Interviewer: You sum up the complicated interlacing of ‘longing’ and ‘awe’ beautifully in “Raising Mira” when the protagonist thinks, “How I long to hear Mira’s tinkling, music-box giggles and experience the wonderment of being a family again.” If these two feelings hadn’t been the assigned emotions for your story – if the protagonist hadn’t, in other words, yearned to feel awe – do you think your hopeful ending would have been any different? If so, in what way?
Pauline Yates: I’m never quite sure how a story will end until I reach that point. I like to keep my options open and let the story tell me. With “Raising Mira”, I had two alternate endings in mind but even if I hadn’t been assigned the emotions of ‘awe’ and ‘longing’, I still would have ended the story the way I did. Just as this anthology ends with a sense of hope, I like my stories to end with a positive vibe. There’s enough sadness in the world as it is and I am not going to add to it.
Interviewer: One of the unique aspects of this anthology is that it does not attempt to link the stories with respect to subject matter, characters or setting. The over-all connection is the specified flow of emotion. Do you perceive this as a reader?
Pauline Yates: When I first read the stories, I enjoyed each on its own and had fun trying to guess the emotional prompts. It wasn’t until after, when I reflected back over the anthology, that I could sense the emotional rise and fall as a whole. I don’t think it’s something you realise at the time of reading, even if you could read the entire anthology in one sitting. I think my mind needed time to group the stories on how they made me feel, in the same way that the stories are grouped by their emotional range. What I find interesting is that when I do reflect over the stories, I don’t think about characters or plot or setting. I think about the emotions raised in me.
Interviewer: What was the single most valuable take-away from writing from an emotional prompt?
Pauline Yates: I’ve never written to an emotional prompt before but it showed me how empowering emotion is. Being forced to keep my set of emotions at the forefront of my mind while I developed my story, the end result was a realisation of how emotion can drive the story, change the dialogue, affect character’s actions, and, at times, send the plot in a direction I hadn’t anticipated. I look forward to utilizing emotion more in future stories.
Interviewer: Given that this is a “score” anthology, what representative piece of music would you connect to “Raising Mira”?
Pauline Yates: I researched many songs to accompany “Raising Mira”, but Coldplay’s “Fix You” gave me goosebumps when I listened to it. The lyrics, and the meaning behind them, sum up the heart of “Raising Mira” and depict the struggle partners face, not only in dealing with their own grief, but in supporting their partner in theirs.
Pauline Yates tweets about her writing @midnightmuser1.
Buy the Score anthology, which includes Pauline Yates’ story “Raising Mira” focused on Awe and Longing.