Megan Milks on Using Genre Shifts to Explore Transness
In Conversation with Brad Listi on Otherppl
Megan Milks is the guest. Their new book, Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body, is out now from Feminist Press.
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From the episode:
Brad Listi: There’s a lot of shifting from one chapter, from one section to the next. And what I found interesting about this is that you were using discontinuity in genre as a way of exploring transness. I mean, mea culpa, that wasn’t necessarily evident to me on my read, but once I once I read that, I was like, ahhhh. It made sense in retrospect. Can you talk about that a little bit, the decision to move from genre to genre, to switch POV from section to section? There’s something very distinct about the various sections. Can you talk about the relationship to transness and the creative decision-making that went into that?
Megan Milks: Well, to start off, I’ve been taking testosterone for many years now, and having experienced my voice drop and experiencing a very distinct change in my physical voice made me think a lot about voice in my writing and how my voice as a writer may or may not be changing. It kind of emboldened me to think about voice shifts in a long form narrative and how I could play with them and exploit them to invite questions about subjectivity. How stable is subjectivity? How fluid is subjectivity? How to explore that through voice.
I’ve always been very obsessed with genre, and I love books that shape-shift as they go, so I was already excited about doing that in some way. I started thinking about the problem of cohesion, and what it would mean to try to make all of these genres cohere. I think to a certain extent, all of us are asking these questions about who we are and how we change—and that’s whether we’re trans or not. As we change and grow older, we’re always the same person, but we’re always a different person as well. That’s just the condition of growing and getting older. But I think those questions become really close and take on a different tenor for those of us who are trans and who are experiencing a pretty rapid shift in presentation and perhaps identity and how we interact in the world.
So these questions of sameness versus difference become like The Questions day to day, like how am I the same and how am I different based on how my body is changing and how my appearance is changing and how people are responding to these changes? I was really interested in exploring those questions through these different shifts in the book. The book is always changing, and the character is always changing as well. The voice shifts, but at the same time it’s always the same book, and it’s always the same character. I was really interested in using those shifts to explore that tension between sameness and difference and cohesion and incohesion.
Megan Milks is the author of Kill Marguerite and Other Stories (2014), available from Feminist Press in revised and expanded form as Slug and Other Stories, and Remember the Internet: Tori Amos Bootleg Webring. With Marisa Crawford, they are coeditor of We Are the Baby-Sitters Club: Essays and Artwork from Grown-Up Readers; with KJ Cerankowski, they are coeditor of Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives. Born in Virginia, they currently live in Brooklyn.