Interview With Eric Andrew Satchwill

Eric Andrew Satchwill is a writer living in his home town of Calgary, Alberta. Trans and unabashedly queer, he loves nothing more than to share his experiences, and learn about the experiences of others. He works predominantly in the realm of fantasy, but isn’t too choosy when a good story strikes. Eric took three years at the Alberta College of Art and Design and the visual arts will always have some place in his practice.

He has performed in the Miscellaneous Youth Network’s Fake Mustache drag king troupe for a number of years, as well as Demonika’s Metal A-Gore-Gore and Demonika’s Symphony Of Horrors 3. Exhibitions that he has shown in include The Artist Collective Event #2 at The Artlife Gallery, The Crysalis Project hosted by the Miscellaneous Youth Network at Art Central, and History of Wearable Art exhibition in Gallery 371 at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

1.       Are you a hoopy frood?

The hoopiest frood to ever sass Ford Prefect. I even know where my towel is. (It’s hanging on the shower door.)

2.       What’s your favorite scene from any of the five books in Douglas Adam’s Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy?

I have many. The first that comes to mind is the scene where Arthur is teaching Fenchurch to fly, which of course brings me to what they did very near an airplane later on… Another favourite is when Arthur is on prehistoric Earth, decides he may as well go mad, and soon finds himself chasing a chesterfield with Ford. And let’s not forget the bowl of petunias thinking, “Oh no, not again.” Actually, I think the bowl of petunias is my favourite character.

3.       If you could spend a day (without interfering in their timeline) on any Starship in the Trek universe, what ship, crew, and time would you choose?

Enterprise D, Picard’s crew, pretty much any time Q shows up. Bonus points for being on the bridge when the Continuum turns him human and drops him there. Let’s face it, I’m a Next Gen. man. It’s what I grew up watching, and the first Star Trek movie I saw in theatres was First Contact. I have an action figure of the blue-shirted Lt. Picard from the episode Tapestry. I have a picture of myself, dressed as Data, with Brent Spiner. I used to wear a headband over my eyes so I could be like Geordi. Drop me in the middle of that crew, and I’ll be happy. Just please make it when Beverly Crusher is the ship’s doctor; I was never fond of the other one.

4.       I’m writing these questions about an hour before the Mars Curiosity landing. Tell me how it goes, will you?

One moment while I look that up… (for being so plugged in, I’m woefully out of the loop in some things.) From the looks of things, everything worked perfectly. The landing went off without a hitch, and Curiosity is already sending back colour photographs. It’s kind of exciting, isn’t it? However much the potential dangers of space travel scare me, I’ve always wanted to be an extra-planetary colonist, and missions like this are the first step.

5.       Where does the name “Babseth” come from?

To get to the root of that, we have to go back, oh, fourteen years or so. I was in junior high and trying to figure out who the hell I was, and one of the strategies I was developing involved creating separate sub-personae to look at different aspects of myself. I was also, for some reason, trying to design the ‘perfect’ chimera-type meld of animals involving earth, air, and water creatures: Bird, Bat, Fish, Tiger, and Human. I took the initials, threw in some vowels to make it pronounceable, and ended up with Babfath. She ended up as my nurturing, mother-type self.

Later on, I swapped out ‘Fish’ for ‘Snake’ to create Babsath, who turned out to be personified rage. As I explored my male side, the second ‘A’ became an ‘E’, and Babsath became Babseth. By this time my roster of sub-personae had grown to at least five and my self-obsession–it that direction at least–was beginning to wind down. Some of my selves had made their way into my online handles, but even that trend was dying down. Babseth had become sort of a catch-all. I chose it for my Twitter handle, consequently making Twitter probably the last place online where I don’t go by my actual name.

