2012 Willow Springs Fiction Prize Winner

A profile of 2012 Willow Springs Fiction Prize winner, Katherine Conner, and her prize winning story, “Percipient,” from Willow Springs 70


“Percipient,” like most of my stories, is indebted to multiple influences. One night last year, I took my first ghost tour in the French Quarter and found myself as interested in the role of the tour guide as the ghost stories themselves. Here this guide was, in a top hat and cape, hands resting on the head of an old-fashioned cane, telling us, the tour-goers, story after story about New Orleans’s haunted history. And I kept thinking, what a weird job. Part actor, part historian, part ghost-hunter. Did he actually believe in ghosts? Did the job even require him to?

My younger sister is convinced that our mother’s house, the house we grew up in, is haunted. She claims a ghost-lady walked on her back as she lay on the floor of our playroom. She claims too that a face once hovered outside her bedroom window. She suffered from night terrors, and she would wake up terrified, sure that someone was in the room. In this way, she is like Georgia. But so am I, even though I’ve never experienced anything supernatural. Because I’d like to, I’d like to believe. And this is what the story, finally, is about. I wanted to capture the tenuous nature of belief. Not belief in God, exactly, or even ghosts. But belief itself, conviction, and how difficult it is to ever really grasp, how easily it slips away.

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