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Tiffany Morris Interview


From the Elgin-nominated author of Elegies for Rotting Stars comes a debut novella about grief, regret, and family. In Green Fuse Burning, Rita Francis is a painter who feels disconnected from her family and culture. An artist residency near where Rita’s father grew up might help her to explore her roots and get some work done. Only, strange things are going on in the woods—things that will force Rita to face her own relationship with the human experience.


Read the full interview below.


I love that Green Fuse Burning opens with an epistolary document about the main character, painter Rita Francis. Did the novella always start this way or was the gallery announcement added after you’d already started writing the book?


Thanks so much! It came later – I wanted to have a thread of connection through the novella, and I love “found” and epistolary media in fiction. I do freelance art criticism and am an Indigenous art enthusiast, so I wanted to see what it would be like to have an Indigenous artist work in the landscape painting tradition while being haunted by the land itself.


This novella is steeped in the traditions of visual art. How did you go about designing each one of Rita’s (fictional) paintings in your mind’s eye and for the reader?


I took elements of the chapter that follow and tried to imagine what an experimental landscape painting someone might make based on images that I’d used would be. It was interesting to think about who Rita is, and what kind of art she might try to create to articulate her experience.


You explore mental health in Green Fuse Burning and it’s so encouraging to see how horror as a genre has really begun to examine that with compassion instead of just sensationalism. Can you talk about that a little bit?


Thank you so much! Green Fuse Burning is a book that I wrote because it’s a book that I needed to exist – there is such a taboo around expressing our grief, and all the corresponding trauma, depression and/or suicidal ideation that may go along with it, that it ends up being a tremendously isolating experience. Grief is already isolating, as no one experiences the loss in the precise way that you do, so having something that reflects the pain back to me is affirming, validating, and even healing.


Land plays a huge role in this story, both for Rita as a mixed media artist and in relation to the dispossessed Indigenous land of her people. How did it feel rooting Rita’s Mi'kmaq heritage in your own background?


It felt natural to me! Fortunately, I’m more connected to my culture than Rita is, though a lot of the feelings that she has about land are similar to mine – there is a comfort and unease in equal measure, an understanding about our place in the webs of connection that emerges even when deeply – and literally – isolated from our daily city life. Bringing dispossession into it was also important to me because so much of the land was traversed, walked upon, lived in by my ancestors under the framework of netukulimk. When travelling within Mi’kma’ki, I try to be aware of their presence, to let time overlap in my thinking. I am here because they were here – my ancestors and all our relations.


You drew from personal experience in writing about grief in Green Fuse Burning. How did you safeguard your own mental health as you navigated such a vulnerable sphere?


There were times when it was quite difficult, especially since I suffered other losses in my family at the time of writing. Taking my time, binge-watching inane tv, and reminding myself of my “why” were all important to maintain the balance and keep motivated. And having a good cry if I needed it.


The devastating impact of climate change echoes through the narrative. Can you talk a little about why eco-horror is so important today?


Eco-horror is being lived out in our lands. From coral bleaching to boiling seas to mass-species die-offs to interspecies virus transmission, the natural world is suffering from the dire consequences of anthropogenic climate change – as are humans, of course. Eco-horror can work as a cathartic mechanism of dealing with the reality of crisis – where capitalism works on denial and optimism, horror reveals the ugly truth so that we may contend with what is real and urgent.


I really love the cover, particularly all the vivid shades of green. Who designed it and how did you feel when you first saw it?


Chief Lady Bird did the art! Selena and I both loved that piece and were hopeful Chief Lady Bird would allow us to use it for the cover. Selena at Stelliform designed the other elements of the cover; it’s so beautiful and perfect for this story.


What was it like working with Stelliform Press, a press which focuses specifically on fiction that engages with nature and ecological issues?


It was a dream! I’ve loved Stelliform since its inception, so it was wonderful to be able to work with the team. Selena is such an attentive and considerate editor, and I was able to bond a bit with some of the other Stelliform authors. They’re doing really important work in highlighting the possibilities of speculative fiction, and how it can address real-world issues.


Do you have any other work coming out this year you’d like to tell people about?


I have a poem forthcoming in Nightmare Magazine, and my story “We Have Made A Home Beyond Death” will appear on the Tales To Terrify podcast in the near future.


What’s your favorite recent read? Any genre or category. It doesn’t have to be horror.


Black Pastoral by Ariana Benson is a must-read poetry book – one of my favorites of all-time and I’ve only just read it.


Thank you so much for talking to Frightful!

Wela’lin Emily! It means so much.


Green Fuse Burning hits shelves on October 31, 2023.



Tiffany Morris is an L’nu’skw (Mi’kmaw) writer from Nova Scotia. She is the author of the swampcore horror novella Green Fuse Burning (Stelliform Books, 2023) and the Elgin Award-winning horror poetry collection Elegies of Rotting Stars (Nictitating Books, 2022). Her work has appeared in the Indigenous horror anthology Never Whistle at Night. She can be found at tiffmorris.com or on twitter/bluesky @tiffmorris.

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