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Our Frankenkickstarter is ALIIIVE!

Our Kickstarter is live! 

Our Kickstarter campaign is live as of right now! Help us get the funds we need to make this anthology all it can possibly be!! The campaign has amazing perks, and you should definitely go over to Kickstarter right now and check it out!! 

 

Here’s a bit more info:

We Shall Be Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Two Centuries On will feature a broad range of fiction stories, from direct interactions with Shelley’s texts to explorations of the stitched, assembled body and narrative experiments in monstrous creations. We Shall Be Monsters is a fiction collection that will feature explorations of disability through Frankenstein, queer and trans identity, ideas of race and colonialism. Shelley’s story provides a space for exploring a multitude of identities through the figure of the sympathetic outsider. Frankenstein’s “monster” is a figure of Otherness, and one that can tell stories of exclusion and social oppression.

About the Editor 

Derek Newman-Stille is a 7-time winner of the Prix Aurora Award, the highest award in Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy. He is currently also editing Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins (Exile, 2018), and has written for publications like Quill & Quire, Accessing the Future and The Playground of Lost Toys. He has published academic works in works like The Canadian Fantastic in Focus, Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, and Misfit Children: An Inquiry into Childhood Belongings. In his academic life, Derek is a scholar of disability and queer studies, examining how popular media portray oppressed identities. In his role as a critic, writer, and interviewer, Derek seeks to open up discussions about speculative fiction, fantastica, and the imagination.

The rewards: 

At the Electric level, you’ll receive an ebook copy of the anthology.

At the Monster Itself level, you’ll receive a physical copy of the book.

At the Monstrous Renaissance level, in addition to a copy of the anthology, you will receive a selection of Renaissance’s complete novels in ebook format. To find out more about the listed books and their authors, please visit https://renaissancebookpress.com/.

The Monstrous Selves level, in addition to having your name listed on the supporters’ page and receiving a copy of the book. allows you to submit a picture and Nathan Caro Fréchette will “monsterize” you, turning you into Frankenstein’s monster:

Derek
Derek

 

Frankenderek
Frankenderek

At the Raising the Writer level, in addition to having your name on the supporters’ page and receiving a copy of the book, you’ll be able to participate to an exclusive writing workshop on Google Hangout to explore your inner writer and improve your writing skills.

Stretch goals  

Audible Monsters: at 4,000 CA$, we will produce an audio version of the book.

A Monstrous Instruction: at 6,000 CA$, we will produce an ebook of Derek Newman-Stille’s The Essential Frankenstein 101 Syllabus. We will also record video lectures and discussions with the following experts:

– Scholarly Discussion on Frankenstein by Anya Heise-von der Lippe from Universitat Tubingen;

– Scholarly Discussion on the Universal Studios Frankenstein Films and Queer Identities by Sarah Milner from Trent University

– Scholarly Discussion on Frankenstein and Monstrous Geographies by Erin Vander Wall, George Washington University

– Scholarly Discussion on Frankenstein and 19th Century Horror by Sean Moreland from Ottawa University

– Lecture on Frankenstein, Disability, and Gender by Derek Newman-Stille from Trent University

– Scholarly Discussion on Frankenstein and Colonialism by Ashley Morford

If this stretch goal is reached, we will include a DVD of the full selection of lectures and/or links to streaming versions of the videos to all reward levels

A Monstrous Display: at 7,000CA$, we will produce digital Frankenstein Art by Derek Newman-Stille and Nathan Caro Fréchette, dramatic readings of sections from Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein, and a Frankenstein radio play performance. These audio and digital art files will be added as a CD and/or downloadable resource with every reward level

Well, what are you still doing here? You should be over on Kickstarter!! 

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An Interview with Frankenstein Scholar Sarah Milner

An Interview with Frankenstein scholar Sarah Milner, Trent University.

By Derek Newman-Stille

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Sarah Milner is a researcher at Trent University. Her interests include textual adaptations, transformative texts, film studies, and the filmography of James Whale in addition to her studies of Frankenstein. Milner is also a bluegrass musician, a performer, and radio personality.

 

In our interview, Sarah Milner discusses Frankenstein’s monster as an outsider, the Universal Frankenstein films, the work of director James Whale, gender, textual adaptation, Frankenstein stories for children, and humanizing the monster.

