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Words of Solitude: An Interview with Amika Caruso, author of She Remains

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Amika Caruso is a twenty-three-year-old woman from interior British Columbia. Raised in the mountains, she cherishes the pleasures of solitude and nature for inspiration. She has been filling journals with romantic language since childhood, writing nearly as many pages as she reads. Caruso is currently studying for her BA in English while living in the small island town of Ucluelet, meaning “people with a safe place to land,” on the traditional territory of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ.

You can buy She Remains here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The original idea for this collection began with a title that popped into my head on Christmas morning. I began working on the book endlessly, for nine months straight. When I was close to finishing I realized it no longer fit the original title and had turned into something quite different. I chose She Remains as the title because of the depth it has in relation to the meaning behind the poems. The title poem itself was inspired by a statue of a dancing woman stuck in a single pose while the world around her changed. She remains the same, yet she also remained, regardless.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

It felt surreal. I was in shock and lacked much reaction. I was at the beach with a few close friends when I opened it and we shared the experience together. It was an absolute dream come true.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I have always enjoyed writing, but have just as long struggled with allowing myself the freedom of doing it. I was convinced it wasn’t a worthwhile hobby. It wasn’t until I began reading poets such as Kahlil Gibran, W.B Yeats, Patti Smith, and Charles Bukowski that I realized anyone could pursue their passion, and when they do, it is for the healing of their own soul. My soul was in need of being healed when this book was conceived, and it was my dearest friend in very lonely times. I will never take art for granted again after such an experience.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have been a barista for the past eight years. I found a passion for coffee and café culture when I was in high school and I have stuck with it until now. My dream second to publishing a book has always been to open a coffee house.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The most meaningful part of publishing my book was finally giving myself the validation I needed to see my joy of writing as valuable and worth sharing. When people come to me saying my words have touched them somehow, I couldn’t think of replacing that feeling of connection and accomplishment with anything else.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

Liebestraum –  Franz Liszt, Aurthur Rubinstein

The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) – Tom Waits

I’m So Tired – Fugazi

Shrink Into a Dot – Cosmo Doris

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

What I really hope for readers to take away from my books is the sense that they are not alone in these dark feelings many of us experience, and when you feel that you are, create company for yourself in the form of art.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I currently have a small chapbook called Notes in the Dark about to be published by Puddles of Sky Press. The collection is of the things I have written down on my bedside table in the middle of the night, and the format mirrors the messy nonsense I would wake up to. I am very excited about this project and working with this press, as it is a passion project of one man who hand-makes all of his publications. I am also slowly working on a larger collection of love poems for the obsessive and broken-hearted, tentatively titles A Match Made in Hell.

How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?

Working with Atmosphere Press was incredible. Every person I talked to was supportive and understanding and all wanted the best for me and my book. I felt listened to and valued, and still after the publication I know I am a part of their team, as they continue to check in on me and keep me updated with their side of things. I am very grateful for my experience with Atmosphere as a new author.

You can buy She Remains here.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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