New Author Spotlight: Katherine Montgomery
What drew you to writing stories that move across genres? Is this a new direction for your writing?
I have always been an avid reader of genre fiction, so it feels natural to pursue subjects and themes that deal with the fantastic when I write. There is something about speculative fiction that strikes me as inherently hopeful; it’s a way of affirming for myself that the world can be numinous.
The theme for this issue is School. Did you write it for the theme, or was it something that you’d already completed that seemed to fit?
I already had an idea germinating in the back of my mind when I saw this issue’s theme, but the prompt motivated me to get the idea onto paper.
The main character in “Lesson Planning” liberally applies profanity in describing her students and the events at St. Adrian’s Prep. Some readers might argue this makes her seem unsympathetic, while others might enjoy the way Winna’s blue streak turns the teacher stereotype on its ear. What led you to write a vulgar character in an archetypically virtuous profession?
It bothers me that in our society teachers are often portrayed as two-dimensional, straight-laced, and unable to sympathize with or understand their teenage students. (It also seems to me that most of the teachers I see portrayed in young adult genre fiction have an astounding lack of situational awareness.) I set out to tell a genre story from the perspective of a fully realized human being who happens to be a teacher, who observes the world around her through a lens informed in part by her students. I confess that I adore the foul language employed by writers like Hunter S. Thompson, Warren Ellis, Kurt Vonnegut, and the beat poets; Winna’s character was an excuse to indulge. One of my favorite lines of poetry comes from Jack Spicer: “You ask me to sing a sad song/How motherfucker can I sing a sad song/When I remember Zion?” I believe that profanity can be delightful and impactful, if the reader is open to it.
Lols, fuckmuppets, and fizzbitches, oh my! As befitting an educator, Winna’s eclectic lexicon draws freely from many wells; netspeak, classic literature, and science, to name a few. Have you no fear that future readers will find “Lesson Planning” inscrutable? Won’t someone think of the children?!
One of things that brings me joy as a reader is challenging and varied language. Discovering new words or familiar words used in unfamiliar ways is, to me, part of the fun. It is my hope that a few of these Urban Dictionary gems will elicit a few chuckles from future audiences.
Tell us something about your future writing projects. Are you developing more short stories? Do you have a novel in the works?
I write regularly, and I have an incredibly supportive family and community of fellow writers. It is my intention to continue publishing: beyond that, who can say?
Where is your favorite writing place? Can you draw us a visual picture of the kind of space you create for yourself when you write?
I am a burrower: I climb into bed or onto the couch with my laptop, cover myself in a completely ridiculous number of blankets and at least one long-haired cat and possibly also a Border Collie, and hunch over the keyboard. There is often a glass of wine or bourbon nearby.
What’s the question that you wish someone would ask, but no one ever has?
“Did you know there’s a snowy landscape and a satyr where the back of this wardrobe should be?”
What’s the answer to that question?
“Lead the way!”
Is there anything I didn’t ask that you think is important or that readers might want to know?
Only this tidbit, which a student offered to me in class yesterday: duck-billed platypli have poison spurs on their hind legs. Watch out, everyone!