Local author yves.(pronounced eevz dot) is blurring the line between fiction genres with their debut short story collection “Something’s Not Right”. Part speculative fiction, part subtle horror, the stories are snapshots into slightly askew realities that thread queer themes throughout the prose. An eyeless celestial being visits only when it’s pouring rain; a boy wonders if his brother is really a monster as he watches him die. yves. Is also blurring the lines of language with their moniker—which is a spin on their actual name– in which the “dot” borrows from the Russian “tochka”.
The book was first published independently in 2018 when the author was still attending high school in the Bay Area. yves. then attended UC Santa Cruz where they received a degree in creative writing. Their collection has been picked up by tRaum Books, a German publisher specializing in queer and trans narratives in English.The micro press is now releasing a fifth anniversary edition.
To commemorate the occasion, yves. will be holding a reading and book signing at Bookshop Santa Cruz on Jan. 4. GT caught up with yves. to talk about their influences, their approach to writing and why their book is for everyone who sometimes feels that things are a little bit off.
Good Times: Can you tell me a little about yourself and what’s been going on with your book?
yves.: I’m an independent, queer Jewish author. I like to put things out on my own rather than going through traditional gatekeepers. I’ve recently had my original, self-published debut collection “Something’s Not Right” picked up by a micro press, tRaum Books, which is now releasing the fifth anniversary edition. So I’m doing a little celebratory tour. I was at the Diversity Center [of Santa Cruz County] in October. It was awesome! It was very cozy. It was really nice because it was mostly other queer artists, and so we got to talk about making money as much as you can make money doing stuff independently. We got to talk about artistic control and knowing where to draw the line with editorial requests. It was just a really nice space and it made me feel happy and hopefully people felt like they had more confidence in their work.
GT: So, this is the fifth anniversary edition of “Something’s Not Right”. Can you tell me about its reception so far and how do you expect this new edition to reach new readers?
y: Yeah, I mean, it’s been really cool. For the first [edition] I was really impressed that a lot of people seemed willing to just take this random indie author at their word that they had written a cool queer book.
I got amazing reviews from people pretty much instantly. I had done so little in [terms of] web marketing; I just posted about it on Tumblr and people were incredibly nice.
I still have people from five years ago who are big fans of the book and recommend it to their friends on their own, which is kind of all you really want is for people to like your work enough that they feel that it’s changed them.
Having the influence of a publishing house makes a big difference to me because it means that it’s easier to get it to someone who’s not necessarily browsing the darkest corners of the internet for the weirdest writing.
GT: When did you start publishing your writing?
y: I started writing seriously around high school, because I started writing fan fiction. People were really nice about it and I realized that it was nice to have people read my writing and enjoy it.
If you write for an interest, or niche or whatever that’s relatively small, the dividends you get are often greater because the work means so much more to people because they can’t get it anywhere else.
And a lot of the time when you’re starting out you just need someone to appreciate what you’re doing regardless of your objective skill and talent. And that’s what gets you to write that much more and through practice actually get better.
GT: Who would you say is your main stylistic influence?
Carmen Maria Machado is my patron saint of good writing. Max Franciscovich, I think, does amazing queer writing. It’s some really fantastic work not only with narration, nuance and complexity, but with plot work. A lot of short stories on the internet; I think I could never aspire to be as good as Isabel Fall’s “Helicopter Story”, but that is for sure what everyone should be aiming for.
GT: In your book many of the stories feel like the reader peers into various realities, and leaves with just a taste of the characters. It’s like a snapshot. Did you plan it that way?
y: Yeah, at the time, I was really just getting into flash fiction and I was really intrigued by the idea of a vignette; of how little you could do before the story disappeared entirely.
And there’s this kind of purposeful concision, the question of how much can you pare down to get just the essentials? How can you get it down to just what matters and what does matter? Particularly, [when] we’re talking about queer subjects and characters, what matters is often a lot more controversial and difficult to [get across]. I was really interested in this idea of keeping those things out and of focusing on the most intriguing parts to me.
GT: How would you describe your book to new readers?
y: My one line pitch is that it’s a diverse group of humans and monsters trying to deal with a society that doesn’t believe they’re right. My longer pitch is that it’s a bunch of different short stories; they span a few different types of speculative fiction from things that are fantasy or tropey sci fi down to things that are almost realistic fiction with just a few fantastical elements. Most, if not all, stories are in some way explicitly queer, but some of them deal with homophobia or transphobia. But a lot of them are just people being gay or trans out in the world.
Sometimes the transness is this big, giant metaphor where you’re growing angel wings in secret, and sometimes you are just trans and it has nothing to do with anything. I made it a little safe spot for people who wanted stories like I did that were not ignoring the existence of strife in the real world, but also let you escape from that a little bit. It’s kind of the book for anyone who’s ever felt a little bit not right.
yves. will be at Bookshop Santa Cruz for a reading of “Something’s Not Right” on Thursday Jan. 4, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and you can register online at bookshopsantacruz.com