Author Interview: Teagan Dawson
How did you become a writer?
I have always written to some degree, but it became increasingly sparse over time. When I started Law School, I of course had to write a great many briefs, which as a 1L are somewhat formulaic. Beyond that, it can often be to your detriment to stray from any tried and true formulas (IRAC forever, 1Ls!). I became afraid I was losing my creative side, so I began writing for fun on a text-based video game. Over time I grew and improved there and made great writer friends I've kept to this day. Eventually, I wanted to try breaking from the constraints of the game world to build my own worlds in spaces I'd never tried before, so my writing moved from Tolkien-style fantasy to contemporary romance. Coincidentally, I transitioned during this time, so I had a lot of thoughts and feelings to bleed onto the page, and those informed both my plots and my characters.
What inspires you to write?
I am inspired to write by a yearning to achieve results only I ever could. As someone who spent most of her life doing routine manual labor jobs before going into the very dry world of contract law, I never felt room to breath and leave behind anything that truly felt my own. By the time I transitioned, I was a very heavy reader, but trying to find books that told trans stories at all was extremely difficult, trying to find them told by us was even more so. When I started writing my second book, I had never found another where a cis boy told a girl he knows is trans that he loves her. It's harder to accept something could ever happen in your life when it feels like no one else is even dreaming it possible. I wanted to change that.
Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?
My current novel focuses on the perspectives two characters, a cis boy named Corwyn and a trans girl named Mae. Each of them represents a different time in my life. Corwyn is who I thought I was in high school, while Mae is who I grew into as an adult. As hard as it can be to understand from the outside, all the ways Mae is a scared teenage girl were still around for me during those early steps outside as a girl for the first time, even though I was much older. I was more than half a year into my transition before I even had the courage to leave my room, much less my house. Mae especially means so much to me because I made her as scared and doubting as I myself am, yet tried to put her into a world where it was easy to see she belonged and that she could be loved. As I'm sure many trans people can relate to, I grew up with a great amount of internalized transphobia. This never manifested in my being mean to a trans person or anything, rather more in writing the idea off as strange or humorous. I attempted to imbue this struggle to my male protagonist, Corwyn. His journey to accept Mae was meant to mirror my own journey to accept myself. As for how successful I was in any of these attempts, that is the realm of the reader to decide. I am nervous yet excited to learn.
What are your current/future projects?
Currently, the wonderful Jana Hanson and I are on submission for my potential debut novel, a trans-led young adult contemporary romance. After that, I am nearing initial completion on a trans-led (notice a theme?) new adult contemporary book dealing with love and overcoming grief. This new book incorporates many of own personal experiences as a cancer survivor. In the further future, I have a rough outline for a young adult romance between a trans boy and a trans girl along with a potential continuation of my currently on submission work, which would follow one of the characters into college.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is that you can push far on your own but never as far as you can with help. Your eyes will glaze over into assuming you used phrases as clearly as you meant to, a million re-reads will tell you that you haven't missed a keystroke, and the greatest schedule ever written can keep you to the minute on track, but none of that can fill in for someone seeing your work from outside your perspective and experience. This can be found in simple places like word repetition and typos but also in more profound ways like explaining they couldn't understand why a character acted in a way they did or especially showing you where you can improve a character who shares your reader's background and not your own. Other writers and readers are so often wanting to help and thirsty to see what you have created. As scary as it can be to show off an unfinished piece of yourself, let them help you polish and perfect.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?
I prefer to be contacted via Twitter @TeaganLikesPink