5 Quick Questions with M. Darusha Wehm

M. Darusha Wehm is a busy working author who has published novels, games, short stories, poetry and tie-in fiction in commercial and literary genres and is an editor too. They will be facilitating a workshop on finding your creative path at the 2021 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat. Read on to learn more about Darusha and what they want to get out of their writing.

When you write, by the time you get to the actual writing, do you prefer complete freedom or constraints? Do you like to plan or write and see what happens?

I want it both ways! I like both freedom and constraints, but in different ways. I strongly dislike outlining and find that the joy of writing a novel is in finding out what happens as I write — freedom! But I also love forcing myself to adhere to odd formal requirements, like making each chapter start with the next line of a lyric, or writing a character without using pronouns, or creating conflict without a villain — constraints! Often the more obvious formal ticks get edited out (especially if I’ve used copy-written prompts), but I often like to force my writing into a strange shape in the drafting phase, then smooth it out afterwards.

Your workshop is focused on creating a writing path and poses an excellent question that I wondered if I could put to you: What do you want out of writing?

I’ve been writing seriously since I was a teen, and in that time what I’ve wanted out of writing has changed. Currently, as a professional author, what I want is to be able to reach readers who are hungering for the kind of stories only I can tell. I want to create something that will be a balm to a person who is struggling, that will make another person feel seen in a way they never have before, that will ask another reader the questions they need to consider at this point in their lives. As a reader, I’ve found books like this throughout my life, and they’ve had a profound affect on me. I’d like to be able to pay that forward to others.

Robots or Fairies? Why?

Robots, obviously, because they are the best. I mean, who wouldn’t trade a fragile meatsack for a shiny metal casing and a hard drive for a brain? More seriously, robots because they are real, and I’m interested in the intersection of the possible and the imagined. For me, fiction (and speculative fiction in particular) allows us to try on new lives, futures, and ways of living, and basing those thought experiments on the world in which we already live is much more compelling to me.

What are you working on now?

I’m finishing up a novel based in the world of the card game and tabletop RPG KeyForge, which takes place on an impossible world called the Crucible in which there are robots, faeries, and even robot faeries! It’s a classic mystery story about a pair of detectives, Wibble and Pplimz, but set in this super fun science fantasy universe. It’s called The Qubit Zirconium, and is coming out from Aconyte Books in April 2021.

Tell us about the workshop, what should people expect?

As I mentioned above, what I personally have wanted from a writing practice has changed many times over my life, but I didn’t always realise it. When I wasn’t sure why I was writing, it was a lot harder to do the work. And not even knowing what success looked like made it impossible to determine if I was on the right path. The workshop takes a set of tools I’ve used myself to help writers drill down to find out what it really is that makes them want to write, and what success would look like to them right now. Then we can work to figure out what paths are most likely to reach those goals.

Keen to join Darusha? Register now for the 2021 Kāpiti Writers’ Retreat