Congratulations on having your first story, “The Neighborly Thing to Do”, published with Apex.  Were you familiar with Apex before submitting work? 

Thank you! I’m really very honored to be a part of the issue. I’d heard about Apex before, even checked out a few of the poems since I’m fascinated with the whole concept of speculative and fantastical poetry and have met some amazing people who are very passionate about it.

“The Neighborly Thing to Do” has a Southern Gothic feel. Were you influenced by southern/regional culture?  What was your inspiration for the story?

I’m originally from the mountains of North Carolina. Recently it occurred to me that I’d never tried to set any of my stories in places I knew instead of in far-off or wildly different settings. There are all kinds of definitions of strange, and I wondered if maybe I hadn’t been limiting myself.

“The Neighborly Thing to Do” is a chilling and captivating story.  It gets under your skin and you find yourself still thinking of the characters long after reading the piece.  Would you consider bringing back these characters for another story or longer work?

You know, I hadn’t considered that when I first wrote the piece, but as soon as my husband saw it he started asking “what else?” Now that I have thought about it, it’s possible. (That last statement seems to be a rule in my life).

Would you share a favorite passage or scene from the story?

I get a kick out of the fact that the narrator calls the other yard an “artificial monoculture”. She’s repeating verbatim what her own family says, holds it as truth the same way she accuses her neighbor of doing. It reminds me that even though she’s the “hero” of the story, that kind of assumed total moral authority can lead to sticky situations.

How long have you been writing?  Who are some other authors that have influenced your work?

I’ve been making up stories about weird things most of my life, and joined writing classes/workshops/groups whenever I found them, both formal and casual. After I finished my undergraduate degree (not in writing), I realized I really did have a serious interest in pursuing master’s level work.

I have many authors I admire, but recently I read Jo Walton’s Among Others. She did some vivid work bringing to life a young Welsh girl displaced from her life to an English boarding school. The Welsh countryside is such a character in that book, as is the girl’s longing and love for it. It reminded me of the attachment I still have for homeplaces/the land that formed me. Like I said, I realized I’d never set a story there and so I thought, “why not?”

Do you have any new stories/novels in the works that your fans can look forward to?

As I mentioned before, these characters caught me by surprise. I love that about writing, both as an audience and as a creator. I’m interested to see what else might be possible.

Is there a particular genre of format, (flash fiction, short, novel) that you prefer to work in?

Taking a breather from some challenging work in a novel is what lead me to this short story. I’m always impressed by the craft and artistry of short story writers; I try to learn from them all the time. However, left to my own devices, I work toward longer forms like the novel.

Thanks for being such a great guest. We look forward to more great fiction from you!

T. J. Weyler grew up in a town that had vegans, but not monsters (well, kudzu). She currently lives in Virginia with her husband and many, many books. She’s working on her MFA and developing a serious jones for critical theory. Help her waste valuable work time by emailing [email protected]