I came into fiction from a place of being a poet first and foremost, which has really informed the way I construct my short stories. There’s something pleasurable about accessing modes that feel more rooted in poetry—such as a sort of incantatory lyric—and braiding them through a story on a sentence level. The short story as a form also gives me ample space to layer different ideas into my writing.
How does this published piece fit in with the larger thematic concerns that you see in your overall work?
This story in particular is in conversation with Hollywood tropes such as the sissy villain. At first, the reader might infer that the lover is a hypochondriac, but by the end you realize (spoilers!) he’s suffering from something not unlike Munchausen syndrome by proxy, where the narrator is continually poisoning the lover to keep the lover so unwell that he’s incapable of leaving the narrator. My writer friend Tim Jones-Yelvington uses the term “queer evil” to talk about an aesthetic, which I think speaks to the way that queer people can experience their desire in the abject—which is what I’m trying to write through. It feels like a redistribution of power to be able to work with a sissy villain in this story and make him my own.
Overall, a lot of the stories I’m writing right now seem interested in excess, that is, how far I can push the small parts of my stories and layer them up. Even the sing-song title, “Moonflower, Nightshade, All the Hours of the Day,” borders on absurdity, but it gives the reader an idea about what they’re in for. By the time the reader has finished the story, I want them to feel slightly infected by the layering of time, of obsession and control, of flowers and perfume, and of course, the poison that lurks in the background of the story.
Beyond that, I’m continuously interested in genre fiction, and blending qualities from those styles into my work. In a way, this is one of my more realist stories, but that’s what’s so dreadful about pulling from horror as a genre—the truth behind it.
What are you influenced by?
80s Kate Bush, 90s anime, 00s LiveJournal.
What does your typical writing schedule look like? What aspects of working do you look forward to? What aspects frustrate you?
If you would have asked me this a month ago, I would have told you I don’t believe in the “write everyday” mantra, and that my writing schedule is entirely unscheduled. I come from that woo-woo school of writing where you’re waiting for the words to descend through the parted clouds and be pulled through your pen as angels sing in the background.
That being said, I’m working on a novel for the first time and now I’m like, ohhh, I finally get who writing schedules are for. I’m trying to work on the novel for an hour each day at the moment. Weirdly enough, I never really get frustrated during the process of writing. After the work is complete and it potentially becomes a product—that’s where things become complicated.
For fun, if you could pick one meal that matches the piece we published, what would it be and why?
Death cap mushroom risotto with a little hemlock for garnish. Maybe some Alan Turing apple pie for dessert.
JD SCOTT is the author of two chapbooks: FUNERALS & THRONES (Birds of Lace Press, 2013) and Night Errands (YellowJacket Press, 2012). Recent and forthcoming publications include Best American Experimental Writing, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Salt Hill, Sonora Review, The Pinch, Ninth Letter, The Baltimore Review, The Atlas Review, and elsewhere. More of JD’s work can be found at jdscott.com.