 

Click on the link below to check out our scholarly interview with Sarah Milner:

We Shall Be Monsters scholarly interviews

 

 

 

Poor Monster

Poor Monster

A review of Charles de Lint’s “Pity The Monsters” in The Ultimate Frankenstein (Simon & Schuster Inc., 1991)

By Derek Newman-Stille

I was surprised to see that Charles de Lint set his Frankenstein tale Pity The Monsters in the city he invented – Newford – a city that he generally sets tales of fairies and fantasy in, but in doing so, he illustrated the fantasy quality of Frankenstein tales, and he stuck to areas that he has often evoked in his Newford-centred stories. De Lint used a Frankenstein tale to explore ideas of poverty and homelessness, setting his tale in the impoverished part of Newford generally called The Tombs, an area of abandoned buildings that house squatters of the human and supernatural variety. De Lint explores the interweaving of normal city life with the uncanny, as he generally does in his Newford tales, having characters pulled out of their normate lives as they encounter something seemingly otherworldly. He illustrates to his audience that normalcy is a facade, a construction, and that it is a thin veneer that shows its artificiality when scratched.

Pity The Monsters is a tale that explores ideas of mental illness and altered perceptions while also examining the dispossession that often faces people with mental illness. It explores parental abuse and violence, entitlement and bodies, because Frankenstein IS a tale of violence, parental abuse, and entitlement over the bodies of others. It is a tale about the pain of Otherness and rejection and a tale about the policing of othered bodies.

To find out more about Charles de Lint, go to https://www.sfsite.com/charlesdelint/

An Interview with Ashley Caranto Morford, author of “My Name is Wollstonecraft” in We Shall Be Monsters

Interview with Ashley Caranto Morford, author of “It Was On A Joyful Night in November” in We Shall Be Monsters

By Derek Newman-Stille

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Q: To begin our interview, could you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

 

Caranto Morford: Hi everyone! Thank you so much for supporting this project! I’m Ashley Caranto Morford. My pronouns are she/her. I identify as mad and am on the asexual spectrum. I am a woman of colour, a member of the Visayan and Luzonese diasporas on my mother’s side and British on my father’s side. I am currently a PhD student in Literature and Book History at the University of Toronto, which occupies the territories of the Wendat, Haudenosaunee, and Anishinaabe nations.

 

Q: What inspired you to explore the privilege Victor occupies in this story? Victor’s arrogance in seeking to create life has always struck me as an act of a person in privilege. What in Mary Shelley’s tale inspired you to see his privilege and arrogance?

 

Caranto Morford: I wanted to emphasize that Mary Shelley’s Victor is representative of colonial scholarship. Victor is representative of Western science’s ongoing legacies of exploiting marginalized communities without consent. He steals from communities under the banner of research, for instance in his taking of body parts from graves and other spaces without the consent of those human and other-than-human peoples. As is also representative of colonial scholarship, he refuses to be in ongoing relationship or kinship with those communities, which is emphasized when he refuses to be in relationship with his Creation. Further, the desire to know everything and to think that one has the right to know everything is a colonial desire. We must accept, respect, and understand that there are certain knowledges that not everyone has the right to, but, as is too often true of colonial scholarship, Victor does not honour that.

 

Q: You evoke a commonality between the blind man De Lacey from Shelley’s story and Victor’s creation Wollstonecraft. What inspired you to connect these two individuals?

 

Caranto Morford: In the Nick Dear adaptation of Frankenstein, De Lacey is an educator and a mentor to the Creature. They grow close, they teach one another and learn from one another, and, at times, their discussions engage with and confront ableism, albeit their discussions and moments of learning/teaching are often problematic and colonial. But I wanted to honour the close connection they grow to have in the Dear adaptation, and especially to honour it and re-imagine it from a decolonial lens.

 

Q: You explore a multiplicity of identities in the small community in which Wollstonecraft has found themself. What inspired you to evoke so many different identities?

 

Caranto Morford: Representation matters. This world is filled with diverse people, yet all too many mainstream movies and books present the world as narrowly white, cisgender, heterosexual, neurotypical, able-bodied, thin. And, when those of us from marginalized positionalities are represented in mainstream media, it is all too often in stereotypical, highly problematic, highly oppressive, highly colonial ways. That needs to change. Seeing ourselves represented in our humanities in films and books is so crucial in helping us to understand and love our beautiful and diverse identities and selves. I want to see the world represented in its diversity through films and books, and I want films and books to celebrate the beauty of decolonial pasts, presents, futures, and ways of being.

