Dearest readers! It’s time again for another Issue 034 author interview and for this installment, we have the privilege of chatting with Laine Perez about her short story “Time and Space.” You know the rules: go read the story here, then fall head over heels into the discussion below. Enjoy!
LSQ: Mira is quick to dismiss Cy’s suggestion that she made a choice in choosing Cy. Why hasn’t Mira ever thought about trying to change what she sees in her visions? Why does she accept them so readily?
Laine: To me, Mira’s reactions to her visions are directly related to the fact that she did not predict or see her mother’s death. If she had and had been able to prevent it, her reactions would likely be very different. As it is, though, not wanting to be blindsided again and fearing loss, she just mostly gives in to what she sees. This does hamper her quite a bit in her ability to form any kind of lasting relationship with anyone. I wanted to leave the possibility open at the end that her relationship with Cy might be different since Cy herself seems unwilling to abandon Mira, but whether or not their relationship will overcome Mira’s self-fulfilling prophecies is up to the way the reader interprets the final section.
LSQ: Mira meets a lot of interesting girls over the course of the story, yet all eventually leave the facilities. What role or purpose did you intend for these facilities to serve?
Laine: Initially, I wanted the facilities to be a place where those who didn’t fit into normal society could be hidden away—or as a place where they could attempt to fix those who didn’t fit. So, the spaces became a way to manage those who are different. This idea comes through mostly in the past sections of the story. As the story progressed, though, I started thinking about how spaces can be retooled and reimagined, serving an entirely different purpose than the one for which they were created. So, as Mira moves through the different facilities, I wanted to show how the facilities became a place capable of creating a community for all these women who were seen as too weird to be part of normal society. I wanted to explore the idea that places can be re-appropriated and reassigned meaning so that something created with a negative purpose can, in the end, serve a positive one.
LSQ: How do you envision the rest of the world in this story treating/viewing these girls with “oddities”?
Laine: I envisioned the rest of the world as one that is uncomfortable with the girls and, especially, the lack of predictability and control over their abilities. So, most people have a strong desire to hide away those with oddities so that they don’t have to encounter them in everyday life. This possibly also results in a desire to “fix” the girls and help them control their oddities mentioned earlier. As time goes on in the story, I think probably people get a little more used to the girls which allows for more movement outside of the facilities.
LSQ: How did you develop the idea for these “oddities”?
Laine: I was thinking quite a bit about insider and outsider status and about who gets to belong in society and who doesn’t, especially in relation to mental illness. I used the oddities to create women who are, to some degree, defined by a part of themselves that they can’t control. I wanted to explore how some of them built their lives around these qualities while others allowed themselves to be defined by their oddities.
LSQ: Are you working on other projects currently? If so, can you tell us a bit about them?
Laine: I’m in the planning stage with a number of different stories right now, all about outsiders of different stripes. The one I’m working on currently is, at least in theme, modeled after Mary Wilkins Freeman’s “A New England Nun.” I’m interested in the idea of people who choose to be outside societal norms and make their own weird little ways in the world.