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Center Stage with Aphotic

A creators in the limelight series

By Heather HublerPublished 4 months ago 19 min read
Top Story - May 2023
Created with CanvaPro

Welcome back! I'm here with another chat interview featuring creator, Aphotic. If you're new to the series, please let me take a quick moment to explain the vision.

My aim with each mini-interview is to give a small glimpse into what makes up these amazing creators through a fun and informative format. I've limited the interview method to direct messenger. I've also asked creators to come up with a few questions for themselves as this is to aim the spotlight on them.

My talented guest in this eighth episode joined Vocal in July 2022 and has over forty works published in the fiction, horror and poets communities, several of which have received Top Story. She's also currently working on several fiction novels which I can't wait to see on a bookshelf someday (more details in the interview).

If you haven't had the chance to explore her works yet, you'll find her writing style to be incredibly engaging. She has an enviable ability to draw readers in and hold them tightly right to the finish. Her writing often explores difficult truths in a captivating and thoughtful way. Always worthwhile reads.

I hope you appreciate this behind-the-scenes peek into Aphotic's mind as we explore how she approaches the writing process and life. Let's get started!


H: Well, I'd like to officially welcome you and thank you for agreeing to interview with me. I hope you have fun! I'll get us started with the first question. When did you catch the "writing bug"?

A: Thank you for having me! I’ve been writing songs since I was probably 13 but didn’t really get bit by the “writing bug” until last June. I was out of work at the time and bored so I started writing more and looking into writing for challenges. That was when I discovered Vocal through their ghost story challenge, and I’ve been typing away ever since.

H: Oh, song writing! I love that. Do you perform them too? And it seems like the Vocal challenges have been a big draw for people to the platform. That's amazing you've only been writing for a year. What a beautiful thing to find at that time in your life!

A: I do perform the songs I write, but not well😁

H: Aww, that is fantastic and takes so much nerve. I'm impressed :)

A: Yeah, I have learned a lot in the last year. There are so many great writers here to learn from. I wrote an entire first draft that same month, but when I say it was a rough draft, I mean ROUGH. I’m the worst at editing, so it’s still sitting there just a heap of plot holes and grammatical errors.

H: I agree there are so many great talents on the Vocal platform, and you are definitely one of them. Your year of writing and putting yourself out there has paid off, because I love your writing style.

Wow, that's amazing! It may be rough but you did it. That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment. And it's just patiently waiting :)

This kind of leads into the next question as I'm always curious to know, lol. What does your writing process look like?

A: Thank you, that means a lot coming from someone as skilled with the written word as yourself!

H: H: You are too kind, thank you!!

A: To answer your question: pure chaos. I don’t really have any kind of ritual. Ideas come to me at the most random times. It could start with a character sketch in my head, a scene, a plot point, etc. If I’m not at home when inspiration strikes, I’ll just jot down my thoughts in the notes app on my phone. I currently have 1,344 notes saved to my phone as I look at it now…I’m long overdue for a purging. Honestly, it’s a circus in there.

I have a pea-sized attention span so I usually can’t sit down and get any real writing done until insomniac hour. I almost always have to have headphones on or else everything will distract me. Music helps me get in the zone. I’m horrible at the editing phase, mainly because I have a knack for letting things stay that should definitely go.

H: LOL, I freaking love this answer. Chaos is its own form of sanity :) And holy shit!! That's a lot of notes! Wow! Do many of them see the light of day or just mosey around the circus?

Ah, the insomniac hour...I know that one. I always think of stuff as I'm trying to fall asleep and never remember in the morning. Music with headphones is a great way to concentrate. I used to listen to piano and violin music in college.

And I tell you that the biggest thing I think I've learned as a writer so far is when to make some cuts. There are times when I love a phrase and just try to force it but it shows up glaring in my face during edits and rereads. It is NOT easy to chop.

Do you handle poetry the same way as fiction writing?

A: And what would sanity be without chaos?😈 Yes! The perfect idea always hits in the hypnagogic and then by morning it’s long gone, but you just know you had the next Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter😂

I LOVE listening to violin and piano while I write. I’ll search whatever mood I’m looking for with the instrument in YT. For example “dark piano playlist” and click until I find one that fits what I’m writing.

And you are so right! I think the hardest part is “killing our darlings.”

For poetry it’s a bit different since I write lyrics all the time. It’s more of a type it all in one sitting and come back the next day to rework it. For some reason editing songs/poetry is extremely fun and satisfying to me while I dread editing fiction. Maybe because my poetry is usually based on a real life experience whether my own or someone else’s that I witnessed/learned about.

