Issue 045 Author Interview: Anastasiya Sukhenko and “The Graveyard Library”

Welcome to Tuesday, when we interview authors from our latest issue! Today we’re shining the spotlight on Anastasiya Sukhenko and “The Graveyard Library.”

LSQ: What a heartbreaking and beautiful story! It read like such a delicate blend of hope and grief to me. How did you come up with this idea, and specifically, the magic of the books?

Anastasiya: Thank you so much! I initially came up with the idea of speaking with a version of yourself you aspire to be. I wasn’t in the best headspace when I wrote this story, and this was because I was anxious about achieving my goals. That’s when I thought of the story. It was my way of coping with my own anxiety.

As for the books, I just love libraries. To me, it’s one of the most comforting places to be, and I wanted to oppose the grim, eerie setting graveyards are often associated with.

The magic system came from the idea that characters from stories are somewhat immortalized because their stories live on for so long. Even when we read about “real” people from history or celebrate them, we’re really just memorializing a version of them. The actual person itself will never truly be remembered since that varies depending on who is recounting their story or their character. The color system of the books came to me as I was writing. I associate a lot of things with colors, especially feelings. It’s sort of like auras.

LSQ: You put a huge amount of world building into a story with a comparatively small word count, and balance it with genuine emotion so well. Was this a story that took a lot of drafts to get just right, or did it come out close to the final version?

Anastasiya: This was the third draft. I mainly workshopped the beginning and tried to balance how much detail to include about the library and its magic without being info-dumpy. I kept going back and forth with omitting details and then adding them back in. The original version is very similar to the final version. Mainly the dialogue between Ella and “herself” is slightly different and the beginning.

LSQ: Ella’s ending is so poignant and painful. Did you know when you planned this story out how things would end for her? Would you consider revisiting this world to write more in it, even if Ella isn’t the main character?

Anastasiya: I didn’t know how things would end until I finally sat down and wrote the first scene where Ella is waiting to enter. That was when I got a feeling for her character and what she was going through. It was no longer about my anxiety, rather Ella’s grief. It was then I knew she had an alternative motive.

I really love this concept and have written another, lighter story in the setting of this library. Ella was not the main character for that version. I definitely want to do more with this, I’m just waiting for the moment when I know what that is.