Today’s author is currently running a Kickstarter for his DasWyrd Press, an indie publishing house committed to producing excellent diverse books(and maybe eventually diverse games, but you can learn more about that from Padraig). Please give him a warm welcome and don’t forget to check out his campaign!
Can you tell us a bit about your overall vision for DasWyrd Press?
Right now, the primary focus for DasWyrd Press is really just getting our first and then our second novel out. I would like to eventually work out an ongoing publishing schedule of yearly releases. Eventually we would like to expand a bit further than we are to up to two books a year and even more.
We’d like our big space opera to get released as an RP forum and see it coming out as an RPG for tabletop down the line.
What about the first two DasWyrd Press books?
Well, we are only going to be publishing one novel this year, it comes on the 16th of next month! That novel is Threefold Seer Volume 1: Those Apart. The second novel which is just a draft, is currently free on our website under the fiction tab. We would like to see that hopefully reach full publication sometime next year or in 2018 pending our current resources.
That sounds awesome! Can you talk a little more about the storylines of the books you’ve drafted so far?
ThreeFold Seer Volume 1 is kind of the pivotal novel in a longer series. Its set in a world is evenly split between the mortal and the divine. Powerful Goddesses have long dealt with the problems of their own children, and are watching as Mortals war amongst themselves. Seventy years prior to the novels start, an Immortal Witch named Ifsii slew the Six Seers in succession. Afterward her actions brought in an age of ever increasing cult fanaticism and fascism across the world. This is where the novel takes place. The ThreeFold books in general will primarily deal and focus on the various Seers and their place in the world.
Some are trans,s ome are simply queer, and others are biracial and face issues of identity. Most of my books in general are focused on personal experience and separating oneself from the external designations placed upon us.
The Nyla Clarkson novels which are hopefully going to see their day in publication are about Faeries and a young Changeling who does work for them. In both cases these novels themselves are all connected to a greater metaverse known as the Oak Cross.
Did you intentionally set out to write diverse novels or is that just the way it happened?
When I first started writing I usually always wrote from a female perspective, and I just had a greater connection to what I once considered the opposite gender. Over time I started writing more and more diverse characters. My Amazon novels feature people from parts of Greece, Africa, Turkey and across Central Asia. I like to write about people who have different experiences, and I I like to learn about other perspectives in this world.
Its’ why I’m an anthropologist.
Truth is I’m a quirk person at heart. I like stories that are different, interesting, and have something that sets them apart from the others. I also like stories that are just something I can relate too. Growing up as a geek and later coming out as Genderqueer has really often put me in a place of always feeling as the odd person out. So that has become a driving force in my writing in general.
Why did you decide to crowdfund DasWyrd Press?
Honestly, because right now my funds are limited and I’ve invested a lot into the books as is. To purchase the amount of books we would need for the print-run would be more out of pocket. All of our work so far has been paid straight out of pocket by myself and members of the DasWyrd Staff. The Crowdfunding project gives us a boost in PR; lets us see who wants the book; and also lets us get a large goal down without investing much more need income into the company which is still not making a profit.
How long have you been working on DasWyrd Press?
The initial name and idea dates back well into 2010 when I was originally working out the idea for a lengthy RPG design. I was on the phone with a friend and started discussing the unification of years of random forum RPG unvierses into a singular one. We were going to do a comic and sadly that idea never got off the ground. But from those notes I started working out what would later become the Nyla Clarks novels. The other ideas were created from an old RPG I ran called Altear which eventually gave birth to the current staff team for DasWyrd.
What advice would you give to other writers who want to write about other cultures and LGBTQ+ characters? Are there any specific resources you can recommend for research?
First, research, research, research! Take the time to learn about the subject you want to write about, and then if you can reach out to people and just absorb from them. When it comes to other cultures, I usually do several hours of research and often then spend hours just thinking something over. When I write in the theme or in the spirit of something I do my best to understand it. For example, Irish Mythology and Celtic Folklore often paints the Faeries as mischevious, as hard to understand, and as aloof. All of my Fae characters thus take on these traits and often seem strange to human eyes.
In ThreeFold Seer I have elements of so many cultures it would take me a while to name them all. The point of ThreeFold Seer however was to mirror primary cultural traits and themes found across the Oceanic Rim. In many Southeast Asian societies there is a divide between Upland and Lowland populations. Societies were also heavily casted in some areas especially in Hawaii where rulers hid their tombs to prevent people from stealing their mana. These kinds of things I subtlely weave throughout the worlds to pay homage to the sources, but I retain my own touch on them. In both cases I don’t claim ownership of the notion of Mana in Hawaii or in other Polynesian cultures, but I take that idea and I let it permeate my writing.
For LGBTIA the best thing to do is to make a person, sounds strange right? A lot of time when I read nascent writers working with LGBT they focus on a particular “quirk” of that experience. For trans their story often is focused on “passing” and the “transition”. For lesbians and gays its often the affair of love with another. There is nothing wrong with having characters who proudly define themselves by their gender expression or sexual orientation, but a lot times people only use that. They ignore the fact that we are writing stories about -people-. Queer people just want to be humanized and so really when I created characters like Sik’anzi from ThreeFold or Nyla, I wanted to just tell a story from that perspective.
The last thing I would say is don’t just talk to people, and do not just research be ready to revise and reconsider. If you are not a member of a community you are taking something from them when you write about them. Give them credit, and be ready to deal with backlash if people do not like your interpretations. That being said I encourage artists to branch out and explore new experiences and to increase the diversity and representation of their work to give voice to more identities in this world.
If you could sit down to lunch with any one author, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Wow that is a hefty question. Honestly, I would love to sit down and have lunch with Ursula LeGuin. I mean I am a Tolkien lover like any other, but when it comes to direction of writing I look to LeGuin the most. I still need to read Left Hand of Darkness, but her books on Earthsea have driven my writing for years. The idea of a world that is not only filled with diverse peoples, but where one actively deconstructs fantasy norms. Not to mention she is a giant of the writing world, and is just a nice person in general!
Interesting choice; I have to be honest, I haven’t read much of her work but I know a lot about her life. Anyway, on to the final question: what are your immediate next steps after the Kickstarter campaign is over?
If the Kickstarter does well then we need to move forward and make sure we can print the books. Right now we’re waiting on a final few factors to allow us to do that. If our goal is not we plan on doing a more limited campaign a week after. There is also plans to finish up the next ThreeFold novel draft as well as pushing forward on Land in the Stars our big space opera project.
Sounds like you are already well on your way to creating an awesome publishing company. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish.