I love this piece that Leila has chosen by Nik. He writes these short emotional pieces so very well – especially when you consider that he also does the wonderful Stormcrow stories. – Time for another of those Mr Nik?
In the LS vault, the topic of Loss is found in abundance. The MC’s created by the authors all have their own way of dealing with the emotional subject. Some weep, some deny, most go bonkers in some way.
Reinventing Amy by Nik Eveleigh goes the seldom taken symbolism route. Moreover, the MC, Craig, isn’t as broken up over the loss of his wife as maybe he ought to be in the eyes of his friends and family. There comes a point in the piece in which the late Amy isn’t as much celebrated as she is examined. But in the end the reader should diagnose everyone involved as Human. Seldom more, consistently less.
Q: Food and even the dish itself, are as much characters in the piece as are the people. How did you arrive at that choice?
Q: There are quite a few speaking parts in the story, and you handled them well. Was there any difficulty keeping everyone, and his or her attitude, in proper focus?
To briefly answer Mrs. D before I get to Leila’s excellent questions I have heard a rumour (unsubstantiated but from an impeccable source) that the feathered one has had a rethink about how much he hates hobbits and is currently spending lockdown helping out at a makeshift soup kitchen at Bag End. But I’ll have a chat to him and see if he’s up for another outing…
Thanks Leila for rescuing this one from the dusty boxes in the LS basement – it’s always been one of my personal favourites for reasons that may or may not be explained when I get to the questions. I feel very humbled that you’ve chosen another piece of my work and thrilled that it was this one.
Q1 – There is far more fact blurring the fiction in this piece than typically happens when I write. The pie dish (that is not a pie dish) in the story image that forms a thread throughout the piece is real. The backstory of the butchers shop with the various aunties and butchers is all real, as are its well traveled adventures. It still resides in a cupboard here in Cape Town and remains the vessel of choice for a corned beef pie. The story came out of a conversation with my wife when we noticed the old girl (I’m referring to the pie dish) had a sizeable crack along one side and I went through the whole story about it. It got me thinking about how sad I’ll be when it finally breaks and how much history the dish as well as the corned beef pie carries. The relationship with Amy was based on a previous girlfriend – she didn’t die I hasten to add – but a lot of the elements that Craig poured out when the dam burst came from that period in my life. Deb is an amalgam of my wife and a good friend. So with the general themes in place it all came back to the rose tinted rear view lens on history and the way that people and events so easily get reinvented – particularly when they’re gone.
Q2 – I enjoy writing dialogue and I find that when I’m in the zone it flows with much more ease than descriptive prose. From memory I feel like this whole piece came together very easily and naturally and I don’t recall any head scratching and red pen moments trying to sort out wonky dialogue. However…on reading it back with a critical eye I’d say there’s an element of character bleed between Deb and Craig, which I suppose supports the idea that they are close and have similar outlooks and humour – I think it’s easier to get away with it in a short story, and if this piece was any longer there’d need to be a more clear delineation between the characters and their dialogue styles. My main goal was to avoid confusion between who was speaking at any one time – but I strive for unattributed dialogue if I can manage it and fall back on the Stephen King “he said, she said” simplicity when I can’t.
Thanks again Leila for giving me a chance to think about this one – I think I’ll make a corned beef pie to celebrate.