Awakenings Book Smugglers Publishing Inspirations and Influences

When the Letter Comes: Sara Fox on Inspirations & Influences

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.

Hello everybody! Tomorrow we publish “When the Letter Comes” by Sara Fox, the first short story in the Awakening Season. Today, Sara is here to talk about the inspirations and influences behind the story!

Give a warm welcome to Sara!

I never received my letter and I’m willing to bet I’m not alone. Oh, sure, I received regular letters. My grandmothers sent me cards with crisp one dollar bills and I had a pen pal or two while the internet was young and I hadn’t ventured much past AOL. But I never received the letter. I also never stepped through a wardrobe or found an alien in a construction site, although I would have welcomed both. I have always been an equal-opportunist adventurer.

Like most people, I grew up wanting even as I also learned our world’s structures, categories, and expectations. Metaphoric slamming doors were all over the place—here you are too loud, there you are too quiet, you only half fit this box. There were instructions, too: stand up straight, sit down, smile. And expectations for the expectations! So many of them tied together with gender presentation and only a handful made sense.

I wanted the magical fix where I would step into a world and belong—wholly as my messy, unexpected self. But I didn’t get it. I made space for myself here instead and, eventually, I realized many of my childhood favorites didn’t really have space for me either. First, bits of me were seen only in characters vaguely mentioned (and some didn’t even get that) and second, the characters who were not invited to magical school always seemed to get a more negative arc, if they got one at all.

You are either magical or you aren’t. You’re either a part of a world or you are left behind to bloom bitter and often villainous. But how strange is that when here we are, all the readers and most of the writers: the children and adults who wished, who wanted, but were left behind without fairy rings or aliens or invitations.

I have been thinking about those left behind since 2011. I thought about Petunia Dursley and her childhood letter to Dumbledore, or Peter Parker and Harry Osborn in some Spider-Man renditions. That jealousy and vengefulness that often culminates in victim or villain and sometimes in both.

I saw them and wanted to put those characters back where they could be—fierce friends and family; naive, maybe, but loving in the complicated push-pull of all long relationships with decaying jealousy. They didn’t have to be nice to join the story, they didn’t have to be more to be the story.

And so, one day, I saw Why Millennials Yearn for Magical School by Sarah Gailey appear on my twitter timeline. I read two seconds, turned, and went to put Henry back into the story she’d always belonged to but that I had never been able to sit down with before. Sometimes all that’s needed is a push—and that lovely essay was just that.

“When The Letter Comes” touches on the experience of not being invited into a world (this one, a different one, something else altogether) and finding a way to make space for yourself anyway. I hope that even if you don’t see yourself in this story, you continue to write your own invitations to make space for yourself and those who come after.

About the Author: Sara Fox

Sara Fox is an information specialist and a ne’er-do-well often found wandering in airports both local and abroad. A fan of continuously recreating themselves, they’ve been a researcher, elementary through college teacher, and a techie. Their stories generally dabble around fantasy coming of age and emotive scifi with LGBT+ characters. To learn more please go to

How to Get the Story

When the Letter Comes will be published officially on May 22, 2018. You can purchase the DRM-free ebook (EPUB, MOBI) that contains the story as well as an essay from the author available for purchase on all major ebook retail sites and directly from us.

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Want the book right now? Buy the DRM-free ebook edition directly from us and read the story today:

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Add the book on Goodreads, and read When the Letter Comes for free next Tuesday, May 22, 2018.

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