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 E.N. Dahl and her story “The Mask of Infamy.”
ABOUT THE STORY
What inspired your story?
Masks show up a lot in my work, as does ‘duality.’ I don’t want to say too much and risk spoilers, in case you haven’t read mine/any yet, but it’s safe to say that this fell into my Favorites category. Why, exactly, they show up so often, I’ve yet to determine. I’m sure there’s a reason. I wonder what it says that my mind has blocked that reason out?
Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?
I did do a little research on certain types of demons/entities/creatures, but not much—mostly to see if there were Germanic/Nordic counterparts to a certain famous Native American legend.
Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonist?
Oh, poor Eddie. He’s an overworked, stressed out, malnourished, sleep deprived college student. Or, to say the same thing in less words, a college student. He’s doing relatively well in classes, but nothing will ever be good enough for his father, and his mother has her own interpretation of love, so our boy here isn’t as well adjusted as one might hope.
Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.
Ivy’s Path Technical Institute is, in my head, based loosely on NJIT, which I went to for one semester before deciding to get the hell out of there. Ivy’s Path, Massachusetts, as a city is one of three ‘hotspots’ for me, alongside River’s End in New Jersey and Las Sombras in California. They’re like Stephen King’s Castle Rock, except each of my cities are built for a specific purpose. Ivy’s Path is a city of monsters.
Which phrase are you most proud of in this story?
So, it’s a little bit of a spoiler—turn back now if you don’t want to see!—but I still split my face grinning when I think of The Mask of Scorn hissing, “Poor little Ed-die hanging from a tree. S-U-I-C-I-D-E.”
If your story was front-page news, what would the headline be?
The almost spoiler free version:
Missing Persons Cases Resolved; Officially Ruled Homicide.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I mean, I could answer this a lot of ways. I’m a very visual thinker, so in some respects, my PS4, because I love gaming. Or, perhaps, the entry fee to The 2018 Horror Hotel, where my feature screenplay The Mirror Game took fourth place (told you I like mirrors!). Or, perhaps still, my computer is the obvious choice. Then again, should I say insulin, because it keeps me alive? As much as I love the idea of a zombie that just writes fiction instead of eating people, I doubt I can pull off reanimating my own corpse.
If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?
This would be me taking credit for someone else’s work? …I’m not exactly going to answer that, because I’m proud of my own style, my stories, all that, and want to leave other’s writing for them. That said, if I ever write a movie like The Conjuring or a novel like Carrie, both in terms of quality of writing and mainstream success, I’d be quite happy.
When did you decide to take writing seriously?
Maybe 9ish, since that’s when I knew I’d be a writer one day. Or 14? That’s when I started writing. Or 19, that’s when I started seeking publication. 24 is when I started sending out actual novels. …You seeing a pattern?
If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?
Shape shifting, because it covers other powers (want flight? Turn into a bird, or a comic book character!), cosmetic changes (ever wonder what you look like as a blonde? Or the opposite sex? Find out!), and probably illnesses. The last one, I’d definitely immediately permanently shape shift into a carbon copy of myself, except one that didn’t have diabetes and all that. Yes, comic power purists, I’m including a version where I can do a permanent shift. A little unorthodox, but it’s my imaginary interpretation of my life, and I’ll do as I please.
You asked what mask we’d wear. What about you?
I’d either wear The Mask of Deceit or The Mask of Nightmares. Take that how you will.
E.N. Dahl is a novelist and award-winning screenwriter from coastal NJ. She’s the author of the upcoming Nova EXE, among other works, and her short fiction has appeared with Radiant Crown Press, Helios Quarterly, Sci-Phi Journal, The Literary Hatchet, Thunderdome Press, Pleaides, and Rain Taxi, among others. When not writing, she can be found doing yoga or streaming the worst movies Netflix has to offer.
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