 

Q: Your story brings out the way that Mary Shelley’s text was haunted by colonialism. What inspired you to bring out these colonial aspects of the narrative?

 

Caranto Morford: The novel was written when the British Empire was the world’s dominant colonial force. The ways in which the text is shaped by colonial ideologies and the ways that it both grapples with but also upholds colonialism has always interested me, and yet I don’t think that the colonialism and the anti-colonial potentials of the text get talked about enough. I wanted to bring these aspects to the forefront. What about the shift in tone from the 1818 and 1831 versions, with the 1831 version taking on more overt mentions of and connections to colonialism and imperialism through Clerval? The main story of Shelley’s text, too, is buttressed by the story of Arctic exploration, and European/Western exploration of the Arctic is deeply intertwined with colonialism and imperialism. Yet Mary seems incredibly skeptical of Western colonial society’s desire for knowledge. Walton is egotistical and dislikeable, as is Victor, and both of their journeys to gain knowledge are dangerous and destructive.

 

Q: In your story, you speak of a “decolonial love”. Could you tell us a bit more about why that spoke to you so strongly? Connectedly, the notion of “found family” seems to shape a lot of the ideas in this story. What inspired you to explore Victor’s creation accessing a familial structure?

 

Caranto Morford: Colonialism has dictated that the most significant love, the one that we should privilege above all others, is monogamous romantic-sexual love. Colonialism has suggested that, to be successful, one must get married and have a nuclear family — that that is something everyone should desire. As a person on the ace spectrum, I want to challenge those ideas. I want to emphasize how significant, intimate, and beautiful friendships and the love of and for friends can be and is. I want to celebrate platonic love and the joys of platonic love.

 

Q: Your story discusses many different academic texts, particularly those with an activist quality. What evoked this desire to share these texts with Victor’s creation? Was this a way of educating Mary Shelley’s character about ways of occupying a decolonial world?

 

Caranto Morford: Absolutely. These books have been such a gift and privilege for me to read; they are so full of wisdom, so full of decolonial teachings, written by such amazing activists, and they are not read nor celebrated enough in mainstream spaces. Sharing these texts with Wollstonecraft — and Wollstonecraft’s reciprocal act of sharing these texts with readers — was also a way of speaking back to the Creature’s education in the Shelley text, wherein they read texts that have been labelled “canonical” and yet these texts often perpetuate toxic colonial ideas. I want to challenge what we consider to be “the literary canon,” and the kinds of teachings and authors that get privileged through the mainstream “canon”.

 

Q: Where can readers find out more about your work and see what you are up to?

 

Caranto Morford:You can follow me on Twitter: @ashleycmorford

 

An Interview with Lena Ng, author of “Love Transcendent” in We Shall Be Monsters

Interview with Lena Ng, author of “Love Transcendent” in We Shall Be Monsters

Lena Ng Author Pic B&W

Q: To begin our interview, could you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

 

Ng: I love reading and the beauty of prose. I grew up in a house filled with books and am trying to fill my own home with them as well. I am fortunate to live close to a library but I like to have my own copy of books I especially love so I can make notes and re-read on a whim.

 

Q: What spoke to you about Mary Shelley’s story? What appealed to you about Frankenstein?

 

Ng: I always liked the theme of the misunderstood monster – Beauty and the Beast, The Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  This theme combined with the theme of scientific innovation with unintended consequences, which has modern-day applications with today’s technological speed, makes Frankenstein a powerful story.

 

Q: I am fascinated by your focus on the figure of the surgeon. What attracted you to exploring Victorian surgery for this story?

 

Ng: I had read an article about the Anatomical Venus, 18th-century wax female cadavers which were used to teach anatomy because of the low availability of women’s bodies for dissection. The figures were morbidly beautiful and the idea stuck with me.

A link to the article:

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/may/17/anatomical-venus-anatomy-human-biology-joanna-ebenstein-books

 

Q: Why create a surgeon who is still a student?

 

Ng: I wanted a vulnerable character, not someone cynical or jaded. An idealistic character confronted by the limitations of the body, who wanted to overcome those limitations. The reader could then feel his fear and trepidation with him and understand his motives.

 

Q: I was really interested in the way that you had James, your main character, find Victor Frankenstein’s journal. What appealed to you about the idea of bringing the personal notes of Frankenstein into your story?

 

Ng: I liked the thought of James inhabiting Frankenstein’s fictional world and building on his work, paralleling how science progresses from previous science.

