'Heat 9' interview: contributors Whyte Yote and Alastair Wildfire
Isiah had the chance to interview most of the contributors to annual adult anthology Heat 9, published by Sofawolf; some could not be reached. Related interviews: Camron & Vantid – Alopex – Kandrel & Scappo – Huskyteer – Kyell Gold & Nimrais – Tempe O'kun
Isiah Jacobs: Good evening, gentlemen! Thank you both so much for joining me tonight, it's a pleasure to have you both on the show!
Whyte Yote: Thanks for having us.
Isiah Jacobs: Whyte, Alastair, as I understand it, you both have sort of collaborated in this year's issue of Heat. Whyte, you wrote a short story called "Two Minutes" and Alastair, you provided the illustrations.
Whyte Yote: Well, I wouldn't call it "collaboration" as much as "I didn't know who was doing my illustrations until Alopex told me after they were done." XD He likes surprises. Plus, publisher's prerogative.
Isiah Jacobs: Did you two find it a bit difficult knowing only half of what the end result would be?
Alastair Wildfire: Yes, I was approached by Alopex to do the illustrations and was given synopses of three stories to choose from. The one I chose ended up being whyteyote's. I didn't as I was given the story I was to be illustrating. I couldn't have provided illustrations without it.
Whyte Yote: I don't really stress about the illustrations. There's a certain amount of trust that the editors know what's best for the magazine. And Alastair got to choose, so that's another plus.
Isiah Jacobs: And what made you choose Whyte's story over the others?
Alastair Wildfire: It was an interesting story I remember selecting it because it was unique. I thought it would be fun to draw. It had a luscious antiquated feel to it and it was a chance to draw less usual species. I also love gay boys.
Isiah Jacobs: Yes, Alastair, I do agree! This is a very unique story in the collection. It's set post-WWII and features donkeys and, as you said, alligators. What made you decide this, Whyte?
Whyte Yote: You know, I can't rightly remember. I believe the original idea centered around the irony of a donkey winning the Kentucky Derby. The fun part was constructing a believable universe around that idea. And the idea actually became kind of a Maguffin.
Isiah Jacobs: Even the post-war aspect?
Whyte Yote: Yeah, actually. I first tried it as just post-WWI, but I couldn't make enough details gel the way I wanted, so I threw proverbial spaghetti at the wall until it stuck. The torch is the artifact of that first stumble. I was surprised at the amount of detail I was able to pull in just the short time I had to write the story; it's been one of my most organic works so far. *big authorly words*
Isiah Jacobs: Alastair, how did you go about choosing which parts of the story to illustrate? Did Sofa Wolf decide for you? Or were there just certain parts that stood out?
Alastair Wildfire: Well, I did actually get to choose. Some scenes were vital to the plot and were thus easy fodder.
Isiah Jacobs: Was there a certain number of illustrations you had to provide?
Alastair Wildfire: All the stories are opened with a two page spread illustration and because of the necessity for a more scenic and large image i chose the gathering of the family around the radio. There was also a requirement for 2-4 spot illustrations. I did three but out of an ease of burden.
It was actually a bit of a strange commission for me, as Alopex sought me out seeking the illustrations be hand printed etchings which is my fine art emphasis. I hadn't before this though accepted traditional printmaking commissions especially one on such a tight deadline.
Isiah Jacobs: Was there more you wish you could have provided?
Alastair Wildfire: Traditional etchings are very very time consuming so the amount of illustrations i provided was already a push. I would not have been able to do more.
Isiah Jacobs: Whyte, how does your story relate to the theme for this issue?
Whyte Yote: There was a theme?
Isiah Jacobs: Well, as Sofa Wolf put it in the "Afterword" this issue is all about how sex and love aren't the idealistic fantasies they are made out to be.
Alastair Wildfire: I wasn't told of theme either XD i assume it was and editorial thing like a curatorial approach. That Alopex was masterminding.
Whyte Yote: Well, establishing that I wasn't aware of anything like that... Anyone who's had sex or had strong feelings can attest to the fact that it quite often doesn't live up to our fantasies.
Alastair Wildfire: That too probably. Agreed
Whyte Yote: And anyone who tells you otherwise is probably lying...or in lust, not love.
Isiah Jacobs: Since this story is set so soon after WWII, I'm curious, what species were Roosevelt and Hitler?
Whyte Yote: Hm...without doing some research, I wouldn't be able to speculate.
Isiah Jacobs: Would Churchill be a walrus, do you think?
