We’re quickly approaching the end of the month of April (how in the world does it seem to go by so fast?), which means we’re overdue to sit down and have an interview with this month’s featured author, Sarah Gribble. Her story, “Lullaby Land,” is a short, bittersweet look at loss and grieving, bringing a somber resonance to the pages of the World Unknown Review. So grab some coffee, maybe a few tissues, settle in, and let’s get to know this wonderful and engaging new author.
L.S>: Let’s get right to it. Who is Sarah Gribble, anyway?
S.G.: Well, this is quite the profound question! I’m an outdoorsy kind of person. If there’s a danger sign or a liability waiver, I’m all for it. Being away from my desk so much doesn’t make me the most prolific writer, but it does give me some life experiences to write about. I enjoy hiking with my dog and husband, reading anything that crosses my path, and lying on my yoga mat.
When it comes to a story like “Lullaby Land,” I’ll admit that I have some difficulty thinking of good questions, because the story itself is so compact and says so much on its own. Is this indicative of your usual writing style?
I usually like to make things as succinct as possible. I was a history major in undergrad, and they drilled compact writing into our heads. We’d have to write 20-page papers and fit a century’s worth of relevant information in there. You can’t help but tighten it up after four years of doing that.
Another thing that makes interviewing about a story like this is how deeply personal it is. A story like this rooted in so much emotion often can leave the reader wondering how much is fiction and how much is inspired by fact. So where did the inspiration for “Lullaby Land” emerge?
I predominately write horror, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time haunting cemeteries. “Lullaby Land” is based on a real section in a real cemetery. I was there soaking up some inspiration and saw that section, with its tiny gravestones and toys, and just had to spend some time there. I’m not afraid to admit I cried a little walking around looking at the memorabilia and dates on the stones. When I went to write about it, I just couldn’t bring myself to make it into a horror story. I kept picturing this woman in my head, standing there uncontrollably bawling. So I let her take the reins and what came out was something very different from what I normally write.
And it worked very, very well. The topic is a heavy one, but it’s one that many women have experienced, my own mother being one of them. I thought of her a lot when I read this story, and I know from talking to her that it resonated with her very strongly, right down to the contention with religion during such a tragedy. How does it feel as an author to touch on those kinds of emotions in a reader?
My heart goes out to anyone who has lost a child. I end up writing about children quite a bit, and I think that’s because losing one is the worst thing I can imagine. Of course, as a writer my goal is to connect with my readers, and I’m always glad when my writing elicits some kind of emotion, but in the case of this story that result is bitter sweet. No one should have to go through what Alina or your mother went through.
If you were in charge of a film version of your story, who would you cast as the main characters?
I kept picturing Alina as a Sara Ramirez-type while writing. Sara is just so good at playing devastation. I think she’d be great. I’m not sure about the rest of the characters, as they were more ‘blurry’. The story, for me, was purely about Alina and her anger and grief, so she was my main focus.
Read any good books lately?
This might seem like a crazy hodgepodge, but I like variety. I recently listened to Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime and loved it. I really recommend the audio version because there are so many different languages in there, and he speaks them all. And who doesn’t love his accent? The Pretty Ones by Ania Ahlborn (or anything by Ania, really). Her novel The Shuddering scared the crap out of me. I also finally got around to Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, which was just as magical as the movie.
Do you have a method for your writing? If so, what’s it like?
It varies. Sometimes I stare at the wall until something comes out, and sometimes I go looking for inspiration. Sometimes I type the rough draft, and sometimes only a pen and paper will do. I think the most effective (and annoying) thing seems to be jolting awake from the place in between consciousness and sleep and having to write whatever weirdness popped into my head.
What’s next for Sarah Gribble?
I’ve got a couple more short stories coming down the line, I’m in the planning stages for a new novel, and I’m currently querying agents for a YA dark fantasy novel about the afterlife. Fingers crossed!
Where can we find more of your work?
I’d like to thank Sarah for taking the time to chat with me a little about her story and her works. I’ve had the opportunity to connect with her on Twitter and Facebook, and I’m really looking forward to seeing all the great things this author has to offer. “Lullaby Land” brought a lot of heart and soul to WUR 2016, and I know there’s a lot more where that came from.