Laura Ruby’s ‘Bone Gap’ is basically just ruling our life rn. Magical, sweet, heartbreaking, full of mystery and so beautifully written it actually hurts – it’s not surprising we’re obsessed, really.
We had many questions about this magical read for Laura, mostly about bees to be honest.
Tell us all about Bone Gap in the length of a tweet. A 17 yo boy named Finn witnesses the kidnapping of a young woman, but no one believes him. A Midwestern fairy tale/mystery in 4 voices.
Did any real life places inspire the town of Bone Gap? A lot of places inspired Bone Gap (particularly a little town in southeastern Illinois called…Bone Gap!).
Some years ago, I was visiting a lot of schools in tiny towns nestled in the cornfields of Illinois. If you’ve never driven through cornfields, I can tell you that they’re a little eerie—the wind whistles through the leaves, and the plants grow so fast you can actually hear them. I wondered what kinds of things could be hidden in those fields—girls? Monsters? Girls AND monsters?—just as I was meeting some really amazing people who worked the farmland. When I started writing this book, I looked at maps to find towns with very small populations and stumbled onto photographs of a town called Bone Gap. The name was so evocative, and so fitting with a place that I’d imagined had gaps in time and space, that I had to steal it. The people of the real Bone Gap don’t seem to mind.
Describe the relationship between Sean and Finn. Sean, I think, has been forced to operate as a parent more than an older brother to Finn for most of their lives because they lost their father young and because their mom ran away. Sean tries really hard not to resent Finn for keeping him tied to Bone Gap, but that gets more difficult when Roza is taken and Sean believes she’s just one more person who has abandoned him. Watching Finn fall in love with a girl named Petey while Sean nurses his own broken heart is almost too much for them both. Writing both Finn and Sean, exploring that relationship allowed me to examine the way that patriarchal and antiquated ideas of masculinity shape the behavior of young men and our opinions of those men.
Did any other books inspire aspects of ‘Bone Gap’? When I was young I read a lot of magical realism—Marquez, Allende, Esquivel—as well as writers experimenting with genre like Jeanette Winterson and Margaret Atwood. I’m also fond of ghost stories, horror, and dark fairy tales, so reading writers like Toni Morrison, Stephen King, Shirley Jackson, Robin McKinley and others definitely influenced me.
And the question we need to ask, without spoiling too much: why the bees? So many reasons! First, because bees are awesome. Second, because bees are social insects ruled by a queen, which suited my feminist themes. Third, because bees are badass; if a bear attacks a hive, the bees (almost all female) will literally give their lives to protect their home. Fourth, because ‘Bone Gap’ is loosely based on the myth of Persephone. When Persephone is stolen by Hades, her mother, Demeter, Goddess of the Grain, searches for her. Demeter’s disciples were sometimes called “bees.”
Do you have any weird writing habits? If you count wandering around my house and around my town mumbling to myself weird, then yes.
What’s the best tip you ever received for writing? Lorrie Moore has a short story called “How to be a Writer” that works as a snarky/sad short story, but also as advice for new writers. (There’s a bit in the story where the main character’s writing is critiqued because she has, according to the teacher, an absurd sense of plot. The main character snarks, “Plots are for dead people”). But reading that story, and other stories by women writers, gave me permission to write scenes out of order according to emotional logic (rather than to the dictates of a calendar).
Do you have any New Years’ Resolutions? I’m resolved never to make New Years’ Resolutions because I cannot be trusted to keep them.
Tell us your New Years’ Resolutions in the comments below!
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