EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: E. Catherine Tobler Talks About ‘Island Lake’
[Interviewer's Note: This is a series of interviews featuring the contributors of The Beastly Bride: Tales of the Animal People edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.]
E. Catherine Tobler lives and writes in Colorado–strange how that works out. Among others, her fiction has appeared in Sci Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, Realms of Fantasy, Talebones, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. For more visit www.ecatherine.com.
Charles Tan: Could you tell us more about the real Island Lake?
E. Catherine Tobler: The real Island Lake is in Washington State, and I think that no matter how time marches on, it is a place that will hold magic for me. During my time there, summers spent with grandparents picking blackberries and learning to swim, the lake was ringed with woods, and if you looked close enough, houses along the lakeshore. The island stands in the middle of the lake, or thereabouts, and was a mystery until my cousin and I finally got the courage to make our way out there. The island didn’t lose any of its charm up close. Other afternoons were spent walking the road that circled the lake, and likely never seeing another soul as you did–unless that soul was airborne and flying silently above.
CT: What’s the appeal of fantasy for you?
ECT: Fantasy, and science-fiction, have interested me since my childhood. I think receiving a boxed-set of The Lord of the Rings when I was eleven played a large part, for I can remember reading The Hobbit on a string of sunny afternoons, imagining myself floating downstream in a barrel, fleeing from spiders through dark woods, creeping about muddy caves and finding treasure. Fantasy was the first fiction that allowed me to imagine in that way; it made the story transcend the page, and held me forever.
CT: What were the challenges in writing “Island Lake”?
ECT: Ah, but this question seems to presume that there were challenges. Some stories come with ease, and that was the case with this one. I always felt that I would one day write about Island Lake. When this story came, it simply came. I did wish, perhaps, that I could visit the place once more before committing it to paper, but decided it was for the best that I couldn’t. This way, the lake was still firmly shrouded in childhood memories, which the story needed.
CT: How did you get involved with the Beastly Bride anthology?
ECT: I originally submitted “Island Lake” to the Datlow-Windling anthology Salon Fantastique, and while they loved it, they already had a few World War II stories in the mix. Ellen asked if they could move my story to Beastly Bride, being that they felt it fit that anthology as well, with the strange fish people and spider queen. Of course I said yes!
CT: What’s the appeal of the Beastly Bride concept for you?
ECT: Mythology and fairy tales have always interested me; the idea that hybrid creatures exist among humanity and that quite often, humanity doesn’t find it strange in the least bit. Fish people, elephant goddesses, minotaurs, skin-walkers, were-creatures, Beauty and the Beast. There is something inherently magical about that to me–that people are always more than they seem, that we only have to take the time to look beyond the surface of who a person is.
Filed under: Interviews
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