Diverse Author Spotlight is a post series here on Book Deviant where I’ll introduce and interview a marginalized author! You can read the rest on this page!
Dax Murray (fey/fem/feir) is a software engineer by day but
fights demons writes queer fantasy and science fiction by moonlight. Dax creates worlds where being queer is not remarkable and where the future is held in the hands of the many instead of the few. Fey can often be found listening to the same seven songs on repeat while singing along badly, playing flute with the Capital Pride Symphonic Band, or attending ballet classes. Dax studied political science, music, and creative writing at Allegheny College in Meadville, PA; fey currently resides in Washington, DC with feir cats and snakes.
I will be bolded in AC, and Dax’s responses will be DM.
AC: Hi Dax! Thanks so much for agreeing to be on the blog today. Before we get into the regular questions, would you mind telling readers a little more about yourself and your writing?
DM: Hi Avery, thanks for having me on the blog! Don’t mind at all. I’m a software engineer by day, and do most of my writing in the evening and weekends. I got into writing at an early age and filled a ton of floppy disks with whatever my elementary school self thought was good writing. I’ve been going ever since, but prefer much better back up tech! In college I studied poetry, and would like to think even my prose is written through that lens. What really matters to me, though is that the sorts of worlds I try to build in my writing are the ones where the obstacle that the characters face will never be homophobia or transphobia.
AC: Your novel A Lake of Feathers and Moonbeams is a queer retelling. Can you discuss why you decided to write a retelling and make it queer? Was there anything special about the fairy tale that you chose?
DM: I love ballet, though I lack a lot of the grace necessary to be any good at it. I still take classes! But Swan Lake has always been my favorite ballet, and I love writing from the point of view of someone who is considered a villain. I never thought that Odile was given enough screen time, or motivation. As for why I chose to make it queer, I write what I know! I am bisexual, I am non-binary, so of course I had to write those pieces of me into Alexis and Katya.
AC: I also understand that you had a new release a few months back—Birthing Orion. Can you tell the readers about this novel?
DM: It is a poetry collection, each poem is part of the larger narrative that takes places between two celestial goddesses. I mix up terza rima and iambic pentameter and use sonnets and villanelles to tell the story of the universe’s creation and the love between a divine destroyer and a celestial creator. They are deeply flawed goddesses, with wants and needs and all those messy emotions that humans have. They are both very problematic characters, each failing to communicate basic needs and making assumptions about the other. They behave in unkind ways to each other. I wanted to write something messy but beautiful.
AC: What does writing queer stories mean to you?
DM: This is a hard question! I think there is this assumption in a lot of cis, heterosexual circles that queer stories are necessarily love stories, and must feature homophobia. A queer story, to me, is any story where the main characters are queer. Loudly, or quietly. With or without love interests, with or without the struggle of coming out or crises of identity. Any story where cis, heterosexual standards are thrown out the window.
AC: Similar to the question above, why is writing representation important to you?
DM: I don’t know another way. I don’t know how to write cis, straight characters! That’s my funny answer. My serious one is that I didn’t get to read queer retellings, I didn’t get to see myself in media as a teen. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been spared a lot of long nights crying if I could have known earlier that being bisexual wasn’t wrong. I was in college when I found the first book that had a bisexual character in it–Ash, by Malinda Lo–and it felt like a huge weight off of my shoulder. No one else should have to go through that.
AC: Do you write for anyone in specific? For yourself, for others?
DM: Mostly for myself, it’s the most selfish thing I think I do.
AC: I know that you just had Birthing Orion out last October, but do you have anything else in the works? Any current projects, or ideas that you hope to get published soon?
DM: The project I am working on now is a bit large, I am starting to think I took on more than I realized I would be taking on. I am making a secondary world fantasy trilogy and getting lost in the finer details. I want to explore what communism and socialism and anarchism and other leftist political and economic systems might look like in a fantasy world, and how to collectivize the status of a ‘chosen one’. While working on the main plot for the trilogy, I wrote a series of short stories to try to flesh out some of the ideas I was toying with. The short story collection is scheduled for the end of the year right now, but that might change.
AC: And finally—what are three books or authors that you’d like to recommend to readers? If you don’t want to, you don’t have to limit yourself to three.
DM: If you are into lyrical yet concise prose with vibrant metaphors and poignant examinations of power structures, you should read literally everything by Benjanun Sriduangkaew, but especially Winterglass. If you like your fantasy blended with the everyday, stories about family and love and all wrapped up in achingly haunting descriptions, you need to read Anna-Marie McLemore, especially Blanca & Roja. Instead of a third book or author, I’m going to recommend a bunch! You should check out The Kraken Collective, an indie-author collective made up of a lot of queer authors doing interesting things in spec fic. Verse novels, hope-punk, superheroes, elves…there’s a lot!
AC: Thank you again for being on the blog! It was a delight to have you on.
DM: Thanks so much for having me!
Thanks for stopping by!
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