Category: author

Interview: EpicRosalina

Today we’re joined by EpicRosalina. EpicRosalina is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in digital art. While she mostly does digital art, she also dabbles in traditional art, using mostly alcohol markers. Her style draws its inspiration from anime. EpicRosalina mostly draws her own original characters (she also dabbles in writing), but has drawn her friends’ characters on occasion. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I work with digital and traditional art but I much prefer
digital over traditional. When working with traditional art, I use alcohol
markers. I work using an anime style as it’s what I’m most comfortable with. I
mainly draw my own characters however I sometimes also draw some characters
belonging to a friend of mine. I’m trying to get back into writing by starting
a new book soon.

What inspires you?

A lot of my inspiration comes from my characters’ personality
and backstories. Some have pretty messed up pasts. I turn those moments into
illustrations which is fun since I get to experiment with different poses and
backgrounds. Other times, inspiration just comes out of nowhere. Some doodles
that I do get turned into illustrations.

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

I would casually draw starting from the age of 11 mainly
because of a close friend of mine who is skilled with her art. I aspired to be
as good as her and so I started taking art more seriously. It was around that
time when I discovered anime and so I also took inspiration from that sort of
art style. I only wanted to really be an artist when I saw that my art was improving
and had people complementing it.

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 don’t think I do have anything special that I try to
include in my work.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t think that to be an artist, you must be “Born with
artistic talent.” I wasn’t talented at all but I kept practicing and practicing
till I reached a point where I could say “I made this and I’m proud of this.”
Use whatever you need whether it’s references or models. Do whatever you need
to keep you motivated and constantly finding ways to improve.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as Asexual Demiromantic though I do find myself
questioning it sometimes

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

I have encountered some ignorance. I have been told that I
just need to find the right person and I don’t belong in the LGBTQ+ community
but I try my best to ignore it my surrounding myself with people who support
me.

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

People who confuse Asexual with Aromantic. I’ve encountered
people who think that just because I’m Asexual, it means I don’t want to be in
a relationship however it’s quite the opposite. I’m fine with being in a
relationship however I don’t want to have any sexual relationships

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

If you’re struggling then give it some time. Some people
figure out their orientation much sooner than others but that’s ok. If you need
to experiment to find out what you identify as then go ahead. Don’t think that
you have to abide by a label.

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

You can find my art on my DeviantArt, Instagram, and sometimes my Tumblr at EpicRosalina. My upcoming
story will be posted on my Wattpad which is also EpicRosalina.

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

Interview: Sophie A Katz

Today we’re joined by Sophie A. Katz. Sophie is a phenomenal and versatile writer. She writes in a number of different forms and styles. She’s a fellow writer who enjoys writing hopeful stories (we need more of them! 🙂 ). 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.

image

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

It’s all about stories for me – I LOVE stories, and
storytelling. So far, my best skill to bring stories to life has been writing.
I’ll write in pretty much any form; different stories need different mediums,
after all. Some stories are short, some are novels. Some are screenplays or
stage plays. I dabble in poetry. I have a few stories that sit in my head and
insist upon being graphic novels – I’ll have to find someone who’s better with
visual art to collaborate with for those.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me. That’s a vague answer. I have a “story
ideas” tag on my Tumblr with hundreds of pictures and prompts in it, and I
didn’t think that that was out of the ordinary until someone said to me, “Wow,
you get story ideas from EVERYTHING!” But everything DOES have a story to it.
You know that word “sonder”? About realizing that every other person in the
world is living a life just as complex and interesting as your own? I can’t
help but see that in everyone and everything around me. I don’t see things as
just the way they are – I want to know why, and what might happen next. And
that’s what a story is, at its base: why are things the way they are, and what
could happen next?

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

There was this dollhouse in my parents’ house – I think it’s
still in the basement – and incidentally we didn’t call it a “dollhouse”
because Mom did NOT want her daughters playing with dolls; we called it a
“people house,” like that Dr. Seuss book. I’d sit at the People House with all
of our toys, all the animals and action figures and Disney characters, and
narrate their adventures, for hours and hours. It was just what I did. Before I
could write or read, I told the stories of my toys. And then one day, Dad took
notes on the story I was telling, and typed it up for me. That’s where it
really started. After that, I learned to read and write, and started writing
little books, and Mom became my editor. But it took me until junior high to
really start identifying as a writer. Before that, I honestly thought I was
going to be an actress, even though I wasn’t very good at it, and didn’t really
enjoy it. I think because the storytelling thing was just something I’d always
done, I didn’t recognize it as special, or even as “art” at all – but it was
always there, and eventually I recognized it as such, and now it’s what I want
to do with the rest of my life.

Things REALLY took off once I realized that Disney World had
a writing internship…but if I start talking about THAT, then we’ll be here all
day.

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?

That’s a really interesting question. When my big sister was
looking at colleges, I started picking up literary journals from the schools we
visited, and I started noticing a troubling pattern in the works published
there: they were overwhelmingly sad. I concluded then that sadness must be the
easiest emotion to evoke in a story, and the true challenge was to create
something that made people happy.

Bad things do happen in the stories I write, but they very
rarely end that way. Books and movies that end in hopelessness bother me. By
all means, kill your darlings and send me to bed crying, but give me a reason
to get up in the morning! This is a very roundabout way of answering that a
feature I include in my work is hope. My stories are most often about people looking
at the world and seeing not only the bad that is, but the good that could be,
and working to make that good come to be. I think a lot of people perceive hope
and optimism as naïve, and sadness and despair as true art. It’s fine to have
that opinion, but I don’t subscribe to it. I see art in joy, and in the
challenge of creating joy, and in taking on that challenge. I see art in hope.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

You are not completely unique, and that is a good thing.
It’s a good thing because it means that you have something to offer that will
resonate with other people. You are not so different from the rest of the world
that nobody will ever understand; rather, you have something to create that
other people need. Create what is true to you, what is so true to you that it
feels like no one else in the world may have ever felt the way that you feel
about it. Create it and share it with the world. And someday, someone will walk
up to you, and nervously shake your hand, and say, “That’s exactly how I feel.
Thank you for turning it into art.”

Also, I highly recommend learning the skill of biting your
tongue and saying “thank you, I’ll consider it” to critique. It’s not an easy
skill to develop. Feedback is key to growth, and while you don’t have to TAKE
all the feedback anyone ever gives you (you won’t take most of it, and that’s
the way it should be!), it’s good to hear feedback. Feedback is how you learn
what people are getting out of your art, whether your art is doing what you
want it to do to the people you want it to do stuff to. I hope that sentence
makes sense. I’d appreciate feedback on that sentence.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Demisexual, usually. Recently I’ve been feeling a bit more
solidly ace; my body on occasion will send me a surprise bout of “nonononono”
even when I’m with someone I am very much emotionally connected to.

I don’t even know what’s up with my romantic orientation.
It’s like it plays “duck duck goose,” where it’ll go “duck duck duck…” over
everyone around me for ages and then suddenly “GOOSE! YOU HAVE A CRUSH!!!”

I like things to make sense, so it’s all a bit frustrating
for me, but I’m training myself to make peace with the uncertainty. Having
words like “demisexual” and “asexual” and “sex-positive” and “sex-repulsed” to
throw around helps some. I like having words for things.

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

Nothing’s been explicitly directed towards me, but romance
is such a prevalent part of the stories we tell that I can’t help but be
nervous. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to write a love story that someone
will want to read, because I can’t know what it’s like to be the allosexual
people that mainstream romances are about. I’m nervous that putting ace people
in my stories, or being frank about demisexuality, will bring more trouble down
on me than good. But this is my life, this is my truth, and these are the
stories that I wish, oh god do I wish, that I had had when I thought that I was
broken. How could I not write that? But I’m nervous, so how CAN I write that?

Fortunately, I found an incredibly supportive feminist arts
community at my university, and I felt safe enough there to read a piece about
figuring out my sexuality at an open mic. After the show, an audience member
came up to me and thanked me, because what I had read was exactly how it was
for them figuring out their sexuality. That’s when it hit me that however
nervous I was, I couldn’t let that get in the way of creating my art. People
need to know that they’re not alone. And coming up against ninety-nine readers
who think I’m some faker special snowflake is worth it if I can get to the
hundredth reader who needs to hear that they’re not alone.

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

That it doesn’t exist.

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

…Honestly, I wish someone had advice to give ME, because I
struggle with it plenty. What I do know to remind myself of as much as I can is
this: your sexuality does NOT make you a burden, and anyone who makes you feel
like it is can walk the plank.

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

I have an electronic portfolio at https://sophieakatz.wordpress.com/,
and I’ve just begun a writing Tumblr in an attempt to self-promote – you can
find that at https://sophieakatz.tumblr.com/.
Go ahead and send me a message there if you want to chat about anything! Or you
could contact me at http://ohthewhomanity.tumblr.com/;
that’s the blog where I use the “story ideas” tag.
You can also find my Odyssey articles every week at https://www.theodysseyonline.com/user/@sophiekatz.

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

Signal Boost: Another eBook Sale

Hello all!

As you all know, I’ll be speaking on a panel at C2E2 this weekend (more information found here and here).
To celebrate, I’ve decided to have an eBook sale on the first two books of my series.

From April 5th – 9th, the eBook of Sere from the Green will be FREE and Through Storm and Night will be 0.99!

If you’re a fan of fantasy starring strong queer women (including adoptees, written by an adoptee) or you know anyone who is, please check out my books. And consider leaving a review. Being an indie author, I’m relying heavily on word of mouth and signal boosts 🙂

Here’s some more information on the books:

Sere from the Green

There is a race that lives among humans, unbeknownst to
them, called shape shifters, those that can shift from human to animal at will.
Many protect the innocent on Earth and act as the eyes and ears of the guardians,
divine beings similar to gods in ancient myths.

Isis is a woman who lives a normal life until the day she
photographs a murder scene for her job. When the body disappears from her
photographs, Isis is determined to solve the mystery. Her investigation
uncovers answers about her own past and sets her on a journey that will change
her life forever.

Buy here

Through Storm and Night

The Meadows is home to the guardians, a race of beings
similar to the deities in ancient mythology. They watch over the Earth from
their serene lands, keeping everything in check. For millennia, it has been
peaceful. However, in the beginning, there was a great war. A war with Chaos, a
war that is still remembered in the legends of the guardians and shape
shifters.

