You may or may not know that The Comyenti Series, from which ‘Quarterling’ is a part of being a spin-off novel, is a fantasy series that as a whole is really close to my heart. It always has been, more so than all my other books. Being a huge animal lover, vegan, and empath myself writing about an alien humanoid species, who are all mind-speaking empaths, and have all these amazing animal abilities, but with their own weaknesses comes almost natural to me. That probably shouldn’t come as a surprise for those that know me. Especially since most of my life I have almost felt like an alien on this world myself! Being sensitive to noise, bright lights, strong smells, fainting in crowds, wanting different things in life than others my age, reading different books, being vegan, and lesbian! I am also quite a private person, so I guess not many people know much about me at all, hence why I started this newsletter in the first place.
But, I digress. All of the main characters certainly feel like different parts of me I wanted to explore. Especially Sula Comyenti who started it all in book 1: ‘Call Off the Search’ which was originally called ‘Small Sacrifice’, and who has been with me from the start shaping the story and series with me, always insisted in getting heard. For a writer it is almost impossible not to listen to those voices in your head! They won’t leave you alone until you write their stories down. No, you are not insane, you are a writer. That is our excuse, at least.
Still, I just love writing every book that is either part of the series or a spin-off story such as Quarterling is, so I really don’t mind. Besides, Sula is always great company.It became clear to me though that after writing the first two books the characters had much more to say and to do before I started writing book three. I knew I just couldn’t fit it all in without losing the main thread of the book and for the readers to lose the plot. These characters, once an adult, deserved each their own story, their own novel. And that is what I am doing. That is the plan at least. Sula has five children so they all get their own book, some even more than one. There are three so far and a fourth is in the making!
Fay started to tell me her story from the time she left home. It was easy to let her live some of my own experiences and see what she would have done, with or without her super powers. And how I would wish I had those powers often! But then again, she is restricted in some ways. How? Well, you will just have to read the story.
Speaking of superpowers though, especially a female superhero, saving animals, not people this time, was needed, desperately I felt. I have researched but only found one or two other books with a vegan superhero, but they were all for children… Why, I wonder are animals always associated with children or children’s stories? Don’t adults love animals? Do we outgrow them and their cuteness? Don’t we want to read about their happy ending? Adults love their pets, but often can’t extend it to other animals. Most don’t want to think about the suffering, the exploited animals, at least not enough to want to save them. Vegans do. Luckily. Thus a story was born. Fay was going to be a superhero for the animals with an older audience, okay young adults more precisely as she herself is only seventeen when the story starts, but still, it’s a start. I do hope to reach a broad audience with Fay’s story. That is why there are many more subjects thrown in: coming of age, parents, adventure, romance and a touch of magic.
Well, I won’t ramble on too much as this should just be a little post about what made me want to write ‘Quarterling’. Whilst writing I did try to have an audience in mind. I can imagine other vegans want a hero they can relate to or look up to, so it is for them to have a story to feel at home in without too much violence or visual content. But is still is a story about animal activism and what we can all do, or can’t and about hoping to change people, but how? And if we can, should we and to what ends? There are many questions of a deeper nature. Of right and wrong, of grey areas, and that even if we have certain powers there are even more powerful forces at work we cannot always control, and we find ourselves powerless. It’s a story of wanting to save the world, of change both in and outside of us, of being different and finding our way in the world, of acceptance, of having responsibilities and what it means to be an adult. And I also hope to reach those hearts that haven’t quite made compassionate choices yet. For those who say they love animals. Who knows what changes they will make? One can always hope.
Read more about my inspiration and need for wanting to write this story in the Afterword in ‘Quarterling’, now ready for pre-order here:
‘Fay, there is no need to lie to me, you know. I have observed you and seen what you can do. You are clearly not from Bhan. If you were, your kind would have surely taken over from the humans.’
‘Why would you say that and what exactly have you see me doing? Wait, it’s from around the time of the market day I have sensed your presence, isn’t it? What did you see me do?’
‘Enough to know that you act as if these animals are your responsibility, but they are not.’
Fay’s eyes widened and she was numb for a moment as if shocked to hear that. ‘Then whose? If it wasn’t for me they would all still be suffering or dead by now!’
‘It’s not for you to decide, to interfere.’
‘What? So, you’re saying that if you see an injustice done to another soul, or an injured creature, you walk away from it? What if it had been members of your own kind caged in that market?’
‘We’ve never been captured,’ Zemandu answered calmly, unaffected.
‘Perhaps you should be so you know what it’s like.’
‘And you do?’
‘Even if I didn’t I would still care. It’s called having a heart. Besides, all of us carry the painful memories of our ancestors in us. It’s enough for us to feel empathy for other species, because we were treated not too dissimilarly. My kind were trapped, not for food, but as curiosities, and when humans couldn’t get what they wanted from us, killed. We were seen as a threat and menace to humanity, not allowed to live side by side with them like you are.’
‘You can fly, you are immensely strong, you can make fires like I can, and you can communicate with all these anima—’ ‘Argh,’ Fay grunted. She had seen all that? How had she let this happen?
‘No need to be shy or worried. I won’t tell anybody. There is always one dominant species on any planet. What, you didn’t think this was the only habitable planet in the entire universe, did you?’
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Wonder Woman was filled with beautiful, powerful costuming, and a rich, detailed culture for the Amazons — and it all came from Lynda Carter and her 1970’s leotard.
I’m uncommon. It’s not just that I’m a gaymo. And it’s not just the masc of center gender presentation. It’s everything else. The dark sense of humor. The lack of social skills. The obsession with the way names are spelled. The dislike of human contact. I am an outsider.
I’m always surprised when I hear people talk about my books. The language they use is queer and shadowed and always seemingly whispered. And I forget until those moments that I write anti-heroes. I write characters placed in twilight and opium dens. Not by society, like in old pulp fic, but by choice. Characters that demand to be taken as they are. Imperfect and repulsive and charming. Characters who refuse to be defined as any one thing. Characters defined by their multitudes. The interactions between their flaws and perfections. Because people are that way too.
I learned a long time ago…
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