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Transcripts done by CJ Clougherty, @PadfootPGH
Dianna: Hello, and welcome to The Spoonie Author’s Podcast: a podcast where we explore a different disabled author’s stories each week. I am your host, Dianna Gunn, and joining us today is Dylan Madeley. Dylan Madeley the copy editor for Auxiliary magazine, and the author of The Gift Night trilogy. His next novel Alathea: Goddess and Empress is set to release *pause* with a release party at a local convention at Astra in May 2020. Hello, Dylan!
Dianna: Let me start by saying congratulations on your upcoming release. I am very excited for you and hopefully we’ll even be at your release party.
Dylan: It’d be great if you could be there for sure.
Dianna: So tell us a bit more about your novel Alathea – how do I pronounce that?
Dylan: Alright – I pronounce it, Al – uh – theh – ah.
Dianna: Oooh, so I was wrong on all counts.
Dylan: I betcha there’s a person who actually has this name who will correct me if that’s wrong. It’s the usual author thing where we write it, even if we don’t know how to pronounce it. Character names, you know? It’s wild.
Dianna: See, it drives me nuts when I can’t pronounce a character’s name in another book, so I never do that. I always make sure that at the very least I know how to pronounce their names and I try to make it so that their names are, you know, easy to guess how they’re pronounced, but that’s really a harder thing to do. *laughs*
Dylan: I tend to choose, uh, real world names from a baby naming website website in which I know the meaning of the name, and then at least you can look it up even if the author’s doing it wrong.
Dianna: That makes sense.
Dylan: Okay, so you’d like a rundown of the book. This next book is a dark fantasy, darker than my other titles are at least, and it’s about Alathea, who she is. At the beginning of the book she’s a little girl -um- growing up in the Imperial Palace, so very privileged. But it is really nasty being in an imperial family. I’ll just read my write up and get it out there: Alathea was raised to rule, but the benevolent and deranged forces that hoped to prepare her for the throne may have created a monster. She abruptly emerges from the care of a father whom she loves and fears only to find that she’s torn between her father’s reign of empty order through terror and violence, and a magical path that could be a complete illusion. She can’t really live one exclusive of the other, she lives both.
Her tutor, another main character you know, Major Minor, wants to equip her to be better than her father. Like more caring and more reasonable and knowledgeable and in control of her own story and the narrative of the Empire, but he isn’t raising her alone. You know the saying “it takes a village”, well everything going on in this child’s life is raising her. There are negative influences, even if they don’t intend to be. Alathea’s nurse wants to coax her towards enlightenments and faith according to a religious order that the nurse is secretly working for because she views Alathea as a person who can be saved, because she is a child. Unlike her dad who is very violent and angry a lot. But the nurse does not really grasp the plan of her masters, or how it might also warp Alathea’s story. Her dad, his name is Maximilian, is bent on protecting his daughter. He is the emperor by the way. He wants to protect his daughter from fanatics who killed her mother, and who want to control the Empire. But his desire for revenge and to raise her to be a -a strong dominant and – and ruthless personality, really leads him to ignore her emotional needs as a child, and take needless risks in a way that also warps her life’s story.
So, overall, with all these influences coming in, it’s about her braving them and growing up with all this. It touches on loss, the insatiable hunger for control, the way people live a narrative of themselves. There’s a little bit about love. But a lot – being a dark tale, there’s a lot more of that deep hatred and rage and how control or how to use it, and lastly the dangers of using conquest to attempt to achieve peace. Uh – It’s a coming of age tale. Okay – I covered that, and that, and that, okay. That about covers it as a beginning point, if you want to ask any questions? *laughs*
Dianna: So, this book is also – uh – connected to your Gift Night Trilogy, correct?
Dylan: Oh, it is, because if you have read any of the books out of that series, this is the life story of the primary antagonist of The Gift Night Trilogy. So it ties in, but you don’t need to have read The Gift Night books. This can be on it’s own. It sort of happens over here and then goes neatly into the rest of the series.
Dianna: Awesome. And why did you end up deciding to write this story about your antagonist?
