Author spotlights are occasional Q&As with contributors. Tara Campbell is the author of “Shielded” in issue 2.
Departure Mirror: Tell us a little about your Departure Mirror story.
Tara Campbell: “Shielded” was 100% born of my feelings of in-betweenness as a mixed-race person, especially in this age where we’re talking more about police violence against black and brown people. Like the protagonist of the story, I’m light-skinned and blue-eyed, and until I started letting my hair go natural, people often didn’t realize I’m half Black. Because I grew up with the protection of my skin and eye color, but other people in my family didn’t, I often struggle to figure out where I sit in discussions about race and privilege. There are times when I don’t even know which pronoun I should be using in a given conversation — am I “us” or “them”?
DM: How did you become a writer?
TC: I’ve always loved writing, and have had a soft spot for speculative fiction since junior high. I let it go for many years, though, thinking I had to be more practical in my career goals and more literary in my reading and writing aspirations. After many years of work in international education and university admissions, I started taking classes at a community writing center on the side, and instantly gravitated back toward my first love: science fiction. Now I’m able to write and teach full time. I’m glad for the perspective I gained in my previous professions, and I’ve always valued my expansive literary diet — that was all good for me as a human and a writer. But speculative is still where I have the most fun.
DM: What else are you passionate about? Tell us about it.
TC: Funny you ask, because I’m teaching a class on Writing Your Obsessions, so I had to provide some examples of my own obsessions:
a) Dinosaurs, of course, because who isn’t obsessed with dinos?
b) Plants! My first book was a novel about sentient trees taking over the world, and I’ve since written a few stories in which plants play a major role.
Here’s a story about plants and mothers: https://lost-balloon.com/2020/06/17/my-mother-is-a-plant-tara-campbell/
And here’s a flash CNF I wrote about why they’ve always been important to me: https://jellyfishreview.wordpress.com/2020/09/26/loss-loop-by-tara-campbell/
c) Knitting Lips: https://www.barrelhousemag.com/onlinelit/2020/06/quarantinecampbell
DM: Do you have anything you’d like to promote?
TC: I’m thrilled to have my fifth book coming out from Aqueduct Press in 2021! Working title: Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection, which kind of says it all. They published my third book, Midnight at the Organporium, so I’m excited to work with them again!
Thank you, Tara! “Shielded” can be found in the Winter 2021 issue of Departure Mirror Quarterly. The issue is free to download and to read. If you love the story as much as we do, please tell your friends!