Months have passed since Isis’, a shape shifter/guardian
hybrid and member of the prophesied Four, narrow escape from the Obsidian
Manor. The Four still haven’t found answers about the mysterious Coop and their
search for the Key has yielded nothing but more questions. When an old alliance
is reforged, the Four are thrown into another mystery. Who are the strange
shape shifters known only as the “glowing-eyes” and what is their
connection to the odd symbol and vanishing bodies?

Buy here

Once again, this sale runs from April 5th – 9th.

I hope those of you who already have books are enjoying them and thanks for picking them up 🙂

Thank you so much everybody!

Interview: Shelby Eileen

Today we’re joined by Shelby Eileen. Shelby is a phenomenal poet who has recently released a book of poetry entitled Soft in the Middle. She uses poetry to express herself and has an amazing dedication to her art. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with an incredibly 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 art, currently, is poetry. I have one self-published
poetry collection titled Soft in the Middle
and almost all of my WIPs are also poetry. Writing is something I’ve always,
always done and poetry has long been my preferred way to express myself in
writing. I think my art has always had a lot to do with communication even if I
didn’t always know it; trying to communicate better not only with others but
also with myself. Picking the right words and putting them together in such a
way that I feel I’ve finally made sense of something is the best thing about
what I do.

What inspires you?

The thought that there is really nothing that has already
been created that is exactly like what I have the potential to create. I don’t
know if it’s naïve or self-centered to think, but my own individuality inspires
me. Other asexual artists inspire me. Self-published poets inspire the absolute
heck out of me. There’s something so pure and immeasurable about their success-
they are literally the embodiment of that “she believed she could so she did”
sentiment and I think that’s so badass.

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

Yep, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even before that
though, I’ve always wanted to be an editor. Reading got me into this whole
world and I’ve never felt like I was meant to do anything else but work with
authors and be an author myself.

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 don’t think I do, or at least, not yet. I haven’t been at
this long enough to figure that out. I would almost prefer to have readers pick
up on a “unique signature” on their own, whatever that could be, without me
actively trying to tie all of my works together. I find myself focusing a lot
more on the differences between my projects than on the similarities anyway.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Make friends with people who are already doing what you want
to do! Social media is a great way to do that.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m asexual. Since figuring out that I’m ace I’ve grown to
absolutely love that part of myself. The label brings me a lot of comfort and
peace. I also identify as queer, bi, and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum.

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

Online and in the poetry/writing community, no. I have yet
to see anyone criticize my work specifically for reflecting my asexuality. My
family and many of my irl friends haven’t ever commented on my asexuality
though, and seeing as I explicitly state that I am asexual in my work, it
definitely feels like they avoid it because they’re confused or made
uncomfortable by it. Silence and passivity on the matter can hurt just as much
as outright objection or disapproval. That doesn’t feel nice but it’s not the
absolute worst reaction I could get, I suppose. I handle it by constantly
reminding myself that my work is first and foremost for me and no one else.
Even if I don’t show it or admit to it often, no one is more proud of me than
me for what I’ve accomplished so far- as long as I feel pride in what I do,
negative reception is easier to deal with.

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

Oh god. That asexuality and the mere concepts of sex and
intimacy can’t overlap at all. That
asexuals are just straight people weaseling their way into the LGBTQIAP+
community. Asexuality as a sexual/mental health issue. Asexuals are broken. Asexuality
isn’t real. Everyone is demisexual. Asexuals can’t have relationships. It’s
disgusting how common it all is.  

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

It’s REALLY okay to question stuff and be unsure or even
unhappy with where you’re at in regards to your orientation. You’ve come this
far on your own and that’s something to be proud of. You should never hesitate
to investigate, dissect, confront, and share all of the feelings you have. I
dealt with orientation struggles/ general unhappiness by seeking out a bunch of
books with asexual characters. A lot of them made me feel so much better about
myself- quite frankly, it made me feel like less of a freak. Getting swept up
in stories with characters that you can relate to that get a happy ending is
great medicine.

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

Amazon buy link for soft in the middle! http://a.co/fLDIzIw

Goodreads page! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36812982-soft-in-the-middle

My Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are all at briseisbooks. My
social medias are not exclusively for my writing, they do contain a good amount
of personal content as well!

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

Interview: Frankie Onye

Today we’re joined by Frankie Onye. Frankie is a wonderful aspiring author who hopes to publish their work one day. They’re currently working on a number of novels, mostly queer fiction and fantasy. A fellow Poe fan, Frankie takes inspiration from a number of different places. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic author, 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.

Well I’m a writer, first and foremost. I write queer fiction
and mostly slice-of-life fantasy. It’s my favorite genre and it’s a lot of
work, what with coming up with magic systems that make some sense, filling in
plot holes, trying to fix my horrible sleeping pattern, but it gives me a sense
of comfort when I write and my dream to get published one day keeps me going.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. Mostly works by artist, Pascal
Campion, Studio Ghibli, Black Panther, Leigh Bardugo and a friend of mine that
got me into fantasy again. She goes by Zuko on Wattpad usually and she has
inspired me and supported me in so many ways. She’s ace as well and one of the
best writers I know.

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

To be honest, it would be the story of King Arthur that got
me interested in actually writing. Morgana had been my favorite and the world
with magic like that had always interested me. Before that, I was a kid that
wrote random declarations of war on the wall with my name signed underneath,
reading works of Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe and Tolkien before resuming
to give my older brother hell. Frankly, I was a weird kid.

I’ve always wanted to write or draw, but i had the kind of
parents that told me it was a waste of time and should get a well-paying job
that could keep me afloat for myself and my “hobbies".

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?

Nothing I can think of. Sorry, mates.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Practice, practice and learn. Don’t be afraid to take
constructive criticism. Even if it’s something you don’t agree with, say thanks
and move on. As art is subjective, there are going to always be people that
think your work is crap, and sometimes, you might be one of those people. Don’t
let that get you down, okay? Nobody can get better if they don’t listen and
take correction but you also can’t get better if you give up just because of
some nasty comments and thoughts. You gots this.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m as ace as it gets, mates!

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

I’ve been told that being ace doesn’t mean I’m LGBT or
queer, that me being non-binary is the reason I’m LGBT. To be perfectly queer,
I’m still not sure about this debate. I know I’m ace and that’s pretty much it
for me.

Another thing is being told that I am just too young and I
have no idea what I’m talking about and that it’ll change when I “fall in
love". Which I mean, is point blank ridiculous. It’s not an on and off
switch, Karen! I’m 18, sure, that’s young, but I’m pretty sure at this stage I
know when my motor ain’t running that way. How do I deal with this? I ignore
the ignorance like it’s the buzzing fly that it is. Life’s too short to scream
at cement walls.

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

That it’ll all change when I found “the one".

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

Own it, live it, and love yourself as you are. I’ve been
struggling with this since I was a short little thing in Nigeria (though some
might argue I’m still a small fry). Felt like a freak honestly and even worse
when the issue about my gender was added on top. You are who you are and that’s
all anyone can be.

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

I’m a bit everywhere, or I try to be.

Wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/user/ivebeenbamboozled
Tapas: https://m.tapas.io/onyefrankie
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/frankieonye/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/frankieonye
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/frankieonye.

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

Interview: Jessica Meats

Today we’re joined by Jessica Meats. Jessica is a phenomenal author from the UK who writes science fiction and fantasy. She writes about everything from superheroes smashing the fourth wall to werewolves fighting for their rights. With a new release on the horizon, Jessica is definitely an author to watch for. When she’s not writing original work, Jessica is curating an online database of books with strong LGBTQ+ representation and is always looking for more recommendations. It’s clear she’s a 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 writer, mainly of science fiction and fantasy books
of various lengths. The shortest is The
Adventures of Technicality Man
, a fun and silly superhero parody that
doesn’t so much break the fourth wall as smash it into a million pieces. The
longest is my soon-to-be-released fantasy novel Wolf Unleashed, a considerably more serious work which explores
themes of oppression and prejudice in a world where werewolves are fighting for
equal rights.

What inspires you?

I write the sort of stories I enjoy, so I would have to say
that I’m inspired by other creators. I’m an avid reader and I love watching
SF&F TV shows and films, so I like playing with these ideas and trying to
find something new and different to say.

I also find inspiration in the real world. The SF&F
genres have always been used to address real world issues by framing them so
that people can look at them in a new light. That’s what I’m trying to do with Wolf Unleashed and there were some
scenes that were inspired by acts of injustice that have been reported in the
news (or frequently misreported and hushed over in cases of institutional
racism). There’s a scene in which a Muslim character talks about some of the
prejudice he’s faced that I rewrote after the travel ban fiasco in the United
States.

It’s not all dark though. I wrote most of my first novel, Child of the Hive, while I was at
university studying mathematics and computer science. In the computer science
side of the course, we had various lectures and discussions about technology
that was currently being worked on, and some of the technology in that book was
directly inspired by those discussions of what was cutting edge at the time I
was writing it.

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

I have written stories since I first learned how to pick up
a pen. When I was little, I would fold sheets of paper together to make little
books and write stories in them. I don’t remember ever making the decision to
be a writer – I just always knew I would be. As I grew up, I had to temper that
desire with realism about the odds of making a living as an author, but I never
stopped 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?

If I do it’s hidden even from me. My writing style is
heavily driven by plot, so I suppose you could say that’s a signature of my
style, but It’s not symbolic.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Keep going. Gaining a skill takes time, so keep working on
your art and you will keep getting better. Nothing teaches like practice.

For writers in particular, think about the things you read.
If you read a book you love, stop and consider what it is about that book that
appeals to you so much, Likewise, if you read something you hate, consider what
it is about the work that’s putting you off so much so you can try and avoid
those things in your own work.

Above all, create the art you enjoy. Focus first and
foremost on creating works that you have fun creating and that you’re pleased
with when you’re finished. Worry about how you’re going to sell them or find an
audience second.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am biromantic asexual. For a long time, I thought I was
bisexual because I didn’t realise the concept of asexuality existed.

