Author Interview: Zina Hutton

Hey, little foxes! Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with Kristyn. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Zina Hutton, author of Judge Anderson: Flytrap!

Zina is Black and nonbinary using she/they pronouns and prefers to be called “Stitch” socially. You might know them as Stichomancery or StitchMediaMix on Twitter for their fandom criticism. Let’s get to know them just a little bit better!

Mega-City One, 2102 AD. Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson’s second year on the streets as a full-Eagle Judge.

Two hundred floors up on Wormwood Block, in one of the poorer corners of Mega-City One, a cit turns on her neighbours, biting and raging. Just another futsie, in a city filled with everyday tragedy.

Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson and her new partner take the call. It should be an open-and-shut case, until she tries to read the poor futsie’s mind and finds… nothing.

Somewhere in Wormwood is a predator, setting a trap for people like Cass. Hell of a way to finish her second year on the streets…

Goodreads

You’re largely known for your fandom and media analysis, so I was quite surprised to find out you wrote a novella! How did Judge Anderson: Flytrap come about?

As you said, I’m mainly a non-fiction/criticism-focused writer, so fiction is never the first thing most people who know me think of when they think of my work. But I’ve been writing fiction longer (and kind of more successfully, I’d say) than I have non-fiction! Judge Anderson: Flytrap came about as a result of the relationships I’ve made from writing fiction. My initial editor on Flytrap, David Thomas Moore, previously scouted me for another project (“Strays Like Us” in 2018’s Not So Stories) after liking another story that I’d written in 2015 and reached out to me about this too!

What was the inspiration for Judge Anderson: Flytrap?

There were two main sources of inspiration for Judge Anderson: Flytrap. The main one was from an earlier Judge Anderson story (“Engram” from 1991) where Anderson uncovers her backstory and the locked away trauma of her abusive father. At this point in the timeline where Flytrap takes place, Anderson doesn’t remember this trauma, but I wanted to show her engaging with something similar in terms of abusive father figures and lost little girls.

The other inspiration was my niecelings. I talk about my girls all the time because they’re the most important people in my life. So it’s probably not that big a surprise that they influenced me while writing this. I did a lot of writing while surrounded by the girls’ infighting and general sibling nonsense, while I didn’t get to zero in on as much of that as I probably could have. I was writing Ness and her baby sister Helen with my nieces in mind. I tried to infuse Ness and Helen with little bits taken from how my niecelings defend each other and how creepy they can be sometimes!

How did publishing your first book change your writing process?

It made me comfortable with using and sticking to outlines. Normally, I’m a bit of a pantser, and because most of my fiction tends to be short, I’ve gotten away with it. Tackling a larger project, pantsing doesn’t work as well as it did previously. So, having to sit down with an outline that tracked my paths and laid out what was supposed to go down and when was useful. I’m a bit mad at myself for not thinking about that until relatively recently despite a lifetime of writing.

Can you tell us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

So, I’m a huge fan of slipping classical mythology into everything, so this is more of a secret about the story than anything. I took a page from Greek mythology when naming two of the characters that show up across this novella.

Ness and Helen are named after two sisters from Greek mythology that I figure always get the short end of the stick: Clytemnestra (shortened to Ness) and Helen of Troy. I have a whole thing about the sisters, and I wail about them every so often on Twitter. When I was trying to think about names for the girls in the planning stages, I was waist-deep into complaining about the Oresteia – where Clytemnestra murders her husband Agamemnon and the priestess Cassandra, who shares a first name with Judge Anderson – when the inspiration to do a quiet callback to those sisters hit me.

Will there be a sequel? Do you have any other projects?

I’d love a shot at a sequel – or just a return to Judge Anderson’s world. After all, it was a fun experience, and I know that I can do a lot of cool stuff if I got more of a chance! Like I’ve got like three different cannibal-focused stories that I’d love to work on in Anderson’s world – if that ever happens, that’d be awesome!

In the meanwhile, I’m mainly focusing on my non-fiction with a collaborative fandom primer in the planning process that will hopefully wind up being a great conversation starter and help other people in fandom. I do have some fiction in progress, too – a lesbian paranormal romance take on Red Riding Hood and an original series revolving around a retired supervillain’s second chance at freedom and friendship – but we’ll see how those things go.