Risingshadow has had an opportunity to interview Ennis Rook Bashe.
AN INTERVIEW WITH ENNIS ROOK BASHE
- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words? What inspired you to become an author? Have any authors, books or stories been a source of inspiration to you?
I’m a gay nerd who spends a lot of time on the Internet. Writing has always been a hobby of mine- I released my first novella Bluebell Hall, when I was in high school- but I started getting serious about it when I became disabled in college and couldn’t participate in other hobbies. I love books that make me cry, make me want to write fanfiction, or make me want to kiss a stranger, or especially all of the above at once.
I follow a lot of authors on social media who are doing amazing work in the genre, such as Jeannette Ng, Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Kai Cheng Thom, Ada Hoffman, Rivers Solomon, and Seanan McGuire. They make me rethink not only how I write, but also how I discuss and analyze writing. And I adore Tamsyn Muir, whose protagonists lowkey invented being a mean goth lesbian.
Right now, I’m obsessed with Reese Morrison and Eli Wray, two authors who are writing the sweetest contemporary LGBT+ romance. I don’t usually read contemporary, but the tenderness and intimacy in their work really draws me in.
You're the author of A Scheme of Sorcery, which explores the complexities of queer identity. Is there anything you could tell us about this book without spoilers?
A Scheme of Sorcery is about two young women who show up for work at the same place and absolutely hate each other at first sight. Sariva Al-Beroth is a lady-in-waiting who’s sick of outsiders appropriating her culture and just wants to fit in; Edwynne Dovecote is a squire who just found out she was adopted and secretly wants to reconnect with her birth culture. After their first meeting is a disaster, they try to sabotage each other, and it escalates until they’re getting kicked out of parties. However, when the Queen is cursed, Sariva needs to venture into some haunted ruins to discover a cure. And it’s just her luck that Edwynne has been assigned to patrol those ruins and keep everyone out...
There’s drama, banter, kissing, and punching fascists, so basically this book has everything.
- What inspired you to write A Scheme of Sorcery?
Releasing A Scheme of Sorcery is the culmination of so much work for me. I’ve literally been working on it since I was an undergraduate in the Obama era, and telling this story of resistance and hope has gotten me through multiple election cycles. The main characters are both activists in different ways.
In writing A Scheme of Sorcery, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself and have the protagonists live in a magical world, but use non-magical methods to solve problems whenever possible. I think magic only needs rules when you need to limit what the protagonist can do, but when you’re throwing obstacles in the main characters’ paths, it kind of provides license to go wild. Mob of evil ghosts? Mind-controlled city? Sure, why not?
- What kind of themes do you explore in your book?
A lot of my work has disabled characters, even if A Scheme of Sorcery doesn’t. Something like 1 in 4 adults have a disability, but according to GLAAD only 3.5% of characters onscreen are disabled, and only a tiny percent of projects including disabled characters utilize or even acknowledge disabled talent. It’s the same thing with being transgender- a book about how hard it is for a cis person to have a transgender sibling will get a much bigger publishing push than anything by or for transgender people. I know telling stories the dominant culture doesn’t want to hear will make my path to publication harder, but as someone who first won NaNoWriMo in middle school, I’ve never backed down from a challenge.
In A Scheme of Sorcery, Edwynne’s older brother Stellan is trans, and no one makes a big deal about it. Edwynne is pissed off that he’s getting married to someone she doesn’t like, and that he collaborated in keeping her adoption a secret, but she’s not out here like “It’s so hard that I don’t have a big sister.” I’m not here to explain what it’s like to be queer, Jewish, or queer and Jewish. If people want an educational experience, they can go read some zines, like the Understanding Antisemitism zine from the multi-racial team at Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. I’m just here trying to tell some stories about resilient, brave people whose experiences and intersectionalities happen to look a little like mine.
Ennis Rook Bashe is a nonbinary graduate student from New York who loves their rescue cat, making cosplay TikToks, and watching horror game streamers. Find them on Twitter at @RookTheBird. Follow their newsletter at https://tinyletter.com/RookTheBird