INTERVIEW: Genevieve Valentine, author of “Blood, Ash, Braids”

Genevieve Valentine, author of “Blood, Ash, Braids,” discuss the background of her story in this exclusive interview featured on SF Signal:

The narrator claims that witches don’t survive long enough to form covens, and yet there are several examples in this story of women forming tight-knit groups – mundane parallels to a coven. What are some prominent examples of the theme of female camaraderie that you’ve encountered in literature? Do you think this is a theme that deserves more exploration than it gets?

GV: They do find that camaraderie, and it’s definitely not a coincidence. In the story, magic takes a toll (as it should), but the swiftness with which someone burns through a lifetime supply is probably always a shorter timeline than you hope for. (Particularly when you’re protecting others – that camaraderie made manifest.) And I think camaraderie between women – which categorically deserves more exploration than it gets – is often as much a matter of perception and position than of representation. Austen’s novels are filled with complicated relationships and ties of loyalty between women, but those are often positioned by modern interpretation as secondary dynamics within a romance, when the text has very different priorities. The sort of camaraderie that’s most easily categorized tends, ironically, to be the war story; banding together to face a common and immediate conflict is a familiar arc.Code Name Verity is a recent example of this particular brand of camaraderie, but there are also a lot of great narratives about the kinds of camaraderie that exist between women who aren’t on the frontlines; Heart of Iron has some very interesting friendships on the edges of a war.

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