Thursday, July 5, 2012

In the Lit Lab: Jarrid Deaton's "Shoot the Ballerina in the Heart"

If you haven't already, take a moment to read Jarrid Deaton's "Shoot the Ballerina in the Heart",  at > kill author and then have a look at the writer's thoughts on his story below.


First, thanks to Sheldon Lee Compton for the invite to write about “Shoot the Ballerina in the Heart” for the Lit Lab. If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of “The Same Terrible Storm” so you can be a part of the Compton Experience. Heads ain’t ready.

There’s a granule of universal truth in every piece of fiction. I believe this. If I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t bother putting words on the page. That’s the thing that I find to be most fascinating about art. Even if the writer, the artist, the musician, even if they don’t set out to uncover something about themselves, about the world, it will always happen.

“Shoot the Ballerina in the Heart” came from my fascination with the damaged, the strange, and the beautiful.  Like the poster for Dario Argento’s giallo classic “Suspiria” with the ballerina image mixed with a trail of blood, I hoped to capture both wonder and tension in the story.  It’s possible to wrap up beauty and the strange like an ancient jeweled crown covered with stained butcher’s paper. That’s what I set out to do with every story I write.


For “Ballerina,” I started thinking about a man being forced to completely destroy something that fascinated him, about a man whose job it is to follow orders without question, and the decision to sacrifice his own life even though he knows it will not save the ballerina. He refuses to take part in her assassination, and by doing so, finally knows what kind of man he is. Sacrifice can be the ultimate show of both love and defiance.  The story took less than an hour to complete with very little editing, and it’s also one of my favorites.

If you ask me what the story is about, in the big, big, sense, then I would say it deals with being able to know one thing for certain, to be absolutely sure of just one thing, even if it means that finding that one universal truth will send you, at peace, into the void. 

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