All posts by Wendy Van Camp

Author * Poet * Illustrator

Author Interview: Taya DeVere

Author Taya is a Finnish-American author, equestrian, and a psychology enthusiastic, writing dystopian sci-fi. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Moi! Hello! My name is Teija DeVere (my author name is Taya DeVere). I was born in Sweden, grew up in Finland, moved away to England in my early 20’s, and continued to travel the world by moving to the states. I meant to stay in Vermont for a year, then hop on a plane again and go find another equestrian job in Spain. But when I happened to meet my partner-in-everything, Chris, on a wintery road trip to Portland, Maine… well, change of plans. Six weeks later, we got married. Over the next seven years, I lived and worked in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and California, until I dragged Chris and our zoo across the Atlantic to live in my home town Kaarina, Finland.

But all that aside, you are what you do, right? Therefore, I’m a ferocious writer. A curious digital marketer. A kind and soft-hearted equestrian. A dog owner who prefers bunnies over puppies (and therefore our house is filled with both). A person who believes that every single one of us is worth a third chance in life.

I devour stories about unlikely friendships. Get my craziest story ideas while lying in a hundred-degree sauna. Add green olives and ketchup in everything, and never miss a chance to tell a bad joke.

When and why did you begin writing?

Where? Durham, Maine. Just like Stephen King, though I didn’t know that at the time. When? I think it was around the summer of 2015. Why? After years of writing an expat blog to friends and family back home, (mostly about little things I found intriguing about living in the states, like coin laundries, French toast bagels, and how people often have popcorn for lunch), I decided to write something in English instead of Finnish. I wrote about the beautifully terrifying equestrian world and submitted my story to a magazine, got accepted, got addicted. I wrote articles and short stories for a long time, until one of the stories grew legs and ended up spreading into a novel. I’ve been hooked on writing books ever since.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Back when I was fifteen, my boyfriend waited in my room while I was having dinner with my parents. When I walked in – my belly full of green olives and ketchup – he was reading a five-page essay I had written about The Lord of the Rings. I was embarrassed he had read the paper; it was just something I whipped out because the due date was tomorrow. I’ll never forget the genuine surprise on his face when he said, “Teija, this is great writing. Like, really great.” It still took me years to accept that I was better than average in something, but that essay was the first time I considered it to be true.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The world as we know it is crumbling down. Things like the government, housing, jobs, food, inter-personal touch and conversation now cease to exist. You have to run and hide. But where?

That’s the random thought that started my dystopian sci-fi series “UNCHIPPED.” Though the main character of the story, Kaarina, is not based on me, her torn sneakers took her exactly where mine would; hiding under a slightly moldy horse blanket at a remote horse barn in the Finnish woods.

At the moment, I’m writing book 15/20, and I’m starting to experience separation anxiety from the Unchipped universe as the story is slowly closing to its end.

What inspired you to write this book?

Cultural differences. I thought of my life in Finland and how different it is from my life in the USA. I played around with the two nations switching places; in my head, I relocated all Americans to live in Finland and vice versa. This initial idea didn’t make it to the book but molded into an unlikely friendship between a quiet Finnish outcast girl, a witty and fun Californian guy, and their newly found connection through a brain chip implantation gone wrong.

Do you have a specific writing style?

That’s what I’m told, yes. Though my books are thoroughly edited and stripped of any “Finnglish” before publishing, my editors sometimes have a hard time deleting some of the “Teija-ism’s” in the books. Apparently, some Finnish thoughts and sayings are quite amusing in English. The last Teija-ism I recall was me calling sweatpants “college pants.”

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Good question! I don’t remember the thought process exactly, but I do remember it being a sunny summer day. I was drinking ice tea on the back porch. Our bunnies jumped around with cheer and the dog was basking in the sun. While genuinely enjoying the moment, my mind somehow jumped into things like Armageddon, social issues, and telepathic connections. Then, a moldy barn. Then, a questionable government with a desperate need to control and save humanity. I guess the name, Unchipped, was an afterthought of the story idea.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes. Many. But I think more than anything, I wanted to challenge the reader’s conception of what it means for someone to be good or bad. How our need for ultimatums and simplicity can make us victims of confirmation bias.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Most of the characters are a mix of people I know. A lot of the events and “themes” in the books are based on challenging moments and eras in my life. None of these times are good or bad; all of them are important pieces of the (slightly damaged) puzzle that I am today.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last started my love for dystopian sci-fi. Her sense of humor is beyond intelligent. Her stories have an uncanny way of processing complex social dilemmas, psyche, and humanity in a thrilling but easy-to-gasp way.