I hope that word dump was coherent, haha.

Also I don’t listen to music while writing poetry because it interferes with my flow. Whereas it’s almost a requirement with writing fiction for me.

H: Damn, if only we could stay up and write that next big thing, lol!

Oh yay for having that in common! It's so amazing what you can find on YT that can help with the mood you're going for!

Yeah, our poor babies :(

That is quite different but I get it. The poetry is the music kind of. And I totally agree. I find it easier to edit poetry for pretty much the same reasons. It's very personal to me, like an emotional release that I just need to tweak. Fiction is it's own thing!

I loved your word dump!!

Is there anything else you want to add to this answer? If not, I'll ask one of your questions before we do a light-hearted one :) What are your thoughts on constructive criticism?

A: I’m all set with the last question, I’ll move on to this one.

Please hold.😁

H: HAHAHA! I love that you provided music...goes to get a snack...

P.S. I'm dying over how the guy is getting into the hold music 🤣

A: Ikr? Lol the ending of that video kills me💀

H: He was like, you just ruined my whole vibe...redial!!!

A: I am a huge advocate for respectful constructive criticism. I love it when people point out flaws in my work because it gives me the opportunity to improve in an area that I otherwise may not have realized I needed improvement in. Though I believe there is always room for improvement, no matter the skill level achieved.

That being said, it should always be conveyed in a respectful manner. There’s a difference between letting someone know you’ve noticed an issue and just blatantly being rude. I always encourage constructive criticism, but phrases like “you suck” are not constructive at all and that’s when it just becomes criticism, which is something that gets on my nerves. It doesn’t help anyone.

H: I completely agree. Constructive criticism can be invaluable as you work on your craft, but there is a fine line sometimes in someone just wanting to be harsh or degrade you. I've got no tolerance for that especially if it wasn't really asked for in the first place. So, do you have dedicated people in your life that will give you the good kind?

Sorry if that was too nosey!

A: No, not too nosey at all! Unfortunately no, I think people who aren’t writers themselves are too afraid of offending even when you let them know you not only welcome honesty but encourage it lol or they really just don’t realize how tragic it actually is😅 I don’t have any writer friends offline.

And yes, exactly!

H: Oh good! I'm just snooping! I feel this so much. I only have one friend that will give it to me straight and that's it. Everyone else is online at this point but I don't ask anyone specifically. I think it's a good skill as a writer to be able to give good critiques :) Anytime you want eyes on something, you let me know!

Ready to do a fun one?

A: I appreciate that😊 and yes, bring on the wild questions.

H: Hehe. What's your biggest food temptation?

A: You asked that question and 27 dishes flashed before my eyes😂

H: LOL, and I bet whatever you answer is going to make me hungry!!

A: I gotta say…brisket bbq. Gets me every time. With a nice square of cornbread. Some greens. It’s my weakness. Sorry vegetarians.🥺

By Jose luis on Unsplash

H: I'm drooling on the're talking my language. And I could eat pans of cornbread!!

Is this a dish you grew up on or just now appreciate as an adult?

A: I didn’t try brisket for the first time until I was in my early twenties, but cornbread has been with me through it all🥹

H: Ah, cornbread. I love the jalapeño kind with a bit of honey. Spicy and sweet. Well, I liked your answer, and now I want brisket with all the sides!

A: I like it with jalapeños too. I used to think it would be weird, but after I had it once, I saw the light.

H: Hahaha!! It does sound odd, but I waitressed for years and we always had a big Mardi Gras buffet with entertainment and everything. They made massive trays of the jalapeño kind, and I would sneak huge hunks of it, lol!!

A: Yeah, especially once you add the honey. It’s a delicacy. Give me BBQ or give me seafood and I’m happy.

H: I seriously love BBQ and seafood!

Ready for the next question? Please jump back if you weren't finished. I'll leave it here for now :) What has been the hardest scene to write so far or piece of poetry?

A: I’m ready for the next question, thinking…my pea-brain is processing…

H: You can make it generic too, as in dialog is tricky or trying to describe something you can visualize but need to translate into words (my endless problem).

A: I think the hardest thing to write was actually my recent microfiction, Stupid Girl. I was so relieved when I saw the comments that people were getting the duality I was trying to portray because I was afraid it would come off the wrong way. I overthink everything, it’s one of my character flaws, haha.

But I wanted to get the words just right for that one because it’s such a heavy topic that affects so many people every day. I reread it 20x before I posted it.

H: That was a stand-out piece. And I get that completely. There are things sometimes we want to highlight that can be sensitive. It's hard to know if we've done our job or missed something that will hurt someone or offend. I thought yours was really thoughtful writing.

