# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
O.E. Tearmann is a pen name for a writing duo: Olivia Wylie and E.S. Argentum. Together, we’ve written the six books of the ‘Aces High Jokers Wild’ series.
So, why are we writing under a pen name? When we decided that we were going to work together, we adopted this name. It has a special meaning for us; both Olivia and E.S. study the Irish language. In Irish, ‘tearmann’ is defined as: noun. A refuge, place of asylum, home or sanctuary. When these two authors decided to write a series centering healthy social bonds as the best way to deal with traumatic events, and giving agency to marginalized characters, it seemed only fitting to use a name that means ‘a sanctuary’.
The O. in O.E. Tearmann, Olivia Wylie (she/her), is a professional horticulturist and business owner who specializes in the restoration of neglected gardens. When the weather keeps her indoors, she enjoys researching and writing about the plant world, the future, and the complexities of being human. Her solo work is in illustrated non-fiction works of ethnobotany, intended to make the intersection of human history and plant evolution accessible to a wider audience. Born in the deep woods of upper Wisconsin, she lives in Colorado these days with a very patient husband and a rather impatient cat. Her solo works can be viewed at www.leafingoutgardening.com
As the “E” in the O.E. Tearmann writing duo, E.S. Argentum (they/them) brings to a life a cast of eccentric, loveable characters. They bring the same passion for diverse, character-driven stories seen in Aces High, Jokers Wild to their solo work. E.S Argentum’s fantasy and scifi romances center on GLBTQ+ relationships with the emotional comfort of your favorite puff piece, layered with rich, unique twists. They have short stories published in multiple anthologies under the pseudonym of Emily Singer, including Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Crossing Colfax and Ultimate Power, from Northwest press. When they’re not writing, they’re generally found playing video games, having existential crises, or napping with their cat. Their solo work can be viewed at https://argentumbooks.weebly.com/
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
This project began a number of years ago, as the proverbial crap was hitting the fan in the United States. We run in a lot of progressive circles, and so many people in 2016 were saying ‘we’re screwed’ that we started to feel hopeless, more and more isolated and powerless. So we said ‘okay, fine. Let’s posit ‘we’re screwed’. Let’s write the darkest version of America we can imagine. And then let’s write our way out of it and into a better world. This way, we prove to ourselves and others that no matter how dark it gets, we really can turn it around.’
This is how the Wildcards and their world came to be imagined.
A little bit about this series:
Seven corporations run the City Grids for a profit on the land that was the United States of America. You are indentured to your Corporation the day you’re born, and your life is dictated by the hand that holds your Corporate Citizen Contract. Freedom is just a word in the news vids.
But off the Grids, there are people fighting for a change.
This series revolves around one unit in the fight to return representative democracy to America. Officially Democratic State Force Base 1407, they are known as the Wildcards. They are dreamers and fighters. They are a family. They fight for one another, and a future worth living in.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
A mix of American history, our fears, and our hopes have been ginned up together to create the scenarios for our stories. The interesting (and frightening) thing about a lot of our Horrible Corporate Deeds is that we didn’t make them up: we based them on things the Robber Barons pulled in the Gilded Age, and gave those fellows the technology of the future to pull their stunts with. Then we give our characters the job of outwitting them!
# How do you deal with creative block?
Honestly, Olivia doesn’t get blocked. She bounces between projects.
E.S. usually plays video games and consumes comfort stories until the block goes away.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
Oh, is this ever a tricky topic. But for us, these are the things:
– You can misrepresent people and cultures in harmful ways, a cardinal sin of writing. Our pet peeve is seeing the Big Names screw up stuff that could have been fixed by the simple act of having a good sensitivity reader go over the work. If you’re going outside your experience, put in the work to get it right!
– You can have tropey, boilerplate stories, which is a mortal sin (however, given that Olivia is addicted to cozy mysteries, she forgives it)
– You can write cardboard characters who don’t have much personality, which is more of a venal sin.
– You can have a poor book cover, which is more of a misstep than a true sin of creativity. But it is going to lose you a lot of readers, and that’s a shame.I know what the old platitude says, but books do get judged by their covers: no sense shooting your work in the foot with bad art or wonky lettering on your cover.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
We’re certainly more consistent, partly because we’re both more confident. And we don’t get nearly so discouraged by setbacks.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
A big part of our work is showcasing a positive, healthy found family taking care of each other in spite of the darkness of the world. For us this is wish fulfilment, as a found family that accepts us is something we both longed for as children and found as adults. But showcasing these interactions as part of a high-stakes, energetic story is also integral in our service to the audience. These characters serve our readers by showcasing the radical acceptance and collaboration of many people across many genders, ethnicities, and personal histories. We show characters from privileged backgrounds using their advantages for good and acting in empathy, and we show characters from marginalized backgrounds being supported, and starting to reach their fullest potential as they thrive. Since much of our audience is from various marginalized backgrounds, we see this as a way to support our readers; we’re reminding them that yes, they can find a place where they’ll belong and be supported. There is a tribe out there for them. We want them to know that.
To underline this message, we provide real-world resources in the back of each of our books; we want people to feel like they see themselves in these characters, then turn to the last page and see resources to help them. Hopefully, it will help people who need it.
# What role do emotions play in creativity?
Our emotions are rocket fuel! They are given to our characters to bring them to life, and they’re worked out on the page in constructive ways.
# Do you have any creativity tricks?
That’d be writing together and talking things over. That’s basically our trick.
# What are your plans for future books?
There will be three more books in the Aces High, Jokers Wild series. After that, we intend to write a YA solarpunk series showcasing the younger generation living in the better world their parents fought for.