Category: author

Interview: CG Thomson

Today we’re joined by CG Thomson. CG is a wonderful fantasy author who is currently working on a seven-book fantasy series. She’s currently pursuing representation for the first novel of the series. CG is an imaginative and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I’m a fantasy writer,
currently working on the fourth book of my seven book series while seeking
representation for the first book.

What inspires you?

Everything. 🙂 No,
really. I have so much wonder for this world we live on. I find inspiration in
nature, humanity, everyday life. I can spend twenty minutes marveling at
sunlight dappling the ground, lose hours by the sea.

What got you interested
in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been writing since
I was three. My mother chose storytelling as a way to focus her very ADHD
toddler and whether I was simply telling her stories or learning how to write
them down, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer of fantastic tales.

Do you have any kind of
special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that
you’d be willing to reveal?

There is always an
element of found family in my work, specifically a flawed heroic father figure,
a man whose daughter is not his biologically but chosen by heart. This is an
homage to my father who is (technically) my stepfather. We chose one another
when I was very young and he has defined my life like no other.

What advice would you give
young aspiring artists?

There’s so much advice
out there, and most of it is good, but no matter how good, no matter how
successful the person giving that advice, that does not mean it will work for
you. Figure out what you want from your art. Not everyone wants a career and
not everyone can make a career of it (I’m certainly still waiting to see) and
there’s nothing wrong with that. Figure out what you want and then figure out
what works for you. Sadly, there isn’t a formula for success, but if you’re doing
something you love and you’re improving regularly, you’re on the right path.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do
you identify?

I’m demisexual.

Have you encountered any
kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you
handle it?

Interestingly enough, I
would have answered this with a no just a week ago, but when I tweeted a boost
to this website’s call for interviewees, I lost followers. That said, as a
cisgender female married to a cisgender male, I am heteronormative passing.
There is some privilege there and I acknowledge that and try to use it to raise
asexuality awareness.

What’s the most common
misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That being on the
asexuality spectrum means a person must be sex-repulsed. Of course a person can
be, but frankly a person who is not asexual can be sex-repulsed. Likewise a
person can be asexual and sex-ambivalent or even sex-positive.

What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
orientation?

Understand that you
don’t have to “know” right now. You can be questioning. You can still be
figuring things out. No matter what, you are perfect and lovable just as you
are.

Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?

I’m currently seeking
representation, so there’s nothing out yet, but anyone wishing to keep up with
my process can find me at onaredhorse on Twitter.

Thank you, CG, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Sean Shannon

Today we’re joined by Sean Shannon. Sean is a phenomenal artist whose a bit of an artist-of-all-trades. She has two main focuses at the moment: writing and creating webseries. She has written a novel entitled The Prostitutes of Lake Wiishkoban that was up for an international award. Sean has also written two ebooks of classroom exercises for humanities instructors, several poems, some short stories, and a seventeen-year-old blog. As if that’s not impressive enough, Sean has also created a couple webseries. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I am the author of the novel The
Prostitutes of Lake Wiishkoban
, which was shortlisted for the Dundee
International Book Prize and a quarterfinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough
Novel Award. In addition, I’m the creator and host of the teaching webseries Socratic Sense, which explores
current issues in teaching, and the intersection of education with politics and
popular culture, as well as a personal webseries called Musecast. Those are my (current)
major efforts, but I call myself an “artist-of-many-trades” because I work in
all kinds of mediums, from writing to the visual arts.

What inspires you?

I could name specific artists whose influences I can see in
my work, but what inspires me more than anything is the desire to leave the
world a better place than I found it. That’s a drive that influences all my
work, across all mediums.

What got you
interested in your field?  Have you
always wanted to be an artist?

My parents were both artists, so I kind of come by it
naturally. I also had a very difficult childhood, and while I’ve never had
formal sessions in art therapy, my art has always been a refuge for me, and a
place for me to work out the problems I’m having (then and now). I’ve always
wanted to be an artist on some level, but I’ve always wanted to be everything. I still haven’t decided what
I want to be when I grow up.

Do you have any kind
of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work
that you’d be willing to reveal?

Whenever I’ve tried to include something like that in my
work, it always feels forced to me. Other artists don’t seem to have that
problem, so I guess I’m just not very good at that sort of thing.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Absorb everything you can. Consume art far and wide, even if
it’s not in a medium or genre you want to work with. Everything you experience
will fill your artistic well, and could inspire your art five minutes or fifty
years in the future.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am a panromantic asexual.

Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

The biggest problem I’ve come across is people who assume
that I can’t write a novel about sex work, or a novel with sex scenes, because
I’m asexual. (Never mind that I fit some people’s definition of the term “sex
worker” because I’ve taught safer sex practices before.)

