Happy pride month!
I have something special to commemorate this occasion, a book I’ve wanted to share my review about for a while but couldn’t help but save it since I was so close to June!
Under the pen G.S. Lucent, L.B. Shimaira (today’s interviewee!) and co-writer Godhand wrote this surreal horror featuring two female leads who are so in love that even sleep can’t stop them from being together.
Devon is ex-military, suffering from PTSD and physical hardship in the form of debilitating seizures. Tamesis is a pharmacist, working hard to make ends meet and take care of her girlfriend not only physically but emotionally too.
Common fxf tropes are flipped on their heads, and both characters are able to breathe and be who they are in this space, and I am so here for it. I also love that their sexuality isn’t a plot point. It’s so nice to see lgbtq characters exist without having to adhere to labels or go through a bunch of shit having to defend themselves or have a big coming out… there is a place for those stories in the world, for sure, but I love seeing lgbtq characters normalized and living in other genres.
LIKE HORROR. Cuz damn this book is scary!
Okay, so the main premise of this story is that Devon and Tamesis lucid dream together. They’re able to leave the hardship of the real world behind and kick ass in their dreams, controlling it and what they look like and manipulating the world to their will. Its really cool to see two characters that feel so helpless in the real world (Devon because of her illnesses, and Tamesis because she can’t always help Devon with her illnesses) be able to find empowerment in the dream world.
Everything is sunshine and roses and beauty until a dark and smart asshole shows up to mess up their party, and it seems he is hell-bent on coming back for more and more. It’s quickly clear that he can also control the dreams, and is hella powerful to boot. He’s got it out for Devon and Tamesis, and it seems like he’ll stop at nothing to turn their dreams into nightmares.
In true Shimaira fashion, this gets terrifying and visceral. None of her books are for the faint of heart, but we’re not looking at They Call HIm Lucius level of gory violence here. (Side note: have you read that book? I seriously made it to chapter four before I had to yeet out of there. This does not happen to me often, haha! I legit challenge you to make it farther than I did!)
So between them fighting this guy in their dreams, and dealing with the stresses of real life between financial trouble, Devon’s illness, and Tamesis’ sister’s marital issues, things are damn difficult for these two. I’m not gonna spoil anything. Cuz you just need to read it.
However, it’s not spoiling anything to just gush over how romantic this book is. Seriously, if you end up spotting any of my comments throughout the chapters most of my reactions are just emojis expressing my deep love for the relationship between these characters. Half of the book I couldn’t even put into words what I was feeling it was just emoji city. Much worship hands and sobbing emojis.
Should that be a new thing? Micro-emoji-reviews? I’ll drop mine in the comments. 😉
Anyway. This story is unique, beautifully-written, intense, visceral, and refuses to leave my brain. I’m still hungover from it and I read it quite a while ago. I’ve actually read two of Shimaira’s books since this one and I still can’t stop thinking about it, haha! (Well, I read My Lord, I ATTEMPTED to read Lucius…)
So 100%, 10/10 recommend reading this. You will not regret it. The whole story is such a rollercoaster ride and the plot is so tight and well-crafted that it will grip you right until the ending where you can emoji-blast with me. I fully expect you to respond to all of my emojis with more emojis. Let us shower Shimaira with love.
BUT FIRST! I have an interview with her to share! So you can start your love-showering below…
Emily: Hello, Shimaira, and welcome! Tell me about yourself and your writing journey.
Shimaira: I’m Shimaira, I live in the Netherlands and currently work as a research technician helping to develop vaccines. I’m married and have a kid. I’m autistic, have PTSD, and I’m queer (she/they), pan grey-asexual and idemromantic (for those unknown with the terms, grey-asexual means I only rarely experience sexual attraction and idemromantic means I fall on the aromantic spectrum (no/seldom experiencing romantic attraction) but I use other indicators (closeness, time together) than internal feelings to consider something romantic attraction (but on the inside, for me, it feels no different than the kind of attraction I’d feel towards a best friend). Also, I’m polyamorous, meaning I can love/be in a relationship with multiple people at the same time (with everyone aware and consenting of course, otherwise it’s just cheating)
I already wrote little stories as a kid, but those were basically just squiggly lines. I started writing for “real” when I was in highschool, thanks to my friends who were into fanfics. So yep, I too began with fanfics (Inu Yasha, and then specifically Sesshomaru fics lol). I never completed the fic I started on and instead switched to an original story, version 0 of Millennium. After 10k words of that, I binned it and rewrote it. Millennium (as v1) is what got posted to wattpad eventually, but it was drafted again a few years ago (after having been completed at 140k words) and I am now writing it yet again, from scratch, as a v2 I first posted my stuff to Quizilla and fanfiction dot net, then on DeviantArt, and switched to Wattpad back in 2013. I began writing several of my dreams and nightmares as short stories, and several serial dreams became the novellette They Call Him Lucius, my first longer work I completed (as back then, Millennium v1 was still ongoing). Lucius got featured by Wattpad in the summer of 2013 and I wrote a sequel, and later a third part, making it a full novel. (With the latter part being completed at the end of 2014.) I started the novel My Lord in December 2013 and completed it by July 2016 (with some rewrites along the way). That novel got edited some more and was published on Halloween 2020. I also co-wrote a novel with a friend over the summer of 2016.