I’ve never been sexually attracted to anyone but I have had
relationships and I’m open to romantic love with persons of any gender. To me,
the match of personalities is more important than anything physical.

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

Not really. I’ve seen some ignorant comments on social media
sites and the like, but nothing that has really impacted my writing. This may
be because the discovery of the concept of asexuality and my revelation about
how it applied to me came after I’d been writing for several years. Given the
length of time it takes for a book to go from inspiration, to first draft, to
complete, to publication… my past books haven’t really focused on asexuality.
I have one book that is almost ready to go to the publisher which has an
asexual protagonist, and another one about halfway through the first draft with
an asexual love interest. I may find different reactions when those books come
out.

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

The one I’ve seen most often is just a lack of knowledge –
people don’t know that asexuality is a thing. I went through my teen years
thinking that there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t getting
crushes on pop stars and actors the way everyone around me seemed to be. I know
I’m not the only person to go through this. I had a conversation with a woman
in her late fifties, who told me, “I’d always just assumed I was
broken,” because she didn’t feel any interest in sex.

I had a conversation with some colleagues from work where we
got onto the subject of sexuality. I mentioned asexuality and one of my
colleagues asked me to explain because it wasn’t a term she’d heard before. As
I explained, her face just lit up with excitement and she went, “That’s
me!”

This complete lack of awareness when it comes to even the
existence of asexuality is harmful for so many people who think there’s a
problem with them. These people need to see asexuality discussed openly and represented
in fiction so that they can recognise that they’re not alone.

Outside of LGBTQ+ circles, people aren’t aware of
asexuality, and so that leads to people who fall somewhere on the spectrum
themselves to develop the misconception that there’s something wrong with them.

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

You’re not alone.

There are a lot of different experiences across the breadth
of the asexuality spectrum, so don’t worry if the way you feel isn’t a perfect
match for the way someone else describes their feelings, just know that you
aren’t the only one. There’s nothing wrong with you.

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

I have a blog at http://plot-twister.co.uk
where I post book reviews, articles on writing advice, and news about my own
books. I also have a queer reading list on that site, which is a list of
reader-recommended sci-fi and fantasy books that contain strong LGBTQ+
representation. You can apply filters to find books that have specific
representations. So if you want to find a book that has a demi-sexual
protagonist, or an aromantic major character, you can apply the filters and see
what people have recommended. I’m always keen to get new recommendations so if
you know of good SF&F with asexual (or other queer) representation, please
recommend them.

You can also follow me on Tumblr at http://jessicameats.tumblr.com or
Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicameats
or like my Facebook
page
.

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

Interview: Katy L. Wood

Today we’re joined by Katy L. Wood. Katy is a phenomenal writer and visual artist who is from Colorado. She recently debuted her webcomic, which features two asexual main characters. Katy combines her visual art with her writing, frequently drawing character art and cover art. Her webcomic, Gunpowder & Pine, sounds like an incredibly intriguing mystery story. It’s clear that 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.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

Hi! I’m an author and illustrator, so a lot of my art is
very interwoven with the stories I write. I do single illustrations, webcomics,
novels, cover art, and character art regularly. My work is mostly digital, but
I also do a little traditional work here and there, mostly pen and ink,
watercolor, and marker. I’ve had work featured in the Society of Illustrators
in New York, I have one self-published book, and I have a webcomic (with two
asexual protagonists!) that just started posting!

What inspires you?

I was born and raised in Colorado, a fourth generation
native of the state, and I come from a HUGE family. I grew up with so many stories
about settling the mountains and growing up off the beaten track, and I grew up
a bit off the track as well. It really fostered a sense of adventure and
exploration in me, and I try and pack as much of that into my work as possible.

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

It always seemed like the only possibility for me. I’ve
always told stories and done art, so making a career out of it was the natural
way to go. Admittedly I’m still working on the actual “making money” part, but
who isn’t?

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?

Hmmmm… not INTENTIONALLY. People tell me all the time that I
have a style, but I don’t see it (which I think is true for most artists,
you’re the last one to ever see your style). I do have one character that is in
nearly all my novels, though. His name is Kala and he’s my oldest OC, and I
always manage to sneak him in somehow. He’ll just be a random café worker or
voice on the radio in someone’s car or something. He accidentally became
important in one of my projects, though, and now he’s actually got scenes.
Whoops.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Make friends. Make all the friends. It doesn’t matter how
good your portfolio/novel is, your chances of getting your work out there in
the world are 1,000 times better if you have a good network to help you out.
Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to people you admire, don’t be afraid to
ask questions. Talk to people and keep in touch.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Asexual with probably a dash of bi-romantic leaning towards
women. Small dash, though. If all I ever end up with is a bunch of cats I’m
okay with that.

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

I think the biggest issue I’ve seen is in publishing for
novels. The industry has gotten a lot better about allowing queer content, but
they still have A LOT of catching up to do. Some people in the industry are
stuck in some very old grooves and the refuse to get out of them. At the same
time, there’s tons of awesome, forward-thinking people that are fighting
incredibly hard to change the system, and those are the people I seek out.

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

That the community doesn’t experience homophobia. I,
thankfully, haven’t (in relation to asexuality, anyways). But it does happen to
so many people and it can be incredibly harmful both mentally and physically.