Whyte Yote: Same thing applies...and even if i were to assign a species, it's only one person's opinion. In a universe like that, if I were to write it broader to include mentions of those characters, I doubt their species would even come into play.
Isiah Jacobs: The story is set around a donkey named Cyrus and an alligator named Erskin. They don't really have much of a relationship. They're more like fucking buddies. Am I correct?
Alastair Wildfire: Hmmm. That's not the read I got from it.
Whyte Yote: Yes and no. There's more intimacy to it than that, though. There's whole stories behind the stories I had to turn over in my head to get the right balance in their dialogue. Otherwise it rings untrue.
Isiah Jacobs: So you've written much more to this universe, then?
Whyte Yote: In my head, yeah. I consider it necessary to the Heat story, in that I could drop the reader in media res and have Cyrus and Erskin's relationship be immediately recognizable without a bunch of textwall narrative. It really depends on the reader too. There's probably some subtle subtext that's easily skim-overable. I had to go for maximum impact in minimal story space. I could easily triple it.
Isiah Jacobs: Yeah, that is a very difficult challenge for short stories. One thing that I really like about this story is the setting and how the characters behave in accordance to this setting.
Whyte Yote: I like equids with drawls. I really got to imagine in this one, and put it to good use throughout the various characters. Especially Mother.
Isiah Jacobs: You have the PSTD war veteran. You have the doting mother. You have the racist confederate Grandpa, and two faced neighbors. Was any of this based from personal experience? Even the name for the weasel family! The Greadys!
Whyte Yote: Oh?
Isiah Jacobs: Yes! That was a clever use of a name to simply describe their characters.
Whyte Yote: I guess that was subconscious, then. It certainly wasn't my intention! It's pronounced "Gray-dee," actually. Hehe.
Isiah Jacobs: Oh! Pfft, I totally read it as "greedy". 8P
Whyte Yote: That's called projecting! Then again, it could go either way. But to answer the other question, nothing based in real life. I'm sure it has something to do with my subconscious, since I'm pulling it all out of my head, but not that I can see on its face.
Isiah Jacobs: And Erskin, the alligator, is supposed to represent an African American, correct?
Whyte Yote: Technically, yes. For the purposes of this story, I did assume the standard U.S. history and applied it to a speciesist paradigm. I get to use all my big words today!
Isiah Jacobs: YAYAYAYAY! What does that mean?
Whyte Yote: Instead of skin color, slavery took place on continent origin. I didn't extrapolate that far enough to expound upon it too far, but I did write up Erskin's history sheet to get to know him before I wrote him.
Isiah Jacobs: More big words! I like this! And, a pretty neat concept to boot!
Whyte Yote: It deserves further study, but only if needed. I did the same thing in a story for Cyanni's new anthology, where the pawed species subjugate the hoofers. Because of the whole "beast of burden" thing. So, it could go both ways, and they're both fodder for more fiction.
Isiah Jacobs: This is a very interesting story because of the way it's told. Like, Cyrus's brother goes off to Atlanta or something to compete in a physical race against horses. And everyone says he has no chance of winning. And while the race is going on, Cyrus and Erskin go off and have sex while listening to the race. It's here that we learn that Erskin and the brother have had an affair in the past. And on top of that, Cyrus plans on becoming a lawyer.
There's not really a whole lot to take away from this story. Why did you decide on this plot? But most importantly, why did you have them listen to the race while they had sex? That was almost as disturbing as "Bad Timing"!
Whyte Yote: Like I said, the idea started as wondering what to do with a donkey winning the Kentucky Derby. But it was quickly derailed by the tertiary action, and that put the Derby in the background of the real action. For something this short, I decided to maximize impact by making it a stream-of-reality perspective, first-person present tense for immediacy.
Why did they have sex while listening to the race? Erskin's a horny bastard and the family's distracted. Plus, they both have a vested interest in seeing the brother succeed. And it's just a nice, taboo, naughty hot little escapade. It was meant to arouse more than disturb, but again, it depends on the reader. You get the brother stuff in there, you're going to lose some people. I tried to toe both sides of the line on that count.
Isiah Jacobs: Now, in the "Afterglow" it says how it might challenge readers because of the implied taboo of brotherly incest. I take it that was intentional, then?
Whyte Yote: I suppose so. But then again, it's not the first time fraternal incest has featured in Heat.
Isiah Jacobs: Gentlemen, it's been a pleasure having you two on the show! Thank you so much for coming on. I look forward to having you guys back in the future!
Whyte Yote: Thanks for having us!
Alastair Wildfire: Sure.