Our TRANSCENDENT Authors: a Featured Interview with Jefferson Retallack

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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 Jefferson Retallack and his story “You Can’t Even Call It A Rainbow.”



What inspired your story?

I have always enjoyed having access to an above average memory, however selective at times. While discussing this ability with a friend, I wondered whether my colourblindness might result in my mind’s “saved files” taking up less storage space than that of a full colour image. Then I had to imagine if the opposite extreme might also be true. If someone saw many times more colours than a person with normal colour vision, would their brain be so overloaded that it impacted their memory—or even other functions?

Did you have to do any research? If so, what kind? What did you learn?

I have been obsessed with how people see the world ever since I found out that I might not be able to trust my own eyesight. As such, I’ve collected stories from every corner of the internet about colourblindness and tetrachromacy in both people and animals. After my extensive reading on the topic, the only thing I’m certain of is that the majority of people don’t spend enough time trying to imagine how the people around them might see the world. 

Can you tell me a little bit about your protagonists?

They’re frustrated, with the world and with themselves. But, they are also easily distracted by the beauty of their condition.

Tell me about the setting you chose and how it influences your work.

The story takes place almost entirely within the narrator’s broken recollections. The snapshots of the different characters she sees through are designed to be, I hope, achingly familiar to any readers who may have struggled with visual disabilities that went undiagnosed until later on in their lives.

What would you like readers to take away from your story?

Imagining how other living things perceive the universe, through any number of senses, is eye-opening and worthwhile.

If your story was front-page news, what would the headline?

Teenage girl’s mystery illness leaves her unresponsive. Brain scan reveals unprecedented activity levels in visual cortex.




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What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

I bought an e-reader for my train ride to work when I moved away from the city. I went from reading one book every few years, to reading multiple each month. Whatever art I consume, I can’t help but want to create. That’s how I became a writer.

If you had to put your name on someone else’s book/story, which would it be and why?

Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang. There are a few sentences, or maybe just one, where the protagonist describes the way hearing her child laugh makes her feel. I have always enjoyed being moved to tears by a piece of music or a scene in a movie, but that was the first time the written word alone had had that impact on me. And, that was even before I had started a family of my own. I’ll treasure that moment forever.

When did you decide to take writing seriously?

The 20thof March 2018. That was the day I joined my writing group, critters.org. If anyone is reading this and thinking to themselves I want to sell a story, I encourage you to join a writing group. Follow the rules of your chosen group and give as much back to the writing community as you can. Critiquing the work of others vastly improves your own.

If you could choose a single superpower, what would it be and why?

Immortality. I’m a patient man, sometimes to a fault, and there is just so much stuff in the universe to experience and, perhaps more importantly, think about.



Transcendent - Amazon KindleJefferson Retallack is an Australian writer of speculative fiction. He is based in Adelaide. His work draws influence from linguistic science fiction, the new weird and Australia’s “big things”. Outside of the literary world, he skateboards on the weekends and spends afternoons on the beach with his partner and their Pomeranian, Tofu.


Get your hands on the limited-edition hardback copy of TRANSCENDENTonly at transmudanepress.com

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