Alison McBain is an award-winning author with over sixty short stories and poems published in places such as Litro, FLAPPERHOUSE, The Gunpowder Review, and The Airgonaut. Her contribution to AFTERMATH: Explorations of Loss & Grief is a poem titled “Assimilation.” It’s a piece that touches on the immigrant experience in a way that is so incredibly relevant right now. Alison will be reading the poem at our book launch at Greenlight Bookstore in Fort Greene on April 26th.
Can you introduce yourself as well as your contribution to AFTERMATH?
I’m a mom, half-Japanese, a fiction writer, a poet, a book reviewer, an editor, a Canadian and an American—and probably a half-dozen other things that I’m forgetting. Coming from such an eclectic background, one of my goals is to infuse a bit of that diversity into my writing, as well.
My poem in AFTERMATH is about the varied aspects of loss when it comes to immigrant families – not only the personal loss of my grandmother, who died before my daughters could get to know her, but also the loss of history and culture with each succeeding generation.
What attracted you to the theme of the book?
I recently had a short story published in Litro, a literary magazine, that was based on my grandmother’s life. The story itself is fiction, but a lot of the elements included in it are true, insofar as highlighting what she experienced living in internment camps, through post-WWII racism and surviving problems at home. She was one of the strongest women I knew and, growing up, our family spent as much time at her home as at our own. Years later, I still find her life inspiring, and I tell my daughters stories about her. I celebrate her life in an attempt to overcome the grief I still feel from her death.
What are you hoping to convey to readers with your piece?
I want to show that our differences can be our strengths, as long as they are remembered and celebrated. A personal memory can become a shared memory, and where I came from—where my mother came from and where my daughters come from—is the same place. There are parts of me that are passed down from my grandmother, and I see her in my daughters, too, even if no one else can, at least from the outside. As long as I keep our family and our history alive, my grandmother will be alive, too.
Talk about some of your favorite projects you’ve been involved with.
I’m very excited by a project I’m involved in right now because it’s a brand-new venture for me. I’ve been a writer and contributor for a number of publications, but for the first time I’m putting on a new hat. I’m the lead editor for a speculative fiction collection called When to Now: A Time Travel Anthology. I’m completely blown away by the phenomenal stories we will be publishing in it. While most of our contributions are invitation-only, we are also currently running a free, open contest between now and May 1st for the feature story of the collection. Those interested in entering the contest can find more information at our website, http://www.fairfieldscribes.com/contest.html.
What’s next on the horizon?
My first novel, The Rose Queen, will be coming out at the end of May. It’s a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast, one of my all-time favorite fairy tales. However, to make things interesting, it’s a gender inversion. The Beast is a woman, and the book turns on its head the normal tropes of masculine power, femininity and stereotypical “damsels,” while at the same time preserving the ethos of the genre. It’s the first book in a planned trilogy.