For the curious, the core roster of sub-personae is as follows:

Alea: the child

Babfath: the mother

Babsath: rage

Trixingee: hyper-active sociability

Dyceria: fear and despair

6.       How unabashedly queer are you? Is there such a thing as bashedly queer?

Pretty unabashedly, to the point where I sometimes have to explain that yes, I like guys, but I like girls too so no, you wearing a Doctor Who shirt isn’t the only way to get me to appreciate your breasts (not that the shirt hurts your chances any, of course). I’ve made a decision to be out, to be open, and to be transparent with my experiences. That’s why I have ‘queer’ in my Twitter bio, and why I write about it on my blog.

I’m tempted to equate being bashedly queer with being closeted, though that’s probably not fair. In any case, there’s more than enough shaming and homophobia to make a lot of queer folk uncomfortable and timid in their identities. It saddens me, really. There are so many people holding themselves back, hiding who they are out of fear when they could own it, and get out of their own way to become whole, healthy people making the most of their talents.

7.       What’s the most fun you’ve ever had performing as a drag king?

The most fun I ever had may have been performing as ‘The Other Guy in Wham’ opposite James Dean performing as George Michaels. Just putting together the outfits was a blast! Unfortunately, this seems to have been before Fake Mustache began putting videos of the performances on YouTube.

The most fun I’ve ever had besides that, would be this one: Eric Erikson – February 2010 Early Show

8.       Can human sexuality be divided into heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual, or is it more complicated?

Oh, far more complicated. From pansexual to asexual and every other axis, if you were to have a label for all the different ways human sexuality can be experienced, you’d need a label for every single person on this Earth. That’s part of why I use ‘queer’ for myself; my own sexuality is far too complicated for a more specific label. At my simplest: if I’m attracted to someone–whatever their gender–and they’re attracted to me, then there’s the possibility for a relationship. What I’m looking for is partnership and long-term commitment. Whatever form that takes is secondary.

9.       How would you explain the difference between Transgender and Transsexual to a young person who has lived a very sheltered life?

On a technical level, ‘transexual’ is someone making physical changes to their body to reflect their gender, while ‘transgender’ is someone presenting as the gender they identify with rather than the one dictated by their anatomy without feeling the need to change their body. ‘Transgender’ can include identifying solidly as one gender or the other, a state of being ‘mostly this, but also a little that’, or even being fluid within the gender spectrum, at times identifying as more male and at times as more female.

The word ‘transexual’ has, however, become sensationalized in the media, painting it as some strange, deviant kink, that most people feel uncomfortable with the term. ‘Transgender’ has, in some cases, been stretched to cover ‘transexual’ with a more neutral-sounding term, and more often only the prefix ‘trans’ is used, sometimes expressed as ‘trans*’ to leave the final interpretation up to the individual. Whatever the case, ‘trans woman/girl’ always refers to someone whose expressed gender is female, and ‘trans man/boy’ always refers to someone whose expressed gender is male.

Please note that neither one has anything to do with sexual orientation. Being gay, straight, or bi is a separate issue from being trans. Also note that different people may define any of the above terms differently; I’m only presenting my understanding and usage of them.

10.   On twitter you describe yourself as a Christian. Is it difficult for a LGBTQ person to find a home church with a congregation that accepts them?

I know that it can be, and I was afraid that for me, it would be, but that wasn’t my experience. I came back to my church during the Advent season in 2010. My mom wanted me to come sing in the choir, saying they needed more male voices. (They only had one baritone at the time. My joining made it two; still no tenors.) I was nervous; this was the same church I’d gone to as a teenage girl. People would remember that. They were Christian which meant what I was was wrong–or so I assumed. Instead, I was welcomed back with open arms and real joy, and no one condemned me for who I was. I had to rethink my whole view of Christianity, and I’m glad I did. I would still be cut off from an incredible faith if I hadn’t.

