How long have you been writing?
There was a point when I was very young that I realized that stories in books and on TV were written by someone. Somebody, somewhere, had the amazing job of thinking up the stories and putting them in the books and in the scripts. And from then on I dreamed up stories constantly. Actually writing them down took a bit longer, but I don’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by stories and art and wanting to create them myself.
Which writers inspire you?
Andre Norton, whose work introduced me to portal fantasy. Walt Disney – he may not exactly count as a writer, but he was an inspiring man, always pushing ahead and trying new things in new ways to communicate Story to the audience. C. S. Lewis contributed greatly to many of the things I believe about the nature of the human soul. Tolkien, of course – I wouldn’t dream of attempting to copy Lord of the Rings, but I love the depth and breadth of his worldbuilding, from the languages to the maps, the underworld to the heavens. There is something behind Middle Earth that rings true and solid.
So, what have you written?
So far, I’ve self-published the first two issues of my ten issue portal fantasy comic series, SoulBound.
And I now have a new YA superhero novel, Penance, from Silver Empire Press as the first young adult novel in their Heroes Unleashed novelverse.
Before that, I had a story in the Paragons anthology from Silver Empire, and before that, a few bits of flash fiction and some halves of novels written in between illustration gigs and homeschooling.
What draws you to Superversive writing?
A shift occurred when I was a teenager, and I began to realize something was wrong with my favorite sci-fi and fantasy genre.
I used to be a member of the Science Fiction Book Club. All my hard earned money went to omnibus editions of Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, Andre Norton’s Witch World, whatever Anne McCaffrey had in the catalog, Diane Duane’s Support Your Local Wizard, Patricia C. Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles, various anthologies… and then it got harder and harder to find things I wanted.
I had bought a few books that sat uneasily in my mind, that turned strangely depressing on reflection, that rang hollow as an abyss behind the themes – Iain M. Banks’ Matter, Pullman’s His Dark Materials, even some of the parody Chicks in Chainmail anthologies had stories that turned off mean-spirited and unfunny.
After wasting a fourteen-year-old’s idea of a fortune on unsatisfying books, I changed from a happily voracious reader to a cautious miser. I learned to skip books with certain phrases in the descriptions that meant they were not for me. I ended my subscription and simply reread the books I had for several years – books that I knew well, that never tried to sell me emptiness and enmity and entropy. I found out I’d rather read unabashedly ridiculous 80s romance novels found abandoned in a box under the stairs than what sci-fi and fantasy had become.
When I first heard of Superversive writing – stories that inspire from above rather than undermine from below, that don’t cynically tear down the good, beautiful, and true, I was so relieved. I wasn’t crazy for wanting hopeful stories, and I wouldn’t be required to excise all mention of God or inject snarky dialogue in every quiet moment or turn all my female characters into hardened warriors with a chip on their shoulders. At the time, I didn’t know who would actually publish or buy my writing, but that’s when I stopped fighting against my own instincts and desires in the stories I dreamed up.
Perhaps other people like reading stories with cynical themes and deeply unjust endings (*cough* MacTeague*cough*) but I value my mental living space too much to waste any of it on ugly stories.
What are you working on at the minute?
Right now, I’m writing the next two books in Penance’s arc and working to gain visibility for the first book, which is eligible for nomination in the Dragon Awards in the Young Adult category this year!
I’m also working on the third issue of my comic, SoulBound 3: Oaths, which is with my amazing artist Mia Pearce for the line art before she delivers it back for me to color, and also the SoulBound novelization, and in between those I’m trying my hand at creating my own sequential art for Asha, a comic about a feral survivor of a failed research colony on a hostile planet.
And of course I’m still adding new creators and distributors of independent entertainment to my searchable online vendor hall at IndieGen.xyz.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors.
Compared to how I used to read, I hardly read at all anymore, though I can remember almost all the books I’ve read and loved, and if I get too nostalgic for one of my old friends, I’ll drop everything and hunt down the book and read it again. Usually sitting in the floor by the half-unpacked box that I found it in. There’s a book called Children of the Dragon by Rose Estes that, to my mind, is as good as The Last Unicorn for an engrossing trip to a strange world constructed to its own rules. I’ve found myself on the floor with both legs asleep, in the middle of stacks of things I ought to be putting away, several times with that one. Gets me every time.
Robin McKinley and Andre Norton both dig deep into the tropes and ideas I find most satisfying, though with very different styles. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good Beauty and the Beast setup in a survival situation, however loosely interpreted.
I still love anthologies and short story collections because I can efficiently read lots of intriguing stories that are exactly the length they need to be and not a word more. I was hired to do some illustrations and cover art for Emily Red’s Dress for Crone and Shadowboxes and Other Stories, and I love what she’s doing with “girl pulp” mysteries with supernatural elements.
I recently bought John C. Wright’s Green Knight’s Squire for my son, and started reading it first – immediately I knew I’d found another solid one like the good books that I was addicted to as a teen, but I haven’t had time to get back into it!
Cirsova has some great stories from new writers as well as bringing back some formerly lost pulp classics that I’m excited to see.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I’m no linguist or mythologist, so I fill out my worldbuilding with real things that I can make.
I have a website, www.OtherRealmStudio.com, where I feature my stories, art, and artifacts from strange and beautiful worlds. Everything I create ties back into the different eras of the OtherRealm and the various stories I tell from that world.
You can also find both my new novel and the first two issues of my comic on Amazon for Kindle. Here’s my author page: www.amazon.com/Paula-Richey/e/B07MC5682Z
Thanks so much for this interview! I appreciate it – and now that I’ve had so many of my favorite books brought to mind, I am inspired to block out a little extra time to visit them again and read some new ones!