New Release: Sovadron

>> Friday, November 16, 2018

So, I was talking to Christina "DZA" Marie about her new release (out today!) of a graphic novel that goes alone with a previous graphic novelization and several novellas. She's passionate and then some about writing fiction that says the right things and makes the kind of social statements she thinks need to be made. And is another one out there proving that doesn't mean you can't write entertaining kick-butt literature.

Did I mention there are DRAGONS?

But, hey, here's what she had to say:

1. Tell us how you see yourself, first as a person, then as a writer.

I’m a partially over-caffeinated zombie who started the blog Dragons, Zombies & Aliens while being an extremely over-caffeinated zombie in college, because everyone else was stressing about finals and I needed somewhere to gush about all the fantasy and sci-fi books, movies, and shows that I love. Full-time I work as a community support staff—that’s job coach and PCA for people with disabilities—and when I realized I had no social life decided to volunteer for the Sexual Violence Center in Minneapolis.

As a writer, I adore fantasy and science fiction and am apparently incapable of writing anything without throwing some degree of magic or highly improbable science into it. The last few years I’ve written about LGBTQ+ angels, witches from Minnesota, and Canadian cannibals from the future.

2. Many people going the traditional route in particular make a point of leaving social commentary out of their work. You're not one of them. Tell us why.

Two reasons.

The first is that most great SFF works do have some sort of social commentary in their writing. Star Trek made a point to have its cast be as diverse as possible in the era of the Civil Rights movement and criticized the Cold War. Harry Potter talks a lot about prejudice and how it can be wielded as a weapon by people in power. Rick Riordan has recently been tackling LGBTQ+ and POC issues in his Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase series. So handled properly, social commentary makes good writing even better.

The other reason is because stories that don’t grapple with some sort of issue seem really...hollow to me. Social issues such as racism, sexism, religious persecution, ableism, homo/transphobia, and so many others affect all of us every day of our lives. Why wouldn’t you write about it?

3. What put you on the path to writing?

I’ve been writing since I was twelve, though I’ve only been getting published since I was twenty (so, three years now). Some people think my writing passion is genetic, as both of my parents are also published authors, but I like to think it would have happened even if I’d been born into a family of mechanics. It’s too much a part of my life to imagine being without it.

Mostly, I started writing because I was getting sick of seeing all the stereotypes and lack of relatable women in my media. Even at age twelve, I saw far too many girls and women in books, shows, and movies who cowered in the corner while their boyfriends saved the day. And someone—it was probably my mom—said that I should write what I want to read. So I did. The first (several) manuscripts sucked, but it got me going.

4. Why graphic novels?

Graphic novels are a new thing for me. Originally, Sovadron was designed as a traditional novel. But then I realized the story just didn’t have that rhythm, so I opted for a series of novellas. But at the time of that realization I was working with Endless Ink Publishing on their sci-fi illustrated novella series Earth’s Final Chapter (see above: future Canadian cannibals) and thought, You know? My work would be pretty epic in graphic novel format. It’s something I’ve never done before and I love sinking my teeth into projects like that. You have to shake things up from time to time.

5. Was there anything in particular that inspired your stories and novellas?

Everything inspires my stories and novellas. Usually historical or contemporary social issues (another reason I can’t write SFF without throwing some of that type of commentary in there).

Specific to Sovadron, that was inspired by my family’s Dungeons & Dragons adventures. The five major characters we meet in the series—Shakairra, Rain, Elkvein, Gundar, and Kyne (who was originally played as a guy named Quarrel-Kyne)—were characters played by me, my dad, and my brother. I loved our adventures so much that I decided to write them down, but quickly grew tired of the same old medieval European setting. After some trial and error and a bachelor’s in history that focused a lot on the United States, I settled on creating a world inspired by post-colonial America (late 18 th /early 19 th century), and then just let the characters loose.

6. How do you manage your time to write?

A question for the ages!

Honestly, a lot of it comes down to “write whenever you can,” since I work full-time, have been working a temp part-time position with a local political campaign, and have recently started volunteering. I carry my laptop with me everywhere.

I’m scheduled to be a PCA for one of my clients all day and she’s taking a nap? Time to write.

Sitting in the crisis unit with no phone calls or paperwork? Time to write.

It’s one in the morning and I can’t sleep no matter how hard I try? That is prime writing time.

7. What are your favorite things to read, either genres, authors, or any other descriptor.

Honestly, I read pretty much anything. Fantasy is my personal favorite, though I’m usually reading a history book alongside it. Partly for research for my own stuff, but also simply because I love learning new things.

Some of my favorite authors to date are Rick Riordan, George R. R. Martin, Robyn Bennis, Sara J. Maas, Margaret Fortune, and April Daniels. That’s YA urban fantasy, grimdark fantasy, steampunk military, YA(?) epic fantasy, hard sci-fi, and superhero genres, respectively. I’ve got more favorites listed on my website.

8. Do you consider yourself a character writer or is there something else you focus on?

Character writer, definitely. I find stories that are not driven by characters to be incredibly boring. If a character isn’t doing anything and is just going along with the flow, they either need to die or just not be in the story at all. I get that there are some stories—and real-life situations—where someone is initially kind of thrown into the plot or dragged along against their will (i.e. Hunger Games), but so long as they turn around and start actively contributing to what’s going on relatively quickly, then it’s all good.

9. Tell us what projects are exciting you at the moment and why.

Oh, boy, what isn’t exciting me at the moment?

Obviously there’s Sovadron. Right now we’re chugging along at publishing just one chapter at a time because budgets suck and I thought it’d be a great idea to self-publish this. (I still stand by that, but it’s a pain.) But I believe there’s some real potential in this story and people are going to love it. It’s new, it’s engaging, and full of action, adventure, and violence.

Outside of graphic novels, I work with a small publishing agency called Sic Semper Serpent doing a series of short stories called Twisted Tales. Basically, I re-write classic fairy tales into something a little more feminist. So far we’ve done The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, and Beauty and the Beast—now completely free of Stockholm syndrome! Currently I’m working on a short for them called “Tower of Dragons,” basically a flip of the traditional “princess trapped in the tower must be rescued by valiant knight who slays the dragon and marries her” plotline.

And early next year I’ll be returning to Earth’s Final Chapter. I left the Canadian cannibals on a hell of a cliffhanger so they’d hire me for some sequels. Worked like a charm. 

10. Why should we not read your graphic novel Sovadron?
  • It’s illustrated by John Hawkins, who is way better at art than anyone has any right to be.
  • It’s an epic fantasy not based on medieval Europe, instead using a completely different setting.
  • Due to budget restraints we can only publish it one chapter at a time at a snail’s pace. (At least until enough people buy it or become patrons on my Patreon page.)
  • Girl turns into a super-strong werewolf and crushes the skull of a giant in the first chapter. Giants’ brains are icky.
  • In the prologue, the immortals are stupid enough to curse the super evil goddess Sovadron to sleep forever in a coffin beneath the world she literally just tried to take over, because that never goes wrong.
  • On a related note, I may have stolen some plot points from Rick Riordan.
  • And some grimdark elements from George R. R. Martin.
  • It’s full of powerful women, characters of color, characters with disabilities, and characters who identify as LGBTQ+. Anyone who’s ever sympathized with Nazis or been called a “broflake” should probably stay away.

Bonus: What does the "DZA" stand for?

Dragons, Zombies and Aliens! The name of my blog for fantasy, horror, and sci-fi.

Thank you so much for interviewing me!

Want to learn more: Here's how to find her!

Blog: and 


Sovadron page: 




John Hawkins:  


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