Jess Koch’s story “Fur and Feathers” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 22 November 2019. Metaphorosis

“Fur and Feathers” began its life as a flash fiction piece about a man slowly transforming into a tree. Both the original short piece and the final short story are from the perspective of his young daughter, known as Little Bird, who soon learns that all humans will eventually face the change into a plant or an animal.

Though I liked the short piece, it felt unfinished. There were new themes and other storylines beginning to emerge from the narrative that felt too confined by its length.

Over the course of many drafts, I found that I wanted the framing of the story to be the relationships between the three women who were left behind: a mother and two daughters. I wanted to explore what happened to them in the aftermath of the father’s change.

In the final version, I was able to bring in more of the outside world, to hint at the collapsing society just beyond the woods and to deeply examine conflict within this family following a tragedy.

The story was inspired in part—of course—by Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and also by contemporary weird fiction in the vein of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. It was also inspired by conflicting perspectives on the fear of death and the acceptance of change, explored through the eyes of a child.

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