Authors put their time, sweat, and tears into their work, often going through multiple drafts before the reader ever sets eyes on their precise and uniquely cultivated words. Many authors find their inspiration from others and have a deep respect for others in the writing process. Anya Josephs and Kira Leigh are two authors that come from vastly different genres but have found a mutual respect for each other’s work and their mutual love for literature.
Anya Josephs is a debut author with GenZ Publishing. Her book, Queen of All, focuses around an awkward teen, Jenna, who is thrust into a world of mystery and adventure when her best friend and renowned beauty, Sisi, is summoned by the king. In her fight to save the kingdom, Jenna must deal with her growing feelings towards her friends and if she can let them go to save the one she loves and everyone else in the process.
Though Josephs had always wanted to be a writer from a very early age, the need for more diversity in the world of publication is what finally pushed her to become a published author. “I love the YA fantasy genre so much, and it very much shaped who I am today, but I am also very conscious of its failings, especially around issues of diversity and inclusion. As a young reader, that stung—but as an adult, I wanted to try to do something to fix it, and that meant getting my work out there,” Josephs explained.
Kira Leigh has lit up the literary world with a self-published book that gave Leigh the ability to come out. Josephs’ work has fascinated authors like Kira Leigh and begs the question of whether or not Josephs is writing about personal experience with unrequited love like her main character Jenna’s experiences with Sisi. The short answer is yes, but not in the way that you may think. There has never been a person that Josephs has loved and hasn’t loved her back. Her unrequited form took the form of society in general and their love for normalcy. “When I was Jena’s age, I was very much in love, not with any particular girl, but with the idea of being one of them, someone popular and pretty and generally normal. And normal very much did not love me back. Every time I tried to get close to it, I got hurt.” Josephs hopes that through Jenna’s journey, her readers can learn that the truest and healthiest love is self-love and knowing when to turn away from someone or something when it is no longer meeting your needs.
CONSTELIS VOSS is a queer, anime-inspired, sci-fi novel that follows a very advanced android, Alex, who, after downloading a personality from the ’90s, discovers coincidences and patterns that seem to point to a very corrupt civilization and horrifically evil villain.
Leigh was always doing something creative when they were younger, including painting, teaching, and writing. They never gave much thought to being more than a dabbler in literary art as it was always something tied to their DnD activities and coming up with exciting stories with fellow nerds. “The actual inspiration comes from nerdy hobbies, but what kicked off sincerely considering myself an author and not just a dabbler was recognizing that the queer stories I wanted to read were hard to find or non-existent.” Much like Josephs, Leigh saw a missing piece in the publishing industry and decided to make an effort to bring more representation to the literary world.
In writing and editing CONSTELIS VOSS, Leigh began to accept their own identity as well. Their protagonist Alex is a very confused robot, and in many of the scenes where he struggles with his identity, there are themes of body dysmorphia. Then in volume three, he discusses his unhappy childhood. When rereading these chapters, the meanings started to hit Leigh on how they applied to their life. “When you work on your drafts, you reread, and sometimes things jump out at you. I’d been saying the quiet part loud for 15 years at this point. Finishing CONSTELIS VOSS and wanting to put it out into the world coincided with me coming out as trans. I took forever to be brave. Alex gave me that,” Leigh lamented.
Another significant part of Leigh’s story is how they wrote it. Josephs pointed out that the diction and sentence structure were uncommon for speculative fiction but seemed to aid the reader throughout the entire story. Leigh explained that this comes from their love of Russian lit. They cut away many of the prose and focused on simplifying the sentences. “I aimed to write sentences that most people can understand and also “bake-in” literary nods and symbolic concepts for readers who like puzzles,” they explained.
Both authors have found that though their writings are vastly different in genre and world creation, their purpose was the same. Josephs and Leigh both found refuge in the books they read growing up but wanted more diversity and representation in the publication world. They used this as their motivation to become published authors and do their part in adding more characters that can speak for and encourage readers who have yet to see themselves in a book.