Today we bring you a very fun & lovely interview we did with Alicia Jasinska. Her f/f fantasy novel – The Dark Tide – comes out next year. And tomorrow, over at LGBTQ Reads, there’s going to be an official cover reveal for it! I’m very excited to finally see it!
And, of course, you can follow Alicia on twitter.
First of all, thank you again for agreeing to talk with us! And I do have to start by saying how excited I am to see a Polish person publishing a sapphic book!!
Thank you so much for inviting me!! I’m so happy to know there’s Polish fans of sapphic books ❤
We don’t get a lot of those in our own backyard, which is to say I can think of…. one that came out this year so far? So yeah, we’re definitely excited to see that at least in English! Let’s start at the beginning. How did you first get into writing?
And gosh, I’ve been writing pretty much as long as I can remember! I think I wrote my first book when I was four XD My mum still has it haha, it’s basically just scribble with stick figure illustrations all stapled together. So basically this is like my dream coming true!
So we know you were always writing (and I assume reading, too). What about your favourite genres, though?
Fantasy has and always will be my favourite. I can’t resist anything with a bit of magic in it. I love being sucked into new fantastical worlds, and I love too when the fantastic is blended in with the ordinary (like portal fantasy and contemporary fantasy). I’m reading The Devouring Gray atm and loving it! I find it a bit harder to get into non-fantasy Contemporary – it has to have a really strong voice to suck me in. But I do love SciFi too!
Does that mean you wouldn’t write contemporary stories yourself?
Probably not…? Haha I don’t like to say never. But I don’t think I read enough of the genre or know it well enough to really write it well.
That makes sense. Any other probably-not’s from you when it comes to genre in your writing? Or tropes?
I don’t think I could write horror either, I like my fantasy dark but I have to close my eyes in scary movies haha. Tropes… I love playing with tropes but I can promise definitely there will never be any of the whole “bury your gays”, only happy endings for my people.
That is GREAT to know, yes. It’s what we deserve.
How do you get inspiration for your books?
From everywhere! Haha. But truly, I’m inspired by places I’ve been, by stories I’ve read, by random lines in music I’ve listened to. It sort of all combines in my head. For example with The Dark Tide (my debut) – the setting is inspired both by Venice and the Polish legend of Wineta. While the romance goes back to me watching all these shows growing up that had the good girl vs the bad girl trope (think like Buffy & Faith, Elphaba & Glinda from Wicked).
I have never read a book inspired by the legend of Wineta, this is so cool, oh my god! And Buffy and Faith had such an amazing dynamic, god, we really deserved more of that. You just keep making me more excited for your debut and I honestly didn’t think it’s possible!
Right?? They had such good chemistry. This type of pairing is my ultimate weakness haha. I really hope it lives up to your expectations!
Ahh, I’m sure it will! So you mentioned getting inspiration from song lyrics, among other places. Does that mean you have a writing playlist? And if you do, does it focus more on the lyrics or melodies, vibe of the songs?
Ooh that’s a great question! I do have a writing playlist. I tend to make one for each book. It really helps me get to click into the right headspace for that story. (And I can’t listen to certain songs anymore without thinking immediately of the book.) Some songs I’ll pick because I’ll hear a lyric and just go “oh, that’s that character.” Where others might be instrumental, so it’s a mood thing.
I have so many songs I so heavily associated with some character or other, that it’s Their song now, no matter where I hear it… It’s a pretty magical feeling, isn’t it?
YES. It’s exactly that!!
Would you say songs don’t bother you while writing then, the words don’t throw you off or anything?
Sometimes they do! Which is why I tend to have half the playlist as instrumental. If I’m really in the groove, the lyrics fade into the background, but if i’m struggling with my words the lyrics can be distracting.
That’s cool, to have them half-and-half, in case of a wording emergency. What’s your writing process? At what point do you let other people read your drafts and who are they?
I have one amazing trusted friend who has read all my terrible first drafts from when I first started seriously writing for publication, so she always reads first, usually in sections as i’m going, to keep me motivated. I think without that – her asking when are you going to send me the next part? – I might never finish anything. I edit as I write (I’m trying to train myself not to) so I am always tweaking, tweaking, tweaking.
That’s a good idea, to have someone read as you go, so you’re further motivated to finish faster. It’s almost like publishing stuff online, on a blog or something.
It’s definitely helped me!
Okay. Summarise your upcoming book in up to 5 words and a meme.
Oh god. THAT’S HARD ANNA.