It’s true that there are churches, sects, and individuals who don’t accept queer folk–or in some cases any folk who deviate from their rigid ideas of what’s ‘right’. It can be difficult to find a good, accepting congregation, and that saddens me. Not just because it makes it harder for queer folk to find a place where they belong, but because these congregations are missing out on some incredible people because they can’t see past a label or an imagined sin. They’re the ones missing out of the full glory of Christianity, a faith that began with the outcast and the disenfranchised in mind.

11.   Although it’s against the rules for Inspirational Romance to include pre-marital sex, could it and should it?

Knowing nothing about the genre, I’d still say that it could and that it should, if the story calls for it. Being inspirational doesn’t come from starting from a place of purity and perfection; it comes from finding greater meaning and making a difference in the world as it is, and the world as it is includes pre-marital sex. It happens, and I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that. What matters is how it’s dealt with.

12.   I’m writing a series of Faith-Based Romances with GLBTQ characters. I know that small e-pubs can serve small niche markets, but is this just too small a niche?

I don’t think any niche is too small, or at least that you’d have to get into some really obscure genre combinations to find one. What’s more, I think faith-based romances with GLBTQ characters are necessary. These are stories that need to be told, because there are people who need to hear them, who need something that they can relate to.

My own work typically involves queer characters and faith-based themes, even if I come at them from unusual angles. Fallen Things–especially early on–would be a hard sell as being Christian-friendly, but I feel it is and that it’s a story that needs to be told from this direction. I have a sci-fi YA waiting on a back burner with a trans character who discovers his faith while living on a strictly regulated ship with enforced atheism. Another short story (provisionally titled Morality Hammer until I can come up with something less foolish) involves a devoutly Christian woman taking in a trans girl who was kicked out of her home.

What I’m trying to say is, go for it. Write it, get it published. Especially with the reach of the internet today, there will be a market for this kind of story.

13.   I read in your interview with Jenny you mention a collection of 80’s music. What were the top ten songs to come out of that decade?

The top ten over all, or my top ten in my collection? Because my list shifts a lot, and my list sometimes has more to do with what songs fit my characters than anything else. I’ll just go ahead and give you my own top ten.

10) Tribute To Tino by Taco. It’s just such a fun song, really, and how could you not like a song about Valentino?

9) Wuthering Heights cover by Pat Benatar. I actually have two versions of this song, but the Kate Bush version came out in the 70’s, so I’m getting it on the list under Pat Benatar. One of these days I’ll get around to reading the actual book, too.

8) Bluebird by Electric Light Orchestra. I actually have an outline for a screenplay, built entirely around the album Secret Messages, about a man getting life advice beamed directly into his head by an alien with a twisted sense of humour. If I remember correctly, this is where the alien, Terence, is trying to convince the guy to trust him.

7) Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper. This song perfectly describes the relationship between two of my main characters in Fallen Things. It makes me feel for them just thinking about it.

6) Rock The Casbah by The Clash. I always thought that the only way London Calling could have been a better album was if it included Rock The Casbah.

5) Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty. What more do I need to say, really? It’s Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty.

4) Walking On A Thin Line by Huey Lewis and the News. This is another character-related song. No story is complete without a really broken, tortured character, and this song describes mine perfectly.

3) Edge Of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks. Another character relationship song because again, no story is complete without at least one character having a giant blind-spot in the shape of another character.

2) Close To The Borderline by Billy Joel. If there was ever a song to describe all the anxieties and frustrations of everyday life and how hard it can be to keep together through it all, this is that song. It’s very cathartic to listen to over and over and over again.

1) Watching The Detectives by Elvis Costello. I think I love this song because it taps into the same dark side of me that my writing does. It lets me explore some terrible, broken scenarios, enjoy things that I could never–and would never–be able to in real life.

14.   Also in your interview with Jenny Lyn you mentioned that you got your start in writing doing NaNoWriMo. How many NaNo’s have you done, and how many have you won?

