character development, dysfunctional family, mental health, On Fire anthology, twins, witchcraft, writer's block, writing, zombies
If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet Sean Padraic McCarthy.
Are you a full-time author? If you have another job, what is it and would you like to become a full-time author if you could?
I’m not a full time author. I work in the mental health field as a human service coordinator. And yes, if I could support myself from writing, I would; although I would like to teach part time.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I’m always working on at least a few stories—and usually a novel—at the same time, so if one stalls, I just jump to another. I also find that writer’s block is much more torturous when thinking about writing; once you go into your writer’s mind—with either pen on paper or fingers on the keyboard—the answers are usually more accessible.
Who is your favorite character in your current story and why?
Both Sophie and Kinsley. I love Sophie’s heart and innocence, and I love Kinsley’s alertness, practicality and wisdom, and I love the way the two of them look out for each other.
From “A Solstice Memory” by Sean McCarthy
Inside the house the twins stood waiting for me. They’re not identical, but they look alike. Sophie has darker hair, a slightly lazy eye, and freckles on her nose. A little taller. Kinsley is more compact, and more assured. An athlete.
“Dad,” she said.
“That wasn’t a dead cat you were burying this morning.”
“What do you mean?”
She beckoned for me to follow her, and slid open the door onto the back covered deck. Cheryl has always kept the back deck looking nice. A bar, and our grill, a teak dining table. More hanging plants, and potted herbs. And on the side wall of the house hangs a collections of faces. Masks. One, wooden, is a tree spirit, a bearded face in the bark. One is Pan, painted dark green, leaves in his hair. One is a gray stone cherub. And one is from Haiti. A tear drop shaped, with a bone through the nose, eyes in panic, and the mouth locked open in scream. Wild strands of hair, standing on end. My brother-in-law, a sociologist, game me that one. He told me it is very old, and one of kind, probably worth a lot of money, so we probably shouldn’t hang it out here, free to steal, but Cheryl insisted we do, insisted we hang it with the others, so she didn’t have to look at it every day.
Kinsley was already down on the lawn. “Come on.”
I looked at Sophie.
“I’m not going down there,” she said. “Not again.”
Kinsley stopped some twenty feet from the shed, from the pet cemetery.
I caught up.
“Look.” She pointed.
But she didn’t have to.
The hand stuck up from the earth. Rotten and gray. The yellow finger nails clawed at the soil.
“He wants out, Dad,” Kinsley said.
“Well, let’s see if we can stop that.”
“You can’t be burying dead guys in the yard. Mom’s gonna get really mad.”
Sean Padraic McCarthy’s short stories have been published or are forthcoming in Glimmer Train, The Hopkins Review, The Indianola Review, South Dakota Review, The Sewanee Review, 2 Bridges Review, Prole, Water~Stone Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Shadowgraph Magazine, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and South Dakota Review among others. His story “Better Man”–originally published in december magazine—was listed as a “Distinguished Story” in The Best American Short Stories 2015, he was recently named a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Award in Fiction, and he is a 2016 recipient of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s Artist Fellowship in Fiction Award.
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