An interview with… Chase Waterman

The equinox has now passed. Celebrate the very beginnings of spring with our interview with writer Chase Waterman.

Emmy: Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Chase: Hi there! I’m Chase Waterman, I’m based in Greater Manchester and I’m a writer. I love all kinds of art, though — occasionally I draw, and I play the flute and the ukulele, but writing is the thing I’m most confident in.

Emmy: What inspired your Changeling short story, “The Dog Who Could Lo/ive Forever”?

Chase: I knew right away that I wanted to write about my sister’s dog Winnie, because, well, she’s perfect. I’ve always loved animals more than people – initially, my story was going to be a lot more lighthearted and zany, sort of like a “Green Eggs and Ham”-esque idea about all the wacky things Winnie would do for her family because of how much she loves them. But then when we were dog-sitting Winnie a few months back, the incident in my story happened. I’ve always liked when children’s media doesn’t talk down to its audience and explores topics that are a little more complex, akin to Jacqueline Wilson and the like, so it was then that I knew I wanted to try and write about that. Plus, I thought it would be kind of nice to be able to immortalise Winnie in this way — she’s very old now, which is very scary, and I may have made myself cry a couple of times when I was writing. But I love her, and I think art tends to come out better when it’s made with love.

Emmy: How long have you been creating?

Chase: Ever since I can remember, I think. When I was about four, I had a little toy saxophone that I taught myself to play Somewhere Over The Rainbow on, and I used to go on about how I wanted to be the world’s youngest author (and I was very disappointed when that opportunity passed me by), and I have a painting on my bedroom wall that I did when I was about ten. I’ve just always loved expressing myself through all kinds of art.

Emmy: Where is your favourite place to create?

Chase: Probably my bedroom, when I’m writing. I like creating alone, so I don’t have to worry about people watching when I get inspired or have some sort of plot-related revelation and get all excited for a minute before I can continue. I love how creating makes me feel.

Emmy: Who inspired you when you were younger?

Chase: I’d be lying if I didn’t say J.K Rowling. Which, as a trans person, didn’t work out particularly well for me. I did love Noel Fielding as well, though – I became obsessed with him when I was around the ages of 10-13 when my sister showed me The Mighty Boosh, and the painting on my bedroom wall is based on a painting by him called The Argument, with a cat and an alien having a conversation — one is saying “no” and the other is saying “yes”. Mine is more like an owl and an alien, just sort of chilling under a full moon. Fashion has always been a big thing for me as well, when it comes to artistic expression. I made myself a hat like one of Noel Fielding’s when I was about thirteen, a trilby with posable rabbit ears, and I was really proud of that hat. I got my hair cut like Noel’s too, I adored his look and his work and everything.

Emmy: What were you passionate about when you were younger?

Chase: Harry Potter was my first special interest. I found it hard to make friends in school because it was all I wanted to talk about – I actually spoke more with some of the parents of the children in my primary school, because the parents had read the books and I’d discuss lore things with them. I had quiz books, trivia games, unofficial guides and magic-themed craft books – I taught myself to read in Elder Futhark runes, a skill I still have to this day. One year for Christmas, my mum got me a handmade custom clay wand, gold with an owl on top, because of how much I loved Harry Potter. That wand was actually just on display at the Liz Collins Mischief exhibition in Rochdale, in the Touchstones gallery. I was asked to contribute a personal item to the exhibit as a local artist, and I wanted to bring a touch of magic.

Emmy: Is Changeling your first time being published?

Chase: Well, I did have some of my poetry featured in the Gaia exhibit when it came to Rochdale, and a piece of work featured in the Liz Collins Mischief exhibition at Touchstones in Rochdale. I also have a poem of mine currently featured in the Future Transmissions exhibition at The Proud Place in Manchester, and I contributed a poem to the third volume of the online magazine Loki’s Torch. But I think this is the first time a piece of writing of mine that isn’t a poem has been published anywhere like this.

Emmy: What is your favourite thing about being neurodivergent?

Chase: I find being neurodivergent to be a double-edged sword, but when you get along with people, you really get along with them. I didn’t really have many friends when I was in secondary school — I eventually made one, after three years. Both of us were neurodivergent, and fast forward ten years she’s still one of my closest friends. She’s actually the only person I still speak to from school, and she’s one of the best people I know. Same thing with university — the one person I still speak to is also autistic, and she’s one of my best friends. It’s just wonderful being able to click with people in that way, that makes you feel like yes, this is what friendship is supposed to feel like. When you can get so excited about things and talk about something for hours or send essays about whatever you’re passionate about and the other person understands? That’s not something I ever thought I would have.

Emmy: What is your favourite thing about creating art?

Chase: I feel like it may be a common neurodivergent experience, that when growing up I always tried to do what other people were doing, because what they were doing was “right” and it always seemed like what I did was “wrong”. Whether it was how I spoke, what I liked, how I liked it, how I felt, everything. The jokes I made never landed, and I was always the “weird one”. Art has always been the one thing that’s perfectly good when I do it how I want — I don’t have to do it the same way other people do it, my art is mine, and that’s what makes it good. Not everyone may enjoy it, but not everyone enjoys the work of Virginia Woolf or Vincent Van Gogh, either. It doesn’t mean my art is wrong if someone doesn’t like it. It took longer than I’d like to admit to really drill that into my brain, and it’s something I’m still in the process of even now. Art is the one thing that’s boundless and can’t ever be truly wrong if it comes from your soul, and a lot of people don’t realise just how important it is.

Emmy: Do you think being neurodivergent impacts your creativity in any way?

Chase: I’m sure it does, but I can’t say how exactly. I know that sometimes I’ll become obsessed with something in a way where I just need to create something, like I’ll be shaking, mind racing, and I just need to do something to get it out of my system, because reading fanfiction or scrolling through Tumblr tags or talking to someone about it just isn’t enough.

Emmy: What would you say to encourage any aspiring creatives reading this?

Chase: You will always be the best at being yourself. Never forget that other people are just other people – they were just like you once upon a time. They’re not magically more skilled, more talented, more anything. Art is subjective, and there are plenty of people who don’t understand the art of wildly successful artists out there. For most people, even the most celebrated and successful people, creating their art is a skill and not a talent — they didn’t start out where they are now, they were just like you. You are your own worst critic, but you’ll always be the best at being yourself. Art is a reflection of that self, so in a way, your art will always be the best at being what it is.

Changeling Annual 2023 will be published in Spring — keep an eye out for updates by following our Instagram.

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