Authors in Quarantine – David Demchuk

With this this series, I am hoping to capture how this cultural moment is affecting our speculative fiction authors and how our authors are surviving during the COVID-19 outbreak

Spec Can: What have you been up to during the COVID-19 outbreak?


David Demchuk: I am lucky to be able to do my job from home, and to have a home which is already set up and equipped for remote operations. The team I work with is small; we communicate well, and spell each other off with the day-to-day work, special projects and the many video meetings that this situation has spawned. Apart from that I’ve been reading, catching up on movies and trashy TV, cooking and baking (and eating), spending too much time on social media, and playing Animal Crossing.

Spec Can: How are you adapting to social distancing?

David Demchuk: I was already a fairly solitary person, so I have not been as heavily affected by the need to isolate as many of my friends and colleagues. However, I suffer from agoraphobic anxiety, so going outside to go shopping or run errands is now one long panic attack from start to finish–and standing in store lines on narrow sidewalks is the worst. One thing that’s been a huge challenge: My partner and I have been together for 11 years but we live separately, albeit in the same building. He comes to visit for about an hour every day but, because he goes out more and has a greater potential for exposure, we remain at opposite ends of the couch six feet apart. We haven’t had physical contact for more than five weeks.

Spec Can: How is the outbreak affecting your writing?

David Demchuk: Well…the short answer is “I haven’t done any, so–great?” I am holding off on writng much, at least formally, until I receive my editor’s notes on my newest book. My hope is that I will be able to focus my energies (and my emotions, including my fears) on the pages once they’re in front of me. One thing I have been doing–both for the new book and the one I plan to start in the fall–is jotting down short snippets on index cards–images, dialogue, turns of phrase–and tossing them into a small plastic storage box beside my coffee table. No expectations of structure or order or ‘finished’ writing, just capturing material as it comes to me in unfiltered unprocessed snapshots. It’s oddly cathartic and makes me feel productive with probably the least amount of effort I can expend. Apart from that, there’s Animal Crossing!


Interviewed by Derek Newman-Stille, MA, PhD ABD

Slavic Myths and Human Monsters

A review of David Demchuk’s The Bone Mother (ChiZine, 2017)
By Derek Newman-Stille

David Demchuk’s The Bone Mother brings together snippets of strange lives into a tale that hints at connections between these individual stories and provides shadows of a larger narrative tying them together. Each of Demchuk’s tales ties in with a snapshot shown at the beginning of the story and diverts into the mythical, magical, mysterious, and monstrous. These images of the normal are interrupted by tales that Other them, transforming them into something complex and uncertain. The unexpected is a stream that runs through Demchuk’s narratives, complicating them to illustrate the way that stories always hold complex truths that are always part fiction.

The Bone Mother features fairy tales turned dark and infused with the mechanical, featuring an ever present factory standing as a symbol of industry intersecting with myth to create a landscape of smoke and shadow. Demchuk tells tales that connect the mythic to industry, proving that the mechanical can’t fully succeed in chasing the creatures of the human imagination back into the dark, and may, in fact, give them a space to thrive. The Bone Mother brings together Rusalka, ghosts, golem, mirror monsters, Baba Yaga figures, and other manifestations of Slavic myth and makes these figures into family secrets, hidden differences that dwell in the blood rather than the imagination. He ties these fairy tale figures in with circus freaks and those who defy social and biological norms, bringing out the diversity of the human form. The most dangerous quality of this mythical world is normalcy, which tries to turn everyone into simple, uncomplicated forms, denying diversity. All of these figures who could be called monsters only serve to show a mirror to humanity, illustrating that we are the monsters for trying to enforce conformity. 

To find out more about The Bone Mother, visit ChiZine Publications at http://chizinepub.com/the-bone-mother/
To discover more about David Demchuk, visit http://daviddemchuk.com/ .