This week we welcome Rohn Federbush, author of “The Farm Stray,” a short story about a woman who happens upon an old, abandoned farmhouse in the Michigan countryside. As she wanders around, noticing odd tools and detritus of the lives of the former occupants—a Depression-era farmer and his young, city-bred wife—her imagination takes flight. Or is it more?
Q: You start your story by warning the reader that he or she won’t be able to tell if the narrator is imaging the events to come, or remembering events that actually happened. Was that a purposeful choice when you planned the story, or did it just happen as you wrote?
A: The fictional story is in truth about how the story came into my head. Do I believe in ghosts? Well, someone was with me on that real farm who crafted the story (which is the question isn’t it). Did I imagine the ghost to tell the story? I cannot answer that question because I in truth do not know.
Q: The story is set in a real farmhouse you discovered during your wanderings. Tell us how you became interested in old barns. What other interesting things have you discovered?
A: As I grow older, I feel time is neglecting my upkeep as the owners of the barns and abandoned homes neglect them. There will never be enough time to accomplish all I dream of doing.
Q: The wife in the story doesn’t treat her husband, the farmer, with much (if any) affection. It’s implied she married him out of desperation, but why did he marry her?
A: She was beautiful. He knew she needed to eat. She knew it too. Her crowd had abandoned her as fast as her father’s leap to death had ended his financial failure.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about your story?
A: My husband Is proud to be a part of the story.
Q: In 1997, you were granted a summer stipend for a ghost-story collection. How did it come to be? How many stories did you write and where can we read them? Was there a central theme (aside from ghosts)?
A: Part of my Master’s Thesis for Creative Writing, pursued the theme of the Native-American’s ghost dance, which says they will regain their original territory. I claim to be Shawnee because of my sir name “North”. When I see the casino’s ruining lives with addictions to gambling, I wonder if the ghost dance did predict the demise of character in our land. Payback is not always attractive. I’ve written about 150 short stories. Red Wheelbarrow, Potpourri, Bear River Peace Anthology published one each. I often use short stories on my Wednesday blog. My website has links to the published work also.
Q: What is your favorite Halloween tradition?
A: Going door to door to meet the neighbors needs an excuse nowadays. That’s a shame. I can remember when May Day included giving baskets of sweets and flowers to neighbors too.