Sep 14 • 51M

Arizona Equals Vanessa

In this week's episode of the podcast, listen to an interview with local writer and entrepreneur Vanessa Marie, author of Disability: A Writer's Guide to Creating Diverse Characters

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Arizona Equals is a conversational interview podcast chronicling the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ Arizonans. Listen to new episodes weekly on Wednesdays, featuring conversations with queer people living in Arizona.

Vanessa Marie is an Arizona-based, queer writer and publisher. In this interview, we talk about her career as a substance abuse counselor, her decision to leave Christianity, and her path to accepting her bisexuality.

Links for Additional Context

Arizona Equals is a conversational interview podcast rooted in the idea that stories have power. Each episode, we sit down with an LGBTQ+ person living in Arizona to talk about their community ties and experiences in the state. Visit our website to listen to the full archive or to sign up to be a guest on a future episode of the podcast.

Full Episode Transcript

00;00;00;13 - 00;00;27;09

Jeanne

Hey, thanks for listening to the Arizona Equals Conversation. I'm Jeanne Woodbury. I'm the policy and communications director at Equality Arizona and the host of this podcast. Each week on the show, I sit down and talk with an LGBTQ+ person living in Arizona. With each interview, I try to capture a picture of my guest as a person at the center of a network of relationships.

00;00;27;27 - 00;00;55;13

Jeanne

For today's guest, Vanessa, part of her network is Equality Arizona. She's one of our most active volunteers, and it's really been a joy to work with her. She's a person who's always searching, who questions the conclusions that are presented to her and who has a deep motivation to make a difference and to help others. If you'd like to join our team of volunteers, just visit EqualityArizona.org/volunteer.

00;00;56;06 - 00;01;35;06

Jeanne

If you're listening to this episode on the date of its release, it's September 14th, which means there's just under a month until early voting begins in Arizona and a little bit less than two months until Election Day. At Equality Arizona, this is one of our busiest times of the year, and we could really use your support. But for now, I'll let Vanessa introduce herself and get the conversation started.

00;01;39;24 - 00;02;07;09

Vanessa

So I'm Vanessa. I go by Vanessa Marie on many online spaces. I am a YA fantasy writer, fantasy, paranormal, and horror writer and book publisher. And my pronouns are she/her, and I'm excited for this interview today.

00;02;07;18 - 00;02;31;26

Jeanne

Thanks. Well, thanks for being on the show with me today. We met, I think, the first time at one of the Spectrum Academy events, which was a blast. I think that was actually maybe the first Spectrum Academy event we did. And so I wanted to get a sense of, you know, how did you find out about that event and what's your, kind of, experience finding community spaces in Arizona?

00;02;33;00 - 00;03;41;15

Vanessa

I think I was just, at the time, looking for different things to get involved with, with the whole Roe v Wade being overturned and everything, and wanting to get more into learning about politics, and kind of getting involved in different organizations I've never been much of a political person before, but as the years have been going by and things just seem to get worse and worse and worse I'm like, okay, I should probably try to, you know, do something to like, try to get my voice heard or, you know, do something to work on making a change.

00;03;41;28 - 00;04;14;26

Vanessa

And so so I was looking for, I think I was looking for events about the whole Roe v Wade situation. And I think that's how I found out about Equality Arizona was through that event with ACLU, because ACLU I know had different things going on that I was looking through and I signed up for a few different things that were doing.

00;04;15;18 - 00;04;23;20

Vanessa

And I showed up for the town hall and heard about Equality Arizona and the Spectrum Academy. And I think that's how.

00;04;24;00 - 00;04;49;21

Jeanne

Oh, that's great. Yeah. I remember just after the Dobbs decision came out, there was an explosion of people looking for a way to make a difference. Right. There were a lot of rallies. There were a lot of people volunteering for the citizen initiative for a period of time. And I think for a lot of people, that was the moment where they were like, oh, yeah, this is this is bad and I have to do something about it.

00;04;50;04 - 00;04;59;28

Jeanne

You were saying that for you, it's been kind of like a multi-year process of just like, oh, yeah, I have to make my own change in the world, right?

