PW: “Head” is a story where a character’s head becomes “nonviable.” Tell us, what inspired this bizarre, humorous, and horrifying story?
DD: A few years ago when I was living in Ohio, I bought a book called Ohio Oddities that had weird, offbeat news items from the state over the past century. I was repulsed and fascinated by a particular story about a farmer who wanted to cook one of his chickens for dinner. As was customary, he chopped off its head. The chicken, however, didn’t die. It remained alive without its head. The farmer and his wife took pity on the headless bird and fed it bits of apple, using a toothpick to jam the food down its neck hole. The chicken lived for a month or so without its head. I’m pretty sure this story lodged itself in my brain, and years later was part of the inspiration for “Head.” Some part of me probably wondered, “What the heck would it even mean to be alive without a head?” There’s also great potential for allegory in putting this type of situation into the world of fiction. I made a point to include a reference to this insanely determined chicken in the story itself.