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Vaela Denarr & Micah Iannadrea: A Sapphic Fiction February Interview


I had so much fun reading Vaela and Micah’s answers to my questions, and it is for this reason that I chose them to headline Sapphic Fiction February. Because today is the last day! I know, I know… heartbreaking stuff.


It helps, of course, that there’s two of them answering. Their interactions within the questions put a smile on my face, and when I got to the end, the question about ice cream sundaes… well, my jaw nearly hit the floor at one particular nugget of information that Vaela DIDN’T have on their radar. Read on to see what, and of course make sure to check out their books!


Peeps, tell us a little bit about yourselves first of all! Who are you and what do you do?

V: Hi! I'm Vaela, I use she/they pronouns and I am a queer fiction author writing books with my co-author, partner and sort of fiancé Micah. I am a nonbinary transfemme butch lesbian (which I know is A LOT, but I was really feeling the gender, so I picked lots of labels). I'm also polyamorous, which is why a lot of our characters are as well.


M: I'm Micah, I use they/them pronouns. I am Vaela's co-author and an artist, doing most of our marketing graphics and typography. I am nonbinary pan- and demisexual, kinda sapphically aligned because... I don't care about gender, but I care about men even less.


V: As mentioned, we write queer fiction! I say "queer" specifically because our writing generally intersects with quite a number of marginalized identities. Beyond queer being an umbrella term that strengthens the community, it also just helps to define the subject of our writing, because none of it fits into patriarchal standards. The fact that we write a lot about different froms of love (platonic, romantic, familial, sexual or other forms of emotional intimacy) for one, and also that I am progressively more and more done with the gender binary, for one. We used to call ourselves "sapphic fiction authros" but I blacked out for five months and suddenly I'd written two books of about 300k words with a bisexual and pansexual w/m/m triad, so... technically not exclusively sapphic.


M: We knew we were not gonna be fully exclusively sapphic, but this was just a "Whoops, it happened" moment. As Vaela said, we write about marginalized groups, which means not only in regards to sexuality and gender, but also in terms of ethnicity, body types, disabilities etc. Trad pub has issues with all those, and since we are our own bosses, we can do something about it. So we try to show a decent mix of diverse people and experiences in our books, and try to add a few more with every book. Learning about margnialized groups you aren't a part of is a long process, but one we are committed too.


V: The current tagline we're writing under is "Queerness, Mental Health and Monstrosity." All of our books feature themes of mental health. Characters with anxiety, trauma, neurodivergence and resulting issues, anger etc. In our society, there is a great stigma around mental health, and people who don't fit the mold are demonized, othered, and posited as "monsters" (which is something queer people know all to well. And disabled people. And people of colour. And literally everyone who isn't cishet, white, and compliant to the patriarchy. So, fuck that.) And as mentioned earlier, love is always a big theme, in all its various different forms.


How did you become authors?

V: Trauma, mainly.


M: Made a gay character and Vaela was like "eyy, we should make a book out of it" and then we did.


V: There is... so much more to that story. I'll explain. So... standard little story, you grow up, you realize you're queer and your parents are monsters, you cut them off, you are suddenly alone in the world aside from the LDR partner you've met like a year ago who helps you get therapy and get better. That was me. I'm pretty open about that because, as mentioned, mental health stigma. But in today's society, especially if you are queer and/or neurodivergent, trauma is unfortunately common. I worked minimum wage for a while, worked myself to the literal bone, and it wasn't really enough to live on. I got overworked to the point where I couldn't really go out and work anymore. This was also just after I'd come out, so masking was a lot easier, but also fucking miserable.


Anyway, I'd always wanted to write stories. A desire that I'd never been allowed to pursue. Now at this new juncture, I was just barely in my twenties, no job, no prospects, no education, no support network aside from my partner. So we made a deal: We'd had these characters from a Tabletop Game that we always wanted to write about (She Who Earned Her Wings, the one with the trans lesbian angel and the dragon polycule). But to get into the swing, we decided that we should start with something small. A simple monster hunting vampire character. We said we'd write this one book for as long as it took me to heal, and then we'd see how viable writing as a main career path was.


Eight months, 350k words, and one realisation about word counts later, The Gift of Blood was done. We advertised on social media, got people interested, and had an all in all amazing start to our publishing career. We've learned a lot since then, and a lot has changed. Advertising has become much more difficult, but I genuinely don't want to ever stop. No matter how difficult it gets, writing is the thing I want to spend my life doing. It's the most fun task I could imagine, and the only job I ever want. So we just... kept going.


And our books remain unreasonably long.


M: I mean, not all of them.


V: Every single book. Even the one that was meant to be 40k words just grew by 50%.

So yeah, I think the real answer to the question "How did we become authors" is... we just started writing and self publishing.


Who’s your favourite character that you’ve ever written?

M: My favourite is probably Nomi. She's the MC of She Who Earned Her Wings, a young druid who travels the world to learn magic and fall in love. She is very pretty and cute, has wings, white hair and red eyes, and a soft, gentle voice. I got to see her become more than just a character in a TTRPG, see her become herself and I'm excited to see her grow from what she was three years ago.


V: What do


M: I know that it's a lot to write for you, but I love that she's so curious. You get a lot of answers about the world with her as the POV character.


V: Oh, I remember. That's what made that book so long... Yeah, Nomi saw two big, strong dragons and went "I'm gonna date you, but first teach me the intricacies of your culture." There is SO MUCH I had to cut.


M: She's just a curious bean! Also, I love her babies. Lots and lots of baby dragons...


V: The babies are incredibly cute. Okay, my favourite character... Ho boy, that's a tough question. I have lots that I like. Lots that have pieces of me. But favourite to ever write might be, surprisingly, a minor character from She Who Earned Her Wings. Nyra is the girlfriend of one of the dragons in the series. She's black and an ambulatory wheelchair user, and she has flowers shaved into her undercut. I really like the way she talks about her polycule. For reference, Nyra's gilfriend is Fae'Ajia, a very powerful dragon who hoards weapons. This hoard extends to people with skills that can be used to attain their goals. They don't technically have anything in common with Nyra, but they use their different experiences and skills to support each other and help one another. It's surprisingly adorable.


Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?

V: Writer's block, maybe... It's hard to tell. I have trouble with my executive function, and the best way for me to write is to have Micah sitting in a call with me. It's a bit of a process, and pretty time consuming. Would be much easier if we lived together, then I could just go hug them anytime I feel drained or the words don't want to leave my hands. Sometimes I just need to take a step back from a project. Sometimes I also just need Micah to help me with decisions in the story. Having someone else take even the smallest part of a decision off my plate really helps me.


What do you consider to be the hardest part of writing?

M: Definitely trying to get noticed and finding readers without spending so much money on marketing.


V: Hah, what money?


M: Yeah, really...


V: The writing is easy. Getting covers is also easy. We know a lot of skilled artists, and we love commissioning them. Self publishing books is also relatively easy, and we're lucky enough that Micah lives in a country that just gives you free ISBNs. We both have the necessary skills to create a really high quality product that takes our experiences and shows them through the lenses of different characters and worlds.


The hard part is getting people to read the books. Just reaching people has become much more difficult. We used to be able to reach up to 100 people a month just through Twitter. But then new management took over, and like everything else Elon touches, he ran it into the ground. For many creatives, engagement just... crashed. We're currently rebuilding our advertisement system from scratch. There are so many pieces to it that need to be considered, and all of them are pretty difficult to do by ourselves with zero disposable income to actually buy materials to learn about them. This extends to other authors' books as well. I'd love to be able to form a closer community and find books that our readers would love too, but that takes both money and time, neither of which I have, because some manchild threw a tantrum and tanked our sales, and retailers only really care about art as long as they can make money off it. It's a difficult, lonely road. People say "Self publishing is the easy route" and fail to consider that even if you had the book already completely done, you still need to do 5 different jobs to actually get it out there.


And how about the most rewarding?

M: Seeing people get excited about characters and moments in the books.


V: Definitely. My absolute favourite part about writing is when I happen to see people talk about our books or send us messages about them. Because usually it's something along the lines of somebody looking to see themself represented in books, the way we've always wanted to see ourselves represented. And being able to provide that to people is really special to us.


What is one piece of advice you wish you had listened to, either in life or with regards to being an author?

M: Write smaller books.


V: Genuinely, this. I like our big books. I love telling long stories. But here's the thing: They take longer to write, so you'll spend more time between books without new releases. They take more effort to edit and proofread, and they also have so much stuff in them, if you're not careful, you risk things falling through the cracks.


M: They're also way more expensive.


V: That's the biggest reason. The bigger your books, the more of a hit your royalties are going to take, because self pub options usually take their percentage off the total, and then YOU pay for the printing from your roylaties. This is how you end up like us, with a paperback that costs like 20$ and you make less than 1$ off it. So... be kind to yourself. Write smaller books.


Also, more lesbians. more queerness. Nobody who is going to shy away from more queerness was going to buy your books anyway. Live your truth.


M: Be gay, do crimes.


V: Indeed.


You’re putting together a party. Which characters from the Sapphic Fiction genre would you invite?

V: Oh god. I haven't read books in so long... Uh, Gideon Nav, maybe?


M: Oh god, why Gideon?


V: Because I'm really hot and cool and good at flirting, and Gideon is pathetic. She's going to make me look like a goddess by comparison. Micah, who else?


M: The bar staff from Legends & Lattes, because Viv is just a big ole woman who can serve a mean drink, and her girlfriend is very cute. I would love to meet them. Bonus points if they bring their little mouse friend. He makes really good pastries. He's not sapphic, he's just a bonus. Other than that... haven't gotten to read much in a while either.


V: I guess I would ask Kay (Moonlight Love and Witchcraft) to come, she also runs a bar and is huge. She and Viv would get along really well.


Is there anyone you’d like to highlight, while you’re here?

We'd like to Highlight @Erisperitas, @Murasaki_Yuri and @Killjo_Q who have done the covers for our latest release, Breaker of Fates - Broken Song Verse 1, She Who Earned Her Wings, and The Thrill of the Hunt, respectively. They are all amazing artists, and you should go commission them. Absolutely love them.


How can people connect with you?

All our socials are on linktr.ee/VaelaAndMicah

We're kinda around all sorts of sights while trying to mend the marketing situation. So just... yell at us.


Finally a light-hearted one. What ice cream flavours and toppings would you put together in your ultimate sundae?

M: I don't know how well they would fit together. Mint chocolate chip, cookie dough and lemon. Probably more, but I like a lot of things, and those three seem good.


V: What the hell is a sundae...


M: You don't know what a sundae is??


[One explanation later]


V: Okay, my favourite flavours... Chocolate. Dark chocolate. Strawberry chocolate. Probably mint chocolate chip and cookie dough, because those sound tasty and we don't have those here. No whipped cream. And to add some spice... Just like a whole orange, sliced and arranged like a flower. Any one of these things is going to kick my sugar allergy into high gear, but they sound amazing.


If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, The Summer We’ve Had is available now, and Love You However is coming on March 22nd!



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