Interview with Bethany Snyder, Author of "The Stone Wife"

The sixth issue of Geek Force Five, “The Stone Wife,” is out today, featuring a story by Bethany Snyder. It’s already the best-selling issue of GF5 to date, and I wanted to take a moment on this most awesome of days to ask Bethany a few questions about her story and her influences.

ECC: “The Stone Wife” is inspired by the Lady in Granite legend in your hometown of Penn Yan, New York. For those who don’t know, what’s the legend?

BLS: The legend, as my terrified elementary school self remembers it, is that there is a face of a woman on a grave in the cemetery, and no matter how many times they replace the stone, the face always comes back. But I also remember being told that if you touch a place on the face, you will get injured in the same place on your own face. There’s more information about the legend here, but it doesn't mention the injury thing. It’s entirely likely that kids made that part up to scare me. I was (and still am) very easily scared.

ECC: When drawing from a real world phenomenon like that, how bound to the real details did you feel? Were you comfortable embellishing? Have you run into the same kind of situation in your other work?

BLS: I was definitely comfortable embellishing. Almost every bit of fiction I’ve written draws from my life—particularly location. Many of my stories take place in Penn Yan. It makes it easy to describe things, because I’m so familiar with the details. But I have never felt constrained by truth. I see reality as a jumping-off point. Hopefully, my readers from Penn Yan will recognize their home—but also see it in a new way for the first time.

ECC: I know this is one of your first paying gigs, but I imagine you’ve had work published elsewhere prior to this. Where can people find more of your work?

BLS: I have been published twice before. “I Spied” appeared in Petrichor Machine, and “Underneath” in Kindred. And now I realize that all of those stories have a common theme. I swear, I write happy stuff, too!

ECC: We’re both graduates of the late, great Bradford College, though I think we overlapped in our time there by only 1 year (your last and my first). It seems to me that part of the charm of the place was that everyone there, including the teachers, were real personalities. Who was your biggest influence at Bradford?

BLS: The infamous Perry Glasser was definitely a big influence on me at Bradford. I was scared to death to incur his wrath, but that made his praise all the sweeter. Another big influence was fellow writer Tammy Hines. We sent each other fiction over the summer, which kept me writing. One of the things I love best about writing is finding a character's voice—and I met so many characters at Bradford who inspire and influence my writing to this day.

ECC: Which writers inspire Bethany Snyder?

BLS: I love the way Michael Chabon crafts elaborate, intricate sentences. I love the ‘there are no rules’ style of Tom Robbins. Tana French spins these marvelous mysteries, but with such artistry. I also write middle grade novels, and for that I draw my inspiration from three amazing women: Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and J.K. Rowling. Ultimately, I love it when I read something that makes me want to pick up a pen to see what I can do—which, more and more these days, includes writers whom I think are terrible!

Check out The Stone Wife (Geek Force Five #6) today, available in print and electronically!

InterviewsE. Christopher Clark