Emily: You’re a busy bee! Tell me about your process, from the inception of an idea all the way through to a finished draft.
Shimaira: For my short stories, it is basically retelling the dream/nightmare, sometimes adding small things for coherency. After I finish, I reread and edit, and then I post. For longer works, I used to be a pure pantser and just… write and see where the characters take me. These days, I try to work out the world a bit more and try to make a bullet point list of plot points before I start writing (and because I remain a pantser at heart, the characters might still end up going NOPE in regards to the outline and I adjust it along the way) I reread a previous chapter before writing, and will reread bits as I write. Full reread and edit before posting too. And well, that’s it to be honest.
Emily: That’s awesome! It sounds really organic but also keeps you writing regularly. So you seem to really enjoy the dark and macabre. In Sickness and In Hell is super romantic and has all the feels, but also is just terrifying, both visually and emotionally. What draws you to this type of genre?
Shimaira: The terror part just comes kinda naturally to me I guess, also because of how I let my own dreams and nightmares inspire me (like for InSainH, the scene where Tamesis first meets Elymas was an actual nightmare of mine) The romance bits are by far not my strong point (as I have a sort of resentment towards standard romantic stuff) and I just go for understanding and respect I guess? Things I value in any relationship. I tend to only enjoy romance if it’s dark. Why? I just love the dark stuff lol
Emily: I hear that! You’ve got an awesome hybrid platform between Wattpad and Gurt Dog Press, what’s it like doing both?
Shimaira: Pretty awesome. I love wattpad for that reader connection–it’s just so amazing to read comments and interact with your readers as they go through your story. For Gurt Dog, it is being a published author that is just such a dream come true! Holding your own book, with your words inside the cover with your name on it… that’s truly something special.
Emily: Do you have advice for those that are looking into traditional publishing?
Shimaira: Do your research. Know who you are querying and that you should never pay to get a book published. Vanity presses are basically scams! When you get to the contract stage, have someone with knowledge of contracts look it over so you don’t end up with a bad deal (and don’t be afraid to point out things you disagree with or that are unclear). Don’t let the dream of being published make you rash and sign before proper checking and being certain you have a good deal–with proper clauses for ending a contract too. Also… know that being published will be scary. Your book will be out there and people will judge it. Be prepared for negative reviews too.
Emily: This is all fantastic advice! So aside from being a prolific author you also have a (badass) job and are a mom. How do you balance all of those things?
Shimaira: I don’t? XD I barely have a social life, even before the pandemic, and there is a reason I write slow despite how many words I can put out in an hour when I do get the time to sit down and write.
Emily: Fair enough haha! I think it’s rare for writers to be super social—I know a few but it seems most of us are content to have spaces like this where we can interact with people while multitasking and working creatively at the same time. So a few rapid fire fun questions: do you have any pets? What’s your favourite movie and why? Aaaand if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Shimaira: I have fish (including a huge “monster” of a pleco) and a cat, Loki. I have no single favourite movie. I got a list of favs from Nightmare on Elm Street and Hellraiser, to Beetlejuice and Beauty and the Beast (RL version), and The Fountain and Donnie Darko. Also, Suckerpunch… and if I spend a few more minutes this list will get longer lol You can probably guess why I like all these: dark themes all over.
Emily: YES! Nobody ever talks about Suckerpunch I loooove that movie!
Shimaira: As for the only food… either this potato oven dish or a rice with veggies dish. I’d honestly also take nutrition into account when deciding this.
Emily: Okay one more! What are some of your favourite wattpad reads?
Shimaira: The Folveshch by FinnyH is a great horror story Goda’s Slave by Pandouro is a dystopian lesbian fantasy with such amazing worldbuilding and depth I had some others to list but it seems they are no longer on Wattpad…
Emily: Omggg I love Finny! White Meat was one of the first books I ever read on Wattpad!
Shimaira: He’s a gem. He made the My Lord cover.
Emily: That’s amazing! It’s such a gorgeous cover.
Thank you so much for joining me and answering all of my super invasive questions! 🙂 Readers, if you’re looking for amazing fiction featuring diverse characters and lots of spine tingles and stomach flips then head on over to Shimaira’s site and shower her books with your reads and attention!