An Unlikely Mini Interview with Carlie St. George

Do you find clowns to be a) creepy b) downright terrifying c) mildly amusing d) laugh out loud funny e) some combination of the above or f) none of the above (please supply your own alternate adjective/description)?

E. I think clowns are kind of creepy, which is probably why I also find them funny. My instinct to laugh at anything eerie and unnerving is probably not going to serve me well if I ever end up in any kind of horror movie scenario.

On a related note, what is you earliest clown-related memory, and how did it scar you and or shape your view of clowns?

To be honest, I don’t think it ever occurred to me to find clowns frightening OR funny as a kid. I loved playing dress-up, and clowns were just another kind of costume. The first clown I ever saw was probably Ronald McDonald and he provided the chicken nuggets, so I suspect I was okay with him.

My first really specific clown memory, though – and one that directly influenced this story — was actually an art project from second or third grade. Our teacher taught us how to draw happy and sad clowns and told us we could pick which kind we wanted to draw. I don’t think I’d ever seen a sad clown at that point, so they seemed way more interesting.

What lead you to take the particular approach to clowns you used in your story, Break the Face in the Jar by the Door?

Initially, I’d hoped to write a scary story, actually — I’m a huge fan of Pennywise. But everything I tried ended up feeling hopelessly derivative, so I shifted gears. I got to thinking about those sad clowns I used to draw and somehow that connected with this other ghost of a story I had in my head, where this woman in an emotionally abusive relationship starts making the first steps to taking control back. At first — less imaginatively — I thought maybe the daughter was drawing sad clowns herself, but I realized the story was a lot more interesting if she just woke up as a clown one day. Cause I figure, clowns are creepy because you can’t trust the expressions painted on their faces. This time, though, the clown is intrinsically honest. It’s everyone else who’s lying.

Unrelated to clowns (or not, as the case may be), what else are you working on/have you published recently/have upcoming that you’d like people to know about?

I’ve been working on a trilogy of fairy tales retold as noir stories. I’m pretty excited about them — they’ve been a kick to write. “The Case of the Little Bloody Slipper” will appear this October in The Book Smugglers. The subsequent sequels will appear in November and December, respectively.

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