One of last year’s most captivating reading experiences for me was Heather Parry‘s chillingly genius debut novel “Orpheus Builds a Girl”. Despite having read it back in October last year, it’s a book that still plays in my mind given its mix of macabre and poignant moments and absolutely unforgettable characters.
A modern take on classic Gothic literature and inspired by the chilling real-life case of Georg Carl Tänzler, “Orpheus Builds a Girl” presents a searing commentary on power, love, obsession, grief, and women’s agency and autonomy: Dr. Wilhelm von Tore is on death’s door, and as he reflects on his life, he dwells on his childhood in Dresden, his beloved grandmother and his career as a doctor during the Second World War. But his fondest memories are those he shared with his only true love, Luci, who was promised to him in a dream years before they even met.
Despite spending mere months together in their “first life,” von Tore knows that their love was predestined, and he resorts to decades of scientific research to ensure that death is just the first chapter for him and his beloved. But what makes Parry’s novel so unique is her deft use of a dual narrative, adding another voice, that of Luci’s sister Gabriela, to provide a much different story of a fearless and full of life Luciana, and of the madman who robbed her from her grave.
In celebration of this extraordinary novel, CinemaChords’ Howard Gorman sat down with Parry to discuss the development process behind this haunting story, finding a delicate balance between tenderness and brutality, the challenges of working with a dual narrative, and what lies ahead for the author in the foreseeable future.
“Orpheus Build a Girl” is available via Belgravia Books now here. Parry has also just announced that her debut short story collection, “This is My Body, Given for You” will be publishing this May through Haunt Publishing and you can pre-order this release here.