Calista Lynne talks girls, words, love and Disney
Calista Lynne is the author of We Awaken, a book that explores the asexuality spectrum, relationships and picking up the pieces after a loved one has died. Calista is also a theatre student, and a lover of rainbow bookshelves and flower crowns. I got the opportunity to chat with her about writing, We Awaken and Disney.
Can we take a moment to enjoy Calista’s rainbow shelfie
Anjulie: When did you start writing?
Calista: I have always been a pretty decent writer and remember creating books as a child and giving them away. When I was in the fifth grade I was picked to represent my class at a Young Author convention. I suppose it’s only been uphill since there! Professionally, I began writing for publications (and, therefore, money) in early high school.
Anjulie: What authors influenced your work?
Calista: Definitely Neil Gaiman. I can not express my love for that man in words and I trust all his advice. Growing up, my two favorite authors were Roald Dahl and Bruce Coville. They’re who I dedicated We Awaken to because I figure something of them must have seeped into me just from the sheer amount I re-read their books as a child.
Anjulie: As someone who lives in London and grew up in the US, how has living in these two places affected your writing?
Calista: I feel that We Awaken is an extremely American novel. I wrote it before moving to London and it is full of places and sayings that are very distinct to the east coast. Since moving to England my entire world has been shaken up and my writing is definitely different now! They say you write from experience and now I have the experience of a completely different culture to work with in future novels. And, yes, it may not seem that way, but England and America are complete opposites in many regards.
FLOWER CROWN WAS ONLY $1. But now my hair is the same color as the other Token Gay at my school so we gotta battle pic.twitter.com/3PiZR26qDl
— Calista Lynne (@calistawrites) August 10, 2016
Anjulie: What drove you to write We Awaken?
Calista: A need for representation. I wrote the book I wish I had growing up. There was a distinct void in the market where asexual literature belonged and my goal was to fill it. (Mooky note: you can check out Calista’s earlier piece on the lack of asexuality representation in books, it’s a great read).
Anjulie: What was the writing process for We Awaken like? Are you a plotter, pantser or a bit of both?
Calista: Oh I’m definitely a plotter, especially for this one. I had every point in order, listed out beforehand. Of course a lot of them got altered and dropped but it was how I felt it needed to be written. With my next novel I have an outline but scenes seem to keep pushing out at the sides and letting in new details and plotlines with my hardly even noticing.
“I wanted to show that there is a spectrum in [a]sexuality and not everyone experiences it the same way”
Anjulie: We Awaken features two asexual characters that are realistic and aren’t just defined by their sexuality. How important for you was it to get these two characters right?
Calista: Extremely. This novel is an exploration of asexuality so I had to be realistic and inoffensive but also understandable. I wanted to show that there is a spectrum in this sexuality and not everyone experiences it the same way, which is why one of the main girls likes to kiss and the other not so much, among other details. People are so much more than their sexuality.
Anjulie: I saw on your Twitter that you’re a lover of Disney. What are your favourite Disney movies?
Calista: The Princess and the Frog is my everything. I have watched that film an unholy amount of times and actually plan on getting a Princess Tiana tattoo in the near future. Yep. I’m one of those sorts of fans. I think I’ve seen all their animated pictures and the princess ones are my favourites but I could go on for days about any Disney movie.
Anjulie: If We Awaken was turned into a Disney movie, who would you want to play Victoria, Ashlinn, and Ellie?
Calista: Oh wow this is a difficult one! Can I just say three up-and-coming young actresses who are actually the correct age and skin colour? Because those are the two things movie studios tend to mess up and I would have none of that.
Anjulie: I heard that Lin-Manuel Miranda was teaming up with Disney to write some stuff for a live-action version of The Little Mermaid, would he write the songs for this movie?
Calista: Damn straight he would. I think all of those characters could drop a sick beat and I openly welcome anyone to write We Awaken: A Rap Musical at their leisure.
Anjulie: Do you think you’ll write a sequel to We Awaken?
Calista: At the moment, probably not, but if I woke up one morning thinking that is an incredible idea for a sequel then it would get written. I don’t like to write unless I know I have a fantastic concept and am willing to put my all into it. If there was enough desire for one, I’m sure something would come about, but at the moment I’m extremely focussed on my next novel.
Anjulie: What are you working on now? Can you tell us anything about it?
Calista: After throwing away two drafts of a completed novel (something I keep bringing up in interviews because I’m a bit salty), I have begun work on a great new YA novel! I’m handwriting the first draft and then typing it up. I have 32,000 words typed so far which is great progress considering I only began halfway through this summer and handwriting takes millennia. I drew inspiration for this next one from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it is a whimsical story with fairies, time turners, and LGBTQ representation. I’m very excited about it!
I look forward to seeing this book in the future! We Awaken is out now. Definitely buy it or borrow it from your local library and support a great book that explores asexuality and love between two women.