Ask The Author: Claire Burgess

In the August Issue were “Two Stories” by Claire Burgess. She answers our questions about various parts of her stories.

1. What would you leave to someone in your will?

No easy-peasy leaving. Competitive, fast-paced treasure hunt. There will be maps and riddles and clues based on personal and shared experiences. Depending on how well each person knew me, he/she may find the X with my PIN number buried beneath it, or he/she may find the X with my used socks.  

This is, of course, if I know that I’m going to die and have time to prepare. If it’s sudden and unexpected, then it’ll probably be a free-for-all like the mall on black Friday, which I also find oddly appealing.

2. Is love watching someone die?

When it’s not in the Johnny Cash, “I shot a man in Reno” tradition, then yes, it probably stems from love. Or, come to think of it, hate. If you feel indifferent towards the dying person, or just sort of like them, or think they’re pretty neat, or don’t really care for them but you’re related so you’re there anyways, or sort of love them but feel really uncomfortable in hospitals and hate that antiseptic smell, then you’re probably going to be at the snack machine when the person on the deathbed rattles out his/her final breath. But love and hate? Love and hate don’t need snacks.

3. How would you want your body consumed after you’re dead?

Mixed with sugar water in a hummingbird feeder. Spiked in a punch bowl. Sprinkled into a swimming pool in summer. Fertilizer for a fruit tree. Sushi. Barbeque. Fat in the roux of a gumbo.

4. How would you remodel your kitchen?

Huge, medieval-style fireplace. (With natural gas.)

5. Why choose bats for “Clean”?

First, they have wings, which gives them a one-up on rats. Second, the original idea was planted by a neighbor’s bat infestation. But third and most importantly, I liked the idea of something living in the attic, in that cobwebbed, asbestos-lined, un-air-conditioned space where you shove your holiday decorations, your secret hatboxes of love notes, your trunks of ancient savings bonds and moth-eaten clothing, and also your molding cardboard boxes packed with things you want to forget. This is different from the basement, where you go for shelter during tornados and to do your laundry. I wanted something in the attic, disturbing all that dust.

6. Where did you come up with the idea of consuming the body in “Salt”?

You know, just coming up with menu items for the week.

  • Love and hate don’t need snacks.

    Amen to that.

    Great interview, great stories–especially Salt.