“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.
Today our guest is debut author Anna Hight, whose story Ruby is behind the cover of our upcoming second Quarterly Almanac! Originally submitted for our first-ever short story call back in 2014, we loved the subversive, feminist take on “Little Red Riding Hood” and are so pleased to publish it this fall. Please give a warm welcome to Anna, folks!
To be blunt: Ruby was inspired by me being sick and tired of being ogled and harassed by men on the street and wanting to bite their heads off.
The first time I experienced harassment, I was followed down a suburban road and told repeatedly that I was pretty, that I should smile, that it was just a compliment and that I should be more friendly. The man was older than me and very persistent. In response, I kept my head down and walked on, silently, until the man eventually gave up and left me alone and shaking. I didn’t tell my parents, because what could I tell them? That a man said nice things to me on the street? I was ashamed and embarrassed that I was ashamed, like I’d done something wrong just by being a girl.
I was ten years old.
Since then, I’ve been catcalled many, many times, in many places, cities and neighborhoods, and every time it’s happened I have said nothing. I’ve kept my head down, offered a weak smile, sped up my pace a bit. I just try get away as fast as I can and not make a scene – because that is what we’re taught, from day one – don’t fuss, don’t speak up, because it’s not worth it. They’re harmless, it’s flattering, it’s just them being friendly – or, the most insidious excuse of all, brought to us by society: if you didn’t want the attention, you wouldn’t have asked for it by doing whatever it is you did.
You asked for it.
Ruby was inspired by every single one of those incidents, especially that first one; after that experience, I wanted nothing more than to turn into a monster and scare the other monsters away. Ruby is that monster, and ten-year-old me finds comfort in such a revenge fantasy, and I hope others do, as well. I wrote this for every woman who has ever felt powerless in the face of a predator, in the hopes that we might all find a little bit of the predator in ourselves.
Another major influence on this story was Holly Black’s Modern Tales of Faerie series, which is urban fantasy done right. Valiant is one of my favorite books, but I love all of Holly’s monsters.
I can neither confirm nor deny that I might have watched a lot of Season 2 Teen Wolf while writing RUBY.
Finally, this story would be nothing without the advice and cheerleading of Lily and Miranda.
About the author:
Anna Hight currently lives in Easthampton, MA, with a big white cat named Marvin. She plays a lot of Dungeons & Dragons and reads a lot of fanfiction. She wrote her first book at the age of ten, about a family of snakes, and her mother really liked it. Ruby is her first published short story.
How To Procure Your Copy of Ruby (and The Almanac)
The Almanac will be released at the end of September as print and ebook. You can pre-order it as a standalone ebook or print book very soon! Keep an eye on this space.
If you want the Almanac sooner rather than later, you can now also subscribe to the Almanac and get each new issue directly to your inbox: Yearly Subscription.
Add the book on Goodreads.