Don’t like the podcast format? You can also view the podcast on YouTube. (Closed captions are available for the YouTube video; transcript can be found below video.)
Transcripts done by CJ Clougherty, @PadfootPGH
Dianna: Hello and welcome to The Spoonie Authors Podcast, a podcast where we explore different disabled author’s stories each week. I’m your host, Dianna Gunn, and today’s guest is Amara Lynn. Amara has always been a quiet daydreamer. Coming up with characters and worlds since childhood, Amara eventually found an outlet in writing. Amara loves anything to do with pirates, villains and superheroes, and angels and demons. Their novella Tundras Travelers and other Travesties was released just this past Monday. Hello, Amara!
Dianna: It is great to have you with us. I’m very excited for your newest release. Congratulations, and tell us more about your new book.
Amara: So I’m going sort of sci fi with this one. Finally! I’ve always really been into sci fi, but this is my first really sci fi piece. And it’s a realistic sci fi. I call it “hope punk” and “solar punk”, hope because it has a hopeful theme message. And then solar punk because one of the key elements of this story is the main character is on an outpost that is powered by solar panels. And so essentially, it’s just a chill piece of realistic sci fi with unapologetic queerness, and it kind of touches on long term effects of climate change in there because the world it’s in is our Earth, but what’s happened is: as a result of climate change your polar ice caps are melting and things. One of the things that would change is the weather in certain places, and this area has become basically a tundra all the time.
Dianna: Interesting. Can you tell us a bit more about your main character?
Amara: So Eis, ze has lived on this outpost to zir whole life. *laughs* I haven’t used zir’s pronouns out loud a lot, so pardon me. But ze has neo pronouns, is what ze ends up picking actually in the story. And zir parents were also a queer couple that manned this outpost, but they are both gone. So Eis, they’re all alone, but also has chronic pain issues. So it’s a struggle to maintain the outpost from day to day. But Eis all alone there. So it’s – it’s not super taxing because basically the position is just waiting there, having this space available when people used to have to travel when they still lived there someplace they could come, you know, on their way to the next destination.
Dianna: So you touched on Eis having chronic pain and this is something that you also struggle with. Why is it important for you to write this story about this character who shares this part of your experience?
Amara: So, I guess it’s just something that sort of happened when I started writing the character. But I thought, you know, this is something that’s part of normal life that a lot of people don’t see. Especially with chronic pain. It’s – it’s really an invisible illness in a lot of ways. And I wanted to show an experience outside the normal. And, you know, I think it’s good to have in there because I’ve – when I’ve put the blurb out there to a few people they’ve been like “big Yes!” you know, because this is just something that’s not out there a lot yet.
Dianna: Did you find they’re writing this character with chronic pain was cathartic or in other ways helps you process your own experiences with disability?
Amara: Yeah, I think so. Um. And I said before, I think it just sort of happened. You know, I was, I was originally writing this for an anthology call, and I was probably having a bad pain day and just kind of threw that on to my character as well. *laughs* But it’s like, you know, why not give the character a little more something to spruce up the personality? And, but I think it, it was really kind of cathartic because it’s not something I talk about a lot. And, you know, it’s something y’all probably struggle with this for the rest of my life. You know, I, I don’t even know what’s wrong with me here. I just hurt sometimes. And, you know, sometimes you just have to keep going, even if you don’t feel good, and I think it did kind of help me process that.
Dianna: And it’s so much harder to process when you don’t have a diagnosis. It’s such a struggle, just going through that process of trying to get the diagnosis and living with this pain that you don’t understand. It’s just there.
Amara: Yeah. And it changes over time too. You, you’ll – you’ll tell them one thing’s wrong with you, and then all of a sudden you get this new symptom! And you know, it’s just like, “Am I dying? Or did I just get a new chronic pain symptom?”
Dianna: Ah, yes. I have heard this cry before. Many times the “Am I dying? Is this just a new part of my illness? What is happening to me? Should I go to my doctor? Should I not go to my doctor?” *laughs* It can be really complicated.
Amara: Yeah, I won’t really go into all the doctors stuff, but you know, it’s – it’s – it just lends more to that. It’s just so invisible. You know, people. It’s almost like people don’t believe you, like, but so. So just want to say you have to keep going. Sometimes. Yeah.
Dianna: Do you think you will write more stories about Eis?
Amara : I would like to. I have a few ideas in my head. I won’t talk about it because it would give away, you know, what this particular story is about. But you know, I think it will be interesting to carry on that story and show more of, you know, day to day life that Eis will have, you know, after this story.
Dianna: Awesome. Well, I would definitely be excited for more of that. Are hope punk and solar punk actually established genres or is this just something you came up with? I’m curious.
Amara: They are. Because I – I originally wrote this actually for a solar punk specific call. And um – I’m not sure what the whole “punk” part means. Honestly, I looked it up before and it’s already just left my mind. I think it just means that’s sci fi. But yeah, the call was solar punk, and it is actually – the original call is what inspired a lot of why things are the way they are in this story. I started kind of building on ideas, inspirational things that were thrown out there on this call. And it just kind of went from there. But the basic gist of solar punk: is it has to do with, you know, how people survive after the effects of climate change affect the way that our world works. You know, one of the things is alternative power sources via solar panels. And this actually takes place in a landfill outpost. It’s actually built into a landfill. And the reason for that is because solar panels are actually very commonly placed on top of landfills because that gives some better sunlight access, being high up like that. So that’s the reason for that weird little fact for you.
Dianna: That is so strange you learn the most interesting thing. You learn the most interesting things when researching stories, it’s fantastic, isn’t it?