00;05;00;20 - 00;05;34;27

Vanessa

Yeah. Oh, yeah. And I'm still, I've still been trying to figure out how exactly I want to go about doing that. That's something I've still been working on and talking about with, um, with my therapist. Cause I'm, I also have ADHD, so I tend to jump around into different things depending on my interests at the moment and my passions at the moment.

00;05;36;23 - 00;06;14;21

Vanessa

And so I, I've always been a writer. I've always loved to write, and I've always loved to tell stories and write stories. And so I have my own book publishing company that I self-publish through. And I knew that was going to be one of the ways I wanted to kind of make a difference would be through books and stories and writing my stories.

00;06;15;09 - 00;06;51;18

Vanessa

But as things kept progressing, I would be telling my therapist, but I feel like I need to do something more or something like, bigger. But I wasn't sure what. Because if you know, if you know writers and stories, it can take a long time just to get one story, one book completed, and done and out. And I was like, I want something that I can you know, see that progress faster.

00;06;51;24 - 00;06;53;27

Jeanne

Oh, yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense to me.

00;06;54;04 - 00;07;18;08

Vanessa

Yeah. And so that was something I was telling her. I'm like, I don't know how to get involved. Other, you know, besides writing books and stuff, I'm not sure where to start. So just, you know, kind of got online and started doing some research and trying to find organizations.

00;07;18;08 - 00;07;25;25

Jeanne

That's great. With your writing and publishing, how did you get into that work, and how long have you been doing that?

00;07;27;19 - 00;07;58;20

Vanessa

With the writing? I've always loved writing since I was a kid, so I've been writing stories since I was a kid. But as far as actually doing as seriously as work and publishing that started a couple years ago, actually. So I started my publishing company in 2020, summer of 2020, in the middle of the pandemic.

00;08;00;07 - 00;08;06;29

Jeanne

Yeah. Was that connected? Like, here's the pandemic, here's what I'm going to do, or just a coincidence?

00;08;07;09 - 00;08;59;04

Vanessa

No, it was, I think, more just, you know, I have, at this moment in time trying to figure out what I want to do next. Like, where do I want to focus next? And so, you know, because I was — before, I was a counselor, substance abuse counselor, um, for a few years and then I left that field in 2018, partly due to health reasons, and then also just wanting a change.

00;08;59;05 - 00;09;11;00

Vanessa

That's the ADHD part, which I didn't realize until I got my diagnosis, but yeah, that, wanting the newness and change.

00;09;11;07 - 00;09;22;00

Jeanne

Well, and I can imagine working in substance abuse counseling that, over a long period of time there could be, you know, an effect, like a kind of taxing effect of that work.

00;09;22;15 - 00;09;56;13

Vanessa

Yeah. Yeah. And so I was also getting more sick, quite a bit, mainly because I don't tend to listen to my body when it says to take a break and rest. And so I tend to end up doing more than I should. Um, so yeah, that's why I — it was partly for health reasons as well. But after I left, that was in 2018.

00;09;56;13 - 00;10;31;28

Vanessa

And then I tried to do some different freelance work for a while doing like some copywriting and website copy, and then I had a mentor at that time that asked, you know, you're so passionate about the publishing and the books, why don't you just do that? And it took me a little bit of time, but I, that was kind of the push that made me go, okay, I'm just going to go for it.

00;10;31;28 - 00;10;48;12

Vanessa

I'm going to do it. And that's when I started the publishing in 2020. I started the publishing company officially; did the LLC and everything.

00;10;49;00 - 00;11;08;04

Jeanne

That's so cool. I think independent publishing can look like a lot of different things, right? Because like you were saying before, like, making your voice heard is really important to you in terms of making a difference in the world. And I think a lot of people approach independent publishing that way. Right. They're marginalized from the publishing industry, the mainstream publishing industry in one way or another.

00;11;08;14 - 00;11;29;05

Jeanne

And they want to create their own way of doing it, not just their own publishing house, but they have an idea of how to do the work that's different because of the experience they've had. And so I wanted to learn a little bit about, well, first of all, what's the name of your publishing company? And then for you running it, you know, what's the day to day?

00;11;29;06 - 00;11;31;12

Jeanne

How do you make things happen?

