Michelle Jager

‘Python Yellow’ was influenced by the rise of the Me Too movement, a series of lectures that I had been listening to from La Trobe University about Classical Mythology, and the reading of Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado. 

Hearing stories that came out of the Me Too movement (more so from friends than those covered in the media) brought back memories of high school in the 90s and how sexual harassment/violence against young women was not abnormal. Nor was shaming the victims, which helped support such an environment. Slut was a common word, as was praise for young men over heterosexual conquests. Around the same time, I began listening to the lectures. I was familiar with the Medusa myth but had forgotten that in the Roman version Medusa’s monstrous appearance and demonization is punishment for being raped by the god Poseidon in the goddess Athena’s temple. 

While I was trying to write ‘Python Yellow’, a friend recommended Machado’s brilliant collection, and it was through reading her stories that the tone and voice really cemented themselves. I love the way Machado blends horror, fantasy and psychological realism to shape the narratives of her female characters and deal with the subject of violence against women. She also has a beautiful way with words that just makes you want to sit with her stories and savour them. Or at least I do!