Nina Marinovic Does Not Exist

My first published short story is available to read online. It feels very weird to have it out in the world, after years of writing privately, but I’m very happy that my story found a good home at The Colored Lens. In short: a woman immigrates with her family and, after getting her immigration papers validated at the border, discovers that there is a mistake on them and her name has been misspelled. As well as the practical issues caused by this error, the people she knows from her home country start not to recognise her as she becomes subsumed by her misspelled identity.

I started this story with the intention of writing a satire of bureaucracy, but as I progressed I found myself writing much more about Nina’s personal losses after her incorrect immigration papers gave her a new name. It took me a few drafts to get the pacing of this slow progression of loss right, but taught me a lot along the way about How You Do Pacing, which is an art I’m still trying to learn.

Something that gave me a surprising amount of trouble in this story was figuring out how Nina would communicate with the people she knew back in her home country! I don’t specify a time period in this story, but I intended it to be set around 2000, an awkward point in time when you’re thinking about methods of communication. Should she be contacting her old PhD supervisor by letter? Email? Phone? Fax??? I remember the year 2000 but I didn’t have internet at home until 2005, so I have no personal memories of internet access circa 2000 to work from. I went back and forth a few times before settling on her accessing email from the local library. I maybe should not have been so stuck on this detail, but it’s one of the few in the story that gives an indication of the time it takes place in, so I wanted to get it right.

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