Issue 046 Author Interview: Alice Paige and “The Mirror”

Our Issue 046 authors are so talented and clever, we just couldn’t wait to ask them our burning questions about their inspirations and writing processes! Today we talked with Alice Paige and  reflected on her story “The Mirror.”

LSQ: This story is a wildly creative mix of science and possibility. What influenced your idea behind the mirror?

Alice: For this story, I was thinking about narratives that involve portals to other universes and how those portals act as transformative doorways for their central characters. Works of fiction like Stranger Things, Alice in Wonderland, and the Divine Comedy were definitely on my mind when writing this piece. The mirror, much like the doorways in those stories, provides a chance for transcendence. I also wanted to tell a story that challenged the use of the personal “I” in its narrative. How does that “I” expand when the main character comes face to face with her reflection? The best way to pull that off was to set Viv down in front of a literal mirror.

LSQ: There are so many interesting images about the room: the smell of the sea, the uncomfortable chair, the sheet draped over the mirror. Put together, they not only intrigue the reader, but cause foreboding. How was the set-up of the room important to the story?

Alice: The room’s set up had to be incredibly deliberate as it functionally serves as a tomb in the story. It needed to feel like something outside of our reality while also offering a handful of grounded elements for the reader to settle into, like the desk and chair, before its identity as death enters the story. Aside from that, the room needed to offer Viv opportunities to unveil the mystery and transform as a character from researcher to explorer. She needed the chance and the tools to step through the threshold and find what was waiting on the other side.

LSQ: The moment we hear Viv and her mirror self are about to go off script, we understand that something bigger than herself (herselves) is about to happen. Tell us a little bit of the science or theory behind their decision.

Alice: The main concept of this story is that the mirror provides a window between two identical universes. This is an extension of concepts like the multiverse, and the idea that for every new choice that is made, such as traveling down a road and deciding to go left or right, a new universe is created where the opposite choice is taken. Between the two universes in the story, that divergence has either not been discovered or has not occured yet, so the researchers in the Black Box are searching for that divergence. They want to learn the laws of the universe not through what is the same, but through what has changed or will change.

Viv figures that if everything has been exactly the same so far, she can hatch a plan and mirror her will create the exact same plan on her own. So, the two manage to plot together without ever talking. It’s a journey of the self that leads the two Vivians into the mirror. Their defining strength is introspection.
LSQ: In the end, Viv and Viv find the answer to the questions they are looking for, but sacrifice themselves to do it. It is both beautiful and terrible. How did you decide to end the story here? In your mind, did Anna make it in this strange world?
Alice: At its core, after all the fun Sci-Fi concepts, this story is about the endurance of queer love through death. Viv was able to make it through the mirror and find the possibility of a new world waiting on the other side. I wanted to end this story with the main character finding self love, the chance of something far more terrifying than death, and the hope that Anna is alive all perched on the other side of the mirror. In the end, there is no answer about Anna because the potential for Anna to be alive is what matters most for Vivian. Vivian believes that Anna is alive if she didn’t die in that box and by the end of the story, she receives that hope. All three of the women in this story transcend death in their own ways.