Updated on May 19, 2015
An interview with Isis Sousa
The first story, ‘The Expectation’, introduces eerie characters, as they meet and learn about each other’s strange histories in a mysterious realm between life and death, Duskland.
The heart of your story collection is the place, Duskland, the realm of the dead. Where did the idea for Duskland come from?
It may sound strange or even creepy, but it was actually from a very special dream I had about ten years ago. I ‘was there’, in a plane inhabited by the dead, and they all lived their ‘afterlives’ in a similar way we live, but with peculiar differences. It was beautiful there; the grass and trees were absolutely green but the sun was always low in the horizon, like a sunset, and there was no sense of time. I was the only living person among them and they didn’t know they were dead. It was like a paradise, but with a melancholic atmosphere. Wandering through that place, I found a hidden crypt and inside I saw an empty tomb and the name of a real-life friend of mine was written there.
I understood that dream as a message, an omen about this friend… I called him, met him and warned him about it. He was a promoter of Gothic events, such as raves and concerts, so he was a man of the night. I was working with him, designing some posters and flyers for his events. I begged him to stay at home for the next nights, but he thought it was just some weird dream and even joked about it. Less than a week later, very strangely, he was out driving in the middle of the night with his girlfriend and some friends, when a bandit stopped their car and asked for the keys. In the heat of the moment, the bandit shot my friend who died immediately.
It’s a hell of a story, and the first time I’ve talked about it publicly, to anyone other than my parents, brother and husband. So the whole story of Duskland has its roots in this weird, surreal experience of my life and dream, just adapted for fiction, of course.
What is the significance of the 13th hour? Is this when it becomes possible to travel between life and Duskland?
The sense of time in the fictitious realm of Duskland is very different from the one we have in our realm. A daily rotation of our planet takes about 24 hours (maybe less, maybe more) whilst Duskland is a parallel (invisible) plane located as if hovering over the north pole, but, contrary to the Earth, it doesn’t shift its axis towards the sun. In its given position the sun is always low in the horizon, as happens at the poles during winter time, only that in Duskland it is FOREVER. So I had to come up with something to give the reader a sense of time for the facts in the stories.
In Duskland a day is divided into 13 hours and the undead refer to the hours by their order: First Hour, Second Hour, Third Hour and so on. However, the 13th hour is the most special; it is the final hour of the day, like our witching hour, when a passageway between the realm of the living and that realm is open so new souls can arrive. A few people there are aware of this. Leonhard is one of them, he just hasn’t seen it in action until Elisa arrives.
Each story reveals more about the surreal characters. Do we learn about Leonhard’s fascination with Elisa’s neck in another story?
Indeed we do. In the second story, Leonhard takes Elisa around Duskland and tells her pretty much all he knows about the realm, including things I just talked about. He also reveals to her, under much pressure, who he really was during the ‘past centuries’ of his life. As a result, you may understand why he holds this fascination towards Elisa and especially her neck! I would love to tell you what happens, but I can’t spoil the next story!
What is it like writing in English, your second language?
It is much harder than writing in Portuguese, my native language. However, there are many terms and expressions in Portuguese that we can’t translate literally into English, because both languages have totally different structures and histories. I knew if I wrote in my native language, much of my work would be lost in translation, so I found out the next best thing to do was to write in English, even if it’s not well written. I wanted it to be a learning process, not to mention that I had the help of fabulous people who truly helped me to improve the original material. Now, when it comes to the final work, I will hand it to a professional editor because I want to give the best I can to the readers.
I would just like to thank you for this great opportunity to talk about my first fiction work. I can’t wait to publish the full anthology, which will be fully illustrated, and I would like to thank all of those who already took time to read the first story, as well as all my future readers! :)
You can download ‘Stories of Duskland’ for Kindle here!