1. When did you start writing?
"I remember being four or five years old, and writing a few very short poems that I was really proud of (at the time). I guess that was probably the first time I engaged in creative writing, and evidently I haven't stopped since. I started writing fiction when I was nine, pretty much exclusively speculative fiction. For me, writing became a form of escapism and of expression. I could sit in front of the computer for hours and hours— or in front of some notebook, even— and travel to a different world, where I made the rules (or lack thereof)."
2. Where do you draw inspiration?
"In the case of poetry, I usually write because of a feeling or thought I've had, that I can't shake. All of my poetry is, in one way or another, about things that have happened to me or that I've felt at some point. This works great when it comes to having a lot to write (because I am but a bundle of feelings), but it also means that I am vulnerable in every poem that pours out of me. This is especially true when I write about my experiences with transphobia, queerphobia, and trauma! Wordsworth used to say that poetry is ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,’ and I think in my case that is definitely the truth.
In the case of fiction, I do still draw inspiration from my feelings and experiences, but I am also often inspired by other works I've read, by certain aesthetics, and by a curious ‘what if…’ (the latter especially applies to speculative fiction). For instance, my first novel, The One and the Other, was inspired by the aesthetics of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, by my queerness and need for asexual and queerplatonic representation, and by the thought ‘what if vampires were oppressed and also really really gay.’"
3. Could you share your process and thoughts on writing?
"My process tends to be quite different depending on genre. When writing creative non-fiction or poetry, there are two common scenarios. The first, that I am struck by an emotion, a memory, or a thought that begs to be explored. In these cases I don’t entirely have control over what it is that comes out on the page. Instead, I let myself write and write and write until there's nothing left, and try and make sense of it later. This usually results in pages of less-than-tidy handwriting in my journal (or whatever notebook I happened to find first). This is eventually transformed into a piece, although sometimes it already emerges as a rough draft of a poem. The second scenario is that I recognize something in my life or mind that I need to write about, sit down at my desk with the intention of writing about it, and recollect all the aspects of it that made the biggest impression on me. Eventually, I'll have a page or more of random disorganized impressions, and usually a few lines or words will make something click and a piece is born.
For fiction, I'm a lot more organized. Usually, I will have an idea (e.g. ‘what if vampires but queer and also dystopian’), and won't be able to stop thinking about it for a long time. Eventually, the idea leads to main characters, and those lead to hints of plot playing out in my head — less like a series of events and more like snippets of moments (not always main events, either). A fragment of a conversation, a look between two characters, a phrase from the narrator. At some point, I dedicate time to writing a very detailed outline, and use that as a blueprint for the story. I do deviate from said outlines a lot of the time, though, which is bound to happen when I let a work of fiction consume me entirely.
I think writing is my greatest love. Not necessarily publishing my writing, nor being known, nor being read (although that always feels amazing)— just the creating itself. If there is any way to feel like a god (a terrible god, at times; a human god), it’s writing."
4. How did WORLDS APART come about? When did you realize you had material for a poetry book?
"All poems but the first and last in worlds apart were written about a very dear friend of mine, who I became close to at a distance before ever meeting face to face. I never planned on putting together a chapbook about him and our relationship— and through it, my own relationship to my aroace-ness and to the concept of companionship and affection. However, eventually I realized that the poems I had written about him/us mapped a sort of journey from the curiosity of meeting someone new, all the way to the first meeting in person after a long, long wait. I decided to put a little chap together as a cute gift for his birthday, including the poems that he had already seen and which had been published, and the ones he hadn’t read yet. Then I thought 'wait...why not let everyone else read it, too.'
I think part of what made me realize that I wanted other people to be able to read worlds apart is that platonic connection is so often seen as being lower in the socially constructed relationship hierarchy than, for instance, romantic and sexual relationships. This has been damaging for me as an aromantic and asexual person in the past— it sort of implies that the relationships I value the most are inherently lesser than the romantic and/or sexual relationships that I neither have nor want to have. It took me a long time to realize that my love for my friends is worth everything, indeed worth more to me personally than any romantic relationship I could possibly have (which would be a mask anyway, in my case). My hope is that other people will read worlds apart and recognize the value of their own platonic (and other non-romantic, non-sexual) relationships, and also that fellow aro-spec and ace-spec people will feel seen and relate to it."
5. Why are you self-publishing your poetry collection?
"Honestly? Because I am a very restless person. When I get an idea in my head, and my emotional response is excitement and eagerness, it is very very difficult to keep myself from seeing it through ASAP. This is especially true when there is no real reason why I shouldn’t do whatever it is that popped into my head.
