LSQ: This is such a vivid and haunting story. Where did your inspiration come from?
Amy: Thank you! Lately, I’ve been in this mental space of grappling with getting older. I started thinking: How are other women coping with this process of aging that is scary but also inevitable? What would I do to stay young, and is there a line I’m not willing to cross? That really started me thinking about where we are going with modern-day advances to keep us all young. I think it’s unfortunate that women who visibly age are somehow unlucky, we like to tack the word “gracefully” on at the end, yet aging is one of the few certainties of life, along with death and taxes I suppose.
LSQ: Why do Mother Mal’s clients pay in memories? Why not something else? What do you think makes their memories so powerful to Mother Mal?
Amy: I felt that what Mother had to give was so desirable that the price for it had to have weight. Does money mean something? Yes, but we can live without it. Who are we without our memories? Would I give up remembering the birth of my daughter? I guess to me, memories are stronger than anything we own. For Mother, receiving memories is power. It’s a million lives she keeps within her, so in essence she is the one who is truly eternal while the women coming to her only become a beautiful shell.
LSQ: Every sentence in your story is so well-crafted. What was your writing process like?
Amy: I have to write while listening to music. I know for some people it’s too distracting, but for me, silence makes me aware of all the potential words jumbled in my brain and I scramble to get them down. Music (even with lyrics!) helps me focus on a mood and tone. It’s like I can feel the emotions powering the words. Of course, that first draft is complete gibberish. So then I go back and edit and edit and edit, with music still guiding me, so I can at some point, hopefully, have words on that page that I like. As for the type of music, it all depends on the story! For this one, I was listening to my Loreena McKennitt station on Pandora.
LSQ: Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?
Amy: I’m currently working on other tales in the world of Marjoran, which I created for this story kind of by accident. But I like this world, with its mix of magic and steampunk essences, so I want to escape Mother’s den and develop it further. My next story follows a young girl born with a terrible curse, and an alchemist who has figured out how to bottle her curses and sell them for money. The deaths are starting to pile up!