Sunday 4 August 2019

Interview: Evelyn Deshane and L.E. Badillo

Binary Code, © 2019, Le.E. BadilloA couple years ago we published a lovely speculative flash story by Evelyn Deshane, “The Cryptographer’s Body,” which due to scheduling issues at the time, was published without an illustration. Now, the superb L.E. Badillo (profile) has provided an image to accompany the story, and I think you’ll agree it works beautifully with it! To celebrate this, and to remind people to read the story again, we invited Evelyn and Lou to come and chat about the process of writing and illustrating. This conversation turned into a bit of a mini-interview, and we’re delighted to share it here.

Evelyn: When you illustrate something from someone else’s mind—such as a short story—do you focus on the details of the piece, or the tonal message you think it’s sending?

Lou: The tone is most important. How a story makes me feel is the foundation of the work. I hope to convey what the story makes me feel and I hope the illustrations can act as a primer for the reader and make that connection on a more visceral level. Details bring credibility and make the illustration cohesive with the story. I hope a reader can then look back on the illustration and identify things from the story.

Lou: Do you know anyone who has gone through transition like Kylie in the story? I do and I can’t imagine what they went through. If you don’t know anyone who went through this, how did you make such a deep connection with the characters in the story?

Evelyn DeshaneEvelyn: Yes, I do; I’ve known many trans people and they’ve all played large parts in my own life. My empathetic skills have also been honed especially well through my academic study of transgender people and their lives.

One of the reasons I wrote “The Cryptographer’s Body” was because I was in the middle of my comprehensive exams for my PhD, studying trans writing and social media, and one or two articles mentioned cryptography. One author (can’t remember now) called it a kind of translation—and I immediately thought of someone in a future landscape who was both decoding signs/language and also themselves. So hurrah for exams!

Evelyn: Describe your artistic process in three adjectives. Why have you selected these?

  1. Many: I need to filter out the scenes envisioned.
  2. Exciting: Watching the idea come to life is always thrilling. Commissions often pose surprising challenges.
  3. Relief: Completing the work and knowing it is done having met the criteria and my expectations is a great feeling.
L.E. BadilloLou: What is the main takeaway you want readers to experience by reading “The Cryptographer’s Body” in today’s social environment?

Evelyn: I see it as a love story more than anything. Kylie’s relationship with Scott has absolutely nothing to do with the social climate in which they live—it is a pure connection between them—but of course, it does end up meaning something within a larger culture (as this story surely does), since we all must participate in some way with the world we live in. So I suppose the main takeaway is that connection is what matters more than ideological message. When we actually face people and talk to them, we have so much more common than we first may believe.

Evelyn: When you draw something from your own imagination, does it come to you as a finished product that you must then find, or is it an experience of discovery?

Lou: Sometimes an idea is so powerful it carves itself from my imagination and into reality. Other times it is like hunting the elusive White Stag through a shadowy forest and sometimes on that hunt I find something even better along the way!

Thanks to both Evelyn and Lou for joining us! Please check out Evelyn Deshane’s professional site and L.E. Badillo’s DeviantArt gallery for more great work from both of them.

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