Mothers of the Roundtable Author Spotlight: Ryan Cole

May 8, 2023

R. Leigh Hennig gathered many of the amazing authors from Mother: Tales of Love and Terror for a council at the roundtable about writing, mothers, and horror. Join us as we pop in for a brief spotlight on how the stories of Mother, and their makers, worked their horrible magic to create this book.


Author Spotlight: Ryan Cole, author of  “The Bone Child”


Q: What inspired your story?

A: I recently had shoulder surgery to extract calcium deposits that were accumulating in my shoulder, and I wanted to turn the negativity of that very painful experience into something positive: what if the calcium could grow into something that would actually help instead of hurt me? The idea of a “bone child” growing in a teenage boy’s shoulder emerged from that thought process.


Q: Thematically, what was important for you to include?

A: I wanted to play with gender norms, and show how someone who isn’t a woman could still be a loving, caring mother to their child, regardless of what kind of creature that child might be. It was also really important to me to show a positive queer relationship, as the main character is largely a reflection of who I was (and who I wish I could have been, with the help of a bone child), way back in high school.


Q: Do you ever see yourself revisiting the topic or theme or your story?

A: I recently wrote another story about a couple wanting to be parents to a seedling child that grew out of the ground. As someone who isn’t yet a parent, I find myself writing a lot about what it would be like to have kids of my own someday.


Q: Did you know what you wanted to do with this story from the start, or did it surprise you?

A: The concept of an unborn child taking over the mother’s body is pretty dark, but overall, I think it turned out to be more positive than I was originally expecting.


Q: What was your process for writing this, and did that at all differ from your usual approach?

A: It usually takes a long time for me to put a story together, but this was one of my quickest. The title and opening paragraph just popped into my head one day while I was walking around my neighborhood, and because the narrator’s voice was so strong, the rest of the story just kind of fell into place.


Q: If there were ever a FATHER anthology put together as a sequel, would you follow that up, or write something totally new?

A: Absolutely! I think there’s plenty left to explore in this story. Possibly a follow-up from the POV of the main character’s love interest (as the “father” to their bone child).


Q: If your own mother could read this story, would you send it to her? Why or why not?

A: Absolutely. My story is about the lengths to which a mother will go to protect his/her child, even at the risk of the mother’s own well-being, so I think (hope) she would find it inspiring.


Q: Why did you decide to submit to this anthology? Was there something particular that called to you?

A: I loved the name and the theme. I was initially afraid to submit because I didn’t think my story was dark enough, or fit into the horror category well enough, but I really strongly believed in the message, and I am so glad I took a chance and submitted!


Ryan Cole is a speculative fiction writer who lives in Virginia with his husband and snuggly pug child. He is a winner of the 2021 Writers of the Future Contest, and his work has appeared in Writers of the Future, Vol. 37 and Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. Find out more at www.ryancolewrites.com.
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