RoAnna Sylver

Contributor Interview

RoAnna Sylver wrote this poem. And also sings, voice acts, draws, has several weird genetic conditions, knows too much about Star Trek, currently writes the oddly-hopeful-dystopian Chameleon Moon series, and lives with family near Portland, OR. The next adventure RoAnna would like is a nap in a pile of bunnies.

RoAnna Sylver also wrote "The Ocean in the Shell" in issue 1 of Vulture Bones. Below is an interview about their lovely poem.


I love how bittersweet and hopeful this poem is at the same time. Especially the section about the birth of pearls, and relating that to the scars and healing of trauma. I get the sense that this sea witch is as ancient as the ocean, and tired, but still hungry for experiences. Can you talk a little about where this poem came from?

Ahh, thank you so much for asking about this. Yeah, that’s a pretty accurate way to put it. If I remember correctly, I wrote "The Ocean In The Shell" in November of 2016, and all the pain and exhaustion that implies. I’ve always found the ocean so amazing (and a little terrifying) and wondered what lies in the deepest, darkest parts. And how sometimes retreating into a deep, dark place is the only thing you can do to heal. And how sometimes it’s the worst pain that gives you the greatest gift—because it shows you what you can survive.

I love that you said “tired but still hungry for experiences,” and that came through. That’s how I feel a lot of the time. I’m exhausted and hurting but not done yet.


You write prose as well as poetry. Do you have a different writing process for each? Do you explore different themes or imagery in one mode more than the other?

I think I tend to be more personal with poetry—probably because I can be a little more veiled and not outright state whatever painful thing I might be writing about. Not that I never get into personal issues with my fiction, since a great deal of it is ownvoice (writing characters whose experience/marginalizations I share), but poetry lets me get deeper and more raw, especially speculative poetry, probably because there’s that layer of fantasy and allegory. Keeps things from getting too painful.

I also tend to go nonverbal when overwhelmed by emotion (the kind I write poetry about), and it’s easier to describe visual metaphor instead of needing to directly and clearly state something.


Where can people find more of your work? What’s coming next?

My work is available at a bunch of different places online, both finished books and monthly serials/books-in-progress. You can find most of my finished stuff on Amazon and Gumroad (as well as B&N, Kobo, etc), and I have a Patreon for ongoing Chameleon Moon work, like bonus/early access stories, art, and a lot more.

Up next I’m working on the first book of Death Masquerade, the companion series to my queer vampire series Stake Sauce. 4 of 6 parts are done, and you can read them at its own Patreon as they’re done, long before release! And there’s lots of bonus content there too.