Last week, we announced the acquisition of Broken, the debut novel from American fantasy author, Marisca Pichette. In this interview, we catch up with Marisca to discuss her writing career to date, her upcoming novel, and the fictional worlds that have inspired her own.
What inspired you to write Broken?
MP: My first novel-length work was more or less an accident. It came from a desire to expand the world further, go deeper than a short story would allow. Since then, I have become better at separating these categories — knowing when a piece wants to be just a bite, and when it would prefer to be a five-course meal. Broken is a meal (maybe two).
Broken began with a word: subnatural. What does it mean to be considered less than natural? To explore this concept, I wrote Broken. The Subnature are more than predators, and humans more than simple prey. At the heart of the novel, I wanted to interrogate the concept of monstrosity as it applies to race, queerness, gender, and class. In the end, our decision of what constitutes a monster reflects more about ourselves than the object of our gaze.
What’s your writing process like? Do you plan everything out in meticulous detail or do you leave things open to develop as you write?
MP: For a large project like a novel, I begin with a basic idea of what I want the story to be, and then I start writing. I tend to plan chapter by chapter, sketching out the immediate scenes that will lead me to the final show. To the horror of my fellow writers, I don’t come to know my central characters until late in the draft. Once I’ve finally figured them out, I add the details of their motivations and backstories into the next draft. The main arc of the story doesn’t change much in revision.
What distinguishes your book from other fantasy books?
MP: There is a lot at work in Broken. It rides the line between soft sci-fi and epic fantasy, with elements of the far past (and far future) coming together to entangle in the characters’ lives. Every person has the power to tip the stakes in one direction or the other — but who’s directing the show? Secret names and relations, unnamed powers, and dangerous games will eventually reveal the truth. Whether anyone believes it is another story.
Which authors most inspired your own writing? And are there any novels that you looked to when you were beginning to shape your own world?
MP: Before I embarked on Broken, my main influences were Erin Morgenstern, Anne McCaffrey, JRR Tolkien, and Terry Pratchett. McCaffrey’s worldbuilding, and Tolkien’s use of linguistics, inspired me throughout my early work on the novel. My writing since then, and the revisions to Broken, were strengthened by my love of NK Jemisin, K Arsenault Rivera, Ken Liu, and Carmen Maria Machado.
And lastly, describe your book in one sentence.
MP: There’s only one way out of the dark: follow the bodies.