How does inspiration strike you?
I’m a very visual writer, so most often it’s an image that sticks out to me—a dilapidated barn, a path through the trees, someone standing on the side of the road. When an image grabs me, my mind immediately starts thinking of a story for it. Who built that barn? Where does the path lead? Where is that person going?
The rest of the time, like with this story in particular, I’m inspired by bits of folklore. For this story, it was an online discussion of alternative werewolf legends, like the idea that saying a person’s full name would turn them from wolf back to human, as well as a discussion of why women were rarely depicted as werewolves in fiction. Female characters often aren’t allowed to be hairy and snarling and bloodied; I can only think of one story (one of my favorites), “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell, that really embraces this. So those were two ideas that really got me thinking, and the end result is “What’s Wild and Howling, Call it Home.”
For what purpose do you write?
I’ve always said that I write fiction, especially speculative fiction, because it’s a place where the impossible becomes possible. I love pushing my imagination to its limits and creating a weird, fantastical space away from regular mundane life.
Is there a certain process you go through while writing?
Once I have an idea, I have to sit with it for a while. If I start to write too soon, it comes out all wrong. The more I consider it, the longer I hold it in my mind, the closer the words I put down on the page will be to what I’m envisioning in my head. I also work best with an outline, even a vague one—just something to keep me on track and remind me where I’m going, but not one that’s so strict that I feel like I can’t change it. And then it’s just about pounding out the first draft, sending it to friends for feedback, and shaping it over the course of a few revisions into what I ultimately want it to be.
Where do you see magic in everyday life?
The natural world often feels magical to me—those little ecosystems and patterns and lives that continue on even when we’re not looking. The perfect symmetry of leaves and spiderwebs, the way light filters through crystal and scatters rainbows all over the room, the progress of a seed sprouting from soil. Nature features heavily in most of my stories, I think because it’s so easy to build on its inherent mystery—I mean, what’s really going on outside my window? It could be a bird building a nest or it could be a werewolf slinking through the trees. In stories, both could be equally possible.
Tara Fritz is a recent graduate of George Mason University’s Creative Writing MFA program, where she served as Fiction Editor of So to Speak Journal. In her writing, she loves to explore the weird, the surreal, and the uncanny. Her work has most recently appeared in Fearsome Critters and The Gateway Review, and less recently The Mochila Review, Brainchild Magazine, and others. She can be found at @taradoeswriting on Twitter.