V. H. Leslie has penned numerous tales of delicate beauty and chilling luminosity since her first story was published by Black Static in 2011. Her tales have also appeared in such respected venues and anthologies as Shadows and Tall Trees, Strange Tales, The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror, and Weird Fiction Review. Her premier collection Skein and Bone collects many of these stories and acts as both the subject of our review from several weeks ago and this interview. Leslie took time from her residency to discuss the importance of arts and crafts to her creative process, her love of 19th century literature, and the prominence of “feyness” in her own fiction.
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“The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.”
Though he likely wasn’t aware of the fact, William Faulkner summarized a good majority of horror fiction with this eloquent little truth. The artifacts of the past constantly surround us. They are buried in the soil of our land, the stone of our homes, the flesh of our minds, stubbornly refusing to relinquish their hold on us, grafting themselves to us with strings of impenetrable scarlet thread.
A more recent narrative trope popularized by film is of the victim running away from the inescapable horror giving chase to them, the hulking hockey goalie and gigantic prehistoric reptile equally representing our timeless fears in spite of their diverse guises. These two themes form the emotional bedrock of V. H. Leslie’s Skein and Bone, a collection of stories greatly preoccupied with the notion of fleeing the darkness of the past in the hopes of reaching some golden tomorrow. The past in Leslie’s stories is something to be avoided, swept over, tucked away and forgotten. Her characters do not view their lives as obstacle-laden journeys from which they will grow and learn from but as the meandering, cancerous roots of a traumatic seed, roots that bind them to the ground and keep them from flying towards freedom like the copious birds that surface in almost every story, crushing wings and hopes without discretion.
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