Ziggy Schutz is a queer writer living on the West Coast of Canada. Five years ago, she hit her head very hard, and she has been relearning how to tell stories ever since. Most of her stories feature superheroes, horror, or magic. Basically all the things her life needs more of. When not writing, she spends most of her free time lurking around haunted houses, trying to befriend their ghosts.
Ziggy wrote “The Cafe Under the Hill” in issue 3 of Vulture Bones. Below is an interview about his story.
A line in your story that really jumped out at me was this one: “To know someone’s True Name is to know someone’s true beginnings.” I love the idea that in our lifetime we have multiple beginnings, that we can restart ourselves without rendering what came before irrelevant or dishonest, but in the doing uncover a more authentic version of ourselves. I like the idea of making our own beginnings. Tell me about the beginnings of this story.
I love playing around with traditional stories and fairy tales and fitting queerness into them, as seamlessly as possible, so when you read it you think of course queer folk exist in this context, we fit into the story or the myth's canon so well.
So I was thinking about fairies, and true names, and what that looked like when you have people who forge their own true names. I reject the idea that a trans person's True Name would be their birth name, because trans folk work so hard to strip their dead names of any power. And there's a certain swagger, I think, to trans folk who have found a name that suits them so well, and they can feel it, and if feels like being truly yourself, sometimes for the first time. That's what I wanted to play with, with this story.
I also really loved how positive the portrayal of the transgender protagonists was here. Christopher and Abigail and Javier are each so rooted and happy and secure in themselves! They likely weren’t always—we see glimpses that for each of them, coming to the realization that who they are was a journey. I love seeing trans characters living comfortably in their skins. Tell me a little about what this story means to you.
I thought I was the token cis friend for quite a while, I think because I had this idea of what being trans looked and felt like and didn't see myself reflected in that. That moment of realization looks different for all of us, but I think a lot of us can look back at our moments of coming out - to ourselves, to the people around us - and they take on an almost surreal like quality. I wanted to try and capture that in a way, of our exploration of gender and identity being almost like a classic Hero's Quest, because that's how it's felt to me. And names are a big part of my own journey - I changed my name almost four years before I came out as bigender. Without realizing it, I had already begun my journey.
I think making exploring gender identity fantastical is my own way of normalizing it, in a strange and round about way. Sometimes Quests leave us right where we started, but it's what we learned along the way that matters. I think that's important.
Where can people find more of your work? What’s coming next?
I've been included in some amazing anthologies, as well as my writing being published here and there online. You can find all of my credits over on my blog (ziggyschutz.tumblr.com)! I also am the creator and co-writer of Crossing Wires, a hopeful post-apocalyptic podcast about human connection after the end of the world. And don't worry - the queer kids get to live, in this apocalypse. That's an ongoing project, and you can find it wherever you listen to podcasts!
I've got a few more short stories in the works, but I'm also trying to buckle down and finish a novel some time in the near future. It'll be either a f/enby sport romcom or a interdimensional queer ensemble urban fantasy, depending on which one reaches the finish line first!