Dylan: That’s a very great question, and I believe I’ve become accidentally trendy. Given that we have a Joker movie winning awards, and now – uh – a young adult author I’m hearing about wants to write about…well, do I even want to go into that? I don’t believe so.
Dianna: Oh man, that’s a whole mess. That’s a whole mess.
Dylan: That’s true. I actually had to ask myself if I was doing exactly the same thing, and the answer’s no in my mind. But – um – to get back to your original question. I – I viewed Alathea as main character, who just happens to be against the other main characters in the original trilogy.
So I’m not really telling you a whole lot about her, or how a person ends up like that, or how maybe they needed to be that way. And I felt like I had come up with this, this, this other realm, that is not not even on the map of the original trilogy that many parts of the story take place in, but it’s not really – I was interested in telling you more about that world, and less about Kendric and Chandra and Derek’s people who get all the attention in the original trilogy. It was an untold tale, and it just got me interested, as an author, in writing it.
Dianna: What was the most exciting part about working on this book?
Dylan: The departure, because all my published books up until now are about Derek and Chandra. And then they also have to tie into a previous book that existed and I have to deal with continuity across a whole series, and you know, it’s nice to put that away. Even though continuity matters here, still it’s more contained. It was like a new start. *laughs* Even if it’s not exactly new for me.
Dianna: It makes sense.
Dylan: It was relaxing to not have to worry about that extra baggage.
Dianna: Yes! A series is a massive undertaking! The longer gets, the more complicated it gets.
Dylan: Yes! Especially if you like, drawn to having interwoven complicated plot threads, as I guess I am. *laughs*
Dianna: Yes, I think this is a common affliction among us fantasy writers. *laughs* We’re just drawn to these big huge plots with all of these spinning wheels and all of these characters. It’s so much to keep track of. I mean, George R. R. Martin has eight continuity readers. It’s – it’s crazy. Just – and he still can’t finish his books! Um *laughs* So, as an author, and especially as an indie author, you have pressures on you to be approachable at all times, and to make public appearances on a pretty frequent basis both online and offline. How does this expectation impact you as a disabled author?
Dylan: Very greatly, especially as an independent one. I find that very rewarding in the end to be appearing in book fairs and things but – Okay. My background is I’m a person living with social performance anxiety. So, the public reading part is sort of a personal nightmare. Really, that’s an understatement. It’s – I have to learn to manage it, and I do that less often than I used to. But I do feel that it’s a needed activity to raise one’s profile. And then, social interactions, very big component, especially in marketing, as an author, because I’ve found that it’s not enough to run an ad, no matter how nice it looks, if nobody knows who you are. It’s very personal.
I wanted to say these days, but perhaps it’s always been personal. Perhaps because now it’s more…it’s more intimate and really personal than just having mass media introduce me to people.
It definitely impacts me. I also have to manage my reading of social cues on an interpersonal basis because I don’t have the same natural (well, I don’t know if natural is the word) I don’t –
I don’t feel a sense like many people do of how – how – what’s the natural – here I go again. What’a a natural response ,response perhaps is a better word, to situations. I am a self diagnosed autistic person, as well. So, this is a part of my life. It’s all necessary, it’s just – it will have its challenges. That’s the easy way to put it.
Dianna: *laughs* Absolutely. What are some strategies you’ve developed to overcome these challenges and to work around them?
Dylan: I – the very first thing I do is I avoid (when it comes to the public work) I try to avoid being alone. Especially if it is a new experience I like to have volunteers help me out, people I know and trust. I get to know the people around me at a book fair so that I know my immediate neighbors. And I also respect the fact that afterwards (especially after a public reading) I need to be alone for a few minutes just to process the experience I just had. So definitely self care, knowing what my needs are, and addressing them.
Dianna: That’s absolutely important. And – um – so does that mean that you are nervous about the upcoming release party? Are there things that you’re doing specifically to prepare for that? Because I know that’s going to be a solo release party, so that’s a really big deal for you, right?