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

You’re awesome. You deserve to be happy and secure in who
you are and how you love other people, and if those other people can’t accept
that it is okay to let them go.

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

My website (which
includes my newsletter!), Webtoons
where you can read my webcomic, my Tumblr,
and my Patreon.

Thanks so much for having me!

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

Interview: Janice Worthen

Today we’re joined by Janice Worthen. Janice is a phenomenal poet and writer from Idaho. They’ve been published by The Rectangle, on a shirt for Backwords Press, and had a poem included in bags of coffee for Nomadic Grounds. Janice also edits Night Music Journal and is always looking to publish work by asexual writers (if any of you out there are interested). When they’re not writing or editing, Janice also does photography. They’re clearly a very dedicated artist. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

My work is a way to share my internal world, my thinking
through the internal and external, in a format that is more comfortable to me
than speech. It’s my way of communing, of sharing things that move me, shatter
me, anger me, transform me. It’s me extending a hand—a vulnerable act, a
gesture of trust. I spend a lot of time with my head in the clouds—thinking
about systems, webs of connection, history and its repercussions, the future,
the present, the joy and agony of the moment as it’s passing, and myself in
relation to all these things—and my work is my way of grounding those thoughts.
With each poem, each photo, each sketch, I think I’m really just asking, “Are
you there?” I think my work is waiting for an echo. I guess I’m twanging a
thread, waiting for the vibration of return.

What inspires you?

Hands down, the underdog. Anyone (or anything) who looks
into the face of their own destruction and doesn’t give in. Anyone who, even in
defeat, holds on to who or what they are, their joy, their right to be. It’s so
easy to give in to fear, to sell out, to back down. But it’s so beautiful when
someone stands their ground, turns the tide, shakes the foundation of the
powerful. I hope that, in the face of all I fear, I rise.

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer because writing made me
feel real, feel valid. I was a shy, quiet, fat kid who spent most of their time
in the library. A kid who clearly didn’t fit the gender binary. I think because
of these things it was easy for others to dismiss me, and because difference is
so often seen as threatening, to bully and try to break me. But when my voice
was a whisper and easy to ignore or speak over, I found my writing was harder
to dismiss. My self was harder to ignore and deny. My writing forced others to
see me as human. Through my writing, I existed.

But writing was also a way for me to have a conversation, to
become a part of all those books that gave me comfort, that fueled my
imagination. It sounds weird, but writing felt like a way to give back, to say
I hear you. I hear you.

Only recently have I focused more time on photography. I
wouldn’t call myself a photographer. I don’t have any fancy equipment. My
degrees are in writing, not photography. But capturing a moment and sharing
that moment with those I care about is something that gives me great joy.

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’ve noticed that mirrors pop up often in my work.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Sometimes the work that you get the most pushback on will
make the most difference. Seek out and listen to feedback but always ask
yourself what the motivation behind that feedback is. Sometimes people will
criticize/dismiss/mock your work when they really want to
criticize/dismiss/mock you. And sometimes the work you feel like throwing away
will be treasured by someone else who might live in the same moment, the same
thought, and the same place as you, even if they come after you. You can be a
friend, ally, or even hero to that person. Be open, but also be assertive and
bold and confident in your work, your experience, your perspective. Even when
it’s hard, keep making your art.

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?

Oh, yes. I’m an asexual in a very sexual field. I’m
constantly aware of this. I’m constantly reminded of this. Many in my field
consider sex or desire as essential to art, liberation, and even revolution. They
simply can’t comprehend and are sometimes hostile towards someone who doesn’t
feel or think the same way they do about something they’ve put at the center of
their art.

As an asexual, I often feel like I exist outside my own
field. Since I’m not willing to participate in the secret handshake, I’m not
allowed in the club, a club that is often abuzz and fueled by gossip
surrounding sex and desire. Because I’m an asexual, I feel like I’m not allowed
to have an opinion on work or artists in my field, and any opinion I voice is invalid.
Not only that, but anything I say that goes against the dominant narrative of
sex and desire is seen as an attack, not only on the writers and work that
value sex and desire, but an attack against liberal or progressive values or
even the sexual liberation movement itself. I find this odd because I’ve been
accused of being too progressive and consider myself more progressive than many
of the liberal people I know. And I see the growing acceptance of asexuality as
a victory of sexual liberation, not something at odds with it.

My orientation is virtually invisible in my field. I was
once excited to come across a published poem about asexuality for only the
second time in my life only to learn the writer is not asexual but felt at
liberty to write with authority about my orientation. The 2016 VIDA Count found
that The Times Literary Supplement was
“one of the few publications to publish asexual people this year.”

Prejudice and ignorance are often expressed through microaggressions,
which are common and remind me how invisible my orientation is. A poet I know once
said that a way to express disapproval of certain voters is for “us” to stop
sleeping with them, as if “we” as writers are sexual gatekeepers, a single
unified sexual force that rewards or punishes behavior with our shared sexual
prowess, the primary implication being that everyone is allosexual. With each
casual comment like this I become unwelcome, not part of the community,
invisible.

