Fiona: I think the key realization for Mary was when she stopped thinking of Misrule as something that needed to be ended, and instead as something which had value to people, but that value had been subverted by Stebbins playing the system. Once she worked out a way of doing an end run around Stebbins, people came on board and supported her efforts, and Misrule could become something that helped the village rather than an excuse for bullying and revenge. So she “wins” by taking control of Misrule on behalf of the community, then giving it back to the community.
LSQ: Everyone in the village agrees that Misrule is important, even an outsider like the vicar. Why would they feel it important even after the misery it causes?
LSQ: Misrule seems to draw on folkloric traditions like the Wild Hunt and MidWinter celebrations. Are there some specific traditions that you drew from for this story?
Fiona: Specifically, the Twelve Days of Christmas and the traditions of Misrule and Saturnalia. But I also took a lot of inspiration from the British folk-horror film genre. Misrule owes quite a bit to The Blood on Satan’s Claw, in which a demonic influence causes a group of young people in a 17th-century village to run amok (and I’ll freely admit that The Vicar is in part based on Anthony Ainley’s character in that movie). Folk-horror movies often explore ideas like identity, community and justice through British folk traditions, and I wanted to do some of that too.
LSQ: I loved the ending, where you predicted Stebbins would turn into a joke. Also, that Mary found romance at the end. What are your favorite kinds of stories to write?