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The Atlas Six and the Shifting Landscape of Dark Academia: An Interview with Olivie Blake

In a recent interview with Alexene Farol Follmuth, who writes under the pen name Olivie Blake, we delve into the fascinating journey of her novel “The Atlas Six” and explore the evolving landscape of the dark academia genre. This article delves into the author’s experiences navigating the publishing industry, the impact of social media on book virality, and the unique characteristics of “The Atlas Six” that captivated readers worldwide.

The Rise of “The Atlas Six” and the Role of Social Media

Originally self-published, “The Atlas Six” became a viral sensation on TikTok and Twitter in 2021, propelling it to traditional publishing success with Tor Books. Follmuth attributes the book’s virality to the captivating illustrations by Little Chmura, which provided a visually appealing element on social media. Additionally, the book’s widespread international interest, fostered by Follmuth’s years as an internet fanfiction writer, contributed to its global reach.

The Transition from Self-Publishing to Traditional Publishing

Follmuth’s transition from self-publishing to traditional publishing was driven by her desire to reach a broader audience and gain recognition within the literary world. Traditional publishing offered the infrastructure and resources necessary to distribute and market the book effectively. However, Follmuth emphasizes the role of luck in the publishing industry, highlighting the importance of finding the right audience at the right time.

The Intersection of Dark Academia and Social Critique

“The Atlas Six” resonated with readers due to its exploration of dark academia themes and its critique of the elitism and competitive nature of academia. Follmuth acknowledges that the book’s success may have been influenced by the growing interest in this genre. However, she also points out the shifting expectations for dark academia, with some readers criticizing “The Atlas Six” for its perceived lack of intellectual depth due to its commercial success.

The Complexity of “The Atlas Six” and the Value of Character-Driven Narratives

Despite its popularity, “The Atlas Six” has been criticized for its lack of plot and reliance on character voice. Follmuth defends her approach, arguing that the book’s strength lies in its character-driven narrative, which allows readers to connect with the complex and flawed characters. She emphasizes the importance of recognizing the value of stories that prioritize character development over intricate plotlines.

The Challenges of Categorizing “The Atlas Six” and the Changing Publishing Landscape

Follmuth acknowledges that “The Atlas Six” is difficult to categorize, which has affected its eligibility for prestigious awards like the Nebula and Locus awards. She expresses her understanding of the industry’s placement of her book as a commercially successful work among young readers, particularly young women. This highlights the ongoing debate about the value of literature based on its popularity and appeal to a specific audience.

The Role of Social Media in Defining Audiences and Recognizing Changing Demographics

Follmuth expresses gratitude for the role of social media in enabling authors to directly connect with their readers and clearly define their target audience. She acknowledges the importance of social media in shaping the publishing industry and recognizing the changing demographics of readers. Social media has facilitated a more direct and transparent dialogue between authors and their audiences, allowing authors to better understand and cater to the tastes and preferences of their readers.


Olivie Blake’s journey with “The Atlas Six” provides a unique perspective on the evolving relationship between authors, publishers, and readers in the digital age. The book’s success highlights the power of social media in propelling books to virality and the importance of recognizing the value of stories that prioritize character development and social commentary. As the publishing industry continues to adapt to the changing landscape, authors like Olivie Blake are paving the way for new voices and perspectives to emerge and connect with readers worldwide.


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