 

Q: The theme of love is strong in this story, and, particularly, of love after death. What encouraged you to think about love as a key factor of the Frankenstein narrative and in your own story?

 

Ng: In 2012, when my father was in the ICU, my love for him wanted to keep him alive indefinitely on life support, despite there being no hope for recovery after his massive stroke. The desperation of arguing with his doctors who I knew were right, but I didn’t want to believe. It was difficult for my family to finally accept the decision to let him go. Like in Frankenstein, sometimes horror can arise from the best of intentions, such as scientific advancement or love or loneliness, and it’s a theme that comes up repeatedly in my work.

 

Q: I was fascinated by the scene of James interacting with the spiritualist. What inspired the inclusion of a spiritualist and seance in this story?

 

Ng: I’m amazed at how much we know in terms of how our bodies work and how the universe works, and how much there is still to discover. The spiritualist represents all of the unknown and unanswerable, and the part of us which hopes that we are more than the sum of our parts.

 

Q: In your description of Olivia, there seemed to be an almost Snow White fairy tale element. What fairy tale elements influenced your story?

 

Ng: The stories of Hans Christian Anderson, such as The Little Match Girl or the original Little Mermaid (not the Disney version), have themes of sacrifice and redemption, themes that resonate with me.  His stories’ ‘happily ever after’ are underscored with sadness which I’ve tried to have as well.

 

Q: Your story plays with ideas of freedom versus a feeling of being caged. What inspired you to explore these images?

 

Ng: Again it relates back to my father; his body was there but he wasn’t. But his death doesn’t mean I can’t have a relationship with him, as a friend said to comfort me.

 

Q: How can readers find out more about what you are up to?

 

Ng: I have an ebook collection of short stories called “Under an Autumn Moon.” Some of my short stories, mainly comedic pieces, can be read on-line on Antimattermag.com, Fairytalemagazine.com, or Polar Borealis (PDF). I’m trying to find a publisher for my Gothic romance Darkness Beckons, also set in the Victorian era. Otherwise, I’m a digital hermit with no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat etc. Not even a cell phone.  I like being hidden away in my womb-like apartment, reading or writing.

 

A Frankensteinian Bluebeard Tale

A Frankensteinian Bluebeard Tale

A review of Kate Horsley’s The Monster’s Wife (Barbican Press, 2014)

By Derek Newman-Stille

While some would argue that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has some gothic elements to it, Kate Horsley’s The Monster’s Wife emphasizes these gothic characteristics. Set during the period where Victor Frankenstein travels to an island in the Orkney’s to create the female monster for his creation, Horsley’s tale expands upon this episode of Shelley’s novel, highlighting the complexities of Victor’s arrival in the Orkney’s and his treatment of others in his travels.

Horsley sets her tale on a far off island, highlighting the possibility of a gothic tale, emphasizing the role of the island as a symbol of isolation. She maps ideas of bigotry and backward behaviour onto the people living on the island, underlying an assumption that many authors make about island culture – namely, that it is cut off from the ‘civilized world’. Gothic novels tend to emphasize isolation, and the use of the island symbol helps to bring attention to this idea of isolation (which is one that Mary Shelley describes as characteristic of both Frankenstein and the monster he creates). She further brings attention to this isolation characteristic by having Victor move into a mouldy old manner house and isolate himself from all of the islanders, becoming the mysterious, strange, handsome man that is characteristic of gothic fiction. His choice of locale – the mouldy old manner house – is also a central aspect of the gothic novel.

If the mouldy house wasn’t gothic enough, Horsley further emphasizes this gothic element by also having secret rooms. The notion of the gothic house belonging to a strange, mysterious gentleman evokes the fairy tale Bluebeard, which is supposed to be a lesson about becoming too curious. In Bluebeard, a young woman marries a man with a blue beard and he tells her that she can go anywhere in his large house except for one room that he keeps locked. This, of course, makes her more curious and when Bluebeard leaves the house and gives her the keys, she is overcome by her curiosity and unlocks the door to that room and finds all of Bluebeard’s previous wives who he has murdered because they similarly became curious about that room. In Horsley’s The Monster’s Wife, the character Oona is similarly overcome with her curiosity and finds the keys to Victor Frankenstein’s hidden room, and I will leave the rest a secret for you to discover when you read Horsley’s book.

