Today we are excited to share insights from the mind of ARK Horton on the topic of literature and mental health.
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View ARK Horton’s library here.
ULT: Morning Audrey,
Thank you for agreeing to feature on Unchained Literature. When we first engaged on twitter it was as a result of a comment you made on someone else’s tweet where they had asked about whether or not self help books actually work. I believe your response was to say that there were some particular books which helped you through a time of grief, not necessarily “self help” books.
Can you recall which books you mentioned? What do you think made them a useful support?
ARK: I read the DFZ Series by Rachel Aaron. It’s an urban fantasy trilogy starting with Minimum Wage Magic. They’re fun books and a great escape. This was a book recommendation from a friend who passed away early last year. It helped me to feel connected to him. It felt like I got a little more time with him, and some closure.
ULT: That’s beautiful. The literature was shared by you both and that’s what made it significant rather than the content/story itself 💕 Were you already an author at this time?
ARK: I was a copywriter in the marketing department. I always wanted to write fiction novels, though. My friend was in his mid-30s and died of a lung complication no one saw coming. So, I decided to finally write the stories saved up in my heart, and now I’ve written three books. The second is publishing this month.
I started writing when I was in elementary school because I wanted to do more with all the fairy tales and myths I read. My big problem with them back then is that they ended.
ULT: Would you say that reading or writing literature is better for your personal mental health? Why?
ARK: It’s a close call, but writing has been better. I put my characters through fictionalized versions of my own past traumas, and I’m able to help them work through those issues. It helps me separate myself from my problems. I tend to beat myself up over what’s hurting me already. Writing helps me process in a healthier way.
ULT: I very strongly relate and have many ideas about how we can use writing to rewrite experience or deliver comeuppance.
Does your blog serve a similar purpose, emotional catharsis? Or do you find something else in blogging?
ARK: My blog is more intimate and personal. Sometimes, I’m just getting out my thoughts about stories. Those tend to be favorites. However, I do write about what’s in my heart as well. That was especially true of my blog about my friend’s death and my blog about my pagan journey.
ULT: Tell us about your upcoming release, Flirting with the Tempest? I read the synopsis and it sounds very empowering.
ARK: Flirting With the Tempest is the second book in The Telverin Trilogy, a fantasy war series. It follows a princess who has lost almost everything. Her title is meaningless. She has been forced to flee from her home. In this book, she learns that she’s not alone anymore, but also that she has to be more careful with who she trusts.
I really do hope it is empowering. My main character, Eya, is an imperfect person who makes many mistakes. I think it’s important that we see characters like that win. All of us have slipped; all of us can win.
ULT: Feminism is a subject you mention often and a topic you explore from multiple angles. I noticed that this is also a strong theme in the Telverin trilogy. Would you like to talk about the importance of feminism in literature and what it means to you? Do you think that feminist literature or strong female characters can support positive self perceptions among females?
ARK: I think feminism helps everyone. I think it helps us all to be our true selves and to be acknowledged for our strengths. It’s been an increasingly important stance for me since I read a big fat biography on Catherine the Great in middle school. She was an amazing leader and completely slandered just because she was a woman. Yet, she managed to live her life by her rules, and it was a life to remember! Meanwhile, I was trained as a Southern Belle by my family. They nearly brainwashed me into believing my purpose was simply to be someone’s wife. I’m still unlearning what they taught me. I have three daughters and I want them to live in a world where it’s normal for women to have strength and purpose outside of romance or taking on traditionally masculine traits.
ULT: I think it is incredible that you found the strength and bravery to persue what was in your heart and to get those stories out. I had a good look around on your blog yesterday and honestly think your content is top notch.
Do you see Catherine the Great as inspiration to yourself as an author or for any female characters you have written?
ARK: Catherine the Great influenced me a great deal. She showed me that it’s okay to be ambitious without sacrificing my femininity. I try to show strength through traditionally feminine attributes in my characters. I often think of her when writing women.
ULT: Would you say the characters and the trilogy you are publishing are helping you to learn more about who you are and where you’ve been?
ARK: I was actually thinking about this earlier today. So, it’s funny that you asked. My first book reminds me so much of myself right out of high school and floundering at life. I was the furthest thing from a princess but I had experiences that mirrored Eya’s. In my second book, I’m reminded of my early to mid 20s when I was discovering who I was and learning lessons the hard way. The third book will be very much who I was in my late 20s. I don’t want to say more than that, because it gives too much away. Thanks so much for talking with me about all this.
ULT: It’s truly an honour when people share and open up about their personal experiences, I’m so grateful for your engagement and very excited for your future publications.
Since our interview ARK Horton has released Flirting With the Tempest. Don’t forget to grab your copy.
Find more of ARK Horton, her incredible series, and the many other wonders of her mind below…