I have done two: 2010 and 2011. The first year I didn’t win, but it got me solidly into writing, which was my main goal. The second year, I won on the last day. Judging by the amount of typos from that day, I think I won by button-mashing. I vaguely remember running through our regional chat room periodically, shouting my wordcount, and going back to writing furiously.

15.   What are your hopes and plans for your Urban Fantasy Fallen Things?

Fallen Things will be a series of several books–though I’m not sure exactly how many. I have a vague idea of where the series ends; I’m just not sure how long it will take to get there. One way or another, I will get it published, though I’m hoping to go the agent-to-traditional-publisher route. Especially since it’s my first novel, I want to have someone in my corner who knows how to publish a book properly rather than bumping around in the dark trying to figure out formatting, printing, and marketing all on my own.

16.   What is the most memorable (or disturbing) thing Tiffany Reisz has ever tweeted?

Oh dear… you’re expecting me to remember the content of tweets? Oh! I have one! (And then had to look it up so I could quote it properly.) “I’ve never been a Dominatrix and I’ve never been a nun. Why do I have to tell this to people? Where do these rumors come from? #lifeisweird”

And of course she had to tweet “RELEASE THE KRAKKAN!” right as I finished the interview… See, this is why I have trouble remembering just one: all her tweets are fantastic!

17.   When you saw Tiffany’s tweet about Felt Tips, did you instantly think “Yes! I have something perfect!” or did you ponder it a while?

It was an instant “I have something for that!” It was almost bizarre how it worked out. I had this story sitting around gathering metaphorical dust, and she had this anthology that fit perfectly. It’s not often that one can say, “Office supply themed erotica? I have the perfect story for you! Let me just give it a once-over for typos, and I’ll send it right along.” Especially when one typically writes other genres.

18.   Besides your computers, what is your favorite electronic or digital writing tool?

Scrivener. Definitely Scrivener. It’s my favourite writing program, excellent for organizing the scenes and chapters of a novel, and I’ve even taken to writing my short stories in Scrivener rather than OpenOffice. I can keep all the notes, research, and related writing in one project file, up to and including the body of my (eventual) query. I love it. It makes me so, so happy.

19.   What is your favorite non-electronic writing tool?

Sharpie Pens, not to be confused with the markers (thought the markers are brilliant in their own right). I do a lot of my editing on paper, often writing right over the previous draft, and Sharpie pens have everything I need in an editing pen: they’re light-fast, they don’t bleed through, their ink doesn’t run if the page gets wet, and they are, of course, felt tipped. Bonus, they come in almost as many colours as the markers themselves.

20.   Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

I’ll try to answer this without peeking or looking anything up, because apparently I like a challenge. Also, if I have a superpower, it’s absorbing trivia from fandoms I’m only tangentially associated with.

From what I recall, in the original version of the original movie, Han shot first, and this is generally accepted as canon. I also understand that many of the things that made the original Star Wars movies so great were things added or improvised by the actors, and not part of George Lucas’s original vision. I hear about him ‘rewriting history’ in various ways trying to ‘correct’ the canon, and I think he’s a fool.

I understand wanting creative control as a writer. I really do. But when someone else comes up with something that actually improves the story, especially in the formative stages, I say take it and run with it. As writers, we’re here to serve the story, not the other way around. It is possible to take input from others or work collaboratively without compromising our creative integrity.

I know that if I’d held on to my original ideas about how my books should play out, they wouldn’t be half as strong as they are now, and that strength is because of the insight other’s have brought to my work. They notice things about my character’s motivations that I don’t, but instead of getting petty and defensive, I look at what they’re saying. If it makes sense and works for the story, I go with it.

I think George Lucas would do well to do the same. So: if it serves the story better–and I’m given to believe it does–Han shot first. And that, as they say, is that.

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About AmyBeth Inverness

A writer by birth, a redhead by choice.
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1 Response to Interview With Eric Andrew Satchwill

  1. Mark H says:

    Great interview! I know Eric through NaNoWriMo, but I never knew he shared my passion for TNG.

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