1. BETWEEN DEATH & FLIGHT is your first collection of creative nonfiction. What drew you to write about your experiences in a detention center in the States?
"I think in one way or another, this experience has been extremely present in my life and mind ever since it happened. It was a time during which I suffered a great deal of pain, but it was also super transformative for me— possibly in part because it was so painful. I don’t think I would be the person I am now if I hadn’t gone through that— which doesn’t mean it was right that it happened, but rather that it is an important experience in my life— and I wanted to find a way to create something out of it. To put into words the helplessness and the hopelessness, the sneaky transgressions and the lengths I had to go through to make it out of there in one piece. It’s not exactly the most uncommon thing to live through, you know? There were around 60 kids like me just at the specific detention center I was in, and more arrived for every one that left, and yet I’d never read a similar story to mine. So I felt the need to say something about it."
2. I loved how you wrote this collection as a series of journal entries. When you were working on this, did you know that you wanted to write this as a series of journal entries, or was that something you decided to do later as you kept writing?
"I think I started writing Between Death & Flight four or five separate times, and most of those earlier versions were not written as a series of journal entries. Some of them were not even creative non-fiction, but crossed the line into fiction! Ultimately, though, I felt that using journal entries helped me convey my feelings about my confinement better, both because that format seems to naturally inspire introspection in me, and because I actually did almost-obsessively write in a journal/notebook while I was locked in there. Some fragments of the journal entries in Between Death & Flight are actual quotes deciphered from my terrible handwriting at the time."
3. How long did it take you to write this collection?
"I technically began writing the first draft of Between Death & Flight sometime in May 2016— meaning the very month I ran away and was sent to the detention center. I wouldn’t say I already knew I wanted to write a book about it, because honestly at that point I still believed I’d get out within weeks rather than months. But still, even then I knew I needed to record this personal history, so I wrote— by hand, at the time.
I got out 6 months later (shortly after officially becoming the longest-staying person at that detention center), and tried to finish the story, then rewrote it, then tried to turn it into fiction, then abandoned it altogether, and finally began writing the final version last fall (2021)! I took a lot of breaks because of the upsetting nature of the topic and because I do have trauma stemming from it, so it took me a few months to write the whole thing."
4. How did you feel after you wrote this book?
"It’s going to sound cliché, but I felt like the weight of the sky was lifted off my shoulders. Partly: this project had been in the 'in progress' drawer of my mental filing cabinet since 2016, so to have it finished— and finished in a way that felt true and just and whole-enough— was validating. I say 'whole-enough' because I’ve realized there will always be more I can say about this traumatic time in my life, always one more messed up thing I’ll remember randomly while trying to fall asleep. Partly, too, because I felt like the story was no longer just mine to bear. It is no longer a secret I keep, no longer a silence benefitting the structures that put me in that detention center in the first place."
5. And finally, what do you hope people take away from your book?
"My highest hope is that I reach other people who have felt the way I did and still do about the ways of the world— disappointed, tired, hopeless, beaten— and that Between Death & Flight helps turn those feelings into anger, which if you ask me is a hell of a powerful feeling, especially for those of us existing outside of 'the norm'."
Hear Charlie read the first two chapters from his forthcoming book BETWEEN DEATH & FLIGHT.
Charlie D’Aniello Trigueros (he/they) is a queer and trans author, editor, and self-proclaimed malcontent. He is the editor-in-chief of warning lines literary and author of THE ONE & THE OTHER (2021), BETWEEN DEATH & FLIGHT (2022), PLACES (forthcoming 2022, Gutslut Press), and more. His work has appeared in Wrongdoing Magazine, perhappened, the winnow, and others. Find him on twitter @beelzebadger.
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Charlie D’Aniello Trigueros
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