Category: author

Interview: Anila

Today we’re joined by Anila. Anila is a wonderful fanartist and jewelry maker. They write in a variety of fandoms and enjoys writing fanfiction. They aspire to publish some original work some day. When they’re not writing, they enjoy making jewelry. 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 primarily a creative writer – mostly fanfiction but I’m
working hard to finish my original works. It’s a dream to be published someday.

Other than that I make wire jewelry.

What inspires you?

To be honest, it can be anything from a long-forgotten
scribble in the margins of old lecture notes to something a passer-by might be
wearing. On one hand that means I’m lucky because I can draw from most things
but on the other hand all these WIPs can get me down.

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

I’ve always been good at writing – and when I started
showing it to other people they were interested and, more importantly, they
were affected. That made me want to write more.

As for jewelry, my mum bought a jewelry making book when I
was a teenager and it seemed to stick.

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?

My writing tends to have an overabundance of commas, an
abuse of semicolons, and a tendency for things to come in threes. Just like
that previous sentence ;D

It’s hard to have a signature when it comes to wire jewelry,
since it’s so freeform.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Try not to put yourself down too much, though I understand
it’s easy to do so.

Having friends act as cheerleaders is a blessing and can be
one of the few things to keep you out of a slump.

Also, specifically for writers, if you understand the
importance of receiving feedback in your work please be the change you wish to
see the world – when you read online works, leave comments you yourself want to
receive.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m a biromantic grey-ace. Basically I can have feelings for
just about anyone regardless of gender, but wanting to be intimate is not
necessarily included in that.

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

While writing there is a big lack of ace representation. And
of course there are the people who insist that so-and-so character simply cannot
be ace because there’s no evidence that that is so – to which the reply is that
this is fanfic, everything is possible, and ace-spectrum people do exist. There
was also one person who tried to tell me that I couldn’t be grey-ace because of
my smutty works, which… still makes me sigh.

On the outernet, where I’m closeted anyhow, there is very
casual prejudice – the expectation that of course everyone has sex and
you’re some sort of deviant otherwise. I do my best to educate when I can,
though admittedly I tend to get defensive and annoyed very quickly.

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

That people need to have sex to live. Nope, bzzt,
wrong, try again.

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

Take your time. There’s no rush to find out who you are. Do
your research because knowledge is power. And, if you ever decide down the line
that your orientation on the spectrum isn’t exactly what you thought it was,
then that’s okay too.

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

My writing’s on AO3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/diemarysues),
and I do yell about writing on my personal blog (http://diemarysues.tumblr.com).

Jewelry stuff is on my side blog (http://rustypliers.tumblr.com) though I am currently taking a break
while I take better photos and edit them.

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

Interview: Ray Wyse

Today we’re joined by Ray Wyse. Ray is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. They mostly write fanfiction but hope to publish some original work in the future. Aside from writing, they are also a dedicated visual artist who enjoys drawing and painting. They do a lot of portraiture work and their art is extraordinarily detailed. It’s clear they’re a passionate and talented 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.

My work varies, but I enjoy writing, drawing and painting.
My writing is most often fictional pieces with characters I’ve created, and
while I try and branch out with my artwork my strongest pieces have always been
portraiture. In all my work I try and integrate what I know, in terms of my
experiences and imagination. I’ll mainly referencing my artwork in this
interview as it’s what most of my time and my education is dedicated to!

What inspires you?

Other people inspire me. I’m driven by seeing creators do
what they love and doing it well, it really pushes me to try and be better.

But for choosing what I want to draw or paint I’m inspired
by perception. I find drawing exactly what I can see boring, and I want to
explore more emotive ways of portraying people and places. Usually this means
playing with the features of the subject matter, taking them away or changing
them through distortion or obstruction.

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

I’ve always wanted to create art. I’ve taken it at every
level available to me through primary and secondary school, but it’s only
recently at college I became determined to find some sort of career in it. I
think most of our everyday life is the way it is because of artistic people,
from film to advertising to product design, and yet it goes by unnoticed.
Almost every field has a need for us, and when I realized that it only helped
push my interest in the subject.

