My interview with novelist Kathleen Founds

Kathleen Founds’s novel-in-stories, When Mystical Creatures Attack!, winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award, begins with a series of journal entries from Ms. Freedman’s high school English classroom in response to the prompt: “Write a one-page story in which your favorite mystical creature resolves the greatest sociopolitical problem of our time.” From there, things only get more surreal. Narrated by way of emails, diary entries, an on-line advice column, and a Methodist women’s fundraising cookbook (recipes include “Dark Night of the Soul Food” and “Valley of the Shadow of Death by Chocolate Cake”), the novel follows the quest of two of Ms. Freedman’s former students to liberate her from an insane asylum run on the “capitalist model of cognitive-behavior therapy” where patients are tasked with rebuilding their Psychiatric Credit Scores. At once madcap comedy, Chihuahua-fanged social satire, and fearless meditation on the nature of inner demons, When Mystical Creatures Attack! asks what it means to live with a whole heart in a deeply unjust world — one in which even our most closely-held ideals can turn against us. Read the interview at Electric Literature.

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