The now mostly collapsed socmed platform Ello.co was a minimalistic non-profit alternative to FB with respect for privacy and no advertising. It attracted a lot of artists and writers and it was where I started writing both fiction and socially in English. The #ellowrites community was fertile ground for all kinds of weirdness and I made friends with some “fellow mutants”. It shaped who I became in troubled times. Ello was a real place to me.
Together this small but diverse group created the fictional living twin city of Azza-Jono and collaborated on a collection of short-stories set in that same world. I started writing a story-line I called The Second Voice, of which my short-story The DreamCube Thread (now found in Vast published by Orchid’s Lantern) is an offshoot. I still plan to continue writing The Second Voice in the (hopefully) not to distant future.
What is Azza-Jono then? It’s The Conscious City. The two cities of Azza and Jono connected and divided by a river and a great wall. A city-state with it’s own anthem. Populated by high-tech assassins and glitchslingers, mutants and magicians. An exploration into art, science, religion, madness, dreams and wakefulness. It’s as hard to explain as it is looking into the Sun.
From my personal point of view I think Azza-Jono is fiction becoming real. Much like myself. My first words on Ello were: “I write myself into existence.”
Today the former ellovians are scattered all over internet. And since most of them seem to shun socmed there is almost no information about this fantastic multi-disciplinary project anywhere – except for the collections by T van Santana (see links below). Although I know some of us continue to work with and in Azza-Jono through writing, art, design, music and even animation.
In searching for what remnants I could find that is still available on the internet I was reminded of many fond memories. This strange community of writers, artists and musicians, and the odd fiction we sprouted together helped me to accept myself and transform as a person. I wouldn’t have been Ellinor Kall if all this hadn’t happened.
The time and place was just right. The positive mood, the feeling of something new, curiosity celebrated and rewarded, diversity appreciated, and the sheer force in the creativity. It won’t happen often. Or ever again. For a while this other world took me in and I lived there while healing my wounds.
And to think I just stumbled upon it all by chance when I found Ello while randomly browsing the internet to distract myself from sobbing alone and abandoned on a ten hour train ride all these years ago.
Links to Azza-Jono
T van Santana became our editor and collected our first drafts in this advance reading collection (as in unfinished sneak peak)
My short-story The DreamCube Thread with strong connections to Azza-Jono is published in British anthology Vast
My own main contribution is a collection of The Second Voice-stories that will either be published in print or made available on this website once I’ve had time to work some more with them.
More stories by contributors (will add more when I find them)
Azza-Jono portal (stories, videos and things still up on Ello)
Search for even more fragments and work-in-progress that is left on Ello.co (though many profiles and posts have been deleted since)