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'Rebel in Venus' Is For Girls Daring To Live Free Of Shame

August 22, 2023

In this Q&A, author Marissa Alma Nick discusses the inspiration behind 'Rebel in Venus,' and the idea that no one is truly alone.

The dedication of Marissa Alma Nick’s Rebel in Venus—a story of confession, healing and connection spanning one ‘girls’ night in’ between two best friends—reads: “To the girls, and anyone daring to live a life free of shame.” The Miami-based choreographer and director—who founded the all-femme company Alma Dance Theater in 2015—addresses tough topics from a queer perspective in her debut novel, which she’ll be discussing and signing copies of on September 22 at Bluestockings Collaborative Bookstore in New York City. In the following Q&A, Nick discusses the inspiration behind the novel, what they’re most looking forward to at Bluestockings, and the idea that no one is truly alone.

GO Magazine: What inspired you to write Rebel in Venus?

Marissa Alma Nick: In all honesty, I was inspired to write this book because I was sort of forced to by my own life circumstances. I found myself in the hardest place in my life thus far, grieving the loss of my ability to dance, to walk, my best friend to suicide, and the pandemic…I was trying to survive grief in an unknown world. 

I also wanted to write a story about the power of friendship, and the courage and payoff that comes with being vulnerable, and holding space for one another. It was a sort of fantasy I had: what if my friend was still alive? I wanted to write a book for her, and imagined a character that might make her feel seen, and understood…rather than abandoned by herself, the world, and maybe even me.

Marissa Alma Nick

GO: What do you hope readers will get out of Rebel in Venus

MAN: There’s a whole lot of shame to navigate when healing, or attempting to heal, and so I keep saying that I want people like me who struggle with depression, anxiety, and C-PTSD … to read ‘Rebel In Venus’ and see themselves in Layla, who I intentionally wrote as a hero, on her own hero’s journey. 

GO: Rebel in Venus tackles mental health, trauma, and abuse from a queer perspective. Why did you choose to write about those topics?

MAN: Layla is queer and also experiences a significant amount of sexual trauma. Oftentimes, girls who come out as gay or queer, are often met with “…who hurt you? What happened to you? What man hurt you?” 

I wanted to write a story that clearly separates the two experiences. Sexual trauma doesn’t make a girl gay, and yes, a gay girl may have experienced sexual trauma, but the two don’t necessarily overlap. At the same time, mental health responses, trauma, and abuse are prevalent in the queer community—and oftentimes, the layering of those experiences, and inability to resolve or heal…often leads to suicide in our community. And so in that respect, I wanted to write some of that narrative into Layla’s life. 

The one thing I did give Layla in this story, is confidence in her sexuality. There is no coming out, there is no queer inner conflict. It’s probably one of the only things about herself she doesn’t overly think, or explain, and that was a gift I wanted to give to her. I wanted to inspire other queer people, and myself, to not see their queerness as a side effect of their trauma.

GO: What was the writing and publishing process like?

MAN: For me it was three years of welcomed isolation…I love the quiet of creating a world of your own from scratch, through words. It’s just like a fun game that my mind truly welcomes. The discipline I learned from dance and running my own company also helped me, as I’m used to motivating myself, and completing a task when I say I will. So carving out the time, like it was a job…that wasn’t difficult for me. I’m even eager to begin my next book, which will mean a couple years of happy, creative isolation. However, the publishing process…whew! That’s a challenge! 

I’ve learned along the way, and realized there are things I will approach differently for my next novel. I’m currently re-publishing ‘Rebel In Venus’ as a second edition this September, because I’ve discovered some minor edits that slipped through the publishing cracks, and I want to add the five-star seal I received from Readers’ Favorites, which I didn’t wait to receive in the initial publishing (which was just three months ago), because I was excited and a little impatient…so again, learning as I go…

GO: Any advice for those looking to write and publish a novel?

MAN: Do it, and don’t give up. For me, writing the novel is the easy part, and dare I say the most fun part. It’s the post work—publishing it, marketing it—and if you’ve never had a book published before, you’re most likely going to start as an independent author. So you’re going to need the passion you put into writing the book as well. But, with today’s social media abilities, and independent publishing partners…it’s not too impossible. It’s actually very possible! 

GO: Tell me about your September 22 event at Bluestockings Cooperative Bookstore in NYC

MAN: I’m going to do a live reading from Rebel In Venus and I’ll be having a guest moderator: Lutze Segu, who will guide and host a Q&A with me and the audience following the reading, and then I’ll finish with a book signing. 

For me, I’m most excited about being at Bluestockings itself, as well as connecting with their community of supporters. When I read that there was a bookstore started and run by queer [and] trans sex workers…well, I had to bring Rebel In Venus to what felt like a perfect home for a book about a queer sex-worker learning to love herself. It just felt too good to be true, and I’m so so happy they agreed to welcome me and my novel to what I think is the coolest bookstore in NYC. I can’t wait to be there, and to connect with everyone. 

GO: Where can people find you and your book?

MANRebel In Venus is now available on Amazon for print and Kindle, and in seven local bookstores (and counting) nationwide. And Rebel In Venus will be available on audiobook (on Audible, and other audiobook platforms) on September 1.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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