If you had to choose, is there a writer you would consider a mentor? Why?

Funny, but now that I think about it… I consider my editors to be my mentors. Especially the development editing process teaches me so much. And not just about story structure or language, but about life itself. I really lucked out finding my team. Knowing that someone will give you honest feedback and gently guide you to make the story flow better helps me become a less cautious writer. Brave, with a hint of insanity. That’s the on-going goal.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Deranged Doctor Design (DDD) designed all my Unchipped covers. I believe it was Chris who initially found their website and then showed me a few sci-fi covers that I found to be superb.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Know your genre tropes and what the market demands, but only write stories that truly inspire you. Book research is the key; I find that my best stories are about things that I want to read and then write about, almost obsessively.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I’ve had so many moments of despair while reading through the same draft for the eleventh time, and wondering if the story’s message will come through or not. When publishing a new book, I feel vulnerable beyond belief. But the feedback I’ve gotten for my stories has been overwhelmingly positive and helpful. At this point (still under a year since Book 1 came out), I remember most reviews I’ve gotten by heart. Thank you for helping me be better, but most of all, thank you for being a reader!


Taya DeVere
Kaarina, Finland

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GOODREADS
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UNCHIPPED: KAARINA

Cover Artist: Deranged Doctor Design
Publisher: DVM Press

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

Happy Monday! No Wasted Ink has a new top-ten of interesting writing related links for you to enjoy. During my own surfing of the internet, I earmark craft articles that I find useful and engaging and share these with all of you.


Writing Rogues, A Study o Batman: The Animated Series
Whose POV Should It Be?
The Joys of Scrivener – My Favorite Software for Organizing Your Book-In-Progress
Achieving Immortality Through Fiction
Writing Rules vs. Writing Fashion: Should Writers Follow Fashion Trends?
Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know: Hybrid Publishing
A Display Hack for Your Story’s Outline
Using TikTok to Sell Books
Affiliate Income For Authors
Why You Should Know Who Your Narrator Is Talking To

Claim Your Writing Place by Deanna Rasch

Photo from Deanna Rasch

Facebook reminded me this week of a trip four years ago. I had the rare and wonderful privilege of spending almost two weeks immersed in writing, steeped in the power that place can exert on creativity and identity.

I applied, in the final year of my MFA in Creative Writing program, to a writing residency in Ireland – a place I’d always dreamed of visiting. Except for the briefest of trips across the border into Mexico and Canada, I was a Gen X-er who’d never traveled outside the United States. I had a list in my pocket of places I’d visit and a current passport, should the opportunity (and funds) ever arise.

Likewise, the MFA was a goal I’d held close for, well, decades, if I’m honest. The program ended up opening the door, as well, to this dream of international travel. My gratitude for this has only grown in the past year, through all the isolation and restrictions.

It took almost two days to make that trip from Colorado to our final destination – an inn on the island off the coast of Ireland called Inis Oirr. It was a “planes, trains, and automobiles” kind of trip. Two planes, a bus, a small ferry boat, a horse drawn buggy (for our luggage), and a hike up a steep cobbled road from the docks, to be exact. The trip was like winding back the decades, one mode of transport at a time.

I’m remembering, as I write this, the crowded Galway park, full of locals enjoying the warmth of a relatively rare sunny day. Our cohort assembled to await the ferry, lying about on the greenest of grass (which is not a myth, by the way ; ) I fell asleep for a bit, exhausted from the travelling, feeling somehow safe in the midst of all that activity. Then came the crisp, refreshing wind in our faces as the ferry boat bumped its way over the rough open sea to the island. The thrill of seeing the island rise up out of the water ahead, crowned by a diadem with castle jewels. The fishy smell of the docks as we hopped off the swaying boat. The clop of horses’ hooves on the cobbles. The lilt of a warm greeting from the innkeeper in Gaelic. The savory smell of fresh seafood chowder for dinner, served with stories from fishermen playing pool nearby about the catch of the day.