I KNOW I’M SORRY
Ok let me think. 5 words?? – hero and villain fall in loooove
The best description ever. Literally all you need. Which three authors would you say influenced your writing the most?
Laini Taylor, Naomi Novik and Malinda Lo. Laini’s writing just makes my whole brain explode – it’s so, like, delicious. I can’t think of a better word. Lyrical, incredible. She and Naomi are on a whole different level of talent. Their books make me want to get so much better at my craft. And Malinda Lo’s Huntress was the first f/f ya book I ever read – it was the first time I thought wow, ok, maybe I could publish an f/f book too!
The power of representation!! I still haven’t read anything by Novik (I wanna read Uprooted, but also my mom’s name is Agnieszka and that’s just…. too weird for me lmao) but I definitely agree about Taylor!! She just paints the world in such incredible colors!
LOL. Yeah that would be hard to read. Spinning Silver, though! I’d say it’s even more incredible than Uprooted, I had the worst book hangover from it.
And if (when!) your books were to be made into movies, who would you like to direct them?
Wouldn’t that be the dream!! Mm I’m going to say Taika Waititi. It’s a dark fantasy but I think he’d keep the fun aspects. And I really just love his work.
You really can just trust him with anything! God, now I’m hoping he will make a sapphic movie soon….
Yess I will take anything!!
And now for something that is also very important to us & what we put a lot of emphasis on when blogging. What does ownvoices LGBT representation mean to you?
It’s a tricky one! Ownvoices writing definitely means a lot to me. I think it’s so important for us to have the chance to tell our own stories, to take control of the narrative that’s so often been written for us. I am definitely more likely to buy a book if I know it’s ownvoices and I want to support those authors – but at the same time I don’t think LGBT authors should feel pressured to label their books as such, if they’re not comfortable with being out, if that makes sense.
It totally does! Like we want to make sure the stories we will consume are as real & handled with as much care & grace as possible, but at the same time demanding authors market them as ownvoices is basically outing them. So it’s a difficult path to tread.
Exactly! And I think it’s hard sometimes too, even if you’re writing ownvoices based off your own experience, that experience is obviously not going to be the same for everyone. It’s not going to be relatable to everyone, even if it’s authentic. That’s why I hope more and more ownvoices work does get published, from people of all different backgrounds and intersections, so there’s not all that pressure on just one book or one author to be everything to everyone.
The marketing keeps comparing books to each other, selling one as a gay This or That, as if there are only so many kinds of stories out there to tell, as if it wasn’t true that every single person experiences the world in a slightly different way. Even if, yes, we share some common ground based on our marginalization.
We’re doing better, but there’s still so much work to be done!
We’re definitely making progress! So many amazing books are coming out it’s so inspiring!
So since we’re already getting all philosophical, what’s one piece of advice you would like to give your younger self?
Ooh hmm. Be kinder to yourself. This is advice I still need to give myself today haha.
Oh my, that’s such a good advice.
Like the road to publishing and just getting your shit together as a young adult can be so hard, even without you beating yourself up over not being where you want to be. You’ll get there. Eventually lol.
And we’re always so much easier on everyone else than we are on ourselves! Why!
Yes! Some of the things I say to myself I’d NEVER say to a friend, so why say it to myself?
I wish I knew, I truly do. Okay, easy question before I ask my last one: can you rec us some great LGBT books you’ve read recently?
Right now I’m reading Tehlor Kay Mejia’s amazing We Set The Dark On Fire 🔥🔥 Her world building just wow! And I think mentioned the deliciously creepy The Devouring Gray earlier 🖤 I’ve also just started The Lost Arabs by Omar Sakr. He’s a queer Arab-Australian poet – I don’t read a lot of poetry, but I heard him speak at the Sydney Writer’s Fest recently & his collection is really making me think I should read more. It’s fantastic!
I actually love poetry, I will definitely be checking him out! If you could have dinner with one member of the LGBT community, dead or alive, who would it be?
Ooh that’s hard but I have to choose Virginia Woolf. No, wait, Halsey. Oh no now I’m thinking of too many. Can I have Janelle Monáe too. Can it be a dinner party haha.
Let’s make it a party!! And it would be a pretty amazing party, too.
Excellent, I want Oscar Wilde there too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alicia Jasinska works as a library technician and is an aerialist in her spare time. She hails from Sydney, Australia. The queer and mental health rep in her work is “ownvoices.” The Dark Tide is her debut novel.
Hopefully Alicia’s enthusiasm convinced you to add her book to your TBR, but if not – just read the book synopsis!