I lived in Pittsburgh and was riding the bus to work one day when the paper shadow idea hit me. The first line of the story was what arrived, really. I had no idea what it meant. I often try to write sentences that are puzzles to me that I have to solve. Just shoving words together. "Paper shadow"—what does it mean? It all unspooled from there: the class structure of shadows, the ability to fold a shadow into odd shapes, weapons, designs. All (or most) of the shadowtucks in the story are classical rhetorical names of tropes. Even Clutter's name: acyron. I was also very influenced by M. John Harrison and his heightened prose. I wanted to write a story that was charged with the rhetoric it used. That's why it sounds/reads the way it does. In opposition to the prose register, I often try to write about the oppressed and how they fight against authority. The story confronts the reality that there's always going to be someone worse off than you, no matter how bad you have it. And the question is: What will you do about those people? Will you help them? Or will you focus on yourself? I hope the story explores these questions and issues in interesting ways.
Why do you write horror?
I think I've always been writing toward horror, even before I was reading it seriously as an adult. Part of that was because of how and when I was raised. As a child of the 80s, horror was everywhere. Books, films, music, cartoons. How many times can a kid watch Beetlejuice before they are warped? For me, though, horror was a realization of what reality was compared to what I often convinced myself it was. For example, reflecting back on a time when a friend and I were messing around in a barn and falling through the hay loft into a pile of hay. Seemed fun. Little did we realize that the thresher was a few feet away from us under the hay. Foot long spikes on a wheel. Impalement never seemed so close. So, I'm always chasing those moments, either from my own life or in the made up lives I write about. What we think we see vs. what's really going on. And truth be told, I like to be creeped out by a weird anecdote. And I like trying to pass that eerie and terrifying feeling on to others if possible. The goal, in the end, is always to try and scare myself first, though.
KYLE WINKLER lives in northeast Ohio. He's the author of the cosmic horror novella, The Nothing That Is (available May 11), and his speculative fiction and essays have appeared in Conjunctions, The Rupture, Scare Street, The Rumpus, and The Millions. He teaches writing and rhetoric at Kent State University - Tuscarawas. Find him on Twitter: @bleakhousing.