Amara: Yeah. And yeah, hope punk was because it didn’t get accepted into that call. And then I found another call for hope punk and that just needs anything with a, you know, a hopeful message theme And so that’s how it kind of became both. And it didn’t make it into those things. And I said, You know what? It needs to be out there because it’s – it’s a unique piece. It’s part of me. And so it’s out into the world of self love now.
Dianna: Absolutely. That’s awesome. And is most of your work self published? Or?
Amara: Yes, all of it right now is. My first book was published with a small press. And then once I had the rights back to it, I republished it myself. And then everything I’ve done since then, is self pub, and I plan to do three more things this year, self pub at the moment. So that’s just kind of the path that I feel is right for me right now. See what happens in the future.
Dianna: Three more things. That’s a big year for you! Very exciting.
Amara: Yeah, but I like to do shorter things, novellas, because they’re easier to plan, follow through with. So this is the shortest one. This – this one’s really more of a novelette at 5800 words. And then, um, my next one will be and then the other one will be almost novel length. The next one will be about 15k. And I’m not sure what my fall release will end up being because it’s not completely written yet. So we’ll see what happens with that one.
Dianna: Well, you know, you do also need to take time to rest. That is important. wanna remind you and myself and every other writing writer out there. Because let’s face it, most of us are workaholics.
Amara: Definitely, if I’m not feeling good, I’m just like screw it! Laid back in my recliner watching TV.
Dianna: Yeah, I definitely struggle with that. Getting myself to actually take a break and respect my body when it needs rest is not an easy thing for me. And I know that a lot of other writers struggle with it. So kudos to you for actually like, being on that. *laughs*
Amara: I’m hoping I stay a little more organized this year, but like, I feel like I’m off to a really good start so far. It’s as well as things you have to balance. Do I feel good enough to work even for 10 minutes? You know, because that makes a difference. It adds up, you know, but if I don’t, you know, it’s okay to take a break.
Dianna: Yeah. I honestly I forget where I originally saw the concept. I’ve seen it in loads of places over the years, but there’s a concept of having no zero days where it’s like exactly that. I will work for like 10 minutes, I will do one small thing to push me in the direction that I want to be going in my life. And then I can at least say I can accomplish something, regardless of how ill I am.
Amara: Right? I’ve kind of tried to do that. But I noticed when I take a full on, “oh, no, I feel awful” I usually take two days off, and that I can get back to it even if it’s just a little bit and working my way up and then taking another break.
Dianna: Yeah. *clears throat* So you mentioned that chronic pain isn’t something that’s really you know, shared in stories. Can you think of any good stories that you’ve seen that include chronic pain or have other good disability representation? Things that have really spoken to you as a disabled person?
Amara: Yeah, definitely, if anybody hasn’t checked, out Zan West. Their stories have a lot of that. They have a short novelette called The Nine of Swords Reversed that has a character that manages chronic pain. And that’s a really sweet, um, you know, unapologetic queer story, you know, feel good, kind of like mine is. So, you know, maybe that kind of inspired me to get this finished and get it out there. So I would definitely recommend that author and their works.
Dianna: Awesome. And how would you like to see other authors and other media spaces approaching disability representation in the coming years?
Amara: I would definitely like to see more of it, and just be not necessarily part of the story. Just – just that it’s there. You know, it’s – it’s always something that needs to be addressed here. It doesn’t need to be fixed or solved because, you know, the reality is there isn’t always a fix, you know. So I’d like to see more of it just being accepted as a part of who people are, rather than, you know, trying to heal it.
Dianna: Absolutely. Um. I think a lot of, especially in( I mostly do fantasy and science fiction and stuff)_ in those genres there is a lot of tendency to, you know, make it fantasy by giving someone a miracle cure. And every once in a while, I feel like that’s pulled off, but I think for the most part, that concept is extremely problematic.
Amara: Yeah, it’s called a healing narrative. And like you said, you know, it does come off as problematic. Because, you know, that’s – that’s to say that this is something wrong with you that should be taken away, you know? And really, I wouldn’t be who I am without it. Even though sometimes I really wish it would go away. You know, it’s not going to.
Dianna: Absolutely, I feel much the same way. And I think a lot of other people are right there with you. How can people find out more about you and your work? Not just your most recent story, but everything you do?
Amara: I’m most active on Twitter, usually rambling about music and my characters and I do post LGBTQ writing hashtags. So if anybody is LGBTQ writer, they can always hop on in on those. And I have very, you know, encouraging policy that’s come and go as you please. You know, I know not every question is going to work for everybody. So if you don’t like the questions, skip it, you know, if you do it two days out of 20 I don’t care. I just like bringing people together and you know, creating a safe encouraging space.
Dianna: What is your actual Twitter handle?
Amara: So yeah, @amarajlynn, and then I’m also on Instagram as @amarajlynn. And I also have a Facebook page that you should be able to find if you just search “Amara Lynn Writer”. And then I have like, wordpress blog, which has links to all my work as it’s updated. Not so much blog posts, because I forget about those, but I keep the book links updated. And that’s amarajlynn.wordpress.com
Dianna: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining us. It’s been a real pleasure to talk to you and good luck with all of your future endeavors, especially those three projects you plan to release next year. That’s huge.
Amara: Thank you so much, and thanks for having me.
Dianna: Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of The Spoonie Authors Podcast. The Spoonie Authors Podcast is part of the Spoonie Authors Network: a community initiative devoted to sharing the stories of disabled authors and educating abled people about what life is like for disabled creatives. Transcripts of this podcast are also available on the Spoony Authors Network. To learn more or become a contributor visit spoonieauthorsnetwork.blog.com And of course, if you enjoyed this podcast make sure to leave a five star review on your favorite podcast streaming platform.