00;11;33;12 - 00;12;13;05

Vanessa

Um, kind of want the name of it right now is Hananiah Publishing, but it will, I am going to be rebranding and changing the name once I figure out a new name that I want, because the name that I came up with, Hananiah Publishing, that was back when I was still a Christian. And so, um, Hananiah means "God will provide" and I have since left Christianity.

00;12;13;14 - 00;13;15;18

Vanessa

So yeah, I want to rebrand it eventually. So in terms of the day to day, like right now my publishing company is just, I just publish my books. So I haven't published other authors yet so there's not too much in terms of the day to day, what needs to be done. However, I am working on a project which I don't want to say too much because it is still in the initial beginning stages, but I am working on a project to do an anthology book with other authors as well.

00;13;16;16 - 00;13;58;26

Vanessa

Other queer authors and queer voices,

Jeanne

Oh, that's really cool.

Vanessa,

Yeah, I'm trying to figure out the planning for that and how to go about putting that together. I do have a couple other writer friends that are interested in helping me with this, so that's what I'm going to be working on and hopefully I'd like to have that anthology come out not next year, but probably the year after, during Pride Month.

00;13;59;09 - 00;14;24;11

Jeanne

Oh, that's great. That's, I mean, that's a fast turnaround. So that's really cool. When you approach a big project like an anthology or rebranding, which I imagine also has probably in both cases a really personal element. Where do you start from like a creativity standpoint, I'm going to do this really big creative project? How do you plan that out or what's your approach with that kind of thing?

00;14;25;14 - 00;15;02;24

Vanessa

Yeah, um, so with that, I usually what I do, um, especially for like something like this anthology project, something new I haven't done before. So the first thing for me is always research. Getting as much research as possible. Talking to others. I actually have a friend online who has a publishing company herself, independent publishing company, and she's done anthologies with other authors.

00;15;02;24 - 00;15;26;09

Vanessa

So I kind of picked her brain and chatted with her on like, you know what to expect, like what kind of turnaround, how to go about doing certain things. And so first step for me is always just gathering information and learning what needs to be done to actually get it done.

00;15;26;18 - 00;15;45;27

Jeanne

Yeah. And you mentioned with the anthology working with a couple other writers and that it's going to be, I think you said maybe like a queer anthology. So it sounds like for you having people that you can reach out to and work with and learn from is a big part of it, and that in a lot of cases that's other queer people.

00;15;46;07 - 00;15;52;10

Vanessa

Mm hmm.

Jeanne

How have you built those networks over time?

00;15;54;01 - 00;16;45;07

Vanessa

Right now, they have been mostly built online, in the online space because the — so a little bit about my story, my journey. I did not come to terms or accept my queerness until after I left Christianity. So I left Christianity towards the end of 2020, beginning of 2021, and didn't come to terms with the fact that I'm bisexual until about spring, early summer that year, 2021.

00;16;45;24 - 00;17;20;01

Vanessa

So just last year. Um, and so, you know, that was still during the pandemic when most things were not open yet. So a lot of the networks and connections that I had to make way through the online space so I'm hoping to start making more connections in person and locally. I would love to do that, but so far most of them, yeah, are online.

00;17;20;01 - 00;17;25;29

Jeanne

What are some of the venues online? Was it like Zoom events or Discord or?

00;17;26;24 - 00;18;29;21

Vanessa

Different, uh, different groups, like Facebook groups, Discord. When I had started having doubts and was deconstructing from my Christian faith, I found an organization called Recovering from Religion. And they're an amazing organization that helped a lot. And so, you know, they have an online community as well and, you know, weekly hangout groups and support groups every month. So I was attending those groups and chatting with others online and then started on getting into Facebook groups for LGBTQ in Arizona.

00;18;30;05 - 00;18;34;02

Vanessa

So kind of just through those things.

00;18;34;20 - 00;19;03;02

Jeanne

I imagine that a group like Recovering from Religion can be transformative. When — I think for a lot of people, when they leave a faith tradition behind, they go through this sudden vacuum of community. They have no one to talk to anymore in a lot of cases. And having a support group like that, that can connect you to other organizations and groups and friends can make a huge difference.

00;19;03;02 - 00;19;15;29

Jeanne

So. I want to go back a little bit. You've used the phrase leaving Christianity. What does that mean for you? What did that mean in practical terms?

