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LSAD lecturer and author, Tracy Fahey from Sixmilebridge.

Sixmilebridge academic explores female terror during lockdown

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SIXMILEBRIDGE based author and Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) lecturer Tracy Fahey has overcome the limitations of lockdown to produce a new collection of stories entitled, I Spit Myself Out.

Tracy, who is Head of Department of Fine Art and Education, at the Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), had to face and overcome the challenges of Covid-19 in order to produce the collection. She penned I Spit Myself Out during the anxious days of the first lockdown of 2020. Her previous book, The Unheimlich Manoeuvre, nominated in 2017 for a British Fantasy Award, explored the psychological terrors of the enclosed female domestic sphere. Tracy said that, given this preoccupation with confined spaces, writing during the pandemic wasn’t easy.

“I found it difficult to write this book,” she said. “There was the cognitive dissonance of trying to stay cheerful and mentally healthy, and then the imperative of going to these dark places to write. Now that I re-read this book, the inflections of lockdown are there, the undertones of confinement, illness and fear.”

In fact, for a month or so in the difficult spring of 2020, Tracy simply stopped writing, and when she returned to her craft, it was to work on an epistolary novel with her sister. That work is an unabashedly comic Gothic romance (now completed and with a US agent). Having rediscovered the delight of writing, Tracy was able again to work on the collection.

“When summer came, and lockdown eased, my tiny world opened up,” she recounted. “I could read dark fiction again, and more importantly, write it. I became obsessed with reading about historical medical artefacts, and visiting holy wells, islands, sitting by the sea. And from this rejuvenation, this refilled well, the final stories emerged.”

I Spit Myself Out draws together 18 narratives of terrors that arise from the body, even more precisely, from the difficulties attendant on inhabiting a female body.

“So often we see the female body in fiction as a site of the male gaze,” Tracy explained. “It’s particularly prevalent in crime drama and fiction; the dead and exposed female body, becomes a catalyst for the – usually – male protagonist to seek revenge or justice on its behalf. In this book I wanted to do something different. I look at female bodies as a site of otherness, strange even to their occupants. In these stories, the protagonists’ relationship with their bodies is problematised through chronic illness, eating disorders, trauma, and even the ‘natural’ processes of bodily transition from puberty to menopause.”

Tracy, who has published three collections and one novel with UK presses, teaches undergraduate courses in folk horror and the Gothic at LSAD. While her latest book continues to receive much acclaim, Tracy, has already begun work on a new project.

She is currently working on a domestic noir screenplay with a writing partner, based on one of her short stories, and on two other collections. She can be contacted via her website at Tracyfahey.com

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