A: Thank you, that’s what I was aiming for. And yes, it can be difficult to gauge on our own sometimes, so I’m glad it was received well.

H: You're quite welcome! Let's do one of your questions next. Do you believe people have a gift for writing?

Please finish if you were writing more about the last one :)

A: I’m all set with the last one😊

H: Sweet.

A: I do not believe it’s a gift personally. I think some people can be inclined, but to say it’s a gift I feel undermines all the blood, sweat, and tears it took for someone to achieve greatness. Most great authors have put tireless hours and brainpower into working and reworking their stories. I think it’s pretty rare for someone to just be able to sit down and create masterpieces from the get. I’m kind of a lazy writer and I think it shows. But then you have people on here that you can just tell put in the work and that also shows and they should get the full credit for all their hard work😊

That got rambley lol, but I think you got me.

H: I get what you're saying, and you're right, so much work goes into quality pieces. I think you can work on and hone the craft to really achieve great writing, but I think it all starts with having a desire to be a storyteller in some capacity. And in my opinion, being a lover of reading goes hand in hand.

Also, you don't look like a lazy writer at all! Just hearing about how you reread things over and over and put dedication in shows you care.

A: Yes, exactly. If I didn’t love reading so much, I don’t think I would enjoy writing. It definitely starts with a desire to tell a story, I love the way you put that!

H: Thank you! And it's funny because I've had a chance to think about this in each interview, lol. Reading is the best!

Ok, fun one?

A: Yes😁

H: What's your favorite concert you've been to? Or who would you love to see but haven't yet?

A: Ooooh. Hmmm. I’ve been to so many, lord help me…

H: Alright, I don't want you to have to play favorites, so how about top 3? Lol

A: Well😅 I’m mostly into metal (gatekeepers don’t come for me if it’s not metal enough) but a band called The Devil Wears Prada was probably one of my favorites I’ve been to. One I would really love to see is Ghost. I’m actually listening to them right now haha.

But really I love music across all genres. It’s so hard for me to choose favorites.

H: Ooo, I'm listening to the beginning really quick...intermission for a minute...

A: It’s definitely not for everyone😅

H: I've never heard of either band (sorry to fans), but I'm liking the Ghost sound :) I'll have to check out The Devil Wears Prada. Although, I only enjoy small doses of metal, lol!

A: Haha, no worries, I totally get it😁 If you only like it in small doses I would suggest the acoustic versions for The Devil Wears Prada.

H: Oh, now that I could do! Because sometimes I really like the lyrics but the sound is overwhelming to me.

A: Completely understandable! Like I said, it’s not for everybody😁

H: True, but you can like what you like :)

So this ties into the next question a bit in that you tend to write dark pieces and horror. Do you think your writing mirrors your music choices or vice versa?

(I'm sneaking in some Talenti gelato while you raspberry chocolate chip. Divine)

A: That sounds delicious! Take your time.😊

Well…I’ve never had a shrink break it down for me, but I think both metal music and horror have heavier themes than other genres of literature and music and explore deeper parts of the human experience. I had to deal with a lot of dark and heavy themes from a very young age. At times darkness was my only home, so instead of letting it kill me I embraced it. Years later, I still have an inexplicable interest in horror. The sad part is, for every fictional horror story, there are thousands of real life stories that are a million times more horrifying. Ghosts are cool. Humans are scary.

H: Aww, yeah, I get that all too well. I think it's interesting how we all process darkness and messed up childhoods. I'm sorry that you know that pain but glad you've embraced it and hopefully come out stronger. I tend to shy away from horror and things that scare me because I always felt scared and now I want to laugh. I like intrigue and serious pieces. I can handle some darkness but flat out horror is hard for me. But I know so many readers that will be able to identify with what you've said. I've seen it in their work too.

A: We all have our own battles. Some of us just fight them with different weapons.

H: So true. I love the way you said that. Do you have interest in writing other genres?

A: Yes! While writing horror comes more naturally, I love reading sci-fi, fantasy and romance and am actually working on both a sci-fi and a fantasy novel that are not even close to being done. But my short story ideas just always manifest as horror.

H: Oh wow!!! I love reading all of those as well. That's exciting. You have a lot going on.

A: Too. Much. Lol. That’s why I hate editing, cause I always want to move onto something else. Don’t get me started on all my hobbies…Jane of all trades, master of none. If anyone thought I was crazy before, they’re certain now.

H: LOL, as long as you're happy writing them, the edits can wait, but I want to read them now. And I almost asked about your hobbies!

