These questions are about the short story “Blood”, and definitely contains spoilers which, once seen, cannot be unseen. For the actual short story itself, please go here.
So this was another of the ten stories you wrote in ten days for the Swinburne Microfiction Challenge in 2017, wasn’t it?
Yep. The prompt word for this one was “Blood”, and I thought an interesting approach to it might be the idea of “blood” being a word for familial bonds, rather than a flowing substance rich in haemoglobin.
Did you win this one?
You seem very interested in the competitive aspects of the challenge, rather than the artistic ones.
Sounds like a ‘no’ to me.
Fine, no, I didn’t win. But I still think it’s a pretty nice little story.
So this one looks like it interrogates notions of the importance of “blood” in familial relations, right? In that Cass has found out she’s adopted – “not blood” – to someone she had always identified as not only a close family but in fact her twin, a familial relationship normally seen as perhaps the very closest familial relationship possible. So in this way, the story interrogates concepts of family and blood, and, Baz, in tearing up the proof of their non-blood relationship, and in his simple response – “Nah” – denies the facts of blood, instead favouring the less-physical-but-still-undeniable facts of their shared childhood, shared experiences, emotional closeness, and their respective positions in their respective lives. To Baz, the blood actually doesn’t matter, despite having spent the first three quarters of the story insisting that it does.
Um, right, yes, that’s what this story is about. Couldn’t’ve said it better myself.
So, what I want to know is – do you have a problem with adopted people searching for their biological parents?
Do you have a problem with adopted people searching for their biological parents. Because many adopted people feel a real need to discover who their biological parents were, and I wonder if you’re sitting there in your comfy writer’s chair telling them not to worry about it, because “real family is who you grow up with” or some such easy schmaltz. It could be interpreted that you’re saying “biology is inherently unimportant”, thereby marginalising and erasing and kinda making fun of people for whom biology is deeply important. You’re basically saying “the Stolen Generations was totally okay”.
Wow, um, I really don’t think I said that. It wasn’t meant to be a slur against people who want to discover their biological links. Definitely wasn’t attempting to make any kind of comment on the Stolen Generations. Wow. And my chair isn’t any kind of special “writer’s chair”, whatever that might be, nor is it particularly comfy. In fact I’m pretty sure we found it on the side of the road as hard rubbish-
Enough trying to change to topic – what’s your stance on adoption?
I don’t have one! It’s fine! It’s good to adopt people. And it’s fine if you want to find out your biological ancestors too. It’s all fine. I have no official stance. And, for the record, I think taking peoples’ children from them in some kind of genocidal kidnapping, whether good-intentioned or not, is generally pretty despicable. I’m honestly surprised you think I’m being controversial here-
What about lesbians?
Your character Baz said something about “not minding if she was a lesbian”. What do you have against lesbians?
Nothing! Some of my closest family are lesbians! And the character said he didn’t mind if she was lesbian, was the point-
But why would he mind in the first place?
He wouldn’t! He didn’t! And even if he did – which he didn’t – this is a character in a story, not an essay about “what Mat Blackwell actually thinks about adoption and/or lesbianism”-
“Death of the Author”, bro. “Intentional fallacy”. What you think your story is about can’t be divorced from what belief systems went into creating the story. What you actually write is interpreted and deconstructed and parsed by the reader, and that interpretation is just as valid as any desperate excuses you make to weasel out of your offensive viewpoints.
I’d love to get into a discussion about this stuff, really I would, but I think you’ve got the wrong idea about me. I wasn’t saying anything negative about adoption, and I wasn’t saying anything negative about lesbianism, and I never said anything about my hard-rubbish chair. I was just trying to write a short piece about “blood” and how family might mean more than blood and how one person reacts when one other person suggests that she’s not actually “blood” after all, and how the person silently renegs on his position that blood is really important, and embraces her as his “real sister” even when presented with biological evidence to the contrary. I can see now how maybe that idea, that “blood doesn’t mean anything after all”, might impact on people searching for their own biological parents, yes, and I can see that I was maybe insensitive in that area, but, honestly, I wasn’t trying to be comprehensive or all-encompassing or whatever, I was just trying to write a short story in 24 hours and I’m sorry to everyone I might have offended.
…Thank you. It’s not enough, but it’s a good start.