00;19;15;29 - 00;20;08;09

Vanessa

Yeah, that was a huge transition for me. That's what made me go back into counseling. Back to see a therapist, to kind of work through some of that transition. So pretty much I just — when I started having doubts was due to the whole topic of slavery in the Bible and you know, the way I had learned about it, the way I had always thought about it was, you know, oh, it's, it wasn't actually slavery.

00;20;08;09 - 00;20;52;28

Vanessa

It was indentured servitude. They were like an employee, worked, had to work, oh, so many years, and then they were released from their debt. Well, that's one type of slavery in the Bible. But there is another type, the one not meant for the Israelites, for the Hebrews. And that type of slavery is more similar to what we saw in American history, where you can get slaves from the different nations around you, you can pass them on to your children as an inheritance.

00;20;53;23 - 00;21;41;02

Vanessa

They were considered your property. They weren't you know, they weren't their own person. And so my whole, when I started learning about that, my whole thing was, I've always been told we're all God's children he loves all of us, right? And he cares about every single one of us and wants a relationship with every single one us. So I started thinking, well, if that's true, how could he ever tell some of his children to treat the others as property and allow them to beat them and do all these things?

00;21;41;26 - 00;22;23;27

Vanessa

And it just wasn't adding up for me. And so that's when I started trying to dive deep into the Bible and Christianity and learning more and started learning more about how the Bible was actually put together and how different books of the Bible ended up being put in and some left out and all of that, and just ended up coming to the conclusion that there is no way that this is the perfect, infallible, inspired Word of God.

00;22;24;11 - 00;23;07;15

Vanessa

And so when that kind of when that building block foundation crumbled apart, so did everything else at that point. So it was kind of like, you know, I don't believe the Bible's the word of God. So where does that leave me? What do I believe? And eventually, a couple months later, you know, after still trying to do some more research and read different books and things, I came to realize, you know what, I don't believe a God exists at all.

00;23;07;15 - 00;23;27;29

Vanessa

So I pretty much consider myself an atheist, at that point. And that has been interesting coming from a family that is still very religious.

00;23;27;29 - 00;23;42;28

Jeanne

So did you grow up in Christianity? And then when you started to research and question things, did you have people that you could talk to about it who would listen?

00;23;42;28 - 00;24;17;22

Vanessa

Kind of? I tried. So when I first started having doubts and couldn't add up, you know, why God would, you know, allow this to happen in the Bible. I had tried to reach out to some church leaders and had talked to someone who, you know, had studied theology and the history and everything with the Bible, and aske all my questions and stuff.

00;24;18;18 - 00;25;06;04

Vanessa

And I did that. But it always comes down to the answer of, you know, it's just personal faith, right? And she was sharing with me that, you know, she's had doubts before. And, you know, she's wondered the same, some of the same things I've been wondering and asking questions about. But, you know, due to certain things that happened in her life, she has the belief that there is a God, you know, that's looking out for her.

00;25;06;04 - 00;25;58;18

Vanessa

And so, you know, that's great. But it's one person's experience where so many people have completely different or even horrible experiences. And so I was just like, I can't really put faith or belief in something just based on someone's experience and even my experience either because, you know, just because something happens that we don't necessarily understand doesn't mean we can attribute it to a god or a deity.

00;25;59;12 - 00;26;04;19

Jeanne

It sounds like it wasn't filling the needs you had in life.

00;26;04;19 - 00;26;05;01

Vanessa

Yeah.

00;26;05;15 - 00;26;28;18

Jeanne

And then after you left, on the flip side, it sounds like you were able to really self-actualize in a lot of important ways with publishing and coming to terms with your own queer identity. Was that something you had thought about and not had room for, or was that just part of one continual process of reevaluating things in your life?

00;26;30;13 - 00;27;09;29

Vanessa

Yeah. With that it was — there were always signs that I just kind of ignored and played off or tried to justify. Like, it's normal that girls find girls hot. Like, girls are hot! That's a normal thing, right? Like everyone thinks that. And just kind of like finding excuses and justification for why, you know, I like, guys too, so can't be gay, no.