I came out because I realized it was important to counter the
all-too-common assumption that people like me don’t exist in my field. After I
came out, it felt like I’d actually been erased (no pun intended) completely. Perhaps
this is just perception, perhaps it’s a reflection of my work, but it seemed
like people suddenly weren’t interested in reading anything by me, published or
not, or having discussions with me about others’ work, etc. I had placed myself
on the outside. I could observe but not participate. I often feel like I’m
throwing my work at a wall now, but I don’t regret my decision to come out.
Others will find me, and I will find others, and we’ll make new, more inclusive
communities. That’s how I handle all this: reaching out, standing up, speaking
out.

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

Phew, the most common. I guess in my field, among members of
my community, the misconception I most encounter about asexuality is that all asexuals
are hostile towards, afraid of, or somehow consider themselves above sex or allosexuals.
I myself am sex positive. Sex is great for other people who want and get
fulfillment from it, and I think sexual freedom is vital. Sex just doesn’t
interest me in the slightest, and I wish others felt as positive toward my
orientation as I do toward theirs. It’s funny because many of the people who
are afraid I’m judging their orientations and lifestyles don’t realize they’re
actually the ones judging and afraid of mine.

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

Find or plug in to your community. Even if you’re an
introvert like me, it helps to see other asexuals being their asexy selves and
to know you aren’t alone. Join asexual groups and follow asexual artists on
social media. Read and watch anything by and about asexual people. Don’t be
afraid to find a support system and to cut toxic people out of your life that
break you down instead of build you up. Embrace the struggle. You don’t have to
have all the answers right now. You don’t have to be certain of anything right
now. Don’t be afraid of the present or the future. Just by existing, you are
shaping that future. Don’t be afraid of you. This might be easier said than
done, but repeat it like a mantra: I am not alone, I am part of a community, I
am valid, my experience is valid, my voice is important, I matter, my art
matters, I am paving the way for others like me.

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

I’m on Instagram (at impossibleblossom). I’m
also on Tumblr (janiceworthen.tumblr.com),
and you can find links to some of my poetry there. I’m also the editor of Night
Music Journal (nightmusicjournal.com),
and I’m always accepting submissions of poetry, essays, and hybrid work. I
really encourage fellow asexuals to send me work and pass along the invite to
your LGBTQIA friends!

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

Interview: Hannah

Today we’re joined by Hannah. Hannah is a phenomenal fanartist who writes fanfiction. She has dabbled in a number of fandoms including Miraculous Ladybug and Voltron. When she’s not writing fanfiction, Hannah also has a few original novellas that she’s working on. She’s clearly 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’m a fanfiction writer, but I’ve kind of put that on hold
for a while as I work on my university senior thesis, and my other original
ideas. My earliest fandom was the anime One
Piece
, but I’ve written for Detective
Conan
, Miraculous Ladybug and Voltron: Legendary Defender, too. My
original story is still in its early stages, only about five chapters in, but
it’s coming along.

What inspires you?

Reading other people’s fanfictions, actually. Whenever I’m
in a slump I go and reread my favorite OTP fics and tell myself that if they
can publish a 50k fanfic, for free, then
I can eek out a few more pages of a chapter. Also going back and reading
comments on my older stories; I occasionally get a comment on my old stuff on
fanfiction.net and every time I’m stunned that someone dug around and found
this unfinished Detective Conan fic
in the depths of an ancient website, but it still makes me happy whenever I
look at those comments.

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

I guess read a lot when I was a kid, and wrote short (and
honestly very bad) stories on notebook paper. I went abroad with this program
called People to People, and I met a girl there with whom I would roleplay this
kind of Avatar: Last Airbender-esque
game. The story was so good I wrote it down. It never went anywhere, but the 15
or so chapters I still have it on a flash drive somewhere haha. Around that
time I was really into cartoons and anime, and discovered fanfiction.net. I
read other people’s stories and AUs, and started to create my own. I didn’t
start writing original stuff until high school, and though I have a lot of
dropped projects, I think the one I’m working on now will be a keeper.

I don’t really want to be a writer in the future though; I’m
planning on going into linguistics and East Asia Studies, so anything I do
publish will likely be academic. But just because I’m publishing non-fiction
doesn’t mean I can’t write fiction for fun!

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?

Hehe, none that I can think of!

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

READ. I don’t care
if it’s novellas, classical literature, or more fanfiction, just read. It will
constantly give you new ideas and ways of thinking and describing, and you
might find yourself adopting and adapting ideas, which is totally okay (as long
as it’s not blatant plagiarizing lol).

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m a heteromantic asexual, though I’m kind of somewhere
between demi and ace. I have little to no sex drive but might be willing to do
some things with someone I’ve been with for a while without actually doing it, y’know?

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

Luckily my parents were accepting of my sexuality, though my
Mom frets sometimes that she feels like I’m “missing out,” and I tell her in
return that “I can’t miss what I never had.” My university is also very
accepting, so no problems there.

It’s when I try to get into the dating world where I find a
lot of trouble. Whenever I tell a guy I’m interested in that I’m ace, the most
common question I get is “So are you a virgin,” which is honestly one of the
worst things to ask a person. I actually have an Asexuality FAQ note on my
phone that I send/show to people to avoid going through the same “What is
asexuality?” conversation again, lol. I have yet to find an asexual guy in my
area though (Ay, near Milwaukee, WI!)

