Alison Evans answers some questions about their latest book Euphoria Kids. Thank you to Alison and Echo Publishing for this interview
What is the origin behind the magic book Iris has?
You know I’ve never really thought where it would have come from! I think the book is from a time long gone, perhaps from somewhere in the faery realm. I’ve always dreamed of finding some kind of magical item, like the ring in the Hobbit or the time turner in Harry Potter. And to find a magical book would be the best kind of magical item to find to me, so I decided to write about one!
Is it only trans or queer people who can see the faeries and dryads and magic around them?
That’s an interesting thought. There is probably a parallel to be drawn between the queer experience and magic. Not everyone can really understand first-hand how feels to be surrounded by other queer people when you thought you were alone for so long, like I did as a teen. I think subconsciously I might’ve been making some connection there.
Iris is made of plants, Babs is made of fire, what is Hasim made of? And what are you made of, Alison? (should we refer to Hasim as ‘the boy’?) (AE: I think perhaps as ‘the boy’)
I’ve been thinking about this for a while and honestly: I’m not sure! I thought perhaps he could be made of roses, but then I don’t know if that’s correct. The time I’ve spent with him while writing the book, he hasn’t known, and my time writing him is up. This is something I’d love to hear readers’ thoughts about.
And as for me, I’m not sure. I’ve recently been rewatching Avatar: The Last Airbender and I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of bender I would be, and I think perhaps an air bender. So that is what I’m picking to be made of!
There is a lot of drinking of tea in Euphoria Kids, what is your favourite tea and is there a particular drink you drank most while writing this book?
I love Irish breakfast, steeped for a while and with only a little tiny bit of milk. I probably drank instant coffee the most while writing this book though! I think for me, tea isn’t a work drink, it’s a drink for relaxing. I also find the process of making tea for someone a way to express love, and I think that’s why there’s a lot of tea-making going on in Euphoria Kids.
As a child did you think you would become an author? If not what did you want to be?
I almost always wanted to be an author. There was a brief moment where I thought about trying to become an electrician, because I really liked that unit in physics class, but I don’t think I could really be anything other than a writer. I’ve had a lot of jobs, I’ve been a retail worker, a barista, a cleaner, a person working in a medical locum call centre, and writing is the one I love the most. I love running workshops and speaking to readers, too. Writing helps me do so many things and meet so many people.
Iris likes magic with stones and crystals best, whereas Wendy prefers herbs. Is there a type of magic that you feel a particular connection with?
I love it all, I can’t help it. I think crystals are pretty, and I like to carry a couple around in my bag just in case, but I also am a big gardener and I love plants!
Where is your favourite place to write?
I’m lucky enough that we have a study/spare room in our apartment. This is my favourite place to write, I’ve got my desk set up so my back doesn’t hurt, it’s got my cute rainbow keyboard, it’s filled with plants, it’s got access to my kitchen so I don’t have to pay for a coffee, and my cats are there!
I think the cover image is beautiful, from left to right, who are the three figures in the middle?
It’s the best cover I’ve ever seen, I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have it be the cover for Euphoria Kids! From left to right: Babs, Iris, and the boy. You can see a little bit of fire coming from Bab’s hands and the boy is holding a green balloon. And Iris has their arms around their friends.
When did you start writing Euphoria Kids?
I started writing at the end of 2017. I had been having a rough year, mental-health wise, due to a lot of things but also because of the marriage equality plebiscite, and so I wanted to write something that had all my favourite things in it – happy trans kids, plants, magic, crystals, friendship. I wanted to write something without queer trauma. So I created some characters and a magical, kind atmosphere, and didn’t start out with a plot. I just wanted to write about these people with the atmosphere in mind. I wrote about 40,000 words, and then I paused where I was writing and started to rearrange all the scenes so that I could more clearly steer the plot to the finding of the witch. The actual writing of the book didn’t take very long, it was like a gift.
Read Libby Boas’ review of Euphoria Kids here.