What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That asexuality is synonymous with celibacy, and that
asexuals can’t have (or enjoy) sex.

What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
orientation?

Above all, you are not alone. I don’t believe in making
promises like “it gets better,” because I’m not in a position to be able to
keep that promise to anyone else (or even myself), but know that some of us out
here are at least trying to make things better for asexuals. We would very much
like your help if you can provide it, but it’s okay if you need to stay private
about your asexuality for now, regardless of the reason.

Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?

My blog, seanshannon.org,
has links to my books and videos, examples of my photography, and short written
pieces about everything on my mind these last couple of decades, ranging from
political essays to narrative non-fiction.

Thank you, Sean, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Sarah Viehmann

Today we’re joined by Sarah Viehmann. Sarah is a phenomenal author whose debut novel, Unrooted, is scheduled to be released this winter. Unrooted is a retelling of Snow White that features two protagonists on the ace spectrum. When she’s not writing novels, Sarah frequently blogs about fairy tales and sometimes about asexuality. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I am a novelist writing adult fantasy, a series of fairy
tale retellings beginning with Unrooted,
debuting Winter 2018 with REUTS Publications. The first book retells the “Snow
White” fairy tale and features protagonists on the ace spectrum, along with
other LGBT+ characters, disabled characters, and characters of color. Unrooted is the first in a series of
five books called The Iridia Series.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the human impulse that drives us to tell
stories. How do we use stories to communicate deep needs within the individual
and the community? How do stories changes based on who is telling them? How
have stories changed and how will they continue to change in the future? My
fairy tale retellings seek to explore, if not answer, these questions.

What got you
interested in your field?  Have you
always wanted to be an artist?

When it comes to fairy tales, I was introduced to them by my
father reading me Three Billy Goats Gruff
and similar fairy tales before bed at night. I also frequented the local
library and always went directly toward the 398.2 section where fairy tales are
housed. As for writing, I tend to joke that I’ve been writing since I could
hold a marker, but that really isn’t too far off from the truth! I’ve always
been inventive and a lover of words, so combining those two things into writing
seemed to be incredibly natural for me.

Do you have any kind
of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work
that you’d be willing to reveal?

Oh goodness … I’m not sure how to best answer this. I
think the themes that appear most frequently in my work include mother-daughter
relationships, women who have lost and regain their voices, and attention to
language. There are also many elements from my academic study of literature
that appear in my work, such as structuralism and mise en abyme (the mirror in the text), and those who might be
familiar with such ideas should be able to pick them out.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Do it, and do it for yourself. Disregard any thoughts of
“what if no one likes it?” It’s yours to
like, and what other people think only matters once the work is done and/if you
decide to share it. Don’t let the input of others affect your creative process,
because then the work won’t be true to you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as asexual and grey-biromantic. The latter part
of that is more nebulous for me and I slide around a lot. I tend to find
cis-women and nonbinary people more aesthetically attractive than cis-men, but
that could be a matter of circumstance than anything else!

Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Yes. I once pointed out amisia in a very popular book series
that appeared in the preview a few days before the newest book release. I spent
a weekend fending off aggressive anons on tumblr telling me I’d read it wrong
and I shouldn’t be upset by it. It’s difficult being in the minority of writers
and readers who can and do point out things like that in published writing (and
that’s not the only example). I still find it very important to point these
things out so readers and writers alike learn, but it’s always a little
uncomfortable having to be That Person. In addition to that, I try and model
positive ace and aro representation in my own writing as a model for what I as
an ace and grey-ro person would like to see in writing.

What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Recently, I think it’s the idea that ace people don’t like sex or are disgusted by it. That’s
not the experience of all ace people, and it shouldn’t be a stereotype. That
said, the experience of those who are sex-repulsed
should be respected.

What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
orientation?

It’s okay to try on labels to see what fits. You’re not
betraying anyone by adjusting the label over time to figure out what fits you
best. I had to play around with my romantic orientation a lot before I decided on one, and I’m still not wholly committed to
it. Also, seek out other ace folks, because on the whole I find we’re an
incredibly kind and welcoming community willing to help you figure things out
if you have questions.

Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?

My official website is www.sarahviehmann.com,
but I’m most active on Tumblr (sarahviehmann.tumblr.com)
and Twitter at SarahViehmann.
You can also find Unrooted on
Goodreads! Please stay tuned for its release and other exciting things leading
up to the release date!

Thank you, Sarah, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Regular

Exciting Announcement

Hello everybody!

Interviews shall resume next week (and I still need more, so please keep sending those interview requests!).

Today I have an exciting announcement about an upcoming appearance.