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 really? There are maybe certain things I always do
that I’m not aware of, but as someone who’s still trying to find their own
style and techniques I don’t think I have any repetitive patterns, but I
suppose I always draw specific attention to the eyes or the obstruction of
them. I feel like that makes or breaks a good portrait.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

I would say that I know, I understand it’s frustrating
sometimes. There will always be others that are around your age, who you think
has work that surpasses your own. There will be times where you can’t get a
picture JUST right. But you have to realize that your art is always changing
and improving. It’s hard to notice day to day but try and redo a piece from
just a few years or even months ago to see how you’ve changed! Practice, there
isn’t a shortcut to progress! Support and learn from each other!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as asexual, but I don’t know where on the
spectrum. I’m in a serious relationship, but I haven’t been for long enough to
know whether or not I could be demi. Currently I identify as a panromantic ace,
meaning I can have romantic attraction to any gender but sexual attraction to
none.

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

I generally encounter confusion when talking to someone
about my sexuality. It’s difficult, because as someone who didn’t find a label
that worked for them until their late teens, I spent a lot of my childhood
thinking I was ‘broken’ or otherwise ‘wrong’. And hearing it insinuated from someone
else saying ‘how do you know? Maybe you just haven’t found the right person,
etc. etc.’ can hurt a lot. Especially if coming from other people in the LGBT+
community.

But I have to remember I’m valid, and that’s what I tell
them. I calmly explain that I just don’t feel sexual attraction, I never have,
and it really isn’t a big concern. And if they don’t accept that, I stop
conversing with them.

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

The most common misconception is that asexuality is
comparable to practicing abstinence, as if sexuality is some sort of choice.
Another common one is that all ace people ‘become’ asexual after some sort of
traumatic experience

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

I would say it’s not your job to educate others, and it’s
okay to not have everything figured out! You’ll hear about how it’s a ‘phase’
at some point in your life, and this will suck. But remember that no matter
what, whether how you identify changes over the years or if a label you found
at 13 still works for you at 33, you’re valid.

I’m not going to tell you it isn’t a phase and you won’t
experience doubts. I’m going to tell you that if it is, that’s okay too.

Take time figuring yourself out, research the spectrum of
different sexualities, and don’t feel bad if things change. How you identify at
this moment is still 100% valid and don’t settle for anyone that doesn’t
respect that.

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

You can find more of my work on Instagram! I also do
commissions; my username is at Rachel.Wyse
<3

I’m hoping to branch into other social media sites soon, but
for now the majority of my work is on Instagram.

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

Interview: Martha J Allard

Today we’re joined by Martha J Allard. Martha is a phenomenal author who writes various kinds of fantasy. She writes both short stories and novels. Her work is mostly dark and contemporary fantasy. Her novel is entitled Black Light and it sounds fascinating. 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 write fiction, mostly dark and contemporary fantasy. I
write both short stories and novels. My first one of those came out a two years
ago called Black Light. It’s about
rock and roll and finding yourself in what you want.

What inspires you?

I always try to look for the magic hidden in normal life. I
believe it’s always there, but we can’t always see it. I try to put that in my
writing.

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

Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I grew up with a
book in my hand. I traded Laura Ingles Wilder for Anne of Green Gables, for the
Nine Princes in Amber and on. I loved all those stories and more, but there
were no characters that I could identify with.

I grew up in a small town in Michigan, in the late 70’s. It
was miles and miles away from any queer culture. I didn’t know it existed, much
less that I could be a part of it.

One night I waited until my parents were asleep and snuck
back downstairs to the TV to watch videos. This was pre-MTV. They played a
video by David Bowie called I Am A DJ. I was riveted, never having seen him
before. In the video, a man comes up to Bowie on the street to kiss him. This
opened my small-town brain up to the possibilities that lay beyond my tiny
borders. Somehow those possibilities got my pen moving.  

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?

Well, yes. Or I think of them as Easter eggs, really.
Because of my connection to Bowie, I always put something of him in my work.
Sometimes it’s small, something nobody but me will notice, and sometimes it’s
bigger, for example the entire plot of Black Light started out with one of his
songs.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t write what you know. Write what you want to discover.
Write the things that scare you and let your words be wild.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I came to asexuality late in life. In the past I’ve also
identified as Bi and Lesbian. I feel that I can only speak for right now, and
right now I feel Panromantic.

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

I write queer fiction, and so I rub shoulders with other
queer writers. When I first came out as Ace, some of them advised against it. I
was surprised, because I had already identified as queer, and had for years.
I’ve found that some people think of Asexual as “damaged,” and I didn’t want to
be thought of like that, did I?

No. I didn’t. So when I came out to people, I armed myself
with explanations, reasons for my sexuality. But finally, I stopped myself. Now
I deal with push back by not apologizing, but it took a while.  

