Issue 049 Author Interview: Paulene Turner and “Soul Mate”

Welcome to another Issue 049 author interview. We had a blast talking with Paulene Turner about the inspiration behind her story “Soul Mate“!

LSQ: This was such a fun story! I feel like it’s the sort of thing that could be expanded into an entire UF novel, but it works so well as a short too. What was your inspiration for “Soul Mate”?

Paulene: The inspiration for “Soul Mate was” a house a couple of streets away from me in Greenwich, Sydney. It’s a beautiful house, quite traditional. On one of my many walks around the suburb during the long Sydney lockdowns, I noticed the grass had grown long, and cobwebs slung across the driveway were undisturbed. And the curtains never moved. Or did they? Clearly, the owners were spending COVID elsewhere. The house lay empty, awaiting their return. Somehow it had an other-worldly quality.  And I wondered, what if it wasn’t really empty?

LSQ: I love the celebrities you picked to be part of the almost never-ending afterlife. Poor Shakespeare, he’ll be there forever. How did you decide on who to include, and what role to give them?

Paulene: I thought about who might be there for a while, in this situation – the much beloved celebs. Shakespeare, obviously! And Elvis! David Bowie. Marilyn! And I researched what some of the people actually ate for breakfast. It wasn’t hard to imagine what sort of chaos might ensue with them all in the one place together.

LSQ: Would you consider writing more in this setting? I’m serious when I say that I think this sort of afterlife would make a really fun novel!

Paulene: This might sound strange, but ghost stories scare the life out of me. I don’t think I  could linger too long with the idea of spirits before I’d freak myself out. So, no. Despite that, some of the ghost stories I’ve been forced to write for a competition have turned out to be the most satisfying of any stories I’ve written. I think it’s because I naturally turn towards the comic but when it comes to ghosts, and issues of life and death, there’s always something serious buried there about love and loss and saying goodbye.  So I’m forced to be serious for a moment. And that combo of humor and tenderness is a potent one. But spooky ghost stories! If I tried to write one, I’d probably end up under my desk, scaring myself.