Yours truly is going to be in Artist Alley at Ace Comic Con with my series The Shape Shifter Chronicles! I’m super excited about this show because it’s freaking massive. I love meeting readers and fellow aces at these shows. And I’m also going to be table neighbors with a fellow ace artist, who was actually featured on this site a while back (Hallopino: Tumblr & WordPress).

Here’s the message that was sent with this shiny social media badge: “I am thrilled to announce I will be appearing at @acecomiccon Midwest at Chicago’s Navy Pier October 12-14th alongside Tom Hiddleston, Josh Brolin, & many more for an amazing weekend! Want to join us? Get your tix here: http://ow.ly/uqjO30l7DOf #acecomiccon“

It’s going to be a great show.

If you’re planning on attending, please drop by Artist Alley and say hi!

Thanks, everybody!

ADDENDUM: Ace Comic Con has nothing to do with asexuality. Rather, that’s more a hilarious coincidence :-p

Interview: Lauren Hemphill

Today we’re joined by Lauren Hemphill. Lauren is a wonderful author whose novel, Viridis, is available for pre-order. She has created a sci-fi narrative revolving around an aromantic asexual character, who is supported by numerous LGBT+ characters. Lauren has written the characters that she wished she had growing up. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate author with a bright future, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

My work is primarily fiction writing, specifically sci-fi
and fantasy. I focus on themes such as gray morality, loyalty, and friendship.
I also tend to write LGBT+ characters, with a focus on aro-ace orientations.

What inspires you?

Music tends to be what inspires me most, with instrumental
songs from various soundtracks being what I write to most. Excellent
storytelling by fellow writers also pushes me to do better, be it T.V. shows or
other novels. Seraphina, Orleans, and The Uglies being some of the novels that have inspired me
throughout my writing career.

What got you
interested in your field?  Have you
always wanted to be an artist?

Since I was a child, I have always been telling stories.
Originally, I sought to be a painter, where I could tell stories through the
canvas. As I grew, though, I found myself drawn to writing, and amazed by the
use of words and style to make a world come to life. The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld was the first novel that ever hooked
me, and is what ended up inspiring my road down writing.

Do you have any kind
of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work
that you’d be willing to reveal?

A common theme in most of my written work is the graying of
morality. I tend to enjoy playing with the idea that not everything is black
and white, that good people do bad things, and vice versa. I seek to show the
world as complex in my writing as it is in real life.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Advice I would give fellow artists is this: not everyone
will believe in you. Throughout my time as a writer, I have had many people
doubt my ability to be published and be successful. In those times, remember
how far you’ve come, remember that you need to be your biggest fan. All the
best things in life are hard to achieve, but I would encourage all of you to
continue your art, because there are people out there that need it more than
you could ever know.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual.

Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Luckily, I have seemed to dodge most prejudice within the
writing field. I’ve found a good group of friends and writers who support what
I’m doing, and haven’t had to face writers being ignorant of the orientation. I
have encountered people in the outside world who have disliked my inclusion of LGBT+
characters and believed asexuality to be a phase, but writers themselves have
come across as inclusive and kind in my experience.

What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I’ve heard most often that asexuality is a phase, or
something that will pass when I get older. As I have held no interest in any
gender in either a romantic or sexual sense for over twenty-four years now,
however, I don’t see legitimacy in the claim.

What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
orientation?

I would tell my fellow aces that it’s okay to not be sure,
and it’s okay to take things slow. You should also know that you’re not broken.
I know that’s common rhetoric within the community, but please believe all of
us that you’re truly not broken. It can be hard accepting your orientation when
it’s different than what the world would like to accept, but there’s a
community where you belong, and there’s a community that will support you as
you figure yourself out. Take your time.

Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?

My first novel, Viridis,
featuring an aro-ace lead and a cast of LGBT+ characters in a sci-fi universe
is for preorder now on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble! Searching my name on
either website will bring up my novel, or you can follow this link:

http://a.co/6fHcDAC

My website, winter-publishing.com,
is occasionally updated with writing WIPs and various other projects, and my
YouTube channel, TheKnightmare,
is a place where I review indie animated series. You can also follow me on
Twitter at knightmarelair and
DeviantArt at knightmarekm.

Thank you, Lauren, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Abby Grace

Today we’re joined by Abby Grace. Abby is a wonderful writer and musician. They have been playing the cello for over ten years and are even studying for a degree in it. They’re also going for a degree in English Literature and have written both fanfiction and original poetry. As if that’s not impressive enough, Abby has also recently taken up crochet. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I’m a writer and musician – specifically, I write various
fanfictions, and some original poetry, and have been playing music from the age
of four. My main instrument is the cello, which I’ve played for almost 12 years
now. I’m lucky enough to have been able to pursue both of these passions, and
am currently at university studying English Literature and picking up a minor
in cello. I also recently picked up crocheting.

