- Joan Schweighardt
Spotlight on Chelsea Stickle
A witch receives the raw meats her various clients bring her and serves it back to them in slightly different forms. A man promises to lasso the moon for his lover, who was perfectly content with the moonstone she already owns. A woman who has been isolated begins to fall apart, literally, at her first post-pandemic dinner party. A narrator who has died describes the ins and out of ghosting. Runaway peacocks destroy all the cars in an affluent neighborhood.
No two of the stories in Chelsea Stickle’s new chapbook Everything’s Changing are alike. Their common denominator, however, is magic: dark magic, light magic, vengeful magic … The writing here is so distinctive and so weird, in a good way, that we couldn’t wait to interview Chelsea.
I loved reading Everything’s Changing, which has just released. I smiled even through the somewhat painful stories because I enjoyed the zigzag rhythm in the storytelling so much. Is it accurate to say you are mythologizing in this book?
That’s an interesting way to put it! I like it!
Your mind, at least as it’s reflected in your writing, seems to work a little differently than most people’s. Do you have to sort of rev it up to get ready to write a story, or is that your default setting?
It’s safe to say that my mind does work a little differently. But I do have to get my brain in the right state to focus on an idea and follow it through to the end.
Somewhere on your website it says you also play bass and embroider. Does either work in conjunction with your writing in some way, or are they totally separate manifestations of your creative self?
Before the pandemic, almost all of my hobbies were in some way related to writing and storytelling. I kept getting burned out. The first thing I tried was bass. Playing bass stimulates a different part of my brain. Embroidery helps me wind down. They’re completely separate from my writing, and it’s worked out wonderfully.
Among your favorite authors, which ones would most surprise your fan base?
Do I have a fan base? I’m not sure what their expectations are. My first chapbook was full of realistic stories, and Everything’s Changing is quite different! Would Milan Kundera surprise you? His short novels are vastly underrated.
Do you ever think about writing a full-length novel? Do you ever write nonfiction?
I started out as a short-story writer because I thought that was the shortest you could go. My stories wanted to be shorter. I tried my hand at a couple of novels, but it’s hard to imagine trying that again. It wasn’t an experience I enjoyed, and I’ve decided life is too short to spend my time on things I don’t enjoy. Nonfiction is for people braver than I am.
Do you believe in ghosts?
I don’t. But I enjoy them as metaphors for mental illness, PTSD, grief, longing, etc.
Chelsea Stickle is the author of the flash fiction chapbook Breaking Points (Black Lawrence Press, 2021). Her stories have appeared in CHEAP POP, CRAFT, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others. Her micros have been selected for Best Microfiction 2021 and the Wigleaf Top 50 in 2022. Her second chapbook, Everything’s Changing, is published with Thirty West Publishing (January 2023). She lives in Annapolis, MD, with her black rabbit George and a forest of houseplants. Read more at chelseastickle.com and find her on Twitter @Chelsea_Stickle.