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

As I mentioned above, it’s that somehow, I became asexual
because of damaged I’ve suffered.  Also
that I’m wasting myself? That one always makes me laugh. It feels just the
opposite to me.

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

I would say, it’s a journey, not a destination. For me, each
day is different, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, and as David Bowie
famously said once, “All I can tell you is what I feel right now.”

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

My website: https://www.marthajallard.com/
My Facebook page: marthajallard
Amazon link to Black Light: http://a.co/d/bT1PCsp

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

Interview: CHM

Today we’re joined by CHM. CHM is a wonderful versatile writer. She has written in a few genres and styles. She mostly writes fantasy and historical fiction. When she’s not writing original work, CHM also dabbles in fanfiction. It’s clear she’s a dedicated 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.

My art is mostly creative writing. I mostly write fantasy
and historical fiction, as well as fanfiction.

What inspires you?

A number of things, but mostly music, and my own personal
experiences.

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

I used to read a lot, and that slowly got me into writing my
own stories. I also tend to daydream, and story ideas seem to spawn from
daydreams.

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 really like ending books with the title when possible.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t apologize for your work when presenting it. Stop
yourself from saying things like “Sorry in advance” or “This is terrible, but”
because it’s not. It’s the best you can do at that moment, and putting yourself
down doesn’t help you improve.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m an AroAce lesbian. Oriented AroAces feel other types of
attraction strong enough to warrant their own labels in their identities. The
ones I feel are sensual and alterous attraction.

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

Never in my field, but in my personal life, I have. I
usually deal with it using calm explanations.

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

That we all hate sex, or that we just need to wait a while
for sexual attraction to happen.

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

No matter what you hear, no matter who says it to you, your
identity is real, and you have a strong community backing you up. It doesn’t
matter what someone else says about your identity, all that matters is the way
the words you use to describe yourself make you feel.

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

I post all my fanfiction on my Quotev account! At LOZelfafan

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

Interview: Elizabeth Wambheim

Today we’re joined by Elizabeth Wambheim. Elizabeth is a phenomenal author who writes novels, novellas, and short stories. All her work features ace protagonists (how awesome is that!?) and it mostly falls in the fantasy genre. She has already written an ace retelling of Beauty and the Beast. She has also written a novel about the relationship between a male shepherd and a Viking woman. It’s clear she’s an incredibly passionate and creative individual 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 a small (so far!) body
of published works that feature asexual protagonists and asexual relationships.
My biggest work so far has been a novel titled More Than Enough which is
a gay/ace retelling of Beauty and the Beast. My first piece was a
novella titled Wolves in the Fold about a male shepherd and a female
Viking navigating a relationship as well as language barriers. I love writing
fantasy; reworking fairy tales; and establishing soft, supportive relationships
between characters.

What inspires you?

Just about everything! Books, movies,
television shows, video games, and even music can be a source of inspiration.
If something catches at my attention, I file it away for use somewhere. My
first story in high school had an ensemble casts because I loved the
friendship/team dynamics between the four to eight main characters in the Tales
series of video games.

Real-world relationships are also
inspiring; if I notice an interesting dynamic between two people (be they
friends, family, or coworkers), I’ll make a mental note of it and it might wind
up as the building block of a fictional relationship. I also make use of
personal experiences: I like to be able to step inside my characters and
describe the way their emotions affect them physically. The easiest way for me
to do that is to write from a place of understanding—where do my experiences
overlap with this character’s? If I haven’t gone through exactly what they
have, what comes close? What did it feel like to be there? After really good
days and really bad days, I take a lot of notes about what happened and how I
felt.

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

I’ve been writing since elementary school,
but it was mostly something I did for fun. I took Creative Writing classes all
through high school and majored in English in college. After I graduated, I
realized there weren’t many fictional partnerships that reflected my
preferences or my experiences. I found the undercurrent of sexual tension
between would-be romantic partners to be alienating and sometimes
uncomfortable. So I started writing the stories I wanted to read.

While my writing is not what I want to depend
on for a living, it is a vital part of my life. I love the puzzle of crafting a
story from scraps of lived experience and fictional inspirations. Writing also
helps me validate who I am and how I feel; it’s a privilege to know that my
stories help other people, too.