I’ve had two original poems published in the past, in Skipping Stones (an international
children’s magazine). Personally, though, I feel most accomplished about my
work whenever I receive a heartfelt review on my fanfics. I’ve actually cried
over a couple of emotional reviews on a specific story, “Firsts,” which is
about a trans character trying on his first binder. I also recently started
sharing some of the funnier stories from my life and my family, and am
considering collecting them into a book of short stories.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere – from silly things overheard
in public to major life events to watching a storm roll in. Inspiration for
art, no matter what medium, is everywhere.

There are a few specific people who inspire me every day,
though. My grandmother, who was known locally for her amazing quilts, didn’t
learn how to sew until her late twenties. I crochet to feel closer to her. Janelle
Monáe, who is so unapologetically herself at every turn. Yo-Yo Ma, the
best-known cellist in the world, who is still so kind and friendly as to grin
widely and give a fist bump to a shy fourteen year old who plays the cello,
too.

What got you
interested in your field?  Have you
always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve always loved reading and writing, it’s been an
important part of me for as long as I can remember. More than half of my family
is musically-inclined in some way or another, too, so it was really less of an
‘if’ I would be a musician, and more of a ‘when.’ There’s definitely a few pictures
in a family album somewhere of me sitting on my grandfather’s lap at the piano,
looking absolutely delighted as he shows me that pressing the keys makes sound.

Do you have any kind
of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work
that you’d be willing to reveal?

Hm, I don’t believe I have anything that I work into every
piece I do. A lot of my poetry involves stars in some way, but that’s just
because I really like space.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be discouraged by only
getting a couple of notes or kudos, or even nothing at all. You still have
something valuable to share with the world – the world just takes a little
while sometimes to notice it. I have one fanfic that has the most kudos of that
specific ship on AO3… and I have 10 fanfics with less than 30. I have even more
with less than 3 comments. Don’t worry about the numbers. Focus on doing your
best.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Demisexual

Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Luckily, I have yet to see anything specific in the general
writing and music communities. Within fandom itself, however, I have most certainly
seen people attack others for being ace and/or aro and trying to identify with
a character by suggesting that they are also ace and/or aro.

What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we are frigid, unfeeling, or that asexuality isn’t ‘a
thing’ and is just ‘attention-seeking.’ I hear this most often in regards to
demisexuality.

What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
orientation?

Be confident in yourself. And if you’re not, ask questions!
Talk to the community – most people are happy to chat and help where they can.
It’s something that I wish I had done more when I was younger. It could have
helped me avoid a seriously bad time.

Finally, where can people
find out more about your work?

I’m on AO3 (DarthAbby), and Tumblr (main
butim-justharry) (side – official-cello). Please feel free
to send an ask or private message to either blog if you want to talk!

Thank you, Abby, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Tanya Lisle

Today we’re joined by Tanya Lisle. Tanya is a phenomenal author who writes mainly supernatural YA fiction. She has a number of books available and is currently hard at work on a couple series. She loves the horror genre and there’s brushes of that in most of her work. It’s clear she’s an incredibly passionate artist who loves the written word, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I tell stories, largely with a supernatural bent (Urban
fantasy, superheroes, general supernatural elements) and with a horror edge to
it, usually with some queer content as well.

Currently I’m working on two sequels to White Noise, which is an older YA series, and The Looking Glass Saga, which started as middle grade, but has
gotten older as the characters age. I’m also looking at writing one more book
for Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector,
which is for an older audience, as well as the next book in Cloned Evil, which is more in the New
Adult range.

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me. I tend to get the majority of my
ideas when my mind wanders during stressful periods of my life looking for that
escape. Coming up with interesting concepts to explore always seems to happen
when I’m neck-deep in the middle of another project, so I end up jotting the
ideas down and come back to them later when I have more time to flesh them out.

What got you
interested in your field?  Have you
always wanted to be an artist?

I have been writing since I was little. Originally, it was
asking teachers if I could write an essay or do a project as a story instead,
or adding a narrative to the project in a way that still got the requirements
across. When I got into high school, a friend of mine wanted to do a comic with
a bunch of us in it and asked me for a backstory for my character, which she
ended up really liking. After that, I just kept writing stories without needing
the excuse of doing it for I have been writing since I was little. Originally,
it was asking teachers if I could write an essay or do a project as a story
instead, or adding a narrative to the project in a way that still got the
requirements across. When I got into high school, a friend of mine wanted to do
a comic with a bunch of us in it and asked me for a backstory for my character,
which she ended up really liking. After that, I just kept writing stories
without needing the excuse of doing it for homework!

Do you have any kind
of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work
that you’d be willing to reveal?

It doesn’t always make it into the final version, but every
draft has a scene where a fridge is thrown. It’s a long standing joke and, if
you know me, you know that I cannot let a joke die. And sometimes it ends up
being necessary to the plot, so it’s not all bad! A little ridiculous,
admittedly…

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

There’s already been a lot of great advice, so I’ll stick
with this one: Know why you’re doing it and what success means to you. Your
success might look different from other people’s and you don’t need to compare
yourself to other people in order to determine if you’re on the right track for
your artistic journey.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m asexual aromantic. It took me a very long time (Until I
was 26!) to figure out that was even an option, but once I did I was so happy I
found something that fit!

Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

It’s less prejudiced than it is a lack of representation.
Like in other places, some people don’t think of it as legitimate, but I’ve
also heard that it’s boring to have a story without romance. I’ve seen more
books with asexual characters, but less on the aromantic side. There’s a sense
that without that romantic subplot, a book won’t sell and therefore you must include some romance.

I’ve admittedly fallen into this trap as well. More
recently, now that I’m getting more comfortable talking about my own
asexuality, I’m starting to make it more of a point to make various character’s
sexualities more explicit and to not walk so carefully around it in fear of not
gaining that larger audience. The Looking
Glass Saga
is a series with an aro/ace lead that I’m going to be making
more explicit, and I’m working to include more characters on the spectrum in upcoming
projects.

What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

It’s either that I just haven’t find the right man yet
(Because really you’re straight dontcha know?) or that it’s just that I don’t
like sex.

What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
orientation?

It’s okay to not know exactly what words fit you, and
sometimes it takes a while to figure those out. It’s a spectrum and you might
not fall neatly into one box or another. And, of course, you may find out later
that one word doesn’t fit you as well as you thought it did, and that’s fine
too!

Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?

You can check out this link, which has all my books and will
redirect you to the store of your preference: https://www.books2read.com/ap/nlzBXx/Tanya-Lisle

And if you would like a sampler of books, you can check out
the mailing list here: https://mailchi.mp/506eec46f344/get-your-free-book-now

And, of course, the blog and social media links:

http://tanyalisle.com/

https://twitter.com/TanyaLisle
https://www.facebook.com/ScrapPaperEntertainment
https://www.instagram.com/tanyalisle/
http://tanyalisle.tumblr.com/

Thank you, Tanya, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Minerva Cerridwen

Today we’re joined by Minerva Cerridwen. Minerva is a phenomenal SFF author and visual artist. For writing, she has a story published in Unburied Fables and recently released her novella, The Dragon of Ynys (which features an aro-ace main character). Visual art is more of a hobby for her, though she does do commissions. Minerva does handlettering and draws, using traditional mediums such as pencils and ink. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve always
loved writing, and to my great joy I can call myself a published author these
days. I mainly write fantasy and science fiction and sometimes dabble in poetry
and horror. So far I’ve got a short story in the queer fairy tale anthology Unburied Fables and my debut novella, The Dragon of Ynys, came out in May 2018.

The Dragon of Ynys is a light fantasy tale suitable for all ages,
starring aro/ace main character Sir Violet, the knight of Ynys. He helps Holly,
a trans woman, to find her missing wife, the baker. They suspect the
ever-thieving dragon who lives near the village might have something to do with
her disappearance…

Cover by Kirby Crow

I also love
drawing and handlettering, using traditional materials—mainly because I haven’t
had the time yet to learn more about digital art. I like to experiment with
different techniques: I’ve been using pencils, watercolour, brushmarkers and
ink, both for original works and fanart. I wouldn’t mind taking this to a
professional level someday, but so far I’ve mainly been drawing for myself and
my friends.

What inspires you?

I grew up
with fairy tales, both the ones my mother read to me as a child and all the
Disney movies I watched so many times. It’s no wonder that I love writing fairy
tales myself. However, the big difference with the tales I consumed at a young
age is that there will always be queer characters in my stories. It’s so
important to be able to relate to characters when you’re trying to figure out
your own identity, and I feel like it took too long before I finally
experienced that moment myself. Once you’ve seen your identity validated in
popular media, it’s so much easier to accept who you are, rather than to
believe those who say you can’t feel the way you feel or be the way you are.

I hope that
my writing will make it easier for future generations to find stories that tell
them they’re not alone, not broken, and that teach them acceptance towards
others as well. In that light, I write the stories that I would love to read
myself, with all the dragons and magic and hopefully wittiness that I adore in
the works of Pratchett, Rowling, Tolkien and other masters.

For more
specific inspiration, my friend Fie and I started a project in 2013, inspired
by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-golden Tales. Every week, she took a picture for
which I wrote a ten-sentence story. These days we’ve dialled it down to two
photo-story combinations per month, but Paranatellonta
is still going strong after five years! Getting random prompts from friends is
a great way to stay inspired at all times.