00;27;09;29 - 00;27;26;28

Vanessa

Yeah. So, you know, pretty much suppressed that side and just focused on the straight hetero side of it.

00;27;27;21 - 00;27;33;22

Jeanne

Did you have any role models of like, queer people in your life at the time?

00;27;34;28 - 00;28;11;08

Vanessa

No, not, no one in my personal life that I knew, at least not no one that is out or anything. Because I remember when my when I first came out to my mom, she was very surprised and shocked. And she kind of made this comment of like, no one else in the family is queer. I'm the only one.

00;28;11;17 - 00;28;40;13

Vanessa

And I'm like, I'm pretty sure with our family being as big as it is. You're one of eight. You have seven brothers and sisters. They all have kids. I'm sure someone is queer. Even if they didn't, they don't say it. She's like, no, there's no one. So. So, yeah, I haven't had any anyone in my personal life as a influence or a role model.

00;28;40;22 - 00;28;55;20

Vanessa

It's mainly been from what I've seen in books and movies and shows, which is why I think representation is so important.

00;28;56;20 - 00;29;08;24

Jeanne

Yeah. Well, it makes it really hard if you can't see anyone like yourself, right? And people are maybe sending signals that, it's not okay to have these feelings, right? You're going to do whatever you can to suppress them or hide them.

00;29;09;01 - 00;29;09;14

Vanessa

Yeah.

00;29;10;20 - 00;29;15;09

Jeanne

I'm curious, have you been in Arizona your whole life?

00;29;16;24 - 00;29;27;02

Vanessa

No, most of my life. We moved to Arizona when I was in seventh grade.

00;29;27;07 - 00;29;27;16

Jeanne

Okay.

00;29;27;26 - 00;29;37;05

Vanessa

So I've been here since seventh grade. And before that we lived in New York and in Florida for a bit as well.

00;29;37;05 - 00;30;04;02

Jeanne

Okay. And, you know, moving between different school systems. Did you feel like, I mean, I think Arizona schools and Arizona as a culture sometimes doesn't have a room for people to talk about being queer. I don't know if that's an experience you had, but it seems like it was, that you didn't have other queer people around you. What was your experience back then?

00;30;04;02 - 00;30;59;26

Vanessa

Back then in school and everything?

Jeanne

Yeah.

Vanessa

I, I don't think I really had that experience of, you know, knowing many people who are queer. Um, I do remember in high school my choir teacher was a gay man and I think that was one of the first times where I, I think I realized I knew someone or, or had these interactions with someone on a weekly basis that, that is queer.

00;31;00;22 - 00;31;01;17

Jeanne

That's a big deal.

00;31;01;25 - 00;31;31;00

Vanessa

Yeah. And I'm sure, you know, looking back now, I'm sure there had to be students I knew that are queer, but it didn't, um, it's not something that was out or, you know, not something anyone really talked about.

00;31;31;28 - 00;31;36;11

Jeanne

Yeah. It sounds like this teacher was, like, a positive figure for you.

00;31;36;27 - 00;32;11;28

Vanessa

Yeah. And I think, you know, the more I saw queer people, like, with my teacher, but then also with books and movies and stuff, like I said, the more I started seeing that, the more I had this internal struggle. Um, which I guess is why I kinda tried to push down and ignore some of the signs. Yeah. Um, because I remember —

00;32;12;19 - 00;32;58;08

Vanessa

Uh, okay, so I'll give you a perfect example of this. When I was in college, um, I think sophomore year or something in college, I had tried to start a book club with some friends right. And most of these were, most of my friends were girls I knew from the church I was attending at that time. And so we started a book club and the first book that we picked, me not knowing the, the subjects in this book, but we picked Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which I love that book.

00;32;58;08 - 00;33;55;23

Vanessa

I absolutely love it. But as I was reading it and seeing, you know, this queer character and what he was going through and then finishing the book, I remember having this like, a little bit of a nervous panic moment where I was like, What are the other girls gonna think? Like, Is this going to be okay? What are they going to say about this book because of the, the content. I was worried how they might react, which, you know, I didn't have much to worry about cause they all loved the book like I did.

00;33;56;10 - 00;34;29;29

Vanessa

And actually one of my friends that was in the club with me at that time, we're still friends today. And when I came out to her, she actually told me she was bisexual.