Dylan: Oh, sure. It’s a solo release but I’m not really alone. From my previous experience in 2018 releasing a book I was surrounded by people I know very who were helping me out with many of the little details so that I wouldn’t have to have my attention pulled in all directions. My mom took care of the snack arrangements, so that’s one less item. I was interviewed by Candace who we both know from the writing group. And so a person I know and trust is interviewing me, that helps quite a lot. It was a very positive atmosphere, surrounded by people I care about. I had probably the best time being interviewed in public, and doing a public reading. I didn’t need that much of the recharge versus, in contrast, when I did a reading in a bar I had to put up with hecklers. That was the absolute worst. And I *laughs* it helps if it’s not a completely new experience. If I have expectations that are all negative, I look at what’s positive.
Dianna: Reading in a bar…that sounds brave, honestly. *laughs*
Dylan: I was invited *traffic noise* as were others. It was very casual, I believe it was just not the environment for what I was reading.
Dianna: That makes sense.
Dylan: It might have been great for some poetry or a not very long piece, perhaps.
Dianna: Yeah. Well that brings up a question: how do you choose what you’re going to read at events like these?
Dianna: How do you pick a piece from a novel and find one that actually stands on its own?
Dylan: That is a challenge, especially in prior book launches where the material relied on prior books. I look for a piece that I feel would require the least explanation on the entry level, because too much explanation can be a turn off for certain listeners. It just disrupts them getting into your world. I try to minimize that, so that rules out many many parts of the book, which would actually be wonderful, but would require you to have read the rest, or read another piece. So that definitely narrows it down, and the rest is – that’s my primary criteria.
Dianna: Makes sense. Let’s bring this back a little bit to disability. Um – So, one thing that is really frustrating to a lot of writing is the state of disability representation in current culture. What are your feelings toward that? How would you like to see disability representation change and grow the coming years?
Dylan: Hmm. Huge, huge question. I believe some great progress has been made by the availability of sensitivity readers and by people using their own voices and elevating/upholding people telling their own stories but. I feel it’s – it’s also important to find non harmful ways of exploring imagination. But it would involve consulting with others more, and it becomes more of a group activity than an alone activity. There isn’t really an easy answer, that’s for sure. I can keep going but – I think it’s begun, and it’s a question of where it can go or how we might improve.
Dianna: Do you think that there are any major disabled characters/stories in your writing future?
Dylan: Eh I – I feel there has been certain subtle inclusion all the way through, and it always came from taking experiences I have, and letting my characters experience them.
Derek has the same pensions that I have to be a little bit not in the now and a little dissociated, and really intensely into his own fantasies and thoughts. But I have not really explicitly ever gotten deep into that. There is lots of room for it because I have to say that after this book is out, I do not know what’s next. So, it’s a wide open future.
Dianna: That must be scary and exhilarating all at the same time.
Dylan: Yes, exactly. I don’t know what else to add on this topic.
Dianna: That is totally fair. In that case, I will just wrap up with our final question which is: where can people find out more about you and your work?
Dylan: My website is squareone.comics.com/dylanmadeley . I don’t know if we can include that link anywhere in the podcast link or how we will do that, but that is my website that has a blog, has examples from Auxiliary Magazine, interviews I have done, I have done, and links to every book.
Dianna: This will definitely be published on the Spoonie Author’s Network blog as well so show notes will be there with a link, and a transcription hopefully we are trying really hard to make that happen. We are working really hard to make this accessible to everyone because this is really important stuff we’re doing. And I want to thank you for joining us.
Dylan: I just want to add that I’m available. You can find me in an Amazon search and I’m on Kindle unlimited. By signing up you can read all the books
Dianna: Awesome. Thank you for joining us. It has been a real pleasure to chat with you as always, and I hope you have a wonderful evening and have a wonderful book release.
Dylan: Thank you. Thanks for the interview, and I hope to see you there.
Dianna: Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of The Spoonie Author’s 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 Spoonie Author’s Network. To learn more or become a contributor visit spoonieauthorsnetwork.blog And of course, if you enjoyed this podcast make sure to leave a five star review on your favorite podcast streaming platform.