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 Zoe Harrington and her story “Lives of Ghosts.”
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
I was thinking about what it would be like to be able to sit at the bottom of a body of water and just stare at the surface without having to worry about breathing. If I were in a dream I could but then I wondered if I would forget what things felt like if I stayed there too long—the story just developed from there.
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
Yes, I researched stories about people who have awakened from a coma. It was interesting to find that they had integrated the conversations that their visitors were having into their dream-like reality. For instance, one girl remembered being part of a conversation that her family were having around her even though she could not interact with them at all.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
The name of my protagonist is never known because he has become a ghost. While working off his medical debt in a simulated reality, his family becomes estranged as he is not with them in the normal corporal way. They forget him and equally, he begins to forget their features and the sound of their voices. This ghost-like state is reiterated in the office environment as he feels very much on the fringes.
Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
My story takes place in an artificial purgatory (a computer simulated reality) which has been modelled on a rather average life. The protagonist splits his time between the office space and his home which is an exact replica of the one in which he lived with his family during his ‘corporal’ life. In my work, I like marrying the mundane with the surreal as the latter highlights the strangeness of the former.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
“I look down at my hands as they are here and wonder if my hands still look the same or if they’re pale, shriveled with electric blue veins.”
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
The true cost of healthcare and the system that is turning people into ghosts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
The money I spent on every book I ever bought.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
I wish that I had written To Kill a Mockingbird.
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
After my first publication.
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
I wish I could understand and speak every language.
Zoe Harrington is a poet, screenwriter and writer of short fiction. She has worked on animated television productions, such as Spongo, Fuzz and Jalapeña, Vicky the Vikingand Blinky Bill. The episodes Zoe wrote for the animated series, Tashiwere included in the submission for the Logie Awards, where the production received a nomination for Most Outstanding Children’s Program. She has also just completed a Masters of Creative Writing at the University of Sydney and is a member of the Australian Writer’s Guild.
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