For our next entry in the first ever JordanCon Anthology—So You Want Stories?—I got to talk to Alexandra Hill about her submission "The Bakery: Prelude to a Fairy Tale."
First, can you tell us about your writing? Is this your first published work?
I read really broadly, and I think that translates into what I write; I’ve either finished or am in the process of stories in a number of genres, including sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, memoir, and so-called “literary fiction.” Fantasy feels like home, though, especially in atemporal or modern settings. I love how the genre lets me ask “what if…?” not just of my characters, but of the world in which they live.
I’ve published academic writing under my real name – I’m a computational biologist by training, and have a few papers out under my real name – but “The Bakery” is my first work of published fiction.
Where does your story fall on the speculative fiction scale?
I think the title gives it away! “The Bakery: Prelude to a Fairy Tale” is fantasy, and sets up the world before “Once upon a time.”
What excited you the most with writing this story?
A million years ago, my Grade 12 English class was able to pick whatever topic they wanted for their final project. My subject: “Freudian Psychoanalysis and the Evolution of the Modern Day Villain.” I had a blast. I interpreted how Freud would have interpreted the backstories of villains in three 90s Batman Movies and three novels (Perfume, Harry Potter, and Hannibal Rising).
Writing this story felt as fun as that project. I loved creating my own spin on the backstory of a female villain. I think the world sees a lot of stories of men behaving badly, and having some kind of origin story for their evil and/or redemption arcs, but historically, women’s stories haven’t been explored that way. I don’t think that Elle’s life justifies any of her more “established” story, but I hope I’ve managed to create more depth to the character!
Are there any themes you want readers to get a sense of?
I’ve always been fascinated in peoples’ opinions of themselves. I think most people think that they’re fairly good people, but situations like Elle’s, where you’re stuck between impossible options through no fault of your own, mean that most people’s moral sense gets thrown out the window. I hope that readers ask themselves what they’d do in her place – and then really ask themselves what they’d do if they were her.
Is there a specific inspirational source you used for this story?
…What, you think I’m going to give away the ending?
What else would you like to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy this story! If you see me at JordanCon, be sure to stop and tell me who your favorite fictional villains are.
Thanks, Alexandra, for joining us at Dragonmount!
And don't forget today is the last day to preorder So You Want Stories? from JordanCon's website. The convention will have a few copies on hand, but don't risk it!