Issue 051 Author Interview: Fiona Moore and “Misrule”

In today’s Issue 051 author interview, Fiona Moore chats with us a bit about her holiday-meets-folk-horror tale “Misrule“!
LSQ: Within a small village or town, sometimes traditions can carry on unchecked. Mary found a creative solution to alter the holiday from within. What is the importance of diverting their revelry instead of stopping it, and how does Mary “win”?

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?

Fiona: Even though Misrule causes misery, it’s still, to some extent, serving its intended purpose of providing people with a cathartic outlet for their frustrations and a way for the poor and downtrodden to experience the privilege they don’t normally have. As Mary herself admits, she’d done harm herself under the guise of Misrule. In the end, Mary has to acknowledge that there’s good in Misrule, and that it’s best to change it so that it minimizes the harm and maximizes the good, rather than doing away with it altogether.

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?

Fiona: As you’ve noticed, ones with upbeat endings! “Misrule” is unusual for me, though, in that I usually write science fiction or horror. It was interesting for me to do a straight fantasy rather than a story about self-driving cars with anxiety issues.

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