Horror & Dark Fantasy

COSMIC POWERS

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Nonfiction

Author Spotlight: Brit Mandelo

“And Yet, Her Eyes” takes place prior to the US military’s reversal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Did you write it before or after this change? Did it influence you to write this story?

The story was written after the repeal, but not by much. There had been plenty of debate in the news and in my social circles around the time I was drafting this piece. So, yes, it certainly affected the development of the story: I knew I wanted to work through issues of identity, particularly the splitting of consciousness required of those forced into the closet during the DADT era, while also dealing with trauma and recovery. There’s a lot of overlap between different forms of trauma, physical or psychological or both, and how they destabilize a person’s identity and self-concept.

What do you think the invading luminescence is?

We can call it a haunting. The world is plenty full of things that are enigmatic, phenomena that aren’t entirely explicable—the haunting is one of those, to me.

Did the luminescence choose to keep Sasha alive, and, if so, why does that possibility challenge Sasha’s sense of identity?

I don’t think we can ascribe agency to the haunting; Sasha doesn’t, necessarily. The issue is that her prior self-concept didn’t involve failure—or what she perceives to be failure—particularly of her physical competency and capability. For Sasha, who is a deeply self-organized and driven person, having her own agency forcibly removed and experiencing severe trauma that makes her feel helpless is hard to bounce back from. The alienation that Sasha feels from herself after the experience is exacerbated and embodied by the haunting: yet another thing she cannot control and doesn’t feel is rightly part of her.

This story leaves Sasha’s fate unresolved. Do you know what happens, or is it a mystery to you as well?

Actually, I don’t think it’s particularly unresolved. This is a story about internal conflict, self-perception, psychological and physical wounding—and, ultimately, the process of beginning to heal. Sasha goes through a lot; she comes through on the other side ready to pursue her life as a person who is striving toward wholeness and self-acceptance. The process is never easy—I expect that she’ll have plenty of trouble in the months and years after this—but the pivotal moment that starts the recovery process has occurred.

In the end it’s a story out of a life, really, and lives don’t tend to have neat arcs and resolutions.

What else do you have coming up that our readers can look forward to?

Well, there’s a short story forthcoming from Tor.com called “The Writ of Years.” I also have a few fresh stories in the works at the moment. Oh, and I have two essays coming out soon: one on Hunter Thompson and gonzo for the forthcoming Interfictions magazine, and one on Torchwood and camp in Queers Dig Time Lords edited by Sigrid Ellis and Michael Thomas.

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Sean Patrick Kelley

Seamus BayneNightmare editorial assistant Sean Patrick Kelley  is  the co-founder of the Paradise Lost writing retreat held annually in Texas. You can learn more about him, and his writing at his home on the web, Mythlife. He tweets as @Endiron