Person of Marvel: Kya Buller - Founding Editor of Aurelia Magazine
“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” - Beatrix potter
Investors in our own narratives, the way we share our personal stories and disclose our inner truths is largely dependent upon the experiences that have shaped us and the platforms we have access to.
Giving a voice to self-identifying women and non-binary people, Kya Buller, Founding Editor of Aurelia Magazine is all too aware of the conditions and restrictions that may inhibit and prevent us from sharing our own stories.
An online platform for opinions and observations, Aurelia is not only a safe space, but a place of solace, where celebrating individuality and self-expression through the medium of storytelling is welcomed with open arms.
Creating Aurelia while also studying for her degree in English Literature at the University of Liverpool, Kya, a talented writer in her own right, is passionate about personal essays serving a grander purpose, that of connection and community.
Originally from Manchester, a catch up with Kya at North Tea Power seemed apt, over a lemon and ginger infusion we discussed the current appetite for authentic storytelling, unpacking taboo subject matters and creating a space for women in these increasingly politicized times.
What was the motivation behind creating Aurelia?
I have always loved writing and words, and I think it’s a really interesting time to be telling stories. I was conscious of wanting to create a platform that operates out of the North; being Mancunian and studying in Liverpool, I have a lot of love for both of my homes – I started out by approaching writers from these places because I was eager to give them a voice. I still am, but Aurelia now takes on pieces from writers worldwide, something I’m thrilled about. Also, as a freelance writer, I was really inspired by my great experiences with editors such as Zoe Beaty, Niellah Arboine and Kuba Shand-Baptiste, and knew I wanted to lend a similar hand to emerging voices. I love being an editor, it’s magic to see a piece take shape.
Where did the name originate from/why is it important to you?
Aurelia is one of those words that follows me around. I first heard it in high school when I was watching a Sylvia Plath documentary – it’s her mother’s name. I also stepped on a dead jellyfish in Cornwall and googled it, it was called an ‘aurelia aureta’! When I was trying to settle on a name I couldn’t stop thinking about Aurelia. It’s perfect because it also has connotations of “golden”, and that’s the content I want to be putting out there!
After launching the website, I found a photograph of myself in Rome sat outside a train station called Aurelia. I had completely forgotten about it and that was weird. That’s what I mean about it following me around!
What would you say the mission of Aurelia is?
To give voice to self-identifying women and non-binary people, with a focus around first-person thoughts, feelings and experiences. I am interested in the ‘I’. Nothing is too small and nothing is irrelevant. I want people to feel inspired to share their stories and feel emboldened by their decision to write their truths down.
How have your own life experiences shaped your attitude towards writing and publishing personal essays and stories?
I started out writing personal essays. I wrote something about being bullied in school for being non-white for Gal-dem. I couldn’t believe it when I got an email saying they’d publish it. I’d written it in a kind of frenzy and felt sick as soon as I’d send it off. I was thinking: they’re not going to care. Turns out they did and it gave me the confidence I really needed. Because of that, I am really committed to publishing personal essays. I think they’re vital to our understanding of each other.
The articles revolve around first-person, how important is it to hear diverse voices and alternative opinions in our current political climate?
The political is the personal. Our political beliefs are who we are, I think. Diverse voices are the key: I’m interested in how things affect marginalised groups the most. I publish a lot of opinion, though I wouldn’t be interested in publishing anything that, say, defends Donald Trump or the Tories – I wouldn’t endanger the mental health of the people I’m reaching out to in that way. I’m not interested in being controversial for the sake of it, and am always really wary of publications that are. I want Aurelia to be a safe, loving space.
Do you feel that a lot of topics you address are still seen as taboo? What can we do as a society to change that?
I have definitely felt a change since working on Aurelia. People are so much more open than I expected, and I love that. Perhaps the only topic we’ve published that I think is still seriously taboo is abortion, because of the shame we are taught to feel when choosing to end an unwanted pregnancy. Interestingly, pieces on abortion have resulted in the most messages along the lines of ‘thank you so much for this, I really needed it’. We have to keep talking.
How can we reach out to more women through this style of journalism and reporting?
A lot of writers now approaching Aurelia are previously unpublished. I think that when people see that others care about their lives, their emotions, their feelings and opinions, they will naturally be inspired to get involved. That’s something I love so much about Aurelia. There is a real sense of community, the sense that it’s the perfect place to be writing openly and honestly, and in return you’ll be met with open arms.
What one thing would you like Aurelia to be known for?
Why was it important for you to make your platform as open and inclusive as possible?
I’m a bisexual woman of colour that has struggled intensely with mental health. I’ve been pushed to the side before and have felt hopeless. Words were what helped me. I’m now in a position to fight for something different, in a way that is (hopefully) inspiring to those that need it, and those that just like to read something different.
There is raw quality to the content produced on Aurelia, do you think there is an increasing appetite for this level of honesty and opinion right now?
Thank you! and yes, absolutely. I couldn’t be happier about that. I do hope I’m playing a part in this growing appetite. People feel lied to a lot, and people often feel manipulated by what they read. I hope Aurelia is a breath of fresh air.
Do you have any tips for anyone wanting to create their own digital magazine?
Be patient and authentic.
Straddling Liverpool and Manchester for your studies, where are some of your favourite places to go to be feel inspired?
For inspiration and experiences, both cities have beautiful galleries. I also love Sefton Park in Liverpool because its so beautiful and calm. When I’m at home in Manchester I can often be found buying a lot of paperbacks from Oxfam Books in Chorlton.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
To be a good writer you have to read a lot more than you write.
Any magazines we should be reading right now?
I do all of my magazine reading online at the moment. Most mornings I wake up and check Gal-dem, Into the Fold and The New Yorker. I also look at the culture tab of The Guardian and attempt to finish their crossword. I only read the news once a week for happiness reasons…
Any favourite journalists, personalities, platforms?
Complete the sentence, good writing should...
Make you nod intensely.
For more stories that make you nod intensely, head to Aurelia Magazine.