If you’re interested, follow this here link to find an odd little story about changelings and loss and the Dust Bowl. You should also check out the rest of the issue, with stories by K.L. Owens, Stephen Case, and Rachel K. Jones.
If you do follow that link, and end up scratching your head and wondering how a story like that came into the world, here it is:
It was born, like most stories, through a Frankensteinian process stitching together odd bodyparts from several origins. Some of it (the skeleton, say) was stolen straight from old changeling stories–especially Selma Lagerlof’s and Helena Nyblom’s Swedish versions (yes, I stole their names. Apparently in fiction we call it “paying homage” and not “identity theft”).
The heart and soulstuff of the story comes from my own ugly, nonsensical, recurrent nightmares about miscarriage. There’s no actual reason I should be afraid of it, but something in my deepdark brainmeats definitely is, so I did what you’re supposed to do and chewed up the nightmares and spat them out on the keyboard.
But the musculature of the idea came mostly from graduate school courses in American environmental history. As any budding young environmental historian will tell you, the Dust Bowl looms large in the field because Donald Worster’s Dust Bowl: The Southern Plains in the 1930s (1979) was one of the first books to successfully reshape our understanding of American social history based on environmental analysis. He demonstrated that the Dust Bowl was not a natural disaster, but a man-made one, caused by over-plowing and mechanized agriculture and, essentially, unfettered capitalism.
And so anyway, that narrative has always stuck in my head. The Dust Bowl as a moment of…comeuppance, of environmental revenge writ large. And I thought: What if it never ended? What if the land itself rose up and shook off industrialized agriculture the way a dog shakes off fleas? And something older came back to the West?