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 love mythological and literary
symbolism, so there are almost always elements of that in my stories, such as a
scar used as a symbol of a character’s triumph over adversity or an oblique
reference to the “eating of the pomegranate seeds” in the Hades/Persephone
myth.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

You’re the only person in the world uniquely
positioned to produce the work that 100% appeals to you in form and content.
Work on what makes you happy.

Conversely, if you don’t enjoy what you’re
doing or you find that you’re bored with the piece, then take a break and
don’t feel bad about taking a break.
You’re a human being, not a machine!
Treat yourself kindly and you’ll come back to the work when you’re ready.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Asexual and sex-repulsed as hell. I’ll say
that I’m biromantic, but my take on romantic love is best described by that
Pepe Silvia screenshot from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

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

I’ve worked in public libraries for the
last three years, and I haven’t experienced any prejudice from any of my
coworkers, thankfully! But I’m also not really open at work (either about being
ace or about being bi), so that might be part of it.

The only issue I’ve had has been that I
have a really hard time shelving titles in the romance section. The covers make
me kind of queasy (no one on them is wearing nearly enough clothes), so I just
avoid working in that section as much as possible.

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

On a general level: it’s a phase and
something we’ll grow out of, or that there’s something inherently childish
about it as an orientation.

On a personal level: being asexual means
that I’m inherently not interested in (or incapable of having) a committed
partnership with another person.

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

Where you are and how you’re feeling is
okay! Give yourself space to figure out how who you are and how you feel. Don’t
let anyone convince you that your truth isn’t a valid truth.

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

https://ewambheim.wordpress.com/ is the hub for my published work. I have
one short story there that you can read for free as a PDF, and it also includes
links to the Amazon pages for Wolves in the Fold and More Than Enough.

https://ajumbleofpages.tumblr.com/ is the Tumblr I use for sharing writing
updates.

Please also check
out the Goodreads page for More Than Enough: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36327532-more-than-enough

Folx have left some very kind and
heartfelt reviews there and on its Amazon page!

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

Interview: Adrienne

Today we’re joined by Adrienne. Adrienne is a phenomenal young up-and-coming writer who is currently studying creative writing at college in Canada. She has been writing fanfiction for years and has just started getting into original work. She’s a wonderfully enthusiastic writer with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, 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 creative writer. I currently specialize in
fan-fiction and original short stories. I must admit – however, that much of
the latter is still very new to me and is currently a work in progress. 😀

What inspires you?

There’s so much! I almost don’t know where to start! A lot
of my inspiration for writing comes from the fantasy/fiction genre. A lot of my
inspiration also comes from what I see in other people’s writing/art work, as
well as what I see in my day to day activities.

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

The Lord of the Rings.
I started writing self-insert fiction when I was 14, and it sort of spiraled
upwards form there.

I have always wanted to be an artist, yes. It’s 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?

I’m not sure that I’ve got any special sort of writing style
or anything. I guess it’s hard to figure out your own writing style when you’re
constantly editing and re-reading it. ;D

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Keep writing! Keep drawing! Keep doing! It’s super hard, I
know. But you must try!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am pretty firm on the asexual part of the spectrum. There
are other unrelated attractions there as well, but all in all – pretty firm on
the asexual part.

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

I have been fortunate enough to not have experienced any
sort of ace prejudice or ignorance in my field yet.

There have been a couple encounters where I’ve had to
explain my sexuality with close friends, but otherwise no negative feedback
yet.

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

I have been most fortunate in having friends and family who
have accepted my sexuality and have made attempts to learn more about what it
is to be asexual.

That’s not to say that there are no misconceptions about
asexuality, only that I have been lucky in my personal experiences.

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

Your identity is real. What you experience is real. You are
valid. You are not alone.

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

My work can mainly be found at diariesofawaywardwriter.wordpress.com.

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

Interview: Sabrina

Today we’re joined by Sabrina, who also goes by
how-to-sit-gay. Sabrina is a phenomenal writer and dancer from Germany. She has recently picked up fanfiction again after a five year hiatus. She started writing fanfiction over ten years ago and wrote in a variety of fandoms. When she isn’t writing fic, Sabrina writes a lot of original work, mostly short fiction and poetry. Aside from writing, Sabrina also danced quite a lot. She danced in a
Gardetanzgruppe, which is part of carnival culture in Western and Southern Germany (for an example, here’s a video). My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please,
tell us about your art.