I find you incredibly relatable!! Maybe that means we're both crazy.

A: As writers…we’re all a bunch of loons to some degree.

H: So true!! PhD in Loon!!

A: Hahaha, headmaster here.

H: Lol, I think I sit on the board then!!

A: Chairman of the loon committee.

H: Honorary degrees for us all!

Well, I have enjoyed every second of this time with you. Thank you for being so genuine and willing to share with me. I have one last question before I let you go :)

What do you want readers to know about you as a writer?

A: I'm still a noob and have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m always learning something new. I love constructive criticism and the Vocal community. Thank you to everyone that endured my insanity and made it to the end and most of all thank you Heather, for having me!

H: I love that answer! Oh wait, I forgot to ask you a burning question which may or may not go in the interview depending on your preferences...why Aphotic?

A: I’ve always had a deep fascination for the ocean. The aphotic zone is the part of a lake or ocean where little to no sunlight penetrates. Pretty basic, nothing profound, ahaha.

H: I knew the term was ocean related but wasn't sure if it had a special meaning, lol. Love it!! Thank you for sharing that with me.

By Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

Credits rolling, final song almost done...but you don't leave because you're hoping for a bonus scene!!

A: Thank you for being patient with me😊❤️

H: Absolutely!! You did fantastic!

A: You really don’t have to listen to my music if you don’t want to😅 but thank you! I feel like I rambled a lot whenever I got nervous, haha.

H: I know people are going to be excited for this to come out!! I love to explore new things, so I will be checking it out!!

And you rambled just the right amount because this is about you :)

A: I’ve never been interviewed like that before and talking about myself gives me so much anxiety. I’m so glad you asked me to do this because it took me way out of my comfort zone, which is what I needed.

And you’re a great interviewer!

H: Aww thank you :) I'm always nervous too, like I can get sidetracked and want to know all kinds of stuff I had no questions for...hahaha. I'm glad you gave it a try and I hope you had fun. I think doing the chat way is less pressure.

A: I agree, I would be stammering if it was on a recording😂 the chat makes it feel chill and laid back.

H: Yes...and I think we could all use more chill and laid back in our lives. We can eat and sit in pjs while having a great conversation. And I don't like my voice, so I'd be so self-conscious.

A: Someone needs to interview you, I think that would be one a lot of people would be excited for. Your poetry speaks to my soul and you’re always so supportive of other writers.

Agreed! I hate my voice on recordings lol. Of course, we’re always way more critical of ourselves than anyone else will ever be about us.

H: Thank you! That means a lot to me :) And I may have a surprise coming up soon for that!

Sorry you're in the same boat! I sound like a 10 year old hahaha.

A: Lol same though. I sound like a leprechaun. And ooh, exciting, can’t wait!

H: Now I'm imaging you with the costume too singing about lucky charms!

A: Lmaooo, Lucky Charms marshmallows are what’s up tho.

H: Yes, they are! A local store sells just packs of the marshmallows!!

A: I wonder if Amazon sells them🤔

H: Amazon sells everything.

A: True, probably way overpriced on there though.

Alright, you all got enough extra content, we're closing the theater now, go home. Bahahaha!!


I hope you enjoyed this brief look into Aphotic's writing life. I highly encourage everyone to check out her work and subscribe. I'm sharing one of her poems written so beautifully, filled with raw truths that are all too relatable.

Chat interview conducted via instagram messaging on May 24, 2023.


Catch up with the last one in the series:


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Comments (35)

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  • Ricardo de Moura Pereira4 months ago

    Very good

  • MARIE ODEMS 4 months ago

    GREAT WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lamar Wiggins4 months ago

    Mmmm! Brisket sandwiches. Sorry, I have a one track mind when bbq is mentioned. Loved the interview and getting to know yet another amazing writer. Aphotic, you Rock!!!

  • Aphotic4 months ago

    Thank you so much for hosting me, Heather! You put a lot of time and work into these interviews and you do a fantastic job. It was an honor and a pleasure to interview with you!

  • Faisal Bilal4 months ago

  • Kristen Balyeat4 months ago

    Such an awesome interview, Heather! You could have a career in interviewing- you are so good at it! I was so excited to see that you interviewed Aphotic!!! Huge fan!!! Aphotic- it was so fun getting to know more about you! We have some things in common- words also slap me in the face randomly and I keep writing notes on my phone in an incredibly chaotic fashion (not into the thousands quite yet) – and your food choice made me drool (also Heather, that’s my favorite Talenti flavor as well!!)😂 So great to get to know more about you! Great work to both of you!!! 💫💞

  • Brenton F4 months ago

    Another brilliant interview in the can! Well done!

