Author Interview: Dana Ravyn on life, art & their new novel “The Suicide Switch”


Bio: Dana Ravyn is a transfem poet, novelist, and educator. She is the author of two novels, Fearless Heart and The Suicide Switch. Her poetry appears in numerous anthologies and literary journals and three of her recent poems are found in Varied Spirits Anthology, edited by Red Haircrow and Manuel Ricardo Garcia. When not writing, Dana works on empowering health literacy in her community in coastal Delaware, USA.

Dana’s second novel, The Suicide Switch, will be released in April. It is a suspenseful look at suicide research gone awry.

Dana is donating 100% of royalties from the purchases of The Suicide Switch e-book or paperback in 2023 to The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. If you buy it at BookBaby (, The Trevor Project gets a $10 donation. The Trevor Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

“Money shouldn’t be a barrier to reading! Anyone can read The Suicide Switch for free at Dana’s website, and it’s available to read for free from most libraries on the Hoopla, Libby app or your ebook reader.”


Why do you write?
First, to give voice to the parts of myself that are otherwise vulnerable to the oppressive nature of society and its limiting effect on imagination. Writing allows me to escape binary and linear thinking and embrace the beauty of ambiguity and contradiction, to challenge prevailing morality and taboos. To me, writing is a sort of spiritual alchemy—the power to take an imperfect world and turn it into something precious: characters, place, events from my imagination. I am an introvert, so writing provides a creative space that is private and safe.


What excites you about writing?
Writing is where I can be completely free, intellectually and spiritually. I am electrified by the possibility that my writing can evoke feelings or ideas that are emotionally or spiritually meaningful to the reader.


What genre(s) do you write?
My primary work as a writer is to create poetry. In fiction, I strive to bend genre. In my new novel, The Suicide Switch, there is plenty of suspense and action, but I wouldn’t call it a thriller because the plot is subordinate to character and theme. And I use elements less common in the mystery/thriller genre, like flashbacks, dreams, allegory, overlapping narrative arcs. That’s not to say my novels are stodgy. If you are going to write about something as serious as suicide, it’s important to balance the mood. In The Suicide Switch, I use humor, satire, romance.

Is your identity as a trans person important to you as a writer?
While gender identity is not usually an overt element of my poetry or fiction, the lived experiences of being a writer who is transgender have profoundly affected my way of seeing the world and influence my writing, regardless of the subject. I try to draw on dimensions of my trans life that resonate with the universal in the reader to bridge divergent human identities.

In The Suicide Switch, the teen character Luc is gender nonconforming. His brief life reveals the tragic results of the marginalization and violence trans people experience daily. But it also says a lot about the pressure on gender queer people to characterize or categorize their identity. Luc’s remarkable character allows him to defy expectations. Although he pays a price for lacking heteronormative and cisgender privilege, it’s given him a degree of self-awareness and self-actualization seldom seen at his age, or even in adults.


What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Everything I do is an endeavor to write because I see my life primarily as a creative exercise that is manifested in poetry, fiction, and visual art. I might write 2000 words daily for weeks, then not write for days. I always write best in the morning, often starting my day before 5 AM. I never push myself if things aren’t flowing. If I have writer’s block, I find the best thing is to change my environment, travel, or do something outside my comfort zone.


What strategies do you use to develop a novel?
Early on, I try not to think about plot and embrace the work conceptually. That might mean free writing or paying attention to dreams and liminal phenomena. For example, I often have lucid dreams and my hypnogogic hallucinations—the visual and auditory experiences that people have between waking and sleeping—are more intense than most.

Sometimes I start with an idea and explore it through ekphrastic methods like going to a museum and writing about art related to what I’m mulling over. For example, when thinking about the protagonist’s flashbacks of Zen training in The Suicide Switch, I spent time sitting at Ōgi Rodō’s Ceremonial Tea House at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As things crystallize, I do tons of research. For The Suicide Switch, I went to Laos, traveled up the Mekong, and I’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand.

Once I start writing, I like to visualize plot development, characters, and timelines. For this, I use things like spreadsheets, mind maps on large sheets of paper, pasting ideas on the wall, and “getting on the floor” with pages and notes. I always have something to write on so I can capture creative “Aha” moments from dreams, music, film, and conversation. I try to let my inner spirit and subconscious do the creative work and then use those impressions.

Who are your favorite authors and why?
Foremost are poets who write fiction. Ocean Vuong, because of his brilliant poetic prose. Sylvia Plath. Marieke Lucas Rijneveld is a penetrating observer of the human condition who reveals shadows lurking behind the mundane. So many of the literary devices in fiction come from poetry. I envy Haruki Murakami for his genius of surrealism. James Baldwin’s poignancy. Virginia Woolf for the glimpse into the dark yearning of the soul, Yukio Mishima for his ability to write from the torture of his existence and his insight into themes I love, like beauty and emptiness. Toni Morrison for her skill revealing the soul of identity. Kazuo Ishiguro, for the discipline and courage to write deliciously slow stories. The Icelandic Sagas and Homer because they come first from oral tradition. Good writing has to sound good.


Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
I was a researcher and educator at a medical school, where I studied tick-borne diseases.


Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t be discouraged by rejections or reviews. Remember that a rejection of your work primarily reflects its subjective value to the editor. Whether beginning or seasoned, listening to editors’ feedback is a valuable way to improve one’s craft. But remember that some enormously talented writers have often been rejected, too. While editors are tuned to good work and can be a barometer for the quality of your writing, they have their own preferences. If those are commercial value, popular trends, or avoiding uncomfortable realities, consider yourself lucky for rejection. Don’t be bothered by reviews. Getting prickly reviews means I am doing my job as a writer because writers raise uncomfortable truths. Literature is a mirror on the human soul, which is unnerving. For some, it’s easier to attack the writer, who is the proximal cause of their discomfort.

What is your measure of success as a writer?
If I am true to myself as a writer or poet, I’ve already achieved the most important success any artist can aspire to. Early on when I did one of my first poetry readings, someone from the audience told me she had tears as I read. That means more to me than winning a poetry award or being on a bestseller list. My job is to write poetry that helps readers return to the beauty and joy in their heart—not as a conveyance, but as a sort of incantation that opens the doors of liminal experience. It’s kind of daunting when you think about it that way. I can only compare it to what a Zen Master said to me when I took my Buddhist precepts, “You only have one job, to save all beings from suffering.” I’m no Boddhisatva, but hey, I have this poem I want you to read…

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New Novel “The Suicide Switch” by Dana Ravyn – Special Pre-order Deal and Trevor Project Support!

Happily sharing a message from author, Dana Ravyn about their new novel, The Suicide Switch

B0C1QBDDTZ.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SX500_Dear Friends,

Just wanted to let you know that my novel, The Suicide Switch, has been released and it’s going to help kids!

I am donating 100% of royalties in 2023 to The Trevor Project, whose mission is to end suicide among LGBTQ youth. The Trevor Project is the leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.

And for every preorder from Amazon until June 1, I’m matching the donated royalties personally!

For a limited time you can read it for free at my website and the ebook is available for free from most public libraries on Hoopla.

Thank you so much everyone! 

Warm Regards, Dana Ravyn


Note: The Trevor Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not endorse products or services.

Book Details:
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0C2JZH9D8
Publisher ‏ : ‎ BookBaby (June 1, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 318 pages
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8987912027

Description: What would happen if there was a biological switch in the brain that could turn suicidal behavior on and off? It might be more possible than you think.

When psychiatrist Jules Solaris accuses his mentor of cooking the data in their suicide research, he opens the floodgates of an international conspiracy that takes him from the halls of Ivy League medicine to five countries in pursuit of the truth. With his mentor mysteriously exonerated, Jules is sent to work on a clinical trial in Thailand where he quickly finds that things are not what they seem. Patients are dying from a drug that is supposed to help them and it’s connected to the research back home. In Bangkok, he meets and falls in love with Astrid Kallström, an investigative reporter from Stockholm. But explosive revelations from Jules’ earlier years in Thailand working for a NGO challenge their bond. A dark web of espionage unfolds as Jules and Astrid learn the reason global adversaries will stop at nothing to acquire the secrets of the ‘suicide switch.’ Through it all, they risk everything as they peel back layers of deceit and betrayal to expose the pernicious forces operating in the shadows.

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BookLaunch – “Varied Spirits – An Anthology” – A Gathering of #Transgender #NonBinary #TwoSpirit & Other Voices

Cover Art 2 Small

Now available! Published on 31 March 2023, on the Transgender Day of Visibility, even as countries and governments like the USA continue to allow violent attacks, discrimination and organized oppression and legislation to destroy rights and lives.

Varied Spirits Anthology – Volume 1 (31 March 2023), in print  or on Kindle. 50 pages, English.

Published by Flying With Red Haircrow.

Contributors include Ana Oihan Ametsa, Vyacheslav Konoval, Hexe Fey, Dana Ravyn, Kat, C.S.W. Henry, Rachel Andeen, Lara Holy, Folami Bayode and Fierce Grandmother, from the countries or unceded territories of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Ukraine, Germany, and the UK. Edited by Manuel Ricardo Garcia and Red Haircrow.