It feels like I’ve been writing stories since I
was able to spell my name, even though this might be far from true. I wrote my
first proper fanfiction back in 2005, but I started writing poems and original
stories before that, way back to when I was in elementary school. Since then I
have written more short stories and poems than I can count, apart from
fanfiction.

Gardetanz is a very special dancing style that is
deeply rooted in the carnival culture of Western and Southern Germany. I
started dancing when I was a wee little 7 year old and only stopped 17 years
later when I moved away to a federal state that has no carnival traditions
whatsoever and hence no dance group for me to join. I still miss it so much.
Luckily, any kind of dancing or working with my body still comes naturally to
me.

What
inspires you?

Usually it is my latest obsession, which I think
is not uncommon for fanfiction writers. I’m quite often inspired by songs –
some lyrics fragment that just makes me immediately develop a scene in my head.

When it comes to original stories or poems I draw
a lot from personal experience, especially when it’s about struggle or going
into the dark places of one’s mind. I’ve only ever written two “happy” poems in
my whole life, and that just to prove myself that I can.

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

Looking back, it seems like I was born with a
pencil in my hand. Always either drawing or writing. And when I was not holding
a pencil, I was running and dancing around. Little Me didn’t care for her 39.5
°C fever, she just needed to relentlessly jump and flail.

How and why I started dancing I is a simple story.
Our across the street neighbour told my mother about starting a children’s
dancing group in our local carnival club, and she thought this would be a nice
way to have me use my pent up energy. It was one of her best decisions.

I never wanted to be any kind of artist, or at least
I hadn’t planned to. In the end I just became Me with a raving passion to
create stories, and to move my body.

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, except you count the main characters
having a snarky and sarcastic kind of banter going on. This just happens
naturally. But I’m actually thinking about implementing something like this
now, like in Bones where there’s always a clock showing 4:47 in key scenes.

What advice
would you give young aspiring artists?

Go for it. And of course practice makes (almost)
perfect. It’s actually a good sign when you look at your old work and cringe a
little (or a lot in my case), because it shows that you’ve grown and improved
yourself. This counts for works both of the mind and the body.

ASEXUALITY

Where on
the spectrum do you identify?

It’s really hard to tell, the safest bet would be
grey-asexual, but there are times when I go “full ace” for different lengths of
time. As I have figured out thanks to my last relationship, if there is any
sexual attraction to happen it definitely isn’t towards male identifying
persons. Romantically I’m pan, though.

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

Not personally, so far. I think when it comes to
writing fanfiction where people try to live out their own fantasies (not
necessarily sex-wise), there are a lot of misconceptions about ace writers.
Yes, I am ace. Yes, I can enjoy reading smutty scenes. Yes, I am also capable
of writing them myself and have already done so. No, I’m not an innocent child
who squeals ‘ewwww’ as soon as the characters kiss.

I don’t know how it is with dancing. Luckily for
me, Gardetanz isn’t a dancing style loaded with sexual undertones, even though
the skirts are so short and your panties are visible most of the time. In my
group there was never any other sexuality discussed than heterosexuality, so I
don’t even know if my fellow dancers realised I was and still am utterly queer.
In the end, probably the same common misconceptions apply there as in most
other cases.

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

First and foremost of course, that it doesn’t
exist and I just haven’t had good sex yet. That it’s not natural. That I must
have lived through some trauma but maybe can be ‘repaired’.

When I was looking for a therapist for my
depression and anxiety, one said to me that I probably don’t want to have sex
because I’m such a closed off person. That woman never saw me again.

And being on Tumblr for quite some time now, I
noticed the astounding misconception that ace people don’t belong to the
LGBTQIA+ community, that we’re basically just prude/virgin hets-to-happen. The
first ones I can shrug off, the latter one really riles me up.

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

Don’t doubt yourself and your feelings (or lack
thereof), everything you experience and feel is valid. You don’t need to put a
tag on yourself if you can’t or don’t want to. There are times it feels like
the world just wants to spit in your face, but there will be a time all that
sh*t will go away to make room for all the good things.

I basically try to live by some wise words by
Charlie Chaplin: “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our
troubles.”

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

After a very long writing hiatus, I finally
published a fanfiction again. It can be found on AO3 under my username how_to_sit_gay. I’m
thinking about uploading my old (English) RP fanfiction after re-reading and
editing it as well, but this might take some time.

Said old tennis RPF can be found at poetry-of-dance.livejournal.com/tag/fic
but I probably really have to revise them as they are more than 8 years old.
Last but not least, a lot of my German short stