Our Beautiful Reward Mini-Interviews: M. C. Benner-Dixon

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To celebrate the official print release of Our Beautiful Reward on March 16th (virtual release party Sunday the 19th, you’re invited!), I asked some of the contributors a few of the questions foremost on my mind. It’s been too long since we’ve run many interviews here, and I’ve missed it; getting to know writers and how they think and feel has been one of the most rewarding aspects of Reckoning for me since the beginning. I hope their answers prove as enlightening to you as they have been to me.

We’ll post one mini-interview a day until the release party or we run out, whichever comes first, starting here with M. C. Benner-Dixon, author of the vividly evocative novelette “Those Dark Halls”, which you can read for free online here.

Michael: How do the tools of speculative writing help you to think and communicate about what’s being done to personal freedoms around our bodies?

M. C.: To some extent, it’s an issue of precision. We need a thousand different ways to talk about bodily autonomy because our bodies and the decisions we make about them are not uniform. The stories of our bodies simply cannot fit into a few, easy “this is how it is” narratives. By stepping outside of accepted reality, speculative writing expands the palette for talking about this issue—and that allows for both specificity and variety. Having a body that is the subject of legislative, religious, and social control feels like this, and this, and this, and this. In the speculative sphere, there is room for everyone’s story.

Michael: What are you reading and thinking about that helps put this issue in perspective for you?

M. C.: Every time I encounter a news story that reveals the cruelty of depriving people of bodily autonomy, I am grateful to the journalists who took that story on—well after it has ceased to be “news,” well after reader interest has drifted to the next tragedy or frivolity. The repetition of this reality is essential. It makes the truth indelible in our minds.

Michael: Thank you!


Author: M.C. Benner Dixon

M. C. Benner Dixon lives, writes, and grows things in Pittsburgh, PA. She is quick to make a pun and slow to cut her grass. Her short stories have appeared in Funicular, The Los Angeles Review, The Hopper, Fusion Fragment, and elsewhere. Christine’s writing includes a collection of craft essays, co-authored with Sharon Fagan McDermott, forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press. Her debut novel, The Height of Land, is the recipient of the 2022 Orison Fiction Prize. Christine is the Adult Program Director for Write Pittsburgh. Find her on Twitter @mchristinebd or at bennerdixon.com.


Author: Michael J. DeLuca

Michael J. DeLuca is the publisher of Reckoning. He's also involved with the indie ebookstore Weightless Books, and his short fiction has been appearing since 2005 in markets such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mythic Delirium and Apex. His novella, Night Roll, was a finalist for the Crawford Award in 2020. He lives in the rapidly suburbifying post-industrial woodlands north of Detroit with wife, kid, cats, plants and microbes. Find him on twitter @michaeljdeluca.

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