“Hybrid Vigor,” by Olivia Wylie, appears in Stolen by the Fae, the 6th volume in the anthology series A Procession of Faeries.
Why do you think the mythology of the changeling, in which the Fae steal a human and replace it with one of their own kind, is so intriguing to people?
From what I understand based on my studies into mythology, the changeling story began as an emotional and societal coping mechanism. When a child became sick unexpectedly, parents could tell themselves that they hadn’t done anything wrong; the faeries had been at work. And when a child died without warning, the self-recrimination that’s so agonizing for a parent could be eased by the idea that their real, living child was having a wonderful life in fairyland. They weren’t dead; they just weren’t here.
We want to believe that there are reasons for things. And even more, we want to believe that we are not the reason bad things happen. Those two emotional impulses are, to me, the root of the stories that tell of children taken away to fairyland.
This myth had a particular poignance for me as a young person. I am biracial, and I am also a technical contractor’s kid who moved a great deal in my childhood. No matter where I was, I was out of place. I felt unfit, alien and out of sorts. One of the books that gave me something to hold onto in those raw and tender years was ‘The Moorchild’, a story about a little girl with a fairy mother and a human father who didn’t fit anywhere. She called herself a changeling, and she ended up finding a way to live a good life. From the age of ten to the age of fourteen, I told myself I was a changeling. When other kids or adults made me feel bad, I told myself it wasn’t because of who I was, but what I was: it wasn’t that I was bad, or that other kids didn’t like me. I was lonely because I didn’t belong among them, and one day I’d find my way to somewhere I did.
This sounds like a silly thing for a kid to believe, but I can tell you that it saved my self-esteem at that age. Now I’m in my thirties, and I have found that place where I belong. Believing in my changeling story as a child let me find my way to a good adulthood. Believing the story got me through.
Is there a recurring theme that appears in your writing? If so, what is it, and why do you think it keeps appearing?
There are three through-lines in my work: the importance of working together regardless of our differences, the power of good music, and the truth that we are all worth something. As Liveantreach says in the story, ‘we are nothing without each other’. Whether I’m writing science fiction, steampunk, urban fantasy or nonfiction, these are the themes my stories revolve around.
Is there a fairy tale that you really enjoy, or which has stuck with you? If so, which one—and what do you find compelling about this particular story?
For me there are three great stories. The first is the Irish story of the Hazel Pool, which is a personal touchstone of a story telling us how all the joys of knowledge and storytelling came to be through one being’s refusal to be miserly. I’m tattooed for this story, that’s how much it means to me!
The second has to be Tam Lin, the story of a young woman who broke every rule to save the boy she loved. And right in line behind them is the book ‘The Moorchild’.
What aspect do you like most about your story in Stolen by the Fae, and why?
I loved writing a character who bridged worlds between the fae and the human; we need more cultural bridges in the world. I particularly liked the idea of a character whose power is the emotion brought out through music finding rock and roll to be an absolutely excellent tool for her craft!
What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?
Right now I am working on a couple things:
- A music-themed anthology for Club Q called We Came To Dance. We’re Kickstarting it to raise money for Club Q over at We Came to Dance: Stories of Queer Joy in Support of Club Q
- I’m working on the eighth and final book of the hopeful queer sci-fi series I co-author under the name O.E. Tearmann. This one is sex,drones, and rock’n’roll against a future-Colorado backdrop. Check the series out at oetearmann.com
- And I’m finally beginning work on a full-length series starring Liveantreach! This one is due out in early 2025. Check out a sneak peek at the cover!
Olivia Wylie is a professional horticulturist, business owner, and bard who specializes in the restoration of neglected gardens. When the weather keeps her indoors, she enjoys exploring the plant world and the complexities of being human in writing. Under her shared pen-name of O.E. Tearmann, she writes the hopeful queer cyberpunk series Aces High, Jokers Wild. Her solo work focuses on illustrated works of ethnobotany, intended to make the intersection of human history, storytelling, and plant evolution accessible to a wider audience. She lives in Colorado with a very patient husband and a rather impatient cat.