Jeanne

Oh, wow.

Vanessa

So I was like, oh, cool. But yeah, it's it was something that I was just worried about what the reaction was because of, you know, all the churches I grew up going to, it was always a sin to be gay.

00;34;30;19 - 00;34;51;15

Vanessa

And then later on, some of the churches I've been to were more like, you know, it's a lifestyle, so even if you have same sex attraction, you shouldn't act on it. And you know, basically live a life of celibacy.

00;34;51;27 - 00;34;53;04

Jeanne

I've heard that message too.

00;34;53;15 - 00;35;20;14

Vanessa

Yeah. And so just getting all those types of messages the whole time growing up made me worried about what would happen. But there was also that part of me inside that was like, But why is it so wrong? And I remember thinking, You know what? This is one of the things I need to ask God when I get to heaven.

00;35;20;24 - 00;35;49;14

Vanessa

Like, why can't people just love each other if, you know why does it matter if they're the same sex? If they're both consenting, why can't they be in a relationship? Especially because as I started reading more and more queer books, I was like, ugh this couple so cute! I shouldn't root for them. I know it's wrong to root for them to be together, but they're so dang cute.

00;35;50;11 - 00;35;51;24

Vanessa

Like, how do you not?

00;35;52;08 - 00;36;01;11

Jeanne

Yeah, I like that feeling of just like, But this is a beautiful thing. Why should I feel bad about it? Or why should I judge it?

00;36;01;25 - 00;36;02;09

Vanessa

Yeah.

00;36;03;14 - 00;36;09;16

Jeanne

So you mentioned college. Did you go to college here or, well, did you go to ASU?

00;36;09;16 - 00;36;20;03

Vanessa

Yes, I went to ASU from 2008 to… I graduated 2011.

00;36;21;06 - 00;36;24;07

Jeanne

So right after the financial crisis.

00;36;24;18 - 00;36;24;29

Vanessa

Yeah.

00;36;25;10 - 00;36;27;20

Jeanne

How was that and what did you study?

00;36;28;20 - 00;36;30;28

Vanessa

I actually studied psychology.

00;36;31;02 - 00;36;32;06

Jeanne

Oh, wow. Okay.

00;36;32;12 - 00;36;45;21

Vanessa

Yeah. Which is why, you know, right after that, I went into my master's for counseling and then I did counseling for a bit. Substance abuse.

00;36;45;21 - 00;36;58;07

Jeanne

So that was actually a really long period in your life then: studying psychology, doing your master's degree, going into counseling. Had that been a long term goal?

00;36;59;04 - 00;37;30;23

Vanessa

Yes. Um, I always knew I, I loved psychology from when I was younger as a kid. I actually had a friend in middle school who described me as like the female Dr. Phil, which knowing more about Dr. Phil now, I'm —

00;37;30;23 - 00;37;31;13

Jeanne

Less of a compliment.

00;37;31;13 - 00;38;18;23

Vanessa

Less of a compliment, but it was that friend that actually got me thinking about psychology and wondering, like, this could be fun to to go into and learn about. And I took an intro to psych class in high school and I absolutely loved it, and I was like, yes, I want to do this. And so I knew going into college, into ASU, I wanted to study psychology and go into counseling. Did not know that it would only be a few years before

00;38;18;23 - 00;38;39;08

Vanessa

I wanted to completely change trajectory. But apparently, you know, my therapist told me, yeah, folks with ADHD tend to make career changes and moves about every five years or so, and I'm like, it was about five years after I decided to leave, so.

00;38;39;08 - 00;38;47;11

Jeanne

I think that can be a really positive way to approach a career, though. Moving between different things, you get to experience a lot and learn a lot.

00;38;47;21 - 00;38;48;01

Vanessa

Yeah.

00;38;48;14 - 00;38;55;23

Jeanne

Substance abuse counseling, I feel like, is a really specific thing to pursue. Was there something about that that drew you to the work?

00;38;57;13 - 00;39;27;09

Vanessa

Not really. Interestingly enough, I wanted to go into counseling because I wanted to work with kids who have been abused, and I never really thought about substance counseling. But when it came time for me to do my internship, the only places I could find were the ones for substance abuse treatment. And so I was like, okay, I guess I'll do that.

