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  • Danielle K. Roux

Misfits and Monsters

Misfits and Monsters, get to know the faces of August Prather Is Not Dead Yet...

{Danielle K. Roux discusses what inspired her to make her ensemble cast so colorful and weirdly wonderful.}

It’s strange to me that sometimes in books or movies, one lone weirdo is the center of a group of “normals”. It feels desperately inauthentic for two reasons. One, the “us” and “them” dynamic is way more complex than that. There isn’t one person who goes against the grain while everyone else just follows rules blindly. Two, if you’re really going against the “us” then you aren’t acknowledged. You’re ignored. You’re invisible. You spend more time watching than speaking. You’re alone a lot, maybe not lonely, but alone. That sort of story is really depressing, so it doesn’t play often. Someone who is a “loner” type isn’t a hero.

They’re a monster.

I much prefer books with the rag-tag gang of misfits and monsters gathering together to accomplish a common goal. August, Garnet, Lyosha, and Mitya are all able to form a semi-cohesive group as they experience some wild and wonderful incidents. Because if you are a beautiful weirdo you get along better with other beautiful weirdos. This way “otherness” can be celebrated, not eliminated, not ignored. Instead of belonging in spite ofbeing different, they all belong because they are different. I wanted to make sure that they, like me, have a divergent way of thinking that is not wholly linked to their queerness. Garnet has an identity crisis, she’s also trans and pansexual and that’s part of her identity. But she’s also got some self-hatred, some apathy. She’s complicated. Aren’t we all?

I was the weird kid in high school who was always on the outside looking in. Always reading or writing or drawing. Always wishing I was somewhere else. Invisible but always watching. Part of this is my anxiety which makes me feel like everything at every moment is the most important thing ever. I become trapped in my thoughts, unable to act on things, afraid that one false step will destroy me. Part is my depression which tells me it wouldn’t really matter if I were destroyed. And part is my natural weirdness, my queerness, my inability to conform. Thankfully, high school is not forever, and adults are overall less judgmental. Or at least they pretend to be.

I first started writing August Prather is Not Dead Yetthe year after high school. It was super cathartic to create a cast of loveable weirdos who are struggling and flawed. Through them, I could face my own flaws and celebrate my own weirdness.

My main characters all have this one thing in common: they want to be themselves out in the open. They want to be free of constraints. Their backstories, their fears, all vary but Garnet, August, Mitya, and Lyosha all want the same thing I want. They dream of being able to act without feeling like every moment is being weighed heavily by some social construct. Some false idol of ideals. They test the boundaries, act tough, try to be a proud of who they are. But they are all still afraid about the choices they are making, whether they are doing what they want or what they have somehow been programmed to want. Whether they are being judged.

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