I’m always interested in LGBTQ+ books, especially books that talk about topics that don’t get enough attention in the book community. For instance, I’ve never read a book that dealt with asexuality, so when Calista Lynne approached me wondering if I would be willing to feature her and her book on my blog, I was super interested. Without further ado, let’s learn a little about her book! Keep reading for an interview with Calista as well!
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.
Tell us an elevator pitch for your book.
A creator of dreams helps another girl come to terms with her asexuality. They fall in love and work on getting one of them accepted to the Manhattan Dance Conservatory.
What overall message about asexuality did you want to spread in your book?
That it’s normal. Asexuals aren’t broken, but a lot of times young people who don’t feel sexual attraction think that there’s something wrong with them. Hopefully they will find something relatable in this novel and not feel so isolated. I also want non-ace individuals to see that there are varying forms of this sexuality and it’s more common than they might think
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
I want to say no because I’m always afraid that people will believe the thoughts of my characters are the same as mine, which they aren’t, but there’s actually a character in this one who looks like me. When I was writing this novel I had long, multicolored hair and dressed pretty average. I wrote a side character who had spiky white hair and wore pleather. Now I have spiky white hair and wear pleather. It wasn’t intentional, but I looked in the mirror one day and thought Oh shit I turned into Ellie.
How did you come up with the names of your characters?
I did it completely based on meaning, but the only one that stands out as being particularly relevant is Ashlinn meaning Dream. Of course. Baby name generators and dictionaries are some of my most commonly visited websites and I’m not afraid to admit it.
What sort of, if any, obstacles did you have to overcome by writing WE AWAKEN?
Writing about asexuality was a bit difficult considering not very many authors have done it before, so there weren’t a great deal of models for me to follow in terms of structure and cliches. Also, I was writing with a publisher in mind who had rejected a previous short story of mine, which was daunting. Not to mention comma splices. They’re my enemy.
What goal did you have by writing this book?
Money. That’s a joke. Sort of. My main goal was to write the representation I wish I’d seen growing up. If this gets a few more people discussing asexuality I’ll be thrilled because if we talk about it more as a society, it will be better known. With knowledge comes acceptance. I just want teenagers (and adults) to love themselves even if they don’t feel attracted to men or women. I want them to know that they can still find love and be in caring relationships if that’s what they want.
I love the cover of WE AWAKEN! What sort of role did you have in creating the cover?
I got to fill out a questionnaire where I told them strange things like how I don’t like the color brown and would rather not have people pictured on the front. In it I specified that flowers were a major symbol, which is how that aspect came into play. In the first draft of this particular cover (there were a few options) the title actually went sideways and I asked for that to please not happen.
What kind of books or topics in YA literature do you wish were more of?
Representation for everyone. Children do not want to be what they can not see, so we need to show all types of people being capable and achieving their dreams. I want people of color slaying dragons and loving their heritage. I want LGBTQ youths living until the end of their stories and having happily ever afters. It’s wrong to expect young black children to only read about white boys and girls having adventures and find that relatable. Also if we introduce young adults to LGBTQ culture they will just accept it as normal and alright.
What are you working on now? What can you tell us?
I am about two months away from finishing a generic sort of romance novel, but the other day I was struck with a great idea for a middle grade story. It’s going to be full of fairies and time benders. There’s a good chance I’ll put the romance novel to the side for now and begin working on this new project as I have much more faith in it.
Any other things you want to add?
I’m currently running a giveaway of the novel and a gift card through my blog. Also know that I love all of you and I hope you go out into the world and pay that love forward. Rock on.
Huge thanks to Calista for being part of this interview! All the hugs.
Calista Lynne is a perpetual runaway who 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.