When it
comes to visual art, getting an Instagram account has definitely done wonders.
There are a lot of awesome artists out there whose samples inspired me to try
new techniques. Every month there are challenges going around in different
themes, for any kind of art actually, but in my case those mainly influenced my
handlettering. Practice really helps! I also finished Inktober last year. It
once again proved that an inspiring prompt doesn’t need to be more than one
word or one image. You can see my Inktober drawings if you scroll down a little
on my Instagram.

What got you interested in your field? Have you
always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. As
I said, my mother read fairy tales to me from a young age, and once I learned
to read myself, my greatest joy was to discover more fun stories. There were
never enough of them, so it only made sense that I wrote down my own as soon as
I could. Surrounded by those fictional adventures, somewhere deep inside I knew
what adventure I wanted to have myself, even when I was five years old: I
wanted to be an author, like those wonderful people who’d given me all those
beautiful tales to enjoy.

My drawing
story is completely different. For a very long time I was convinced I couldn’t
draw at all. I just didn’t have the talent. Looking back at art class in
school, I feel like they never stressed the importance of studying references
enough. I was always doodling in my school books for fun, but it never felt
like that counted.

Fast-forward
to when I’d finished university and my parents were celebrating their 25th
wedding anniversary. I didn’t have much gift inspiration, and they joked about
a “grown-up” child making a drawing for their parents—and the fact it
was a joke tells you enough about how much the arts are respected unless you’re
a Big Name. I often feel like our society expects people either to be a grand
artist or talentless, and the fact that there must be a learning process in
between is often completely neglected.

Anyway, I
went through with it, and as I was drawing my parents from a reference photo,
it turned out pretty okay (especially considering it was supposed to remind
them of a child’s drawing). Most important of all, I had a lot of fun working on it. I’d been looking at a
lot of art online since I’d last taken up a pencil, and combined with using a
reference for the first time, I could see I’d massively improved since my last
school drawing years earlier.

From that
point on I let my more artsy friend Fie convince me to take part in courses on
Skillshare to improve my drawing techniques and handlettering. Now, almost five
years after that anniversary drawing, I actually feel like I’ve made some
pretty things!

Do you have any kind of special or unique
signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to
reveal?

As I
mentioned above, you’ll find many fairy tale elements and queer characters in
my writing. More specifically, you’ll encounter a lot of dragons and spiders.
The dragons are a more conscious choice than the spiders, who just always
happen to show up… Just like in real life, I suppose.

I don’t
think I have any recurring elements in my visual art, but I’ve been using a
signature since late 2016. It’s made up of the initials of both my pen name and
legal name.

What advice would you give young aspiring
artists?

I think
it’s an important message that you can always learn and improve. That’s
something I only truly learned from starting to draw. I’d always been
“born” a writer: I started at a very young age and people told me I was
talented. But I had to work to become
better at visual art, and that made me realise that the reason why I’d loved
writing all my life was that I’d been exposed to so many stories to learn from.
Having played with words from a very young age, stories had never been the big
“mystery” that a beautiful piece of art was. So what I mean to say
is: people aren’t born a Grand Artist. They become them. And going down into
history means you’ve worked hard, but also that you were lucky (or, in some
cases, unlucky) enough to have your name picked up and talked about. But that
luck, too, is something you can influence by promoting your work. Like doing
interviews on awesome websites. 😉

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual
and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but I usually go with “aro-spec”
rather than a more specific label, because it’s difficult for me to figure that
one out.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice
or ignorance in your field?  If so, how
do you handle it?

There’s
certainly a lot of ignorance. Even in some queer organisations, it seems the A’s
are often forgotten. I can only hope that my stories will spread more
knowledge, while still being entertaining rather than feeling like a lecture.

What’s the most common misconception about
asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That
asexuality would mean you never have sex. It can mean that, and I guess it does for me. There’s certainly
nothing wrong with a life without sex. But for sex-positive aces it makes
things all the more confusing to figure out their orientation when people keep
asking: “But you’ve enjoyed having sex, how can you be ace?”

Aside from
that, I think that asexuality and aromanticism are too often considered the
same thing. This also makes it hard to find a label that fits you when you do
experience romantic attraction but no sexual attraction, or the other way
round. When different sources tell you that you need to feel things a certain,
very specific way in order to identify as ace or aro, it can be a long search
to find a label that fits. And of course not everyone needs to label their orientation, but in my own experience finding
the names and other people who used them certainly helped to stop thinking I
might be broken or wrong.