When it comes to self-publishing worlds apart, I didn't see any reason why traditional publishing would be preferable. For one thing, self-publishing would allow me to make all the design decisions myself without having to discuss it with anyone. For another thing, self-publishing yields the final product a lot faster than submitting the project to presses, since I don’t have to deal with submission response times and such. I did the same thing with The One and the Other, except now I wish I had done some things differently for that project (for instance, researched self-publishing platforms other than the one I used more in depth). Overall, though, self-publishing gives me control over the time frame and the design decisions of a project, which I appreciate. However, I do have a longer chapbook project that I am submitting to different presses. Let's hope I don't get restless with that one; I would love to experience what it's like to publish a project through a press!"
6. Tell me the origin story of warning lines mag. What is your vision for the future of your magazine?
"warning lines started in late April, and I am actually super surprised that I didn’t start it sooner! For a long time, I wondered what it would be like to start a literary journal. It was really important to me that warning lines be dedicated to uplifting the voices of marginalized groups, because our work is often so underrepresented in the literary world— and everywhere, frankly. I chose to focus on queerness and neurodivergence not only because of how important those two identities are to me personally, but also because of how often they intersect. As someone who is both queer and neurodivergent, I find that the experience of being ‘other’ feels similar in both cases. Furthermore, so many people belong to both communities! This isn’t to say that all queer people are neurodivergent (or viceversa), but I think there are a lot of similar experiences when it comes to being different from the norm (or existing outside the norm).
In a couple of days, we’re about to close the submission period for issue 02 and announce the theme for issue 03, which is super exciting! I think the upcoming theme for issue 03 is my favorite so far. Every time I remember that warning lines mag is actually a thing, that people know it and read it and submit such amazing work to it, I get a little bit emotional. I really wish I could do this as my full-time job (and who knows! Maybe I will end up working in the publishing industry after my Masters). In the future, I would love to start offering our issues in print as well as digitally. It would also be a dream come true to start publishing limited edition chapbooks. However, this will probably not happen for a little while— at least not within 2021, since I study more than full-time and will be doing so for the next year or so.
Fun fact, which I don’t think I’ve ever explained: the ‘lines’ in ‘warning lines’ refer to the different colored lines in a rainbow. The rainbow is the most common symbol for queerness, and the rainbow infinity sign a symbol for neurodiversity."
7. What project(s) do you hope to take on?
"I have a few projects planned! I am very eager to write the sequel to The One and the Other— the partial outline is actually sitting in my dedicated folder, waiting for me to work on it. I also have a full outline for a separate novel which, much like worlds apart, is centered on aroace identity, self-acceptance, and breaking free from allo/amatonormative standards. Lastly (but not least..ly), I have a manuscript ready for a longer chapbook, this time about memory and trauma! I have been submitting it to some presses, so we’ll see how that goes."
8. What do you hope people take away from your work?
"From my poetry, my hope is that people will experience strong feelings— that they’ll read my words and find that they describe something that already existed inside themselves. I hope people get a sense of 'oh, I’m not alone in this.' For some poems, my hope is that people will feel angry, feel subversive, and through that feel powerful.
When I write fiction, I think my goal is for people like me (that is, POC, queer, trans, neurodivergent people, and anyone who exists outside the norm) to feel seen, represented, and, again, powerful."
9. What writing advice do you find totally useless?
"‘Don’t edit while you write’ is entirely useless to me. Even when words and feelings are pouring out of me (as is often the case with poetry), I still instinctively go back and cross things out, replace words, et cetera and then continue writing. For me, it isn’t actually disruptive at all. In fact, it helps me. When I replace a word or rephrase something, and the new version represents what was in my head, it makes my words flow even better. If I were to force myself not to edit while writing, I think I would just get frustrated and abandon whatever the text was.
I’m sure that advice works for some people, but my mind just doesn’t work that way. I think in written words, and if they aren’t right (even just in my head), I immediately edit them until they ring true."
10. And finally, what do you enjoy doing that you don’t talk about enough. Tell me all about it!
"Playing video games!! I love playing Minecraft, The Legend of Zelda, and any indie horror game with a pretty aesthetic. Especially in the case of Minecraft, some days I’ll create a new world (and even delete the old one) just to start from scratch. It’s strangely soothing, to be able to erase everything and start again from nothing.
Another thing I absolutely LOVE doing (and haven’t been doing enough, because of the pandemic) is going to secondhand stores and buying so many books and paintings! Since I live in Sweden, most of the books at secondhand stores are in Swedish, which I don’t speak. So, what I do is I spend hours looking through every single shelf and bin, finding all the books in English or Spanish, and then choose which ones to buy from that pile. That’s how I have obtained probably about 80% of the books I own."
Hear Charlie D’Aniello read his poems "paper & tea" and "worlds apart."
Charlie D’Aniello (he/they) is a Latinx, trans/queer, neurodivergent author and incurable literature nerd. His work is published or forthcoming in Sledgehammer Lit, Poetically Magazine, journal of erato, Wrongdoing Magazine, and others. He is the eic at warning lines mag and author of The One and the Other and worlds apart. Twitter: @beelzebadger / @warninglines // charliedaniello.com
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