From the author: A short insight into writing 'The Beasts and the Birthday'.
Having a story featured is a nice way to start out at Curious Fictions, so for my first post, I'll tell you how it was written.
The Beasts and the Birthday came about after I'd read Garth Nix's Shades Children. These kinds of stories, they often end with a return to normalcy, but I wondered how normal a family could be after such a horrific experience. I started reading articles about intergenerational trauma as research.
The first character I came up with was Nanny, the mother of the protagonists mother, who had lived a decent amount of life before the terrible events, and who held on to her old ways. I gave her the forthrightness and lack of filter that sometimes emerges in older people who have had enough of everyone's shit. She's got a foul mouth and a bad leg and is the honest voice in a very emotionally repressed family.
It was interesting to me to write a big family, as I'm an only child myself. I took the familial interactions I'd observed (like some weird creepy loner alien only child would observe) in big families I've come across and filtered them into the story.
I love to insert little pieces of my life into my stories. The scene where Georgia and Ben share a smoke out the back under the fig trees comes from nights when I'd step outside for a hand-rolled cigarette in my backyard. I'd puff and watch the bats tear into the figs on my neighbors tree under the stars and it was nice to watch the smoke rise into the night sky. I've since quit smoking, and miss these little night-time interludes with the sky and the trees and the bats.
I'm really proud of this story, which I think has a very Australian feel, and I'm so glad it's got a bit of new life being featured on Curious Fictions.