Constance Bougie is an undergraduate, third-year English major at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. They are minoring in creative writing, women’s and gender studies, and LGBTQ studies. Constance spends most of their time doing research, ranting about the lack of ace representation in media, and forgetting to relax and take breaks. They have previously self-published a short story, epicene, and are currently working on a collection of poems about religion and queerness. Their favorite song at the moment is “Rosy Path” by Elysian Fields, and their favorite color is gray.
Constance Bougie wrote "The Manifestation of Romance in a Bottle" in issue 1 of Vulture Bones. Below is an interview about their sweet story.
One thing I really love about this story is how positively framed Nico’s transition was. She went from a stable boy to a lady in waiting! She really traded up! Was that little bit always in the story?
Nico identifying as a girl was in most of my first sketches of this story, actually! It wasn’t until I started writing, though, I think, that I found out she was trans. I liked the idea that introducing this element to Nico’s story made the beginning feel a bit more in medias res; when I tried to imagine why she might have had anything to do with the witches in the past, I recalled a post I had seen online that had mentioned the idea of trans people in fantasy stories taking potions in order to transition. I really liked the concept, so I went with it!
Can you talk a little bit about the ending? Often people put relationships on a hierarchy of importance, with romantic relationships above friendships, but Nico’s love for the princex is never in question. At the end of the story, I read them as both rejecting this idea that their friendship was lesser than a romantic incarnation of love.
This is something I have a lot of feelings about in general! I ended up going back and forth a lot about how I did want to end Nico’s story. I considered having Nico actually drink the love potion, and from there the possibility of it working or not working, but I ended up liking the ending of the story best when she got rid of the thing altogether. Stories based around friendships rather than romances make me so happy, as someone who identifies as aro and ace, so, regardless of how Nico’s story did end, I think I would’ve stuck with her being aro and not in a romantic relationship.
Where can people find more of your work? What’s coming next?
I have a website where I’ve been posting links to my stuff! Mostly zines, along with poetry and a little fiction. I just received a grant from my university for this summer, so I’ll be spending forty hours a week starting June working on a collection of short stories exploring queer characters in all their nuances! Aside from that, I’ve been writing a lot of poetry; I’m thinking of doing a book of poems on being aro, ace and agender for a project next school year. Hopefully it all goes okay!