Kate Lechler’s story “The Lost Heirs of Rose McAlder” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 10 March 2017.
My story, “The Lost Heirs of Rose McAlder,” came from two places.
The first was my own thoughts about having children. For now, I’m happy living the kid-free life, investing in the kids of my friends and in my own creative work. I once told my husband “my books will be my children.” Once I said it out loud, though, I thought about all the grotesque meanings that phrase could have.
The second was a house in my town of Oxford, MS. The Ammadelle house, built in 1859, is a gorgeous, spooky old house at the end of a row of gorgeous, spooky old homes. When I first moved to Oxford, it was occupied by an elderly woman who soon passed away. The house sat empty for a year or two and I loved to walk by it at night, peering through the wrought iron fence that surrounds the property, imagining what was inside. I couldn’t see it without thinking of “A Rose for Emily” (which Faulkner, an Oxford boy himself, wrote about another house in Oxford) and the genre of Southern Gothic in general.
But Southern Gothic, done right, needs to intentionally tangle with the ghosts of slavery and of the Confederacy. And for this story, I wanted to write about other things. The relation between motherhood and creativity. The sexual double-standard. The urge to canonize–and capitalize on–our literary heroes (an effort I’m familiar with in the figure of Faulkner, whose grave I can almost view from my front porch). So I set it in small-town Vermont, among a lot of stolid, insular New Englanders who have a very clear idea of what it means, and doesn’t mean, to be part of their town.
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