Yet, Bluebeard isn’t the only fairy tale that Horsley weaves through her tale. Characters in the tale understand themselves through reference to fairy tales, relating elements of their life to the tales they have been told and there is a mythic vein that runs through island life. Oona, in particular, regularly relates her notions of selfhood and her experiences to fairy tales about Selkies, seals who can take off their skins and become human and who frequently hunger for the human experience and will abduct people to be their wives. As much as The Monster’s Wife is a reimagining of Frankenstein… it is also a fairy tale retold and shaped through the lens of the monstrous.

Horsley weaves elements of gothic romance through her tale – the dark old house, the closeness of death, the romantic stranger with a dark past, people haunted by their past, and the ever present quality of secrecy. Yet, she doesn’t isolate that gothic nature to Frankenstein or the castle he occupies. Horsley’s isolated island is similarly full of secrets for the reader to discover and a buried past to uncover. People are shunned for their differences on the island and celebrated for their similitude. It is a community shaped by gossip. Oona herself is shunned for her heart condition, which allows others to assume that she is weak and vulnerable and easy to prey upon.

This is a novel where knowledge is danger and threats lurk everywhere. It is a tale full of grey areas where there are no innocents or heroes, only shades of villain.

To find out more about Kate Horsley, visit http://www.katehorsley.co.uk

To discover more about The Monster’s Wife, go to http://www.katehorsley.co.uk/project-view/the-monsters-wife/

An Interview with Frankenstein Scholar Anya Heise-von der Lippe

An Interview with Frankenstein Scholar Anya Heise-von der Lippe, Universität Tübingen.

By Derek Newman-Stille

 

Anya Heise-von der Lippe is a scholar at the Universität Tübingen in Germany. Her research areas include The Gothic, Monsters and the Monstrous, Posthumanism, Disability Studies, Embodiments, Dystopias, Cyberculture, Digital Humanities, Textualities, Hypertext.

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Her publications include:

Posthuman Gothic (University of Wales Press, 2017)
‘”I keep saying brains” – Posthuman Zombie Narratives.’ Horror Studies 9.1 (2018).
‘Brave New World’. In: Christoph Reinfandt (ed.): Handbook of the English Novel, 1900-2015. DeGruyter, 2017.
‘Hypertext and the Creation of Choice: Making Monsters in the Age of Digital Textual (Re)Production’. In: Lorna Piatti-Farnell and Donna Lee Brien (eds.): New Directions in 21st-Century Gothic: The Gothic Compass. Routledge, 2015

‘Black as a Ghost’: Toni Morrison’s Hauntologies. Dissections 9 (2014)

In our interview, Anya Heise-von der Lippe discusses the relationship of Frankenstein to gothic fiction texts, Romanticism, and science fiction, ideas of normative bodies, gender, power and bodily control, ideas of science, and the experience of sizeism.

Click on the link below to check out our scholarly interview with Anya Heise-von der Lippe

We Shall Be Monsters scholarly interviews

 

An Interview of Kaitlin Tremblay, author of “More” in We Shall Be Monsters

An Interview of Kaitlin Tremblay, author of “More”in We Shall Be Monsters

By Derek Newman-Stille

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Q: Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself?

 

Tremblay:I’m a narrative designer and writer in video games, currently working at Ubisoft Toronto. I’ve worked in indie video games for the past 5 or 6 years now, and used to also work in the publishing industry as an editor. I’m obsessed with how we can use interactivity to tell stories and to leverage certain storytelling opportunities within video games, but I’m also deeply engaged in how people talk about and share stories about pain and difficult emotions. I’ve done a lot of work with and around mental health in video game communities, and using storytelling as a healing practice is a major force in my work. I also love horror, true crime, cults — anything that explores how we, as humans, respond to pain and trauma and what can draw us toward extreme beliefs or extreme ways of dealing with this pain.

 

Q: What got you interested in writing about Frankenstein?

 

Tremblay:I was chatting with my partner about my favourite monster (I was planning a monster-themed tattoo), and it was actually my partner who was like “The only monster I ever hear you talk about in any loving way that isn’tGodzilla is Frankenstein.” And from there I just kind of realized that Frankenstein has always been this really important motif and monster in my life, particularly around how I think about and lay claim to my body after traumatic experiences. I’ve written body-focused horror before, but it wasn’t until I saw Frankenstein as this driving motivator of that symbolism for me that it really clicked and I was able to write “More” in a way that felt really emblematic of my actual experience with my body and recovery through intimacy.

