Story Behind the Story: “Crim” by Pseudo Nym

Defiant Scribe is thrilled to announce the start of another new blog series, called “The Story Behind the Story.” We’ll be doing random interviews with some of Defiant Scribe’s writers to find out a little bit about their creative process and get an inside look at the stories they’ve published with us.

For our first-ever interview, we’ll be speaking to Pseudo Nym about her story, Crim, which was featured in our April antihero edition. It’s a gritty, woeful tale about a sixteen-year-old seasoned thief—and if you haven’t read it yet, you really should. (Don’t worry—we’ll wait.)

We were curious to find out more about the piece, and what better way to do that than to interview the author? Here’s what we learned.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity. Spoilers ahead.



Defiant Scribe: At the beginning of the story, I noticed that Gabriela makes mention of “hating the teenagers” during robberies—and then later on, it’s revealed that she, herself, is a teenager. Was that line meant to demonstrate some self-hatred?

Pseudo Nym: In part, yes. The thing about Gabriela is that she sees herself very differently than how she actually is. I don’t think she really views herself as a sixteen-year-old . . . but, of course, intellectually, she knows she is. So that line obviously wasn’t meant as a conscious admission on her part, but subconsciously, yes, there was more to it. And I certainly think that Gabriela is full of self-loathing, even if she pretends that she isn’t. She has so much guilt—not about the robberies, or the fact that she’s killed someone, but she’s guilty about leaving Violeta. She feels guilt over Shark’s death, even though that wasn’t her fault. She definitely has some self-hatred.

DS: You say she isn’t guilty about the robberies or the murder, and that definitely comes across in the story, with how dismissive she is of her crimes—but why do you think she feels that way? She does seem to have a conscience, in light of her guilt over leaving her sister and her boyfriend’s death, so how come her conscience is so selective?

PN: One of Gabriela’s fatal flaws is that she isn’t very good at putting herself in someone else’s shoes, and she isn’t very compassionate or sympathetic/empathetic when it comes to strangers . . . but with people she knows? People she cares about? Different story. She’s someone who is completely unaffected by the turmoil of random strangers, but if it’s her sister or boyfriend who’s in turmoil, she’ll feel nothing but grief for them and blame herself, and just let it consume her. That’s one of the tragedies of her character. And I think, with the crimes she commits, she has a way of compartmentalizing and going numb—and she has to, in order to get through the day.

DS: Shark has a very big presence throughout the story, even though he’s not an active participant. Violeta too, to a lesser extent.

PN: Yeah, I wanted the story to have a very tight, singular focus around Gabriela. I didn’t want it to be cluttered. And it worked out well, because by having Shark and Violeta both be in Gabriela’s rear-view mirror, I could focus just on her while allowing them to have a haunting presence in her memory.

DS: When Gabriela’s talking about her life before she ran away, she calls her stepfather’s abuse “a story as old as time,” and says that Shark saving her was “corny.” Was that a deliberate nod to the story’s subversive angle?

PN: Yes. One of the main ideas of Crim was to take this kind of story and these sorts of tropes—the abused, runaway teen girl and her edgy, bad-boy boyfriend; the Bonnie-and-Clyde romantic criminals—and do something kind of unexpected with it. To start with, I thought it would be interesting to tell a Bonnie-and-Clyde story post-Clyde, and examine what happens to the girl who needed rescuing when her bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold rescuer dies. So the lines that point out the clichés were very much intentional, in an attempt to both offset the tropes and to wink at the audience.

DS: That cliffhanger ending was pretty cruel. How did it come about?

PN: Well, again, I wanted to do something unexpected. Cliffhangers aren’t a new thing, of course—I’m not trying to steal credit here—but I thought it would be unexpected and fitting for this particular story. And I didn’t want to make the ending concrete. It was such a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of situation, and if I saw one of the possible outcomes to the end, I felt like it would’ve been kind of predicable and ultimately unsatisfying. And while some may say the cliffhanger, choose-your-own-ending thing was a bit of a copout, I think it was the best decision for this story and this character. It was playful and crafty, and that’s very much in the spirit of Gabriela.

DS: Okay, but if you hadn’t left it unsaid, what would’ve happened? What do you think Gabriela would’ve chosen to do?

PN: I’m genuinely not sure. I don’t want to be sure—I like not knowing. That way, she stays alive in my head. One of the great things about the ending is that I didn’t have to decide her fate. I’ll leave that up to the reader.