I was in a strange place when I wrote “The Nordic Pumpkin”. I had actually lost my grandfather in the summer of 2005, and I was unable to attend any of the mourning surrounding his death. I believe that this event and my childhood love of Roald Dahl inspired this story. My own grandmother, born in Lübeck, Germany, was less eccentric than the grandmother in the story and certainly did not request this type of burial.
My grandfather’s death made me confront my own mortality in a way I had not had to since my father’s death eight years prior. I was in my thirtieth year when my grandfather died, which changed my experience. I wondered much about why our funeral rights existed in the way that they do, and why is seems like there is more creativity planned around a wedding than a funeral. I attributed this to the fact that the guest of honour at a funeral often has little to no opinion or input into their own funeral.
I wanted the grandmother in my story to have all of the control over her last rights. She did not want to be hauled into a patriarchal church. She did not wish to be gawked at. She just wanted to return to the nature she had sprung. This control was fostered by her own inability to control the trajectory of her life. For my own grandmother, she did not have the option to not have children. She worked on her own terms, but only within the confines that society allowed her to. I wanted the grandmother in “The Nordic Pumpkin” to seize her power.
I wrote this story for a call for writing that needed to include the word dapple. I do not remember he publication it was meant for, but it ended up finding a home in Twaddle, a magazine that I miss dearly. It was created by the ever clever Ryan Bird, and was printed in short runs with origami style packaging.
“The Nordic Pumpkin.” Twaddle: Issue Two, May, 2007.
The Nordic Pumpkin will be featured in Kyle Richtig’s forthcoming anthology Dark Stories for Shadowy People (2019). This new work will include reedited versions of some of Richtig’s best known short stories, as well as some new gems.