 

Q: When did you first encounter Frankenstein?

 

Tremblay:I was young, still in grade school! I was a voracious reader (weren’t we all?) and I loved horror so deeply. I spent a lot of time watching horror movies with my mom growing up, and then that dovetailed into a love of reading horror. I don’t think I really got Frankenstein at first, admittedly, but it stuck with me in a way few other monsters at the time did.

 

Q: What does Frankenstein mean for you personally?

 

Tremblay:Oh wow, Frankenstein means a ton to me personally. Frankenstein has this monster that was forced to inhabit a body that was traumatized through somebody else’s arrogance, and I feel that. A lot of the work I’ve done in therapy has been to recover a strong sense of identity after the fracturing that occurs from abuse (and gaslighting specifically), and Frankenstein’s pastiche body really connected to this idea of my broken and fragmented identity that I needed to find a way to stitch back together — but with my own hand, and not from somebody else’s. For me, Frankenstein is both sides of that: inhabiting a body that has had trauma and harm done against it from somebody else’s selfishness and also a person navigating stitching these fragmented and disjointed pieces together in an identity that I can own and be proud of.

 

Q: How does Frankenstein relate to the identities you occupy?

 

Tremblay:I’ve always kind of talked about how identity is so influenced by everyone around us. I’m very much a patchwork of parts of my mom, my brothers, my friends from growing up, my friends from now, my current partner, my teachers, my baseball coaches, writers that have influenced me, movies that have shaped me, songs that I’ve listened to on repeat for years. Like, our identities are so shaped by every person who has made an impression on our life, that identities are these very like sewn-together things made up of different parts of different people, in one way or another. Another analogy I use is an elastic ball. An elastic ball is different and discrete from the elastics that make it up, but the elastics all come from different things, different places. Frankenstein is kind of the same for me. My identity is me, fully to the core, but there are bits of the people who have had a significant impact on me in there, as well.

 

After answering all of this, I realize you might have meant my identities, like being queer and being a person with mental illness, but for me Frankenstein isn’t very emblematic of any of them separately, but instead is representative of the ways all my different experiences have stitched together to create this human who is a ball of anxiety and enthusiasm and hope and anger, with a burning desire to support others around me and also to push the work I do to be the most authentically “me” it can be.

 

Q: What suggested the idea of body image when you thought about a story for the We Shall Be Monsters anthology?

 

Tremblay:This idea of dismemberment and sewing new body parts back together to create a newer version of my body has always been a really strong motif in my writing. My first text-based game Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Beforeis that exactly: you help the protagonist dismember herself and then create a new body from new body parts. And this has always been intimately associated with body image and eating disorders and self-harm in my writing. So when I saw the call for We Shall Be Monsters, it was the first thing that clicked for me: my writing is already so Frankenstein, that it seemed like such a natural fit. But Frankenstein is, in many ways, the opposite of dismemberment, and I’m just as interested in how we attempt to repair our bodies after pain, as I am in the damage we do to ourselves as a symptom of pain.

 

Q: What inspired you to connect the idea of Dr. Frankenstein’s creature with the image of the paper doll and cut outs from magazines?

 

Tremblay:They’re so similar for me! Both are composites constructed by somebody else, divorced from their original intent. A symptom of abuse, for me, is feeling very divorced from your own identity and understanding of yourself. It’s this feeling of estrangement and uncomfortableness and reconstruction outside of your control. With Frankenstein, the pain and hurt is very up front, but with paper dolls and cut outs from magazines the pain is less overt, but there is a greater connection with societal ideals of what femme bodies should look like and the pain we’re supposed to undergo to create these bodies. Together the two images (Frankenstein and magazine cut outs) comprise the messiness of body issues for me. But I wanted to re-contextualize all of that under the umbrella of self-authorship and consent, which is why I titled the story “More”: the protagonist is the one dictating what happens, under their own terms, for their own needs.

 

Q: The image of the bra is a strong one in your story. What inspired you to explore the bra as an image of vivisection?

 

Tremblay:Bras are these things that I hate. I have a lot of body dysmorphia, that comes from my eating disorder and from abuse, and on top of that, bras have never fit me well. I also have a lot of disdain for my own tits and they feel like this part of my body that is constantly sexualized, or implies more of a feminine gender identity than I fully inhabit, and they’re just this source of frustration and anger and pain but also love and intimacy because they’re more than just a part of my body I have complex feelings on, they’re a part of my body and myshape and how I understand my appearance in terms of clothes and aesthetic. Anyways, the bra imagery in the story was meant to encapsulate this tension and frustration but wanting to love this part of the protagonist’s body that they’re just unsure of and that is a source of both pain and love.

