– Tell us a bit about “A House of Her Own.”
It’s set on a human colony world which has been cut off from Earth for a long time. Humans have gotten into a symbiotic relationship with local flora/fauna, the hice. They’ve replaced the hice’s old commensal species. When tax collectors from Earth return to reclaim the old colony, they don’t know how to deal with this relationship; they can’t even see it.
– What was the inspiration for this story, or what prompted you to write it?
As a teenager when I was taught English in school, I’d wonder at the lack of regularity in plurals and always thought house should be conjugated like mouse. One day, decades later, that notion popped up again in my head and the hice grew from there pretty quickly.
I’m always fascinated at humanity relating to the other, to creatures that have goals and worldviews completely unlike their own.
– Was “A House of Her Own” personal to you in any way? If so, how?
I think a story is always personal. But specifically, I was an odd, fierce little girl. I dressed as a boy whenever I could to escape the strictures of being a girl in those days. I had a lot of freedom, I could roam our village without any supervision all day long, climbing trees, making fires, fighting. That gave me independence and also the idea that adults were idiots. I thought I knew everything.
My protagonist is a girl who doesn’t have to deal with notions about girlhood, but she’s as fierce and stubborn as I was.
At the same I’m writing this as an adult, my readers are adult, so that gives this story more layers, because adults see the gray instead of the black and white and look ahead for the inevitable consequences.
– What would you want a reader to take away from this story?
Primarily, I hope they’ll just enjoy it. And for those readers who want more, maybe remember their own childhood state of mind and how different they view things now. And there’s the clash of cultures, of colonization, and how easy it is to think from the preconceptions of your own culture.
“A House of Her Own” appears in the September/October 2015 issue of F&SF. You can buy that issue here: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1509.htm
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