Welcome, (O.E. Tearmann) Olivia Wylie and E.S. Argentum, we’re excited to have you on Reader’s Entertainment. First, tell our readers a bit about yourself.
Where you’re from, where you live? Is writing your full-time job?
E.S. Argentum: Thanks for having us! I’m E.S. Argentum, the “E” in the O.E. Tearmann duo, and I use they/them pronouns. I’ve lived in Colorado since I was a kid, with a brief stint in Alaska for college, but I’d love to travel more if I ever get the chance. At the moment, I have a day job with a local cancer awareness nonprofit, but I’d love to be able to write full-time some day.
Olivia Wylie: And I’m the O. in the pen name, using she/her pronouns and hailing from rural Wisconsin. I’ve lived in 32 states, but the Wisconsin woods will always be home. Unlike my buddy E.S., I don’t intend to write full-time until my body won’t let me do my seasonal work, which is native-plant landscaping. I own a small landscaping company in the Denver Metro area, so for me, summers are for gardens and winters are for books! It’s a good balance for me.
How long have you been writing?
E.S.: Oh, man, forever? I officially started when I was twelve and needed something to keep me occupied during a boring class. I was that kid who was always working on their own story instead of paying attention for sure.
Olivia: Honestly, since I met E.S. about 11 years ago. I grew up in a family that has a strong storytelling tradition, but for me, stories were for telling, not writing. E.S. got me past this silly family notion that ‘people like us don’t write books.’
Briefly describe your writing day. Tell us about your latest release.
E.S.: I’ve recently started longhanding rough drafts for my solo work, so my writing day is an hour or two at my desk in the morning with a cup of tea and a notebook. But the roughs for the Aces High, Jokers Wild series have all been written already, so the routine for those mostly consists of bouncing ideas and edits back and forth via email and Facebook messenger.
Olivia: Writing is my safe place, my quiet place and my escape. I get up at 4am, write for a few hours, and then head to work around 8. That quiet time reworking the drafts is a place I love to be.
The most recent book in the series, ‘Aces High, Jokers Wild Book 5: Draw Dead’, is coming out March 6. In it, the team that the story revolves around is enjoying the progress they’ve made in previous books, but they’re up against a kind of challenge none of them know how to handle this time.
What inspired this book?
E.S.: Trauma and hope? We were both going through a pretty rough time back in 2015ish. I was originally trying to write a dystopian story on my own and reached out to Olivia for help brainstorming–and we wound up writing this sprawling story with characters we loved and themes that helped us feel better. After the 2016 election, we knew we needed to do something for our communities, Olivia suggested publishing this series, and here we are.
Could you share one detail from your current release with readers that they might not find in the book? Perhaps a juicy bit of back-story, or something only you know about a character?
Olivia: I’m going to give a very geeky bit of world-building here. In the story, you’ll see javelinist, black locust, and cholla mentioned, as well as a lot of other flora and fauna that will make Colorado natives say ‘hey, that doesn’t live here!’
And they’re right…for now. My job in our duo is to build believable tech and compelling worlds, so I went through a lot of climate-change predictions and maps. If things keep going the way they are, and people don’t get their act together, Colorado is going to end up looking more like Arizona, so I’ve posited species from further south moving up here.
What has been your hardest scene to write? Any of your books
E.S.: The torture scene in Aces and Eights, hands down. We knew it was important for the character arcs, and to highlight the atrocities the Corps commit daily, but it was incredibly difficult to not only write the physical details, but to also dig into such hatred. As marginalized people ourselves, it was an exhausting struggle to write antagonists so blatantly using Aidan’s identity to hurt him. I’m so glad we don’t have to write anything like that again!
Olivia: Oh gods, yes! Those scenes were vile to write. I hated every minute of working on them!
Who has been the most difficult character for you to write? Why?
E.S.: Aidan is simultaneously the easiest and hardest character for me, personally. A lot of his experiences are inspired by my own in various ways, and he has several qualities I wish I was better at cultivating in myself. Both of these make it difficult to write him if I’m already in a bad headspace, which has been unfortunately often lately.
Olivia: I think I struggle most with writing the characters of the Sector and Regional commanders. I want them to come across as well-rounded people in their own right, but I often fear that they come off as military stereotypes. People tell me it’s not a problem, so I guess I’ll try to let it ride for now.
If you could be one of your characters for a day which character would it be? Why?
E.S.: I would love to be Janice for a day! If I could borrow her brashness and mouth, maybe I could better stand up for myself in other situations. (I’m notoriously bad at this; Olivia will agree.)
Olivia: Yes I will! But they’re amazing at standing up for others.
Hm, who would I want to be…this one is tough for me, since I’m generally pretty happy as myself. I think I’d like to step into Alice’s head for a day; for one thing, I’d know how to knit! My grandma tried to teach me as a child, and I didn’t have the patience.
