will the reader be able to travel lightly and happily with what I give them? “Gald” started out much longer, and kept ballooning out with each draft so that it seemed to want to be a novel. I finally edited it down so that it would flow and be contained as a shorter piece, hoping that the reader would be familiar enough with dystopian tropes that they could come along.

LSQ: Your use of foreshadowing is the best I’ve read in awhile! Do you have any tips for effective foreshadowing?

Allyson: Thank you! I used to think fiction was a dance of veils—that you dazzle the reader with hints and hopes and finally show them some sort of heart or truth. But I no longer like that metaphor, preferring instead to think of foreshadowing as breadcrumbs through a forest. I love that in fairy tales this is often done in threes, so that the reader is already doing a kind of adding up as the story progresses. Writing and reading is a process of discovery, so the crumbs—repeated narrative detail—stay in my mind and hopefully that of the reader. They will add up, creating momentum and the summation will feel inevitable.

LSQ: If you had a potion that could transform you into something, what would you want that to be?

Allyson: Great question! It’s a hard one. The stories in this issue of Luna Station Quarterly have inspired possibilities in my mind. I love that so many of the stories show women creating something in friendship and collaboration, kind of like LSQ itself, but I digress! I have multiple disabling chronic illnesses (I’m also a metalsmith so it perhaps comes with the territory of being a smith, who were often disabled in myth). I thought wouldn’t it be great to have a potion that cured me? I’d love a potion that would let me read faster. Surely that wouldn’t upset the order of the universe too much, right?

LSQ: Are you working on anything else at the moment? If so, can you tell us a bit about your other projects?

Allyson: I am traveling around Scotland researching, documenting and writing up field notes about the many memorials to women murdered during the witch trials in Scotland. Thousands were killed, and their deaths mark the landscape in every town and village, if you know how to look. This writing is an act of witness and remembrance for me and, I hope, for my readers. I regularly post short pieces based on my field notes to my Patreon. ( I am developing this project into a longer work as well, which I hope to be a book.