First of all, please tell us about your books! How many sapphic books have you written so far, and what’s your latest sapphic book about?
I’ve written thirty-four sapphic novels. My latest is called ‘Sixty Seconds’ and was released last month. It’s a prequel to my Ashley McCoy detective series and follows Ashley as she investigates the disappearance of a child. It’s more a romantic-suspense novel rather than purely crime as the two main characters, Amy and Jess, are brought back together, having split up years earlier, when Amy’s niece goes missing.
What kind of imagery is affected by aphantasia for you? Is it just visual imagery, or is mental sound, taste, smell, and touch affected too?
Unfortunately, it’s everything apart from sound. It’s hard to explain, but I feel thoughts and memories rather than see them.
Do you have an inner voice or an inner monologue?
Yes, I have an inner monologue.
Do you remember how you discovered that you have aphantasia? Did you grieve the fact that you don’t have an ability that the majority of people have?
Yes, I was drawing a floorplan for a short film I was making and was discussing it with my partner. We had a big disagreement about the layout of the location with her insisting it was one way and I another. She then said, ‘Picture this,’ to which I answered, ‘How am I supposed to do that?’ It was then the penny dropped. My mind was completely blown by the fact ‘picture this’ wasn’t just a turn of phrase.
How do you think aphantasia influences your life, for the better and the worse?
I’m not sure it’s really affected me much. Up until two years ago I didn’t know any different. It’s always just been this way.
How do you think aphantasia influences your writing? Do you feel your writing process is different from writers who don’t have aphantasia?
I’ve always been someone who doesn’t really plan and just writes. I know other authors like to outline their novels, but I don’t really. I’m not sure if it’s the aphantasia or just my writing method, but I work better if I just sit down and write.
How do you experience reading? Do you enjoy reading fiction? Do you hear a voice, e.g., a narrator, the characters, or your own inner voice narrating? Do you struggle with long descriptive passages?
I love reading crime fiction! I hear my own inner voice narrating. Yes, I do struggle with long passages which is why writers like James Patterson are great as they write short snappy chapters with little description.
Do you struggle with writing description and have to consciously remind yourself to put descriptive details into your writing?
Yes and yes. 🙂 When my partner reads my first draft, she is forever telling me to go back and write more descriptions. If it wasn’t for her, there wouldn’t be very many!
Are there any tools you use when writing to compensate for your inability to visualize, e.g., maps, floor plans, photos of celebrities you cast as your characters, etc.?
No, but this is something I should do as it would make the writing process much easier.
When you are writing, do you have to remind yourself that your characters’ inner lives differ from yours, e.g., remind yourself to show a character having a mental image flash through their mind?
No, I’ve always added such things into my books without giving much thought to the reality of it. I always assumed everyone was like me so having a ‘mental image’ was just a turn of phrase in my world.
How are you doing with love scenes? Do you feel aphantasia has any influence on your ability to write steamy scenes?
With love scenes I tend to incorporate past experiences and emotions I’ve felt. I suppose the aphantasia affects them in the same way it does writing the rest of the book. Without having the ability to visualize, I just naturally use my thoughts and feelings to create a story.
Do you dream visually, and have you ever dreamed about your characters?
I do dream visually but I’ve never dreamed about my characters.
Where can readers find you if they want to know more about you and your books?
Check out other interviews with aphantasic authors of sapphic books
This interview is part of a series of interviews with aphantasic authors of sapphic books. To read the other interviews and find out more about aphantasia, check out Jae’s article on aphantasia.