Issue 044 Author Interview: Emma Schmid and “Paths of Life and Death”

And so our Issue 044 author interviews come to an end, and the circus must ship out of town. But don’t despair! You can come back to these stories any time you please, and we saved one final act for you all. Allow Emma Schmid’s thoughts on her story “Paths of Life and Death” wrap up our show, and be sure to keep the wonder of the circus in your hearts.

LSQ: Stolen as a child and trapped into a service she does not want, what solace does Rhiannon have to find she plays a part in the ringmaster’s death?

Emma: Even though Rhiannon doesn’t take pleasure in her powers, I think finding out that the ringmaster is going to die gives her comfort. Like you said, he stole her childhood, which makes me wonder how many other children has he done this to? Are there others at the circus that he’s exploited? While she doesn’t actually do the deed, I think Rhiannon would both feel responsible and freed by the ringmaster’s death. Now that he’s dead, he can’t hurt anyone the way he hurt her, and that brings her a little bit of peace as she moves forward.

LSQ: Knowing she can’t change her visions, does Rhiannon feel regret for telling the boy his ill-fated future? But at the same time, how could she not tell him?

Emma: I think Rhiannon would be so conflicted about telling her victims their futures. In my mind, she doesn’t tell anyone what she sees because of her fear of the way people will react, like the townspeople in Luthor do. In Thomas’ case, though, his death may have been prevented, which makes it even more important for Rhiannon to try to help him. Even if he doesn’t listen to her, at least she’s given him the opportunity to change his fate. It must be hard for her to do this though, since she can never be sure if people will follow her advice or not.

LSQ: Shown two paths, she has never before been given the chance to truly alter fate. Is it ironic that the fate she is able to change actually be her own?

Emma: I would say it’s a little ironic, yes. However, I think it also shows the importance of free will and courage. It’s imperative that Rhiannon fights for the future that the gods have offered her. Without that conscious choice she makes between the two fates, and her determination in putting the plan into action, I don’t think she would have been able to carry out her escape from the circus. The only person who ends up being able to really change Rhiannon’s destiny is Rhiannon herself, after she takes matters into her own hands. Without the little nudge from the gods, she likely would have died in the circus, at the ringmaster’s hands.

LSQ: Given the complexities of Rhiannon’s character, what is your favorite part about her? Was there anything about your story that was challenging to write?

Emma: I did have some trouble with creating the circus atmosphere. Actually, when I was writing the story, I was a little worried that it didn’t follow the circus theme of the issue enough to be qualified as a circus story. I had to work hard to incorporate more imagery and description relating to the circus later, since I was so focused on creating Rhiannon and her relationship to her powers.

My favorite part about writing Rhiannon was creating her quiet strength. She’s lived and survived in the circus for most of her life, without being able to really make friends or be close to people. Part of this is because of her powers, and because she’s afraid to hurt others. Still, she’s able to use her powers to her advantage in the end, and try to move forward from the life that she didn’t choose. I think it’s really important that, in the end as she’s rushing away from the circus, she leaves her veil off – almost as if she’s finally accepted that her sight can sometimes be a blessing.