What advice would you give to any asexual
individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You’re not
alone and you’re not broken. For me it was a massive help to enter queer spaces
(in my case on Tumblr) and read experiences from other queer people. It made me
discover terms (like asexual and aromantic) which I’d never heard of before I
made a Tumblr account almost 10 years ago. It showed me that they weren’t some
kind of theoretical concept, but a whole spectrum of people who experienced things in different ways—and some of their
experiences were just like mine! Suddenly I was no longer “the weird
one”. Which actually took me some time to adapt to, because I’d become
quite used to being “just odd” and labelling myself that way 😛

However, in
the long run, learning about all flavours of queer (be it through books, blogs,
or directly talking to others) taught me to be more open-minded in general and
made me more comfortable with myself.

Finally, where can people find out more about
your work?

My website
is http://minervacerridwen.wordpress.com/. There you find everything about
both my writing and drawings, with links to my social media. Feel free to
follow me!

Paranatellonta,
a flash fiction project inspired
by my friend’s photography, can be found at http://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/. It updates twice a month and you can read
all the stories and see all the pictures for free.

My visual art can be found
here: https://www.instagram.com/minerva_cerridwen/. I’m posting pretty much everything I draw
on Instagram, showing my learning process with both the pieces that worked out and
the ones that didn’t. Mainly because I find it interesting to track my own
evolution and learn from that in turn!

Other places you can find
me:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/minerva_cerr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minervacerridwen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15904760.Minerva_Cerridwen

And places
to buy my stories:

– The
Dragon of Ynys (Publisher | List of other retailers)
– Unburied Fables (Amazon)

Thank you, Minerva, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Phoebe Barton

Today we’re joined by Phoebe Barton. Phoebe is a phenomenal science fiction author who specializes in hard science fiction. She enjoys writing women-centered fiction and has published a few stories online. Her work has a lot of relevant themes and sounds positively fascinating. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Portrait by Philippe McNally

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I write science fiction; people have tended to describe it
as hard science fiction, and while I don’t agree with the way “hard science
fiction” is often wielded as a hammer to invalidate peoples’ work, I do try to
get things as correct as I can with the knowledge I have access to. If I can’t
believe the accuracy of something, what business do I have expecting a reader
to believe it?

I prefer writing stories that centre around women, and some
of my favourites are the ones that include no men at all – even before I knew I
was a trans woman, I knew that was what made it more comfortable for me to
inhabit the story’s world. Since I started being published I’ve only written
from two masculine perspectives, and one of them is a character in my
still-unpublished, desperately-in-need-of-redrafting novel. Themes of isolation
come up a lot in my work as well, with stories set in places like the rings of
Saturn or Earth orbit or the fringes of the known galaxy, which owes a lot to
my own isolation growing up on the suburban edge of Central Ontario.

What inspires you?

Thinking about all the wide and diverse possibilities of
what the future could hold, of what could become of us if we’re wise enough to
know what we’re doing while we reach for it. A lot of my characters are
genetically engineered or technologically enhanced in some way or another, and
I’ve always been inspired by how the vast canvas of science fiction can allow
us to look at new things in new ways, as long as we’re careful to not fall into
familiar pitfalls.

I’ve also been inspired to write stories as rebuttals to
obscure, nearly-forgotten science fiction stories from decades ago. There were
a lot of problems with the genre back then – there still are, to be honest –
but I think that building something modern on its foundation is beneficial.

Sometimes, too, it’s just things that jump out at me in the
course of ordinary reading that sends me on trajectories I never would have expected.
Sentences in Wikipedia articles have unfolded into stories, and Foz Meadows’ Manifold Worlds books got me thinking
about new story possibilities I might not have considered otherwise.

What got you
interested in your field?  Have you
always wanted to be an artist?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in science
fiction – I grew up with a library of Star
Trek
VHS tapes and tie-in novels – and I’ve been writing for about as long.
My earliest breakthrough was in high school, when my Grade 9 English teacher
gave me a 10/10 for a short story that, honestly, wasn’t very good, but it was
the first time I’d ever got a hint that there might be something to stringing
all these words together. I never thought of pursuing it in an organized, focused
way until fairly recently, though.

When I was a teenager, I read the Writer’s Handbook 1998
Edition over and over, as if it contained all the secrets for success I’d ever
need to know. My original copy disappeared in a move, so I bought a used copy a
little while ago and still read through it occasionally. I think it’s good to
be aware of your personal journey, where you started and how far you’ve come.

Do you have any kind
of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that
you’d be willing to reveal?

I enjoy building puns into the framework of a story, but
mostly the sort that don’t immediately present themselves as such. The entire
concept behind my story “One to Watch,” for example, was derived from a
multilingual pun.

