Aether Eggs: With Zakarrie Clarke
Good Morning! Happy Easter / Oestara / Spring Equinox / Chocolate Fest or whatever fabulous festival you happen to be celebrating at this time of the year! Thank you for having me, and hello to you and your readers.
My name is Zakarrie and I write mmromance/erotica: Contemporary for my publishers, and quirky takes on genre fiction when self-publishing my work. I decided to self-publish a few stories in order that I might give them away for free and make them available on KU. My published novels seem prohibitively expensive and sadly, I can neither control their price or have them enrolled in KU.
Here in Steampunk’d Lancaster we are enjoying the annual Aether Egg Hunt – a chance for authors to connect with their readers and give a little gift of thanks for all their support in the form of an Aether Egg or Small Gift linked to the fictional world they have created.
And here is my contribution to the fun!
This is the very first interview I ever gave, for J. Scott Coatworth. It’s something of a corker. In which there are photos…celebrety respresentations of Daniel & Callum from Hangover and all manner of montifying revelations…. I will regret this.
And a list of my books here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Zakarrie-Clarke/e/B07D7JQ32N/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Easter and Spring being seasons of rebirth, it seemed the ideal time in which to name myself as an #ownvoices author. ‘Disability’ is a subject so dear to my heart that pulling off a neurotypical character proved less possible than being published. A fact that never crossed my mind until I had been. My writing is utterly ordinary to me—it matches my thinking, so it is—but I’ve come to realise this might p’raps be a minority opinion.
‘Write about what you know.’ Words of wisdom that ensured my first story was about someone in love with their best friend, my second about a writer. When it came to my third…I wondered how far I was prepared to go. All the way, it transpired. After writing a story set in a psychiatric hospital, I decided it would be…wisest to step beyond the bounds of those words, before I found myself doing a spot more in-house research for its sequel.
I found it far easier to transpose the themes I wanted to explore into another ‘disorder’ or ‘disability’. I wanted to create a character whose shoes I could not make myself comfy in. Having been called an alien in my first week at school, that option seemed out…but I’m fortunate ‘nuff not to suffer a physical disability. In Darkness Dawns, I did my damnedest to share Leo’s story from his perspective; particularly how it feels to be treated as blind. Rather than as a blind man. Being treated as if your disability or disorder defines you is frustrating. Experience has taught me that once you’ve been labelled by a professional, your feelings are considered a by-product of that. A consequence…never a reasonable emotional response to misjudgment.
It can often feel very much as if you’ve lost the right to be perceived as an individual. A specialist once told me that I was ‘lying’. He knew this because ‘that’s what people with my condition did’. I’d lost the right to be believed…or express my own truths. I was only ‘permitted’ emotions in line with the disorder I’d been allotted. I’ve since discovered that I’d been diagnosed in accordance with the consequences of my mine, rather than their cause. In the eyes of the world, that label became the reason I did or thought anything. People with addictions seem to experience something similar. I wanted my Ben to be judged by a man who sees him—his potential—rather than his addiction. Then given a role he excels at; simply by being himself.
When writing a character with a disability, I’m mostly intent on gifting them the right to be seen. This was the underlying theme of Darkness Dawns, which remained, at heart, a story about two broken men who proved to one another that love was blinder than Leo.
In the first draft of The Beast of Bodmin Moor, I pootled around the edges of all I wanted to write…afraid of revealing more than even I cared to know. Daft, of course, when I understand myself all-too well. I read that first draft with an eyebrow quirked up, apalled by my paddling in the shallows. I referred only to Phin’s ‘Phin-ness’, and Jake remains none the wiser about ‘whatever drawer Phin had been filed away in’. This time around Phin is far more up-front about autism, hypersensitivity and synesthesia.
Mostly I wanted to write a story—as always—about unconditional love. The self-acceptance tag I gave the story relates entirely to Jake. Rather than Phin—who has never had a ‘problem’ with who he is—that is the sole preserve of other people. It is Jake who’s forever been plagued by a black dog on his back…long before Jack came along. His fury and self-loathing are innate, the jackal simply gives him a hat to hang them on.
I love and admire Penny hugely for her courage in remaining always, utterly herself. Then having the magical mind and fingertips to make that seem the greatest gift you could ever give You. Or, indeed, anyone else.