 

Q: Art features strongly in your story, especially anatomical art. What inspired your interest in art for this story?

 

Tremblay:Art has always been an imagery vein I’ve tapped in my writing, probably from having studied art and art history so heavily in school. I studied art in and out of school up until I was in my mid-twenties, so I think it’s just a natural source I tap for when trying to communicate emotions and states. I’m also fascinated by human anatomy, and the clinical aspect of anatomy. Anatomy even as a term is so divorced from our experience of our own bodies, that it’s a form of detachment, which is a counterpoint to the emotional weight put into the bodies in the stories otherwise.

 

Q: Biting features strongly in your tale, connecting body change and kink culture. What inspired the focus on biting as transformation in this tale?

 

Tremblay:Biting is tied to the idea of consumption and consuming, and the pain associated with consumption when you have an eating disorder. The protagonist doesn’t consume thoughtlessly (their date eats easily, but they don’t). And part of my sexuality in reality is refocusing pain done to my body. So if I ask a partner to inflict pain, whether through impact play, breath play, or whatever, it’s to help restructure the relationship between pain done to my body by another through love from pain done to my body from myself through self-loathing or depression. It’s the sites of self-harm focused through a new lens of love, consent, and desire. And since my eating disorder was a big motivator of self-harm for me, having the pain done to the body through biting was a nice way to kind of circle and contain all of those complex emotions and growth.

 

Q: Pain features heavily in your story. Can you tell us a little bit about that connection between pain and bodily change?

 

Tremblay:Bodily change was always such a source of pain for me (gaining weight, hitting growth spurts, etc.) because it always fuelled negative emotions and my disorder. Part of the eating disorder recovery process for me has been to learn to think differently about bodily change, not as a failure on my part to keep my body the way I thought it should look, but to embrace bodily change and growth as positive, as not as failure, but as success of loving myself and seeing myself as worthy enough of self-care. So there’s bad pain (the bra, psychological pain associated with clothes) and then there’s good pain (the physical intimacy and the consensual pain from a partner). Pain is where growth comes from, but it’s about consensual pain and allowing pain to exist only for so long as it is helping us heal, not furthering a hurt.

 

Q: What is the role of the monster in our society? Why do we find ourselves creating monsters to express our ideas?

 

Tremblay:Monsters are the parts of ourselves, the parts that society deems “unnatural” or “unwelcomed”, and there are so many of us who don’t belong, or feel like we don’t belong at certain times, that monsters are such a natural expression of that feeling. Monsters are outcasts, but they’re really just a lens to view identities that society doesn’t know how to deal with — or doesn’t want to. We all feel a little monstrous at times, and creating monsters in our art allows us to shape that story, take control of our feeling of otherness and recenter it, refocus it, wield to our own end.

 

Q: You recently co-edited Those Who Make Us: Canadian Creature, Myth, and Monster Stories. What is it about the monster that keeps drawing you back and getting you excited to share tales of the things that go bump in the night?

 

Tremblay:Monsters have always been a love of mine because they’ve always kind of formed my relationship to my body and to how I feel my identity kind of fits in society. For me monsters reflect back the parts of myself that society deems gross, or abject, and monsters are a reclamation of this abjection in an empowering way. Hitting puberty at the age of 10 brought a lot of unwelcomed and uncomfortable attention to my body, just not in a sexual way, but as an object of grossness (bleeding through my shorts on my period, sweating through my shirts, having darker armpits, etc.), and so monsters were always this safe haven of not having to be perfect, not having to be lithe and beautiful, but being allowed to revel in my body for what it actually was. I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface of the stories I want to tell with monsters, since I don’t think I can unravel monsters from my identity.

 

Q: What do you hope your story will inspire from your readers?

 

Tremblay:A willingness to be vulnerable and honest about pain and what the strength to understand that they can demand what they need for their own healing.

 

Q: To conclude our interview, can you tell readers where they can find out about your other projects or hear what you are up to?

 

Tremblay:Twitter is the best place to keep up with all my shenanigans (@kait_zilla), and also my full portfolio can be found on my website (http://thatmonstergames.com)