I’m a big fan of Tracy Fahey’s work after seeing her read from her work at Edgelit (an annual celebration of horror, crime, fantasy and science-fiction in Derby, UK) and have this book on pre-order.
Tracy is an Irish writer of Gothic fiction. In 2017, her debut collection The Unheimlich Manoeuvre was shortlisted for a British Fantasy Award for Best Collection. Her short fiction is published in over thirty American, British, Australian and Irish anthologies. She holds a PhD on the Gothic in visual arts, and her non-fiction writing is published in edited collections and journals. She has been awarded residencies in Ireland and Greece. She has written two collections, New Music For Old Rituals and The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, the mini-collection, Unheimlich Manoeuvres In The Dark, and the novel, The Girl In The Fort. Her new collection, I Spit Myself Out is published by the Sinister Horror Company in February 2021
I see that you’ve got a short-story collection coming out, I Spit Myself Out. Can you tell us a little more about it?
TF: Of course! I Spit Myself Out takes as its central theme the idea of vulnerability and terror that arises from possession of a female body. But each of the eighteen stories takes this question from a different angle – crime, childbirth, forensics, medical experimentation, mythology, pathology, psychosis, love and loss.
What influences or research did you draw on in writing this book?
I’m always intensely interested in women who write the body; who hang fiction or poetry on those ideas of vulnerability. So this collection was written in the shadow of some great women – Margaret Atwood, Carmen Maria Machado, Sylvia Plath, Georgina Bruce, Charlotte Gilman Perkins (in fact the titular story, ‘I Spit Myself Out’ owes a great debt to ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’) I was also very influenced throughout the whole collection by Julia Kristeva’s essay ‘The Powers of Horror,’ and in particular by the way she explores the notion of the abject; that which is of us, but which the body casts off. I also ended up reading a lot about skin, morbid anatomy and Catholic rituals to do with the body while reading it.
The book is one that delves into the idea of female terror. Is there any redemption or escape to be found for your female protagonists?
Although this is a body horror collection, and by default, it does explore the painful places of our bodies and minds, it’s not without hope. Within it, the female protagonists struggle to overcome forces within and without, and in many cases they find a voice to declare their pain. Some of the stories, ‘Love Like Blood’ and ‘I Kiss The Wounds’ in particular focus on regaining autonomy in the face of challenges.
What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
I wanted to write this book, but when the pandemic hit, I was still locked into both writing and editing it. The relentless interiority of the project was challenging, because I can’t write unless I emotionally project myself into the minds of my protagonists and ‘feel’ my way through the narrative. Trying to go to these dark places during the initial lockdown caused a shocking amount of cognitive dissonance, and I began to question if I was ever going to finish this book. So I went off on a side-track, reading about morbid anatomy and monstrosity, and visiting old pagan and Catholic shrines (when lockdown eased)… and out of those experiences, stories began to trickle slowly forth again.
What are your future writing plans?
I always work on a collection with the vague notions of other potential collections trembling like a mirage on the horizon. This is partly because I hate to be stranded without a project when I finish a book, but also because of my insane obsession with filing stories thematically. So I’m contemplating a Gothic crime collection that deals with the psychological impact of crime on victims, perpetrators and investigators, and also one on liminality and identity which will be based on Michel Foucault’s essay Of Other Spaces. I’m also working on co-developing a screenplay based on a short story, ‘Í Look Like You, I Speak Like You, I Walk Like You’ from The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, and I’ve just been invited to co-write a research project application to fund the creation and population of a digital storytelling app; something quite new for me.
I Spit Myself Out contains eighteen unsettling narratives map the female experience from puberty to menopause.
I Spit Myself Out is a collection of female-voiced stories exploring the terror that lurks beneath the surface of the skin. In this collection, an Anatomical Venus opens to display her organs, clients of a mysterious clinic disappear one by one, a police investigation reveals family secrets, revenge is inked in the skin, and bodies pulsate in the throes of illness, childbirth and religious ritual.
Disturbing and provoking in equal turns, I Spit Myself Out reinvents the body as a breeding ground of terrors that resurface inexorably in the present.
Pre-order it at hyperurl.co/ezgri7, or directly from the Sinister Horror Company https://www.sinisterhorrorcompany.com/i-spit-myself-out