00;39;28;28 - 00;39;40;14

Vanessa

And ended up doing my internship at Salvation Army and ended up really liking it. And so just continued on after that.

00;39;41;18 - 00;39;47;07

Jeanne

Is that something you still have a connection to now that you've moved on professionally?

00;39;48;04 - 00;40;38;04

Vanessa

Yeah, it is something that I'm still passionate about and think about from time to time. One thing that I've wanted to do in the past and I still would like to do this sometime in the future if I get a chance. It's just, again, bouncing back and forth, depending on my interests at the moment. But I did want to have like a sober living house, kind of start a sober living house, just to help those that are, maybe have gone through treatment and are coming out,

00;40;38;04 - 00;41;02;01

Vanessa

but they don't have many resources, don't know where to go next, don't know what to do, kind of have a place where they can go and like figure out those next steps and help them learn to build new skills and how to find the resources they need and kind of do all that.

00;41;02;12 - 00;41;04;28

Jeanne

Yeah, I'm sure people would really benefit from that.

00;41;05;04 - 00;41;05;15

Vanessa

Yeah.

00;41;06;27 - 00;41;25;27

Jeanne

I think before we wrap up, I wanted to ask a little bit about your writing because I don't think we got to talk too much about like the actual stories and how all of that goes. You mentioned that you've always been interested and you've always loved writing. What were some of the stories when you were a kid that got you excited about writing.

00;41;28;02 - 00;41;44;18

Vanessa

You know what? Interesting enough, as a kid, it was the stories that I didn't see that got me into writing because I actually hated reading when I was a kid.

00;41;44;18 - 00;41;45;23

Jeanne

Oh, okay.

00;41;46;18 - 00;42;26;08

Vanessa

I didn't like reading. And so my sophomore year, or actually junior year of high school when, you know, we had an English teacher that like would have us read but we weren't forced to read any certain books, you can pick whatever. And so that's when I realized, oh, books are actually great. It's just teachers pick the sucky books. I don't know why, But yeah, so I never liked reading as a kid, but I liked writing because I wanted to —

00;42;26;15 - 00;42;40;15

Vanessa

I like creating different worlds and like, I wanted to go on these adventures and, you know, see the stories I didn't really get to see as a kid

00;42;41;04 - 00;42;46;28

Jeanne

I love that. Like, story writing as searching for something.

00;42;47;03 - 00;42;48;21

Vanessa

Yeah.

00;42;48;21 - 00;42;56;04

Jeanne

Is that still how you approach writing today and what kind of stories do you write now?

00;42;56;04 - 00;43;48;22

Vanessa

A little bit, it's — so the stories I write now have kind of been a little bit of what what my favorite stories are that I've read since finally enjoying reading. And then also what I still would like to see. And so, you know, I think in high school and college, when I got back into, when I was writing again and I started reading more and got into the Twilight books, which, now it's like, Hmm how did I like these?

00;43;48;22 - 00;44;04;02

Vanessa

But I was obsessed with the books at one point. And, and I always wanted, I was like, I want a Twilight meets Harry Potter mash up.

00;44;05;04 - 00;44;06;15

Jeanne

That is very fun, yeah.

00;44;06;15 - 00;44;39;28

Vanessa

I want witches and wizards and I want vampires and I want the whole world together. And so that was a story that I started working on at that time and never continued, put it on the back burner for a while. But actually since, came back to it and I'm currently working on it now, which, it's morphed and become completely different from what it started off as.

00;44;40;11 - 00;44;57;21

Vanessa

But it and the world has gotten bigger. So there's all types of supernatural creatures in this one. We've got demons and vampires and witches and ghosts, the whole supernatural gambit.

00;44;58;05 - 00;45;05;19

Jeanne

So if people are interested in reading your work, is there a place they can go to find it?

00;45;05;19 - 00;45;26;05

Vanessa

Yeah, yes and no. So. Okay, so currently I don't have my any of my fiction books published. I have one nonfiction book published right now about representation, disability representation specifically.

00;45;27;00 - 00;45;30;23

Jeanne

Can you tell me a little bit? I know I'm interrupting you, but can you tell me a little bit about that book?

