Issue 044 Author Interview: Elizabeth Hinckley and “Margins”

Happy Tuesday, dear readers! Welcome back to our round of Issue 044 author interviews. Elizabeth Hinckley sat down with us today and gave us some truly thoughtful answers to our questions about her story “Margins“. Please read on!

LSQ: There are so many images in this story that stand out, which left me wondering: which was the spark of inspiration that led you to write “Margins”?

Elizabeth: When I heard that LSQ was doing a circus issue, I knew I had to write a circus story. It’s an old-fashioned art form that’s endangered, I think, because of cynicism and an undervaluing of beauty and wonder. In a non-pandemic year, I make sure to see a circus two or three times a year. It’s sometimes hard to explain why such things are not a luxury, especially when people get focused on practical matters during difficult times, but I see it as almost a responsibility to support performers who create amazing things, or they’ll go away. I hope that Adrian’s journey shows how beauty and wonder are some of the things that give us purpose and meaning.

As I wrote, however, this other theme of margins popped up and unified the story – it was a delightful surprise, and became rather the point of it. As the story took shape, I followed along, discovering the words for some powerful truths. I think I was way too practical when I was younger, but as I got older I remembered to follow wonder. I hope others remember to do so – life is too short, and you can leave it until you no longer remember.

LSQ: The circus and faeries: a rare combination! Was it difficult to blend these two themes? In what ways do you think they complement each other?

Elizabeth: I’m glad you liked the combination of the circus and faeries! I did not at all find them difficult to blend, but rather that they are naturally complimentary. Neither world is entirely safe, and that’s an important thing to remember when you want to live a magical life. The risk may be a thrill, which is exciting, but it is also a test that keeps out the unworthy, and challenges those who want to grow and touch the sublime. In both worlds, you seek the amazing, the beautiful, that special liminal something. Some would call such things escapism, and I would call those  people the ones who don’t understand anything about life.

LSQ: Adrian’s feelings towards the margins reminds me of how I’ve also felt while looking at the woods pass by on the side of the highway, for example. Why do you think these spaces hold such a pull?

Elizabeth: I think that so often the worthwhile things we seek, whether beauty, magic, or honesty, are off to the side. It’s not that the wonderful things in life can’t also be the really obvious ones, but obvious things can be overhandled, exploited, and monetized, while the hidden things might better retain their true nature and value by virtue of being marginalized. Perhaps it goes back to nature itself: unless you have some superlative power, like being the fiercest or fastest animal, many organisms camouflage themselves to survive. If you take just a brief look at a field, you might conclude that you don’t see any animals and move on, but if you look in the margins – where habitats meet, where colors and patterns overlap and hide things within themselves – you’ll likely be rewarded by seeing something you didn’t expect.

LSQ: Who and what inspires your writing?

Elizabeth: When I get a bug to write something, it often comes from some idea that smacks me that I have to somehow express. And it usually comes as a cross-platform inspiration rather than reading fiction – like a song or movie, a science lecture or some experience I had that made me imagine the world in a certain way. It’s not that there aren’t writers I would love to emulate, but if I get inspired by reading a work of fiction and then sit down to write, I think I’ll just write like that author. My literary influences probably just trickle down into how I think, and that probably comes out on the page without me knowing it.