Charles Tan interview M. Rickert

M. Rickert is the author of the Shirley Jackson Awards nominated short story “The Corpse Painter’s Masterpiece.”

Hi, Mary. Thanks for agreeing to do the interview. I believe there’s power in words, and the profession of “corpse painter” has this gripping potency. How did you decide on the term and writing a story revolving around this compelling protagonist?

This story idea came to me in the form of the title. I was just writing down combinations of disparate elements and came up with the title and the story evolved from there.

What were the challenges in writing “The Corpse Painter’s Masterpiece”?

I wasn’t sure about the paint sticking to the body, so I called up an artist friend and he told me how to make that work.

In some of your fiction, the tension revolves around your characters and their personal relationships. What is it about this human condition that fascinates you and makes it ripe for exploration, whether in the sense of suspense, horror, or wonder? 

I have always been fascinated by the human condition, which is never a solitary one. We are made by each other and unmade too. We are creatures of damage and redemption. The possiblities of our equations are infinite, and within that mathematics are the stories we live and die to create. I try to honor that in the fiction I write.


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