Skyping with Meg Elison

BSFG had the honour to skype with Philip K. Dick Award winning author Meg Elison and talk about her books (say hi @megelison on twitter!) – we talked for an hour about a variety of topics. Here is a brief summary for those who could not make it.

– Inspiration for the book: female perspective as post-apocalyptic novels often feature a male protagonist –> gendered apocalypse
– Queer characters: protagonist bisexual (attracted also to non-binary or gender fluid persons, too), ace character (Jodie), latter books: trans* characters
– Main protagonist unnamed just like the protagonist in Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” –> chooses names ambiguous in gender for herself (“Dusty”), her name “truly only belongs to herself”; “Jane” –> Jane Doe –> anonymity
– Mormons: chosen because they are uniquely American, have a cohesive end of the world plan (preppers: have food and water for two years in your home), very well done as people thought Meg was LDS member herself (she isn’t)
– “Book of Roxanne” was hard to write: inspiration drawn from the treatment of women in refugee camps; rate of violent crimes goes way up
– Spectrum of male behaviour was incorporated in the novels, e.g. Jack is trying to be as good as he can; yet collective trauma of persons identifying as female in connection to harassment, sexual violence etc.; some male readers felt guilty; problem of misinterpreting consent as “there isn’t a hard line”; rape scene not eroticised and not explicit
– Trans* characters in books #2 and #3: representation matters, sensitivity readers made sure that it was good representation; she wrote “the gayest book you possibly can”
– Should one be limited to write only about the things one knows? – No. “You can write absolutely everything.” –> research, respect, sensitivity readers

We would like to thank Meg for taking time to talk to us early in the morning and making our day!

Two more copies of “The Book of the Unnamed Midwife” are available at Witsch&Behrendt. Go get them!


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