For me, stories often happen while I’m walking, watching, and letting my mind wander– a kind of observation and metamorphosis. When I see a grandmother’s face warm into a smile as her grandson rides his tricycle down the sidewalk, I tend to ask myself what she might do if he were to fall. Would she run to console him, or is she the kind of grandmother who would insist that he shake it off and keep riding? Of course, this is an over-simplified example, but the principle is the same regardless of the stakes. In the case of "Fast Forward", my husband and I walked by a security camera in a grocery store, and he said, “You should write a story about surveillance footage that shows the future instead of the past.” I immediately loved the idea, but I knew that I wanted to use it to pose some questions about accountability, deception, and failure. The connection between seeing into the future and COVID-19 clicked for me.
Research is also a vital part of my writing routine—I had spent a year wading through historical documents and deciphering medical articles on DNA cloning for my recently completed novel. With the pandemic in the news, it wasn’t difficult to make a “what-if” leap. I observed the horrors unfolding in the world around me, as I read about people who continued to reject this tough reality. Although my writing frequently centers around unexpected twists of fate, it always comes back to the characters. I wanted to give Harriet a choice that would leave her paralyzed, but I didn’t know what she was going to do until the very end of the story.
Why do you write horror?
I’ve never thought of myself as one particular kind of genre writer. My novel has elements of horror, mystery, thriller, romance, and historical fiction. And, while I believe it falls into the category of speculative fiction, so much of it has the potential to be real. On the other hand, could anyone have expected the world to be living through a global pandemic this year? Reality and fiction exist side by side, as much as horror and delight.
JACQUELINE FELDMAN works in non-profit management and serves as Board Programming Committee Chair of Literary Cleveland, a literary arts organization serving writers and readers in Northeast Ohio and beyond. She holds an MA in English from Cleveland State University. Having moved to the U.S. from Ukraine as a child, Jacqueline often touches on themes of immigration and estrangement in her writing. Currently, she is working on short fiction and seeking representation for her debut novel, "Ten Days Until Tomorrow."