In our new author series, we’ll be offering a clairvoyant peek behind the veil of who and what makes up TRANSCENDENT. Here’s a glimpse at Lorraine Sharma Nelson and her story “Liminal State.”
What inspired your story?
The concept of waking nightmares. I’ve had a few in my lifetime, and the very idea of them terrify me. That claustrophobic terror you experience when you know you’re dreaming and you’re trying to wake up, but can’t.
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
I knew liminal space was a threshold, a transitional phase between this world and the next, and to me it was the most natural explanation for a waking nightmare. I did some initial research to broaden my understanding of the concept. The more I read about it, the more it fit the scope of my story, and “Liminal State” just evolved from the understanding of it.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
Dr. Leena Rai is a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in her city. She’s a woman who’s passionate about her job and her love for dinosaurs. When the story begins, she’s put in charge of assembling a dinosaur exhibit for the museum, a major project that is a huge deal, not only for her, but also for the museum. The last thing she needs is to be sucked into a living nightmare.
Tell be about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
I chose to have my story take place in a very vibrant setting–a major museum in a big city–because I wanted to show the clear delineations between Leena’s real life and her very real nightmares. The juxtaposition of her job, which she loved, and the nightmares, which she feared. Leena wants to focus all her energies on this amazing project she’s been given, but instead, her energies are being used to deal with this horrifying problem that’s taking over her life.
What would you like readers to take away from your story?
That confronting your problems is infinitely better than running away from them. Face your nightmares head on, no matter how terrifying they are. Easier said than done, I know.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
The following: “This time when the space-between tugged at her, Leena was ready. She allowed herself to be sucked inside. Allowed the darkness to wrap around her. And waited for the creature to come.”
To me, this is Leena’s defining moment. This is when she realizes she has to stand up and fight, face her fears, for better or for worse.
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
What happens when your real life and your nightmares collide? Where does one begin and the other end?
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Going to my first writers’ conference. Suddenly, and, for the first time I was surrounded by like-minded individuals. People just like me, with the same insecurities and eccentricities that make us who we are as writers. Plus, I got to seConfre writing from the business perspective, from agents, editors and publishers. It was wonderful and fun and eye-opening. And felt so indulgent, immersing myself into and being immersed in the world of books and writing.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s my absolute favorite story. The writing is sublime and the story is as relevant today as it was when it was released in 1960.
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
When I was about twelve or thirteen I knew I wanted to write for a living. The idea of waking up in the morning and knowing I could sit and write and tell stories was magical to me.
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
The power of invisibility. I was very shy as a child, which probably stemmed from always being the new kid in school, and when I read “The Fantastic Four” comic books and saw Sue Richards’ ability to make herself invisible, I was so envious. The idea of being able to go wherever I wanted without anyone noticing me was very appealing to me.
Lorraine grew up globally, constantly having to adapt to different cultures. Writing was her escape from the reality of always being the new girl in school. These days she writes for the pure joy of creating new stories instead of escapism. Her short stories have been published in sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and mystery/crime anthologies, and usually feature an Indian protagonist.
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