Interview with Eve Harms
by Sonora Taylor
S: What was it like writing Transmuted?
E: Writing Transmuted was an interesting experience. I started writing it when I was scheduled for my own Facial Feminization Surgery, and the book is a reflection of my fears around the process and my experience with transition. At a certain point, it looked like my surgery was going to be cancelled due to COVID, which would have mirrored what happens to the main character, Isa. Fortunately, my surgery went through, and I finished the book in recovery. A portion of the book was even written during a period in recovery where I was blind for two days because of swelling in my eyes.
S: Where did you first get the idea for this story? Did you write it with the Rewind or Die series in mind?
E: I'd written an outline for a version of the book many years ago, but never went through with writing it. When the Rewind or Die call came up I thought of it, because the idea had some aesthetic and subject matter choices that fit the series very well. I pitched Eddie an outline of the new version and he requested a full manuscript. Very few elements from the original outline made it into the new outline and the published version, though both had the character Dr. Skurm.
S:The main character, Isa, struggles with wanting to satisfy the desires of strangers to get facial feminization surgery--partly because they provided her with funds, and partly because she’s rarely shown them her face. How do you think the pressure to perform for people who only know us virtually is unique for trans individuals? Is there a lot of overlap with how that pressure translates offline?
E: For some trans people, online spaces are the only place where they are able to be their true self and perform their chosen gender expression. This virtual identity may be all they have, and be more authentic than their "real life". There is an additional pressure to "get it right" since that online presentation is all that exists of their "true self" available to the world.
Also, I personally will censor myself in certain situations for fear that I will be considered predatory or not a "real woman", especially in women's spaces online. I censor myself less than I used to but it's still on the top of my mind, especially when interacting with other women.
S:You underwent facial feminization surgery while writing Transmuted . What was it like to have these two events happening at once? Did your own experience inspire you to change or alter any ideas you’d previously written down?
E: It was surreal having my experiences mirror what my character was going through. The book was already outlined, so it was more of a matter of how the course of my life aligned and unaligned with the character's. The only thing I think the surgery changed was the descriptions. The recovery was the surgery was brutal, and there was plenty of real-life body horror to draw from.
S: Transmuted is exceptional body horror, and it’s great to see a story with a trans protagonist written by a trans author. How can body horror do better in its treatment of non-cis bodies? What would you like to see more of?
E: If you're writing body horror with the main subject of the horror story being trans, you really should be trans yourself. There is going to be a lot lost and opportunities missed and potential lost if you're cis. If you're cis and writing body horror that has a trans character: don't focus the body horror elements on trans-ness or gender, give them basically the same treatment as your cis characters. It's very unlikely a cis person would get it right if they approach it from a trans perspective.
I would like to see more queer horror from BIPOC trans women and men.
S: What are you working on now?
E: A dark fantasy series based on my research around Kabbalah, some secret projects and a lot of zines! Thanks so much for having me at Fright Girl Summer!