#LoveOzYA Q&A with A.G Slatter
A.G Slatter has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, two Australian Shadows Awards and seven Aurealis Awards. This year, she’s celebrating the release of ALL THE MURMURING BONES.
A.G Slatter chatted to #LoveOzYA’s Bianca Breen about the forging a mermaid-themed story that isn’t ‘cutesy’ — check out the interview below.
What is ALL THE MURMURING BONES about?
ALL THE MURMURING BONES is about a young woman, Miren O’Malley who comes from seafaring family who made a lot of money from doing deals with those who rule beneath the waves – the Mer. But things haven’t been going so well because the O’Malleys haven’t kept up their part of the bargain. Now Miren’s grandmother wants to marry her off to save the family fortune, but Miren’s having none of it.
What first drew you to the Gothic genre?
I love the basics of a heroine running away from or to a big creepy house and having to uncover secrets in order to save herself. I’m not keen on fainting females, and I really wanted to write a heroine who’s interested in doing the best for herself, not relying on anyone else, and making her way in the world. Miren’s level-headed, even when she’s in a bad situation, and I like her strategic nature.
You mentioned in the acknowledgments that this story was based on some shorter stories you had written and published. What made you decide to turn them into a longer piece?
I started out as a short story writer, then just gradually was writing longer and longer pieces. “St Dymphna’s School for Poison Girls” was about 14k (and can be read for free at Tor.com), then I did the novella Of Sorrow and Such … and it just felt like a natural progression. Mind you, the mosaic collections (Sourdough and Other Stories, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, and The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales are all basically novel-length). There was just a lot more I wanted to explore with this story, and the new novel The Path of Thorns (out in June 2022).
Where did some of the inspirations for this story come from?
Fairy and folk tales, and a little bit of mythology tweaked to my own purposes. I wanted to write something that didn’t go Little Mermaid cutesy. I think I managed that! I wouldn’t want to meet my Mer in a dark alley or pool. I read a lot of Irish and Scottish folklore – the feel of the story is more Irish, but I generally used Celtic tales as inspiration.
What were some of the challenges of bringing this novel to life?
The usual things a writer faces, wondering whether they can do the story justice, whether they can make it interesting for a reader – whether they can make word count! And then when you’re finished, you hope someone will buy it and publish it. Probably the main thing was making sure I kept in mind all the mythology I’d set up in the world before so I didn’t write in a bunch of contradictions I couldn’t explain.
What are some of your favourite fictional retellings?
Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, Hannah Whitten’s For the Wolf, Lucy Holland’s SisterSong, Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels.
What do you hope readers take from Miren’s story?
I hope they find it a really good and engaging read. That they recognise Miren in parts of themselves and feel that it’s a book they’d like to take courage from.