Rappahannock Review Fiction Editors:  “Need You” struck us as an allegory for toxic relationships as the wife began developing her addiction for the blood of her husband and others. What was your inspiration for touching on such heavy topics in a dark yet creative way?

Ellen Skirvin: When I started this story, it wasn’t my intention to tackle a certain topic or create an allegory. After a few drafts, I realized what the story had become. From there, I tried to help it along without messing it up too much. Sometimes once you realize what your story is trying to say, you end up getting in the way of it.

RR: We were struck by the use of italics instead of the traditional quotation marks that gave the story a dream-like quality. What went into making this narrative decision?

ES: I don’t always know why I make these types of decisions. It felt right for the story and characters. I love that you feel it gives the story a dream-like quality. I’ll go with that answer.

RR: What is your writing process when you are creating a story like “Need You”? Is there a plan from beginning to end or does it develop more organically?

ES: My writing process usually starts with an image. For this story, I had a scene stuck in my head of a woman asking to taste her husband’s blood and the husband obliging as if it was a very reasonable request. I went from there.

RR: Do you have a favorite way for reimaging myths and legends, such as vampirism? What interesting takes on these types of legends are your favorite?

ES: Carmon Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties is full of exceptional stories that reimagine myths and legends. I think about those stories a lot, and I’m sure they inspired this story somehow.

RR: What is your best piece of advice to give to fellow writers? What feels the most important to you about telling stories?

ES: What feels most important to me when telling a story is getting my sister to like it. There are many other important reasons to tell stories too, but this often feels most tangible to me. Stephen King mentioned that writers often have an “ideal reader” whose advice and taste they admire.  My advice to fellow writers would be to identify your “ideal reader” (real or imagined) who motivates you. My ideal reader is my sister, so you’ll have to pick someone else.

Ellen Skirvin’s work in Issue 8.3: 

“Need You”