Published by Harmony Ink Press
Publication Date: July 14th 2016
Purchase Links Amazon~ B&N
Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.
But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.
Writing the Villain- The Many Layers of Morality
Struggle is a staple for any author. Characters need to face adversity and have a battle, be it internal or external, in order for us to have something to write about. My upcoming novel We Awaken is about two female asexuals in a same sex relationship. It being a young adult novel means that my protagonist’s asexuality does come into play as an internal struggle. There is a distinct lack of ace representation in all forms of media so it only seems appropriate for my main character to not really understand what it is at first and then grapple with that concept. Saying this, it was also important to me that she knows people who openly state their sexuality and are proud of it. This character is dealing with the death of her father one year earlier and her goal of getting into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory, too. There’s definitely no shortage of inner struggle. What took a bit of imagination, though, was thinking of the physical antagonist.
We do not live in a society that is completely accepting of asexuals. A lot of this can be blamed on the lack of ace discourse. If we never speak about this sexuality, people will never come to understand it; that is why a lot of younger asexuals believe they are broken. Our society is so over-sexualized that not feeling sexual attraction almost becomes a perversion in itself. Naturally, this stigma has been reflected in my characters. One character who is less than understanding isn’t exactly a villain, though. She’s actually my protagonist’s best friend but says insensitive and occasionally cruel things about her sexuality just from a sheer lack of understanding.
Writing her in such a negative light was difficult for me because this character has good intentions. She believes in equality and feminism. Her personality is one of the most interesting I’ve ever written. It was just a matter of stepping back from the story and realizing that there are people who think they understand everything there is to know about decency and their own morals but still can be problematic, even if it’s unintentional. She represents the confused and wary individuals in society who would do better for having someone explain lesser represented sexualities to them. Not everyone who causes drama in a plot has to be straight up awful. In reality, many upsetting people don’t set out to make sure people suffer. Then again, writing characters who act that way is fascinating.
Magical realism as a genre- as well as fantasy in general- allows for the inclusion of some truly evil and interesting villains. My Villain with a capital V is named Semira and is the creator of nightmares. On top of not accepting asexuality, she also plays mind tricks with the main characters and does her best to keep the couple apart. Writing this way does make one ask, though- How stereotypically evil can you write a character before it becomes unrealistic? I am a strong believer in everyone being the hero of their own story. A tip I have for writers out there to always imagine yourself as the bad guy. Understand why the antagonist think their actions are right and see what good they are trying to accomplish for the world. Knowing their motivations doesn’t mean you’re obliged to agree with them but it makes the character less two dimensional and cardboard.
Making Semira an elderly woman did allow some leeway in avoiding cliches. Honestly, cliches exist for a reason and it’s because people enjoy them, so if you want to throw one or two in your piece, go ahead. Subverting these cliches might bring you even more joy and acclaim, though.
And if this waffling post has gotten you at all intrigued in my story of ladies loving ladies and communicating through dreams, make sure to buy a copy of We Awaken!
About the Author
Calista Lynne grew up on the American East Coast and is currently studying in London. She is having difficulty adjusting to the lack of Oxford commas across the pond and writes because it always seemed to make more sense than mathematics. Look for her near the caffeinated beverages.