Issue 049 Author Interview: Rebecca Harrison and “The Paper Child”

Only two Issue 049 author interviews left! Be sure to savor them! Today’s treat is Rebecca Harrison’s answers to our questions about her story “The Paper Child.”

LSQ: This is so beautiful and desperate and sad. Your descriptions are absolutely sublime. What was your inspiration for “The Paper Child”? When you sat down to write this, what was the first scene that sprang into your mind?

Rebecca: Thank you heaps for your kind words. I made up the story yonks ago but didn’t get round to write it until recently because I’m 80% sloth. (The remaining 20% is crisps, or chips, as you call them.)  I can’t really remember my inspiration for the story itself, but the first scene that sprang to mind when I started writing it was def the end. Possibly because what could be worse than someone burning your library. ? I’m a book obsessive and forever being told that I have too many books, but that’s simply not true when you think about how many books there actually are in the world.

LSQ: I had to look up a fair number of these words, and yet not knowing them in the moment didn’t take me out of the story—it seemed like I could feel the goselet rain, despite not knowing what exactly what “goselet” meant. Were they all familiar to you when you began writing, or did you come up with the feeling you wanted for a particular sentence and then look to find a word that fit it?

Rebecca: I only knew a few of them! I kept getting stuck when I was writing the first line because I didn’t like using the word ‘baby’, and then I realized I could opt for ‘bairn’ which means child, really, but it gave me the excuse to shove in lots of delicious Scottish words. I did try to use them so that they wouldn’t need too much looking up. But I had loads of fun learning them. The only stumbling block came when the online Scottish dictionary told me there was no word for ‘sunny’. Bahahaha. Which basically means Scotland is the perfect country. I’m a gloom aficionado.

LSQ: The ending is just—oh my. Usually I ask authors if they see a way to continue their story, but this one seems rather final for these particular characters. Would you revisit this world in another work, though?

Rebecca: I don’t think I could go back to these characters because they’re pretty much done. But I did love writing a gothic, and have just finished a gothic novella which was Jane Eyre meets The Wicker Man. It didn’t have any yummy Scottish words but my MC was a composer who used musical terms to describe stuff and they’re almost as good. I set it in the 1780s at The White Horse which is the ancient figure carved into a hill in the British countryside. It was one of my favorite places as a child.