Some of the guys think they can handle the whole “no sex”
thing, but end up leaving after about two weeks. It’s routine, but also quite
hard on me emotionally. Handling and re-convincing myself that I am valid is
the hard part: Am I that unattractive that this person doesn’t want to even
try? No, you’re beautiful. Do I wish that I wasn’t asexual? Sometimes. But I
think that being asexual has its perks, like communities like this online.

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

Speaking of my Asexuality FAQ, one question on there is
pretty common (besides the virginity one): does everything work? And it just
makes me laugh at this point. I can have sex, I just don’t want to. (A funny
question I got once was: “So do you reproduce by cloning like plants?” and I
responded “That makes about as much sense as saying your nose is running when
it has no feet.”)

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

It’s normal. Maybe no one label works for you. I’m almost 22
years old now, and only just last year understood that I was floating in
between demisexual and plain ole asexual, so really there’s no shame in calling
yourself one thing and deciding later that something else makes more sense, no
matter how long it takes you. Take your time. It’s hard to be on the aspec in a
world that is obsessed with sex, but you come out the other side stronger for
it. Don’t feel pressured to have sex because it’s what society expects of you.
I almost fell victim to that kind of mentality, and really screwed with my
mental health the first few years of university. Raise your ace flag high!

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

My Archive of our Own name is 1004_Angel, and if you
want to read my really old stuff from fanfiction.net, that’s 1004-Angel (with a
dash instead of an underscore; fair warning, I don’t remember what is on there
at all, so browse at your own risk!). I also have some one-shots on my Tumblr
at the-noble-idiot (tag:
Hannah Writes) and other ace positivity things (tag: acengers assemble). My
original stuff isn’t online, but if you like I can send you the first chapter,
just message me on Tumblr! ;D

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

Interview: Sachin Babu

Today we’re joined by Sachin Babu. Sachin is a phenomenal author from Southern India. He writes a variety of things including poems, short stories, anecdotes, and quotes. Sachin is also a fellow fan of Edgar Allan Poe (YAY!) as well as a number of other authors. He has a site where he posts a lot of his poetry. It’s clear that Sachin is a dedicated and talented writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I am a writer. I write poems, short stories, quotes,
anecdotes and many more. Writing has always been my passion; it inspires me to
be a better human being than I was yesterday. I usually write stuff I feel at
that particular point of time, for example, if I am feeling happy, I write a
happy poem, if I am feeling sad, I write a sad one. I also love to read stuff
that others have written; it helps me gain a new perspective on that particular
aspect. To be honest I feel my day is incomplete if I don’t write anything at
the end of the day. For me writing is like a drug ecstasy and I am addicted to
it.    

What inspires you?

Basically, my feelings inspire me the most. I am an
introvert and writing is just a way to express what I actually am. In fact, the
randomness of life is what inspires me the most. We all have highs and lows in
the life, happy moments and sad moments, we have days where we are full of
energy and positive aura and few days we just feel tired, what I believe is we
should embrace all of that because that is what makes life adventurous. Finally
I have only one thing to say, embrace your feelings, they will inspire you to
achieve miracles.

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

Before writing poetry I used to read a lot of books. Sylvia
Plath, Maya Angelou, Edgar Allan Poe were one of my favorites, they got me
interested in writing poetry. J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King etc
got me interested in writing stories. As a kid I had a very good imagination,
and once I was into my teens I decided to write and since then I never looked
back. I also feel my family and my teachers had a great influence on me. My
family appreciated art since the beginning and my teachers guided me in the
right path.    

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 usually follow a strict rhyme pattern in my poems unlike
the modern poetry where people love free-styling. I also add my name ‘Sachin B’
at the end of poems and stories I write.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

My advice is very simple, ‘go with your gut.’ Nothing and no
one should stop you to do the things you’ve always wanted to do, just believe
yourself, work hard, love what you do and most importantly do not think of the
outcome, everything will fall in its place eventually. Try to live an
adventurous life.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify myself as a demisexual.

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

I don’t consider it as a prejudice but people are definitely
ignorant about aces in every field. They just don’t seem to accept what we are
for some reason. In my field whenever I have written something about
asexuality, people just take offence, as if it’s some sort of sin but that
didn’t stop me from doing so, I have written a poem on asexuality recently and
I’ll keep writing, no matter what people have to say, I just don’t care, I
ignore them.

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

Asexuality is no stranger to misconceptions; I’ve
encountered many misconceptions about it. The most common ones are that
asexuality is just a phase or is a sin. People even think that person who identify as asexual can’t be in relationships.
Asexual are prudes and are afraid of sex is one misconception. The funniest one
by far is asexual can reproduce themselves.

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

I only say our orientation is valid. Asexuality is not a
phase, not a sin, and you are definitely not confused. Stay true to what you
are, they are many people like you, there’s nothing wrong with it. And most
importantly do not afraid to fall in love, have a relationship, if sex without
love is valid then love without sex is too. Be proud to be an asexual.    

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

You can find out more about my work on Tumblr, I have a blog
where is post almost everything I write. The blog is called at iam-pentastic.

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