All writers are readers. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
E.S.: Tamora Peirce and Neil Gaiman are the two that come to mind. I’ve been reading both of them since I started writing back in middle school, so I can see parts of my voice and characterizations that have been influenced by their styles. Gaiman’s actually the one who inspired me to start longhanding my rough drafts, after I learned that’s his process–and it’s been a huge help for me so far.
Olivia: One of my earliest influences were the folktales my family told, which taught me what folktales are meant to teach: there will be dragons, but for those who are clever and keep their word, who show good character and courage, the dragons can be beaten. My first mass-media influence was M*A*S*H, which showed how me how to blend madcap fun and empathy, love and fear and ludicrous behavior. After that, I learned a great deal and found solace in the works of Ray Bradbury, Charles de Lint, and the great Sir Terry Pratchett. For this particular project, I also drew on works like Snow Crash for a general feel to the work. I like a lot of Bradbury’s writing advice, and try to be about half as disciplined as he recommends.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
E.S.: I would have said Good Omens, but its popularity has exploded since the miniseries. So I’m going to throw back to a comfort middle grade book: The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine. I’m just a sucker for the meek, awkward protagonist having to go save the brave, brash one who was “supposed to” go on the journey instead. That and I had a huge crush on Rhys at one point, but don’t tell anyone.
Olivia: It will always be Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine for me; the sacralizing of small and mundane things is something I delight in. A close second is a tie between Anne Block’s War For The Oaks and Garth Nix’s Sabriel; if ever a book was begging for a movie adaptation, these two are!
Do you have a secret talent readers would be surprised by?
E.S.: I can sing pretty well. My family was really musical growing up, so I started choir in elementary school and took private vocal lessons through high school and college. I particularly enjoy show tunes and musical theatre, especially since my range has shifted from alto to soprano, so now I can sing the bigger, more popular numbers.
Olivia Wylie: I blend teas for taste and for health around the home, and have a fairly extensive tea cabinet!
Your favorite go to drink or food when the world goes crazy!
E.S.: Earl Gray lattes or peppermint steamers. I just find them both so soothing, and they’re perfect for imagining a comforting rainy day with a warm blanket.
Olivia: Chocolate Aire tea from Happy Lucky’s Tea House, with toast. If it’s too late for caffeine, then Pecan Turtle Tea from Adiago, ditto the toast. Both teas soothe me down into a state of ‘everything is alright’, and the toast settles my system. On the truly heinous days I add 90% dark chocolate.
And what is your writing Kryptonite?
E.S.: Outside of the craft: my mental health. I just can’t write when my depression flares up too badly. On the actual writing side, I struggle with balancing worldbuilding (especially the technological side in Aces High) with the character-drive plot. That’s why Olivia and I work so well together–she’s great at the technology and worldbuilding, and I love focusing on character and emotion, so we wind up balancing each other out pretty effectively!
Olivia: Honestly? I have a weakness for projects. Lots of projects. And pretty soon, no single project gets the work it deserves because all the others need me! I’m working on controlling that, but some days I still feel that I have so many balls in the air that one is inevitably going to fall on my head.
What is the one question you never get asked at interviews, but wish you did? Ask and answer it.
E.S.: I always hate getting this question, but I guess it’s payback for all the times I asked it back when I was co-hosting a podcast.
Olivia: I never get asked what sources I use to do my research! Which is probably a blessing in disguise, but still. For authors, I’d like to recommend:
*The Script series on Tumblr. We have used Script Doctor, Script Hacker, Script Torture (very dark but also very good) and they’ve gotten us the answers we need every time.
*Writing with Color on Tumblr is also amazing
*For the trans characters in the series, I’ve found Lee Harrington’s Traversing Gender and Ana Mardoll’s Transcending Flesh: Gender and Body Diversity in Futuristic and Fantastical Settings to be invaluable.
*For climate, The Climate Change in Colorado report (Lukas et al. 2014) is a synthesis of climate science relevant for management and planning for Colorado’s water resources, and it is invaluable. I get a lot of ideas from it, for life and for writing. It’s free at https://wwa.colorado.edu/climate/co2014report/
There’s a calm before the storm…
In 2159, the Democratic State Force gains ground every day. As they fight to bring representative democracy back, they become heroes to the citizens indentured to the United Corporations of America. Widely spread guerilla units support the first civilian protests the country has seen in decades. Now it’s the Corporations on the defensive. And they are getting desperate.
On Base 1407, the Wildcards start to think they just might help the former United States wake up from its nightmare after all. In spite of the hints of internationally banned weapons the Corporations may have up their sleeves, there’s hope. People whisper that maybe, someday, they might just win. But you should never say something like that too loud.
Fate’s a bitch. You don’t want to tempt her.
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