In today’s Issue 050 author interview, we’re talking with Jenna Grieve about her story “Osteomancy” and the writing choices she made to bring this haunting story to life.
LSQ: I have to ask: do you know what’s on the other side of the door? You don’t have to reveal the secret, I’m just curious as to how the idea for this mysterious door took shape!
Jenna: It might be hard to believe, but I honestly don’t know! I think the obvious answer is that it is death, but of course that would look very different depending on who you asked — does that mean nothingness or some variety of afterlife? I also like the idea that it’s a portal to another world, Narnia wardrobe style. I mean, in a world where this door appeared by magic, that’s not too far-fetched. I have no idea what’s behind the door, and I think I like not knowing.
LSQ: Why did you choose not to give Locksmith a proper name, like his anonymous customers?
Jenna: While drafting the story I got the sense that Locksmith does think of himself as “Locksmith” — his job has become his identity. The only kind of interactions with other people he has these days are transactional in nature, so it’s just become who he is. And so giving him a name wouldn’t have felt right.
I think not giving him a name helps give the story the feel of a fable, which is something I wanted to lean into. Although I think it’s a little different because in a fable you’d expect us to be in the mind of Stranger, and Locksmith would be the mysterious vendor. So I liked doing something a little different here.
LSQ: Locksmith’s loneliness was palpable in this story. Why do you think he resists going through the door so much? Does he really think he needs to stay and make the keys, or is there something else?
Jenna: I’m glad his loneliness was palpable! This was the key aspect of his character for me, and it really drives his interactions with Stranger and how attached Locksmith becomes to him. Locksmith definitely considers going through the door and obviously the door is constantly on his mind. The fact that he needs to be there to make the keys is definitely what he tells himself, but I think if he was being honest, he’s afraid. If the other side turns out to be an awful and inescapable place, he’d feel really guilty at facilitating so many people’s passage through. On the other hand, if he were to go through and find something amazing, he’d feel guilty at not being there to make keys for others.
LSQ: Who and what inspires your writing?
Jenna: I’m a very intuitive writer and my ideas usually come from nowhere, often springing into my mind while doing mindless tasks that let my brain wander. I’m also constantly leaping out of the shower to write down ideas or lines that come to me. Like most writers, I love to read and reading a great book or short story always inspires me to write.