Feel that sense of place? : )

I could add a few bumps along the way, to be sure. But I find myself recalling mostly sensations, memories that make me smile. Experience again those spacious moments. Walks by the sea. Sunsets so late at night. Lovely language and kind community. The writing the immersion opened in me.

Perhaps it’s in sharp contrast with feeling so confined much of the past year, between lockdowns and perpetual smoke and ash last summer from the fires here in Colorado. The feeling of loss all around – its own sense of place.

Ireland was an embodied experience of what I’d vicariously tasted as a teen, exploring the strange new worlds of science fiction and fantasy. Places that (as a young queer person who wouldn’t find acceptance for years to come) inspired feelings of hope and belonging in a wider world. Settings and societies that expanded my definitions and horizons beyond the messy, violent urban neighborhood I grew up in. Written by authors who knew how to create new potentialities by conveying a strong sense of place.

John Varley, for example, in his classic Gaia Trilogy, transported me to Titan, the being/world whose 12 distinct lands he personified on the page. Each place – and Gaia as a whole – acted as a foil for the astronauts stranded there (and those soon to follow) requiring characters to confront their limitations and biases. Allowing them to discover fuller identities (including sexual identities). To reach unexpected potentials beyond the limited selves they were on arrival. All through sustained interaction with a place far beyond their current experience.

Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series pulled me into world where the dragons, themselves, were inextricably tied to the biology of a world inhabited by a people who were (in the original trilogy) beginning to question their ancestry. Their sense of place. Where individuals were questioning their identities as this evolution began. Where young people could empower themselves, be supported in putting hard situations behind them, and pursue their gifts. Could use them in service of surviving, thriving, and creating in this place. Responding to questions whose answers challenged every assumption they’d held about their connections with each other, the dragons, and Pern.

I’ve found myself rereading these and other authors with this talent in the past year. Reaching, almost obsessively, for that expanded sense of place, as my outer world shrank to the size of my apartment. For that spaciousness I’ve always found on the page. What I’m now enjoying, again, through the pictures of my time in Ireland. Revisiting that lived experience of revising, in a deeper way, my sense of place in the world. Seeing it reflected in my writing.

We can be of service, I believe, as writers, by reaching beyond the experience of place we know. Not by appropriating others’ stories, their unique sense of “place.” Rather, by reading those stories – real and fantastic. Stretching our own lived experiences, where we can. Cleaning out head junk that likes to whisper, “What you’ve known is the only place.”

Think of the impact we can have, dear writers, if we work at conveying, as best we can, insights we glean by taking deep dives into place. Imagining less limiting futures. Creating stories and worlds our readers want to visit – even revisit – that expand their own definitions, as others’ stories have for us. The hope and resilience we can help bring to a “place” that really needs it right now. ❤


D.M. Rasch is an author of LGBTQ+ speculative fiction (and an occasional poet) who lives in the Denver, CO area with 2 sister kittens who are pretty tough in the editing department. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and balances being a working writer with her work as a Creative Coach, Mentor, and Editor (as Deanna M. Rasch) in her business, Itinerant Creative Content & Coaching LLC . Find her publications on the linked Amazon page and look forward to upcoming publications: a YA science fiction novel Freedom’s Cost, as well as the first in a series related to her story At the Movies, recently featured in Other Worlds Ink’s anthology, Fix the World: twelve sci-fi writers save the future.
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Eccentric Orbits 2 edited by Wendy Van Camp

Eccentric Orbits 2 - anthology of speculative poetry

Fabulous science fiction poetry and scifaiku by a talented international group of poets. There’s robots, there’s aliens, there’s intergalactic war, there’s the eternal quest for peace, and there’s love found and love lost. Underneath all, is the quest, the truth, and the realization of humanity.

Eccentric Orbits 2 is my debut as a poetry anthology editor. I am humbled by the quality and variety of poetry that was submitted for this volume. The book is available in paperback via Amazon, or via paperback and pdf through the publisher, Dimensionfold Publishing.