Everyone, welcome L. T. Ward to our Contributor Interview series, a routine blog feature that introduces you to the wonderful writers whose work will be featured in our upcoming anthology project.
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“L. T. Ward’s writing style shines new light on the difficult emotions that all of us have felt. By doing so, she effectively reminds us there is hope even in darkness.”
— Lizzie Thornton, editor for Cardigan Press
[E] Welcome, Liz, to our cozy Cardigan home. We’d love to dive right in and ask: What genres/age ranges do you typically gravitate toward in your writing?
I came to writing at thirty-eight years-old, in January 2019. At that time, I had no idea what genre was, having been educated in mathematics. My goal was simply to write out the weird story that was in my head, so I did. After it was written, I discovered it was Young Adult speculative fiction: a label for my whopping 400-page novel that should never leave my Google Docs (it’s being rewritten, but that first version was awful).
I had to let the definitions go or I was going to have a full-on breakdown. Clarity struck me one day: how can I know a genre isn’t for me if I never write? Or at least sample it to see if there’s a purpose for me within it? I can’t, so I refuse to limit myself. When people ask what sort of writer I am, there is only one answer: multi-genre.
Over the last two years, I have been experimenting more and more with age groups and genres. I have published words as well as works-in-progress in Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult fiction. I tend to lean towards speculative fiction, literary fiction, and horror, but poetry is steadily stealing my time. Every genre is fair game though, and I mean every genre.
While the labels of my work vary, I’m still the same author behind all of them, and I put the same thing in every piece: me. As a reader, the best moments I’ve had were ones where I saw myself within the works, where I had an emotional reaction because I connected so hard at that pain, that want, that humor. In turn, as a writer, I want to connect with readers, honestly and sincerely. Visceral reactions between writer and reader are a means for human connection that can be so profound, it inspires. It is why we quote beloved works centuries later, stitching them on pillows or making memes, as reminders that something once struck us so hard, we had to pause, remember to breathe, then recover from the impact of emotions caused by a few simple words strung together.
[E] I believe the legacy aspect of writing is something we all strive for, consciously or not. Your focus on making connections with readers must make each story you write particularly special. What unique emotional beats did you focus on for your Cardigan Press submission?
I suffer from depression and anxiety and was recently diagnosed as having bipolar II. Mental illness is frequently vilified in the media and society. It’s damaging to those who suffer from it, (i.e. myself and many others). So when I wrote Acedia, avoiding that false narrative meant writing depression as a creature that the protagonist hated, loved, accepted. My depression is not good for me, but it’s a part of me, just as much as writing saves me by being an outlet for my overwhelming emotions. As with all of my work, Acedia honors those who are a bit different by trying to shine a light on their good qualities which tend to be overshadowed by their struggles.
Everyone struggles. Everyone. Over the course of my two years as a writer, the greatest reward has been having readers see themselves within my works and say, “I saw myself. I thought no one else felt that way. I’m not alone.”
No one should ever feel alone or ashamed for the hardships in their lives, yet many of us do. In Acedia, I aimed to advocate that if you suffer depression, whatever it is that sustains you might temporarily get blocked up, but it will come back. It’s not like the movies where you fall so hard that it’s impossible to recover. Most people have bouts of depression, hurt during them, then go on to have good things happen for them. Who you are is wonderful, and when the calm sets back in, you’ll find yourself again.
[E] We are all so appreciative of your transparency and willingness to bring such issues to our attention with a raw but hopeful voice. How can we give back and show you support at this time?
If you’re interested in learning more about me or connecting with me about writerly things, you can find me on Twitter. I’ve recently started an account on Instagram as a part of research for an adult literary fiction novel I’m working on. You can follow there to help me with what I hope becomes my first published novel. In early February, my website ltwardwriter.com will launch. There, you’ll be able to find my previously published work and upcoming projects, as well as an adult literary fiction short story called Fight for Me.
[E] Thank you for sharing so much about your journey and for giving us an honest representation of what it’s like to be an author facing so many challenges with stigma.
Everyone, please show your support by giving Liz a follow!
Do you know Liz? Comment below and let others know what Liz’s writing means to you. If this is your first time meeting Liz, say hello!