This story truly came alive to me the other night at the reading. It was a combination of the music, the power of spoken word and the overwhelming response I’ve had from readers about it since the book release. At its heart, Magdalena is about how the living can haunt us just as much as the dead. The title character is haunted by a childhood sexual trauma; the narrator, who’s dead, is haunted by the title character, who’s not. The hauntings spur the characters into various forms of action and inaction as they confront their relationships, memories, sexuality.
It’s also about healing: how our own view of how people should deal with their trauma can get in the way of the actual healing, the empty useless feeling when confronted with someone else’s pain that you can alleviate, the impossibleness of holding that space and the endless fight to do so anyway. For a non-fiction companion to this piece, here’s a blogpost I wrote immediately after having a young survivor of sexual trauma on the ambulance, Who Heals The Healers; literally the most helpless and broken I’ve felt in my entire nine year career in emergency medicine. It is a triggeralert type piece, so read with caution.