Issue 044 Author Interview: Priscilla Kint and “The Legend of Emma Sondheim”

Every Tuesday on our blog, we share an interview with an author from our most recent issue, and we have plenty more to share! Today’s spotlight is on Priscilla Kint and her story “The Legend of Emma Sondheim“.

LSQ: What an unexpected twist! I love the idea of a time-traveling circus inside a house. How did you come up with that concept?

Priscilla: Thank you! Honestly, it was never my intention to include any time travel in this story. I wrote a manuscript that deals with the topic not too long ago, and that gave me such headaches that I swore I’d never dive into it again – but that didn’t last very long! I knew I wanted location to play a major part in this world, so I knew very early on the Circus would be one building, a place that would be a character in itself. Then, as I was writing down some notes and setting up the world, I wrote the words “traveling circus”, which, of course, wouldn’t make much sense if the circus was in the same building every time – unless, that is, the circus travelled in some other way. And that’s how I found myself writing about time travel yet again. Luckily, this time definitely didn’t give me as much of a headache. It was actually great fun!

LSQ: Oh my goodness, Emma and Jeremiah’s ending—I saw it coming, and yet I still couldn’t quite believe it when it hit. Did you know you were going to end things that way from the beginning? What scene in the story came first to you? 

Priscilla: Yes, I always knew their story was going to be a tragedy. Emma and Jeremiah’s story actually started as a cautionary tale in my mind, something children living in the Circus years and years later would hear and grow afraid of. As I was building up the world of the Circus, I quickly realized I wanted petrification to play a part. When you’re able to travel through time, it might feel like nothing is set in stone. That’s true for the Circus as well – until you try to leave. That’s the first image that came to me: a statue in the middle of a square that looks just out of place. No engravings, standing in an odd location, looking just a little bit too real. From there on, Emma’s and Jeremiah’s characters quickly came to me, immediately followed by Lumen and the mirror room.

LSQ: This feels so high concept to me. Would you ever consider writing another story about the Circus, perhaps from the perspective of a visitor who gets swept along to a new time, or someone who gets the better of the Circus some day?

Priscilla: Funny you should ask! The setting of this story is actually the center stage of a novel-length manuscript I’m working on. The story of that manuscript came to me long before Emma did, even though it takes place long after she and Jeremiah have left. The Circus has changed a lot in the time between the two stories, which was so nice to explore, and it has many more secrets to reveal. Emma and Jeremiah took the risk of leaving the Circus and paid the price for it, but in this new story even its obedient inhabitants find themselves in danger. And the real trouble starts when a young boy decides to join the Circus as their new fire artist. The manuscript is titled WHEN THE DARK DANCES and I’m currently querying it. Fun fact: if you’ve read “The Legend of Emma Sondheim”, you’ve already met the main character of DARK!