Length: 50 Pages
Format: Softcover on art paper
Art & Text: Color and Black/White
Size: 148 x 210 mm


There are two things that we ask in releasing this anthology:

1) Please be inclusive in your support and advocacy. Genderfluid, nonbinary or trans*women, and trans*men, and trans-masculine people, but especially BIPOC and ethnicities that have been minoritized and marginalized, continue to experience the least support, acknowledgement and protection even from advocates and their LGBTIIQ peers as racism, stereotypes and white supremacist ideologies and behaviors prompt lateral violence.

2) Please understand this is an anthology produced from our personal time and limited funds in these (post?) Corona Pandemic times. But we did so because we believe “Varied Spirits” adds to the critically needed dialogue and understanding of persons who have been important parts of our societies and communities since time began. For those who can, consider gifting the volume to others who may not currently have the extra paper.

 “Varied Spirits” is a poetry, prose and art collection focusing on writers, artists and creatives who identify as transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, gender-queer, trans-feminine, trans-masculine, or other self-identifying terms both ancient and historic, and Native/Indigenous persons who identify as Two-Spirit.

Description: “We live in societies designed to crush our bodies and spirits, that seek to compartmentalize and confine us in every way, especially into heteronormative roles and bodies although gender, sexuality, even intelligence are naturally on a spectrum.

Variance, the state of being varied, is often seen as negative. Yet skills such as adaptability and variability helped our ancestors survive, and today are essential in gaining and maintaining balance, well-being and mindfulness. Being trans and/or also part of other minoritized or marginalized groups adds extra challenges for being accepted as who you are, of just living your life, of feeling safe in society, in your home, in your body.”

This anthology is a gathering of the dignity, the sacrifice, and the beauty of our lives, loves and living. Of our spirits.”


Would you like a copy to review for your website, blog or organization? Contact us. 

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Free 2-6 Dec 2022, the Global #Ebook Award winner for best #LGBT Novel, “The Agony of Joy”


It’s December 1st, and the countdown to preparing and celebrating Winter Equinox/Solstice. I’m pleased and thankful to return to creative work on several novels and game development projects while I always, of course, remain open and interested in collaboration in a good way. Most in Germany only know me after being compartmentalized for combatting racism, colonialism, stereotyping and so forth, but my first and continuing love is storytelling with themes of struggle, emotion, and healing.

I’m sharing my contemporary novel, “The Agony of Joy”, winner of Global Ebook Awards 2013 Best LGBT Fiction. It will be free 2-6 December 2022.

Description: “Former model turned actor Adrian Lee can barely list age range ’23-29′ on his resumé anymore nor stand his life of empty social events and appearances, meaningless roles and casual partners. When he meets Alexander Skizetsky by clever arrangement of his agent, the enigmatic yet infinitely attractive Russian kindles a little light of hope in his aching heart. Yet even the beginnings of a friendship and love beyond his wildest dreams cannot assuage a life spiraling out of control.

The long estrangement from his devout Irish Catholic parents and family and the dark secrets they all share combine to drive him to the brink of despair, though Alexander is determined to stay by his side. After locking away his own memories of betrayal and loss, the Russian had decided never to love again but something in Adrian spurs the noblest intentions in his formerly jaded heart. Returning in pilgrimage to his homeland, he brings Adrian along on a journey of rebirth, revelation and redemption.”

**Some Reviews**

“Your story does what good fiction should do. It makes me think, makes me feel, allows me to visit different places, and connect deeply with the characters. It explores real issues that people face….”

“I love descriptive stories that enable me to travel to different places without leaving the comfort of my easy chair. I love using all my senses while reading and getting so totally immersed in a story that the sound of the phone ringing makes me jump. And I love characters so deep that I think about them during the day and dream about them at night.”

“A love story, but not a romance, definitely a gothic feel and one of the most positive portrayals of bisexuality I’ve ever come across in fiction.” –Nancy Ferrer, Outlaw Reviews

“It is an incredible work! You have been able to channel your memories and experiences, create vivid real characters and make something so beautiful out of pain and struggle is the highest meaning of what I believe art is: transforming hurt and becoming healers.

I’ve never read anything like Agony of Joy. There has never been a story that deals with some of the personal issues you are presenting in such an open way. It is inspiring and liberating and needed.” –Ana Christina Caelen, Sound therapist, Musician and Composer

You can read about the award, the background of the story and the writing process, and see some of the places & scenes in Berlin where it was written at this link. A video description of “The Agony of Joy” on YouTube.

“This is such a beautiful Trailer, Red! I truly wish you much success with this book. I truly hope many people read it, especially those who need a glimmer of hope. Looking forward to reading it myself.”

“I am reading the book just now and I can’t stop. Lexx and Adrian are still in Berlin…so curious how the story will proceed, and how they both deal with their past, their different cultural background and their relationship….”

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FilmReview: “It Is in Us All” is set in #Ireland but is it #LGBT Representation or Not? Absolutely!


The description of “It is in Us All” was strange and puzzling to me: “a sexually charged boy”. Was the film pornographic in nature featuring an underaged male participant? I wasn’t intrigued by that but decided to watch in order to disprove or better understand why it was phrased in such a way, especially when it is described as including LGBT representation, when being LGBT is again increasing in demonization and falsely attributed to pedophilia by some. I am so glad I watched this film in any case.


The film is set in Ireland, mostly in the countryside, so naturally the cinematography included sweeping shots reflecting the mood of bemusement and extended grief both the main characters and others were experiencing, from past and current tragedies. It’s nothing new in direction to use landscape as representative of emotion or even as a protagonist itself. Hamish Considine, the lead character, is visiting to settle the home and visit the graveside of an aunt when he’s involved in a car accident. His connection to his mother and family has been troubled for several reasons, and this is his first impression of a place he is “from” but lived.

Others have asked how is this LGBT representative when they felt there was no overt discussions or references to sexuality, yet that shows are over reliance on stereotypes, often used by CIS heterosexual directors as interpretations of LGBT people. They may be dependent on overt sexual behaviors to “safely” decide, “Oh yeah, he or she is gay, trans” or anything else so they can stay in their “comfort zone”, as it were, of labeling and compartmentalizing others so they can define (or hide) their own identities, attractions or prejudices. Yet like intelligence, sexuality is on a spectrum.

From the first scene, Hamish, played by Cosmo Jarvis with great skill and in all his mumbling glory (subtitles highly suggested especially if you’re not familiar with Irish accents in general), I immediately sensed someone of probable non-heteronormative reality even if he had not made it carefully but respectfully clear to a female secretary or receptionist at the start of the film that he was not interested in her flirtations in the slightest.

The “sexually charged boy” is seventeen year old “Evan”, the lone survivor of the other vehicle involved in the crash, well-played by Rhys Mannion in representing the simmering desires, frustrations, attractions and love/hate quality for his life, location, and loves as any teenager might have, whether gay, straight, transgender or anything else. But which more often results in abuse, misunderstanding and ostracization, whether community or self-imposed for LGBT youth. In turn, some develop fixations, such as with death and dying, or in manipulations to establish control over others when feeling one has little control over one’s own life.


Young Evan soon attaches himself to Hamish who perhaps represents freedom, success and the “outside” world, of another possible life, but also as an accessory in covering up a critical detail of the crash. Was it an accident or a decision Hamish accidentally interrupted? Hamish in return, shows a desire for connection, of protection, of helping a young man in whom he saw himself when younger, as he might have been had he grown up in Ireland instead of England, where his mother took him.

In Hamish’s interactions with others, and then later with Evan and Hamish together talking to the same people, you can see the pointedly ignored or casually observed acknowledgement of the attraction betwen the two whether Hamish admits it or not. And the townspeople, of course, know more about Evan than the newly met Hamish. Particularly, with men, the priest, the shopkeeper, the barman, there’s always a careful gauging of Hamish’s reactions to revealed information, secrets, both past and present. About Hamish’s own family and Evan and the group of boys he is introduced to, and which Evan is the leader of. There is symbolism, and several scenes and dialogues obviously suggesting diversity of attraction and past behavior.

In the end, I think the “sexually charged” description was heavy-handed and unnecessary, causing misunderstanding of what would be shown, when I found this to be a beautifully shot film with nothing subtle in the suggested explorations, the budding desires and dreams of young men who want to be and do more than what is “acceptable”, but who still have love of the land and history of where they are from. That could be Ireland or anywhere. So absolutely, the title is apt, “It is in Us All”.

Sexuality was only one facet in the relationship of Evan and others, between Hamish and Evan, and why Hamish allowed himself to continue with Evan while he dealt with his own grief and history. I found it to be an excellent representation and example of how an older and younger man may have an attraction to each other, for various reasons, but wisely, carefully, the more mature man takes that age difference seriously, and respects the need for the underage person to experience and explore appropriately in their own way, in their own time.


I found the film gorgeous, and the story heartbreaking and courageous at the same time. An excellent directorial debut with an ending you won’t see coming. I only wish more love stories, because yes, I felt there was developing love between the two, that such love and life stories of BIPOC and POC people were as sensitively and as often portrayed. Highly recommended.

My review was originally posted on IMDb. Visit my profile for more film reviews and lists.

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