A Guest Post by S. Usher Evans
When one thinks of science fiction, one imagines space ships, gruff characters surviving the harshest conditions, and lots of faster-than-light zipping across the galaxy. Identity crises and learning to love oneself aren’t usually at the top of people’s lists. Even less so – using a science fiction book to heal emotionally and conquer one’s fears. But that’s exactly what happened when I self-published my first novel, Double Life.
At the end of 2013, I was in a pretty dark place, and finally decided to seek therapy to help me deal with the war in my head. In the first session, I mentioned how I seemed to have two completely different people living in my head. The first, Whit (my real name), was an intense, marathon-running, dog-rescuing, home-remodeling consultant who had aspirations of executive leadership. The other was a dramatic, creative, fearless (and utterly shameless) author whom I gave the moniker Suni (as in Sunny; Sun’s Golden Ray was my first screen name way back when).
The “girls,” as I call them, never really got along. So, obviously, the therapist suggested that I consider embracing both halves of myself. In that spirit, I created a Facebook page and told everyone I was releasing a book. Although there are many in the ol’ “mind palace,” I opted to revise and publish Double Life, the first book in a science fiction series. I chose this story as it was the most complete, not knowing that it was almost a perfect allegory to my own impending dual-identity crisis.
In the book, my main character, Lyssa, is living two distinct lives. She very much would like to be a space pirate bounty hunter, but, being a female, is not allowed to play with the men. To pay the bills, she’s stuck in her old life, struggling with a side of herself that is reviled by everyone, including her own family. I never actually saw the parallels between her journey and my own, until I was doing final revisions at the end of the book.
Lyssa travels to a fantastical place between heaven and hell. This netherworld was a plot device to help my wayward main character come to terms with herself, smashing together the two halves of her so she could accept both of them equally. She reflects on the hatred of Lyssa and how many people have abandoned her, and realizes that she, too, has abandoned herself. In fact, she’s been the worst offender.
When I wrote that paragraph in the manuscript, it elicited an emotional response so deep I felt it in my soul.
As I sat there, stunned at my own words, I realized that I, too, was guilty of abandoning myself. I had put aside writing and creative pursuits because I was afraid what others would say, afraid of being myself, afraid of being broke, afraid it would result in some catastrophe that I would never recover from. Everything I was doing with my life – even running the marathons – I was doing because I was afraid. But I wasn’t going to be afraid anymore (There were a lot of “Let it Go” solos in my car for a few months).
Eight months later, I’ve published Double Life and written its sequel (due out in March). But the biggest change I’ve seen in myself is my own happiness. Life is not perfect, I am still anxious, emotional, and stuck in a job that I do not enjoy. But just as Lyssa learns both halves of her double life can work harmoniously together, Whit and Suni have banded together to rationally (and irrationally, when needed) work through whatever life throws my way. I have stopped letting fear dictate my every thought, finding peace in chaos, courage in the face of the unknown, and confidence that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing.
I think that the more fantastical the setting, the more truthful the confessions. Science fiction takes readers to the deepest reaches of space to expose real human truths. For me, it took a journey with a stubborn bounty hunter to understand that it’s impossible to find your heaven while putting part of yourself through hell.
About Our Guest Blogger
S. Usher Evans is an author, blogger, and witty banter aficionado. Born in a small, suburban town in northwest Florida, she was seventeen before she realized that not all beach sand is white. From a young age, she has always been a long-winded individual, first verbally (to the chagrin of her ever-loving parents) and then eventually channeled into the many novels that dotted her Windows 98 computer in the early 2000’s. After high school, she got the hell outta dodge and went to school near the nation’s capital, where she somehow landed jobs at National Geographic, Discovery Channel, and the British Broadcasting Corporation, capping off her educational career with delivering the commencement address to 20,000 of her closest friends. She determined she’d goofed off long enough with that television nonsense and got a “real job” as an IT consultant. Yet she continued to write, developing 20 page standard operating procedures and then coming home to write novels about badass bounty hunters, teenage magic users, and other nonsense. After a severe quarter life crisis at age 27, she decided to finally get a move on and share those novels with the world in hopes that she will never have to write another SOP again.
Where to Find Her
Piracy is a game. How much are you worth?
Since she was a little girl, everyone – from her father to the Great Creator himself – told Lyssa Peate the same thing: she’s worthless. But when she becomes the pirate bounty hunter Razia, she can see the price tag on her own head. Employed by one of the four pirate syndicates, she uses bank transactions and her considerable wits to capture rival members. At least, she would be if Razia’s boss ever gave her a chance. It’s a man’s world, and all she’s allowed to hunt are purse snatchers while she languishes on probation.
To pay the bills, she’s stuck in her old life as Lyssa, discovering and analyzing distant planets and selling them for cash. She’s doing just enough to stay out of trouble, pretending to be continuing her father’s mysterious research while away for long periods of time. Her slimy boss is always asking questions and even assigns one of her younger brothers, Vel, to intern with her. Already struggling to keep the balance between her double lives, she tries everything to rid herself of the kid…
…until the universal police mistake Lyssa’s intern for Razia’s hostage.