Lindsay Ellis has been in the game for over a decade in the online film commentary circuit.
Starting in 2008 with her original series, Nostalgia Chick (renamed Nostalgic Woman), she has garnered a following over reviewing media mostly from the ’90s and ’00s. This includes movies, TV series, and even musicals.
Having had several online series, such as Loose Canon, The Whole Plate, and her video essays, she’s no stranger to ambitious projects. However, her latest is today’s subject.
With her novel Axiom’s End, Ellis has showcased her writing talents in a way the public had not yet seen. Following Cora Sabino, a 20-year-old college dropout with a famous narcissistic whistle-blower father, she meets and befriends an alien life form.
From there, she struggles with what exactly the right thing to do is, as she becomes the only point of communication between herself and the alien codenamed Ampersand.
Last week, I was able to catch up with Lindsay and ask about the book. When drawing inspiration for the characters, she found the two protagonists had parts of herself in there.
“I think with protagonists, you’re kind of lying if you say they don’t represent some aspect of yourself,” said Lindsay.
“There are other characters that are either tropes that felt appropriate or tropes I just kind of enjoy. Like Sol, the government jerk who’s actual a secret softee, that’s just a trope I enjoy.”
Characters in Axiom’s End have depth and life, all with their own senses of morality. Not the least of which is Nils Ortega, Cora’s father who left the family four years before the start of the novel in 2007.
— Ames (@Amesandallthat) August 30, 2020
His inspiration was Julian Assange, a government leaker known for his releases of documents to WikiLeaks about US government and military procedure.
Most other characters, however, are not based on anyone in particular but may borrow names of people she knows. When designing the alien race, the Pequods, she wanted something,
“Effectively both beautiful and horrifying to look at. Kind of in a way that a tiger is or a crocodile is. I think there’s a human fascination with looking at things that are scary. It’s just kind of thrilling”
In regards to her background in film influencing her writing, she noted parallels: “I suppose it’s two-fold. Part of it is structural, the other part of it is influence. Because it is pretty nakedly influenced by movies than it is other books, at least in my opinion.”
This comes in large part due to her time in USC’s film school.
“Part of what I studied at USC is screenwriting, so I feel like the screenwriting aspect, in terms of structure, has been really informative for how I construct things.”
There are no plans for a film adaptation in sight. However, if there were to be one hypothetically, she stated, “I told them I have to be in the writer’s room and I had to get a producer credit, but that was it.”
When talking about how her life has changed as a published author, she explained COVID has prevented much difference.
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“Usually when you debut, you go to all these events and meet your new colleagues, and stuff like that, and I didn’t get to do that. So, I can’t say it’s changed very much at all. It’s kinda like when you hit the [New York] Times list and you’re ‘wow, life is gonna change tomorrow’ and it doesn’t, nobody cares.”
Lindsay has been known for covering all things Disney since her time online. However, don’t expect her to do so again any time soon. After her video “Woke Disney,” she decided she was sick of their content.
“Also from an ethical standpoint, after the Fox merger I was just like ‘this is unforgivable’. And any theoretical interest I had in Disney stuff, it just kinda killed it. This is just a hydra, this is a monster, this making the world worse. Also, buy and large, their movies are getting less and less interesting.”
To all you aspiring authors out there, Lindsay’s advice is:
“You have to be patient. I think that’s the biggest mistake first time authors make is thinking that they’re gonna get it right out of the gate.”
She goes on to state there are a great number of factors that go into if you will or will not get published. She’s made a video on this topic, “How To Get A Book Deal in Ten Years or Less.”
She continues, “I think in general it’s really difficult to have realistic expectations. When you’re first starting out, you’re always nowhere near as ready as you think you are, and I think it’s really hard to get that set of expectations.”
Lindsay notes people must find their strengths and voice as a writer, which is additionally not the easiest.
Lastly, when asking what Lindsay wants to leave the audience with after reading, she wishes you to question. There is no political statement in Axiom’s End, as she stated.
“I’m definitely not trying to make a political statement. I more wanna leave with an open-ended question, especially in regards to secrecy and transparency, like where should the line be?”
Instead, she wishes you to ask yourself: who is “right?” Are we okay being lied to if it protects our sanity?
There is a sequel coming as well in October 2021, titled Truth of the Divine, set this time in 2008!
Read on and find the answers for yourself, friends.