Alix E. Harrow turns her considerable talents to all things fairytale in her Fractured Fables novellas. Alix is here today to talk about this latest installment A Mirror Mended, inspiration, and all things writing.
Miss Print: Can you tell me a bit about your path as a writer? How did you get to this point?
Alix E. Harrow: Like all writers, I got here by hard work, luck, and help, and I try not to think about the percentages of that pie chart. Basically, I started writing short fiction in my early twenties, in between adjuncting and renovating our semi-abandoned house. One of my stories happened to go around twitter a little bit, and I got messages from an editor and an agent asking if I happened to have a novel–which I did! And here I am.
Miss Print: It’s no secret that the Fractured Fables novellas are your version of a “spiderverse” treatment for fairytales. Where did this idea come from? Did you always know that Sleeping Beauty would be your starting point?
Alix E. Harrow: The idea came about twelve minutes after walking out of the movie theater after seeing Spider-Verse. Aside from being a perfect film, it also struck me as the perfect retelling–an expansive, inclusive sprawl of a plot that was big enough to fit all the previous versions of itself. Every retelling is trailed by its own ghosts, but Spider-Verse was the first one to give the ghosts speaking lines. And I wanted to do that with my own personal problematic canon: Disney-fied princess fairy tales.
It took me a little longer to settle on Sleeping Beauty, but of course it had to be her. If there’s any story I would break the physical laws of the universe to escape, it’s that one.
Miss Print: Working off the last question, do you have a favorite Spider-Man/person/entity?
Alix E. Harrow: I mean, my five year old still watches the “What’s Up Danger” leap of faith scene from Spider-Verse every time he gets his nails clipped, so, it has to be Miles. But I have a huge affection for all past and future spider-folk.
Miss Print: While A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended are novellas, you also write both novels and short stories. Do you have a favorite format to use? Does the format change or influence your writing process?
Alix E. Harrow: That’s the wonderful thing about science fiction and fantasy! Unlike most other genres (romance is an exception, maybe?), there are legit venues for almost any length of story, from flash fiction online magazines to multi-book series. So instead of finding an idea to fit the correct scale, I have the enormous privilege of having an idea and figuring out what scale it happens to be.
Miss Print: We’re living in a strange time with the pandemic as we all continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and work together to stop the spread of Covid-19. How would Zinnia be handling the pandemic?
Alix E. Harrow: As someone with a high-risk preexisting condition, I personally think Zinnia would simply exit our dimension for a while. Honestly, there’s got to be better ones out there.
Miss Print: What does a typical writing day look like for you? Has this changed in light of the pandemic?
Alix E. Harrow: I mostly write in the mornings, Monday through Friday. Another unearned function of privilege is that my husband is home full time with the kids.
Miss Print: Can you tell me anything about what you’re currently working on?
Alix E. Harrow: I just turned in my third full length novel, which I’ve been describing as “kentucky gothic” and “what if A24 did Beauty and the Beast.” The current title is Starling House, and it’ll be out in early 2023!
Miss Print: Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?
Alix E. Harrow: I’m so suspicious of advice, but so totally unable to prevent myself from handing it out! None of the most common bits of writing wisdom–write daily, finish every story, keep a journal, write longhand, write what you know, keep your dayjob, quit your dayjob, get an MFA, don’t get an MFA under any circumstances–are actually universally helpful, except one: read. Read so widely and weirdly that you just can’t help but try it yourself.
Thank you to Alix for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find out more about Alix and her books on her website: https://alixeharrow.wixsite.com/author
You can read my reviews of A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended here on the blog.