Hello! I’m Andrew Quinton, Wolf-Girls contributor and writer of The Librarian. I find it difficult to write about myself, so for the purposes of this article, I’ve asked Alexis LaPierre — werewolf, peer-pressured vegetarian and protagonist of The Librarian — to conduct an informal interview with me. This interview makes some oblique references to scenes in the story, but contains no spoilers.
|Illustration by Tandye Rowe|
Alexis LaPierre: Really? Interviewed by your own character? I’d love to cite some examples illustrating just how gimmicky this is, but I can’t think of any other cases where a writer was shy enough to try it. I’ll find something when I’m back at work.
Andrew Quinton: Do you think you’ve still got a workplace to go back to? You took some unannounced time off, didn’t you? A long weekend that sort of –
AL: I don’t want to talk about it. Besides, I wasn’t strictly responsible, given how hard you worked to put me in that situation.
AQ: Well, yes, I did guide you there, but I didn’t know how it was going to turn out. I thought you were going to end up on Grouse Mountain in the middle of the night. I didn’t know much at all, really. Your story is the first piece of fiction I’ve completed since high school. That was in 1999. I haven’t had any formal writing instruction at all since then, so this story just carried me along with it. I didn’t think you were going to miss any time at work. I know that’s important to you.
AL: I’m the creation of someone who got a B+ in Creative Writing 12? How fortunate for both of us. Being relatively new to it, then, I take it that you don’t have a set process for writing?
AQ: For The Librarian, it was more of an anti-process. When I really started work on it, there were less than seven weeks before the submission deadline, so I was in a hurry. Most of the first two drafts were written on an iPod Touch or an iPhone, using WriteRoom and Dropbox to keep things organized. I wrote in little sprints, 5 minutes here, 20 there. On the bus, standing in line at a hockey game, in bed, once even during a meeting at work (not smart).
AL: Everything you’re telling me is making me feel like a child born healthy despite the fact that her mother drank and smoked through the pregnancy.
AQ: Yeah, it wasn’t ideal, but I made it work. It was convenient, being able to pull out a device and start writing wherever I was. Working like that also removed the framework of habits that I think a lot of rookie writers like me get tangled in. No rituals, no lucky coffee cups or special pens.
AL: Was it difficult to concentrate, writing like that? I often find it… difficult… to concentrate.
AQ: Headphones were the key. Every word of your story was written to music. Anything that takes places in the woods was written to Loscil’s gorgeous, glacial “Coast / Range / Arc”. For the non-flashback scenes, I listened to Cliff Martinez’s “Solaris” score, all tranquil bells and pensive strings.
AL: I see. What about the climax of the story?
AQ: Just one song, on repeat. “Demon Seed”, by Nine Inch Nails. I think that’s your theme song in this story. Particularly the last 90 seconds of it.
AL: “Demon Seed”? Are you sure you’re not still in high school?
AQ: Hey, it worked for you.
AL: That “my theme” can be expressed by such a song is profoundly disturbing on a number of levels. Next question. What made you want to write something — and then submit it for publication, which was a first for you — after over a decade of inactivity?
AQ: In early 2010 I set myself a few self-improvement goals, and one of them was to finish a piece of writing and have it accepted for publication before my 30th birthday, in May 2011. I wound up ignoring that writing goal in favour of the other things I’d set out to do, but when I heard about the Wolf-Girls anthology in January 2011, I knew I’d never find a better excuse to get started writing again. Dark short stories about female werewolves? To my family and friends it probably sounded like a vanity project I made up for myself.
AL: And yet you didn’t actually start writing the story until late February.
AQ: Yeah, despite the self-improvement kick, I’m still a consummate procrastinator.
AL: Clearly. Were you at least able to make your “accepted for publication by 30” deadline?
AQ: I got the acceptance email less than 12 hours before I turned 30. That was a good night.
AL: I’m so happy for you.
AL: Maybe. Moving on. I have a clear sense of my own history, but I can sense faint echoes of “previous versions” of myself. I get the feeling that I was iterated a few times during the writing process.
AQ: That’s right. I did quite a lot of re-writing. Originally you were going to be a court reporter, but I decided that you being a part of the justice system would create a premise too much like Showtime’s “Dexter”. I think Dexter Morgan is a terrific anti-hero, but he’s comfortable in his disguise. You’re never truly comfortable, are you? Even after seven years of relative domesticity.
AL: Let’s talk about something else, please. You run Werewolf News, and you’ve also created the SRA, a fake government agency that tracks “non-human” entities, including lycanthropes. Why do werewolves hold such fascination for you?
AQ: The short answer is that werewolves are awesome. The longer, more articulate answer is that I’m intrigued the concept of metamorphosis, especially when it’s mixed up with the construction of one’s personal identity. If you ignore how long a werewolf stays in either shape, how would you be able to tell which is his or her “real” body?
AL: How nice that you have the luxury of pondering that as an intellectual exercise. I know precisely which is my “real” body, thank you very much.
AQ: See, that’s why I usually go with the short answer.
AL: Speaking of “real” bodies… since I’m a character you made up, are you visualizing me as being physically there, across from you, asking these questions?
AQ: When we began this interview I tried to visualize you, yes, but the mental image of you sitting across from me on this train is very much at odds with the last scene of The Librarian. The latter keeps bleeding into the former. No pun intended.
AL: That pun was absolutely intended, and for that reason, we’re done here.
AQ: Hey, am I going to get to write about that other secret you have? The one I cut from the story becau–
AL: WE’RE DONE HERE.
Read 'The Librarian' in Wolf-Girls: Dark Tales of Teeth, Claws and Lycogyny, edited by Hannah Kate and published by Hic Dragones.