Web site: Rachel Kendall
Rachell Kendall has had work in a number of anthologies and magazines including
Nemonymous, Cabala, Darkness Rising 5, In Blood We Lust and the
soon-to-be-published Butcher Knives and Body Counts by Dark Scribe
Press. She is the editor of the zine Sein und Werden.
with Rachel Kendall
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Rachel Kendall: The earliest story in the
collection is from around 2003 (The
Suicide Room) and the most recent is Birth Control which
I wrote whilst pregnant, ill and a bit out of it. It’s one of my
favourites and was added right at the last minute.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
RK: No. Despite a number of shared
themes they were all written as single entities. One may well have
spawned another in my brain but they were never foreseen as a
collection of moving parts within a clockwork whole.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
RK: I have a tendency to write in about
3 different styles. I could almost do an Iain [M] Banks and add/remove
a letter in my name to suit the genre. There are my navel-gazing,
surreal horror types (think Jan Svankmajer in words); then there are
the sci fi (ish) stories (less Clarke, more Philip K Dick. But not as
clever). Then there are the more generalized, marginalised razor-edged
but not exactly horror, less-blood-more-suggestion types.
When it came to choosing the stories to include in this collection it
was simply a case of going with my favourites, and those that were
connected by a similar thread. Although there are some of my meatier
stories in here, the bulk of the book is made up of shorter, bloodier,
weirder fiction. I was then assigned an editor who was able to point
out when my prose became too garish and silly, and to suggest the best
order for the content.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
RK: Something structured, but
not necessarily adhering to strict chronological rules. I
quite like stories that have an end, a beginning and a middle, or that
change pov halfway through. A story doesn’t necessarily have to be
plot-driven, though I think the more random pieces, dream sequences,
fleeting scenarios might be considered as prose poetry or flash fiction
rather than a story per se. I do find it hard to get away
from the word ‘story’ pertaining to a ‘Once upon a time’ Brothers Grimm
kind of epic, and perhaps it’s that dark fairytale I’m trying to
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
I don’t. I don’t think writing can work that way. It’s such a personal
thing, like poetry. Whether the seed comes from a dream, an overheard
conversation, a line in a song, it can only flow the way it’s destined
to flow. That doesn’t mean the writing experience is out of my hands; I
can mould it till I’m happy with the outcome, but never to please
anyone other than myself. Perhaps that’s why a number of my stories are
such a marriage of genres. I always had difficulty getting the earlier
pieces published in ‘horror’ or ‘science fiction’ zines, because my
lines blurred. Then bizarre/magic realism/irrealism became much more
acceptable and accessible and a whole new world was opened to
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection,
anything at all?
RK: Well, predictably I’d like to ask
what works for the reader, in this collection. There are some
stories with definite plot, others are more character-driven,
and others are somewhere in between with some weirdo, squishy black
matter thrown in.
I would, though, like to impress something upon the reader myself. I am
neither a lunatic, nor a sadist, despite what my fiction may suggest!
Oh, and yes, there is a birth link in some of these stories, from tales
of hybrid children to infanticide, but I wrote those stories
pre-pregnant. Now I am post-pregnant and I don’t tend to write about
such things anymore. I was curious about the physical and psychological
aspects of pregnancy and birth and played around with my artistic
license to horrific effect. Now I’ve experienced it I have no need to
write about it. So, really, I’m not a baby-eating mutant swamp-mother.
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
RK: I try not to think about it. It’s
too exciting. What really floats my boat, actually, is having my
fiction published in a different language. Two of my shorts have been
published online in Polish and I do kinda like that.
What are you working on now?
RK: Many, many, many things, in my
head. Mostly I am rearing my two-year old, whilst editing ISMs Press and its enfant
terrible, Sein und Werden. I am working on a
new novel too, when I get a moment, and a short story here and there.
Also I am reading a lot and, I think, learning. Learning how to hone my
writing skills, how much to tell and how much to hold back, and how to
create a story the reader can bring into their own personal universe.
It’s a constant learning experience and I expect it is for seasoned
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
RK: I just started reading Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories
by Kōno Taeko, which a friend recently sent me from Japan. Before that
it was Steve Redwood’s Broken
Symmetries (which I hope to review very soon in Sein und
Werden’s review pages) and The
Brothel Creeper by Rhys Hughes (whose fiction you can read
in the new issue of Sein und Werden).