00;45;31;20 - 00;46;09;11

Vanessa

Yeah, it's it's called Writer's Guide to Creating Diverse Characters: Disability. And it's all about, you know, some stereotypes to watch out for, don't fall into. And you know what I think writers should know and consider when writing a disabled character. And then there's some resources in that book for other places to look if they want to do more research.

00;46;09;22 - 00;46;25;10

Jeanne

Oh, that's great. That's great. I think that's something a lot of writers don't actually know where to start with. Right?

Vanessa

Right.

Jeanne

Or they make mistakes because they are sometimes just too afraid to to do their research. Right?

00;46;25;18 - 00;46;26;02

Vanessa

Yeah.

00;46;26;04 - 00;46;27;15

Jeanne

Or they just leave stories out.

00;46;28;10 - 00;46;55;10

Vanessa

That's true. That's true. And you know, I kind of wanted to avoid having — try to help writers avoid certain things. I give different examples in the book, but specifically the show Arrow. If you've seen that show.

00;46;55;11 - 00;46;56;28

Jeanne

That's the DC comics show?

00;46;57;05 - 00;47;15;02

Vanessa

Yes. Yeah. So in that show, one of the characters has something happen to her in a later season and the way the writers handled that situation I just thought was not great.

00;47;15;19 - 00;47;16;08

Jeanne

That's unfortunate.

00;47;16;12 - 00;47;40;03

Vanessa

So it became an example in my book of what not to do. So yeah, that's kind of what I share in that book. I do plan on making more books like that. So a writer's guide to writing diverse characters is kind of the series name.

00;47;40;08 - 00;47;40;24

Jeanne

Oh, that's great.

00;47;40;24 - 00;48;02;23

Vanessa

So the first one is disability, and then, still figuring out which one to do, I'm thinking I'm going to do a one on atheists next because there's a lot of misconception and stereotypes that I see.

00;48;02;23 - 00;48;03;21

Jeanne

Yeah, I think that's true.

00;48;04;09 - 00;48;05;19

Vanessa

Regarding that, so.

00;48;05;20 - 00;48;09;25

Jeanne

So if people are interested in finding that book or some of your other work, where can they go.

00;48;10;12 - 00;48;33;02

Vanessa

That one is on Amazon and it's on other retailers as well. It's only in e-book format right now. Eventually, when I get more in the series, I think I'll do a bind up and have a print version.

00;48;33;07 - 00;48;33;29

Jeanne

Oh, that'd be cool.

00;48;35;09 - 00;48;49;17

Vanessa

But right now it's just an e-book which you can get Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Google Play, all those places. Or if you have a Scribd subscription, it's on Scribd as well.

00;48;49;25 - 00;48;53;00

Jeanne

Oh, okay, cool. I'll put links to all of that in the show notes.

00;48;53;01 - 00;49;26;11

Vanessa

Yeah. And then for my fiction books, those are not out yet, but I do have, if you go on my website and sign for my newsletter, you'll get the access code for my, for the members only section of my website. And the members only section has a section for readers to read sneak peeks and short stories and different things.

00;49;26;13 - 00;49;39;02

Jeanne

Oh, that's really fun. I'll make sure to put a link to that. Well, thanks so much for being on the podcast today. I know we're pretty much out of time, but I really appreciate you coming down here today and talking with me.

00;49;39;09 - 00;49;41;03

Vanessa

Yeah. Thank you for having me on.

00;49;41;09 - 00;50;05;28

Jeanne

Absolutely. Thanks again to Vanessa for joining me on this week's episode of The Arizona Equals Conversation. And thanks to all of you for listening to the show. If you'd like to catch up on past episodes of the show, just visit EqualityArizona.org/stories, where you can find the full archive. While you're there, you can also sign up to be a guest on a future episode of the podcast.

00;50;06;19 - 00;50;34;09

Jeanne

I'd love to talk with you. As an important reminder before we close, October 11th is the last day to register if you want to vote in the midterm elections. If you need to update your voter registration, or if you have family and friends who aren't registered to vote, just use the short URL, EQAZ.vote and thanks again for listening to the Arizona Equals Conversation.