I find I draw a lot of inspiration from my teenage and just-into-twenties age. I went through a very tough time with my mental health from around the age of fourteen, and I was also the victim of a non-contact sexual assault at 15. My whole psyche kind of…fell apart. It took me a very long time to recover, and I still have recurrent depression and a personality disorder (so I’m told).
In Rise of the Darkwitch, Emmy’s inner anger is based on teenage me. I was so angry all the time—but I never knew how to express it. Eventually, I turned it on myself and became a prolific self-harmer. Emmy isn’t like that, as she’s a manifestation of how I wish I had been.
Emmy’s awful relationship with Krodge is an extended metaphor with my relationship with my own mind. Krodge lives in my head, and constantly berates me, just like she does to Emmy. The physical pain Emmy goes through is representative of the mental pain I experience when my mind starts telling me I’m a useless waste of space… Fun, huh?
Zecha’s struggle with his identity is something that comes from my teen years, too. I struggled with my gender identity for a long time, and never told anyone. I just tried to “fit in” and be what was expected, but eventually gave up. Now, I don’t struggle. I’ve accepted that I’m biologically female, but sometimes I feel differently in my head. I’m not transgender, because I don’t want to become something else. I’m me, whatever that means, and I’m finally happy with that.
The character Rel is also something from my teenage years, but with a twist. I wanted a Rel in my life. I wanted someone to talk me under my wing and want to help me, want to protect me. Rel’s like the big sister I always wished I’d had.