Beyond that, all my stories take place in the same setting,
in different points of space and time. There’s something calming and focusing
about gradually building something intricate out of ordinary parts. The
unifying threads can be hard to see sometimes, but they’re usually there.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t wait until everything feels perfect. Press on with
what you have, and keep pushing. Some of it will taste pretty sour after you’ve
been at it for a while, but that only means you’ve learned and grown as an
artist.

Be curious, and be aware of the context your art lives in! I
didn’t even know that there were
markets for short science fiction when I was just starting out. The more you
know, the more you’re capable of.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as a sex-repulsed grey-asexual. It took me a
long, long time – we’re talking decades
– before I realized that, no, this is not the way everyone is. Most people
don’t think of sex the same way as that Fear
Factor
challenge where they put you in a giant tank and then fill it to the
brim with wriggling mealworms.

Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’ve been fortunate to not encounter very much of either.
Granted, it’s not something I talk about much either, so it may be that my luck
comes from not bringing it up.

What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it’s not a thing that exists.

What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
orientation?

You are valid and you are not broken. As much as this
culture might want to justify it as “being a late bloomer,” sex is not the be-all
and end-all of life. You are not the only one going through this, and you don’t
have to justify yourself to anyone.

Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?

I’ve recently opened an author website at www.phoebebartonsf.com with a
bibliography, links to my online fiction and non-fiction, and some other bits
of interest. Some of my stories are available to read for free online at www.curiousfictions.com. I also
maintain an older blog, www.actsofminortreason.com,
where I run a couple of science fiction review series, among other things.
Additionally I’m active on Twitter at aphoebebarton.

Thank you, Phoebe, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Jennifer Lee Rossman

Today we’re joined by Jennifer Lee Rossman. Jennifer is a phenomenal author who also does cross stitch. For writing, Jennifer writes science fiction and fantasy. She has written stories for various anthologies and just recently released her debut novella entitled Anachronism, published through Kristell Ink. When she’s not writing, Jennifer enjoys cross stitching and comes up with her own patterns. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated artist who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I’m a sci-fi and fantasy writer. I’ve had stories in several
anthologies and my debut novella, Anachronism,
was published this year by Kristell Ink, an imprint of Grimbold Books.

I write weird little stories that make people happy (or at
least cry while smiling) and hopefully make them see the world from another
angle. Violence and swearing levels vary from story to story, but there’s never
anything too gory and swearing is usually limited. Sex is a part of life for a
lot of people, so while it might be mentioned as part of the story, I will
never show anything more than a kiss on the page. (I don’t write anything I
wouldn’t want my grandmother reading.)

My goal is for my words to be a safe space no matter your
gender, orientation, ability, race, or body type.

I also cross stitch. I make all of my own patterns, mostly
dinosaurs and nerd stuff.

What inspires you?

Weird science facts and song lyrics, mostly.

What got you interested
in your field?  Have you always wanted to
be an artist?

I’ve been writing since I could hold a crayon, but only got
serious about it when I realized my disability was going to make having a
traditional job impossible.

Cross stitch was a natural path for me to take: I love
crocheting, but my muscular dystrophy makes that much movement difficult, so I
needed something smaller and more fiddly. I grew up making Pokémon sprites on
the computer, and it turns out cross stitch is really just analog pixel art!

Do you have any kind
of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work
that you’d be willing to reveal?

For crafts, bright colors and animals that are cute while
still being scientifically accurate.

In my stories…I guess queer people and Jurassic Park
references show up a lot.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

You know that weird idea you have? The really silly thing
you want to make, but it’ll probably suck and no one but you will like it? Do
it. Give it permission to suck, let it be just for you. Chances are it’ll be
amazing, and your fellow weirdos will find you and you can be weird together.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Not entirely asexual, but pretty close. I experience romantic
attraction, but sexual attraction is kind of an abstract concept to me. It’s
there sometimes, not very often and not very strong, and sex sounds interesting
in theory, but most of the times it’s just not something I even think about.

Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Ignorance more than prejudice. When you’re writing about
aliens and robots, it’s easy to fall into the “this character is just as
human as the humans because they feel attraction” trap. I usually try to
point out the errors in my reviews.

What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That all disabled people are asexual. My disability has
nothing to do with my asexuality, and there are plenty of disabled people who
experience sexual attraction.

What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
orientation?

You’re not broken just because you’re different. Find some
ace people on the Internet – we’re super friendly and our pride flag is
beautiful!

Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?

I have a blog https://jenniferleerossman.blogspot.com/
and I’m on the Twitter https://twitter.com/JenLRossman
Links to all of my books (including my debut novella Anachronism) and stories can be found here: http://jenniferleerossman.blogspot.com/p/my-work.html

I don’t sell my cross stitch because each piece is usually
custom made for myself or someone I know, but I’m always happy to take on a new
project.

Thank you, Jennifer, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.