  • Tiffany Gordon 4 months ago

    Very enjoyable interview! Nice job! :)

  • C. H. Richard4 months ago

    Another superb interview Heather❤️ I love Aphotic pen name as fan of the ocean too. Just read Stupid Girl - just wow- excellent. Subscribed and looking forward to reading more of her work. Congratulations on Top story ❤️

  • JBaz4 months ago

    So good, and great pick. Some of those stories are favourites. Also some I have not read, so looking forward to them. I think your choice of music does makes sense. Another great interview, and talented writer Congratulations Heather.

  • Great Interview ❤️💯‼️

  • Caroline Craven4 months ago

    Congratulations - great stuff!

  • Jay Kantor4 months ago

    O~H - With long stretches of Writer Strike Picketers Schlepping down the street of my L.A. Neighborhood ~ I've been referring my 'Senior' Demographic followers to my current Favorite Writer, You! - As a Fellow ~ Corn Bread Fanatic ~ You're Fun - Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author - Vocal Author Community -

  • J. Jay4 months ago

    This is the first interview I've read from this creator, and it was so insightful! I'm definitely going to read more, and also check out Aphotic's content. Her aversion to editing is so relatable.

  • Violet LeStrange4 months ago

    This series has been so illuminating, loving these interviews!!! It’s wonderful getting to peek into the minds of other writers, seeing some common threads and dimensions that are wholly alien is quite the treat.

  • Gina C.4 months ago

    Another amazing interview, my friend!! 😍It was so wonderful to learn more about Aphotic -- I am a huge admirer or her work! I find it fascinating she listens to violin and piano while writing fiction, I love that so much. Learning about everyone's unique little habits is so interesting to me, and always makes me wonder if I should be trying something new! I really enjoyed the insights she gave into "Stupid Girl", that piece was so powerful and really stuck with me! Also, I definitely became hungry over the talk of cornbread 😅yum!! Huge congrats on Top Story -- so well-deserved!! 🥹❤️❤️

  • Cathy holmes4 months ago

    Congrats on the TS, you legends.

  • Congratulations on Your Top Story

  • Naomi Gold4 months ago

    Congrats, ladies! 🥂

  • Gerald Holmes4 months ago

    Wonderful interview. I love the way you make it feel like I'm listening in on a conversation at a coffee shop.

  • Melissa Ingoldsby4 months ago

    “Stupid Girl” inspires me and is real and raw and I feel that story truly in my heart. Congratulations on this awesome top story!

  • Dana Stewart4 months ago

    A great interview, congratulations to you both on Top Story! Very cool to get to know more about Aphotic - a fabulous creative. And fun and funny too! Good job, both of you!

  • Donna Renee4 months ago

    Yay!! Congrats on your Top Story, you two!

  • Paul Stewart4 months ago

    There it is! Well done and congrats on a fine Top Story! Well done Aphotic and Heath!

  • My first thought was 'Omgggg you know Aphotic's real identity. Whoaaaaa.' I too save ideas in my phone notes but it's nowhere near 1,344 🤣🤣 She has a knack for letting things stay that should definitely go. When I read that, it was a punch to my gut. I don't do that with my writing, well at least I don't think I do but I do that with people in my life. I really have a hard time letting go. I hope Aphotic only does this with her writing, unlike me who does it with people. Oh wow, she loves editing poetry but not fiction. She needs music to write fiction but it inhibits her from writing poetry. She's so fascinating! Also, you too enjoy editing poetry rather than fiction. As for the constructive criticism, I'm on the same page as Aphotic. I love it but it should always be given in a respectful manner especially when it is unsolicited. I've had not so nice unsolicited constructive criticism before. If it was about my grammar, style of writing, sentence structure or something along those lines, I wouldn't have minded it. But it was about my plot. He was telling me how my plot should have went. If it was a plot hole, I still would have accepted it. But it wasn't. And he kept going on and on about it. To the point I felt like he was harassing me. I don't know if I'm in the wrong here. But do you think that was constructive criticism? Ghosts are cool. Humans are scary. Total agree with that. That is why I've never written a ghost story before. All my horror stories involves human. And just like me, Aphotic too embraced her darkness! Omgggg I too have a deep fascination with the ocean! I agree with Aphotic that someone should interview you! Maybe Mariann can do it as she's also doing an interview series. Orrrrrr even better, why don't you interview yourself, like Colleen did? I would enjoy reading that so much! Sorry for the long comment my fear friend 😅

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