This collection takes the form of six interviews numbered 4, 9, 15, 17, 27 and 42. Unless the reader has a great memory for numbers, the stories are likely to be remembered as 'The one about...' and this adds to the legendary, apocryphal quality of the collection. Jonathan Pinnock maintains that Parkin's stories 'effortlessly transcend their folk origins' and he is right; the fairy tale allusions don't distract the reader from the excellent writing and the varied landscapes of contemporary America. Interview #4 is with Ella Orlando. In a reversal that fits with the modern family, Ella is a good stepmother whose devotion to stepdaughters Cindy and Beth leads to loneliness. A visit to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and an encounter with a bed-bound seamstress who owns several beautiful costumes changes Ella's life. Interview #9 is a darker, more menacing tale of vigilante justice and racism, while Interview #42 imagines a very different way of life for seven New York dwarfs. Each of the stories is told in the first person and Parkin creates authentic, interesting characters who describe their experiences in varied, entertaining language.
Read Cassandra Parkin's reflections on the writing process here.
Read Cassandra Parkin's blog.
Read 'Shaggy Bear Story' by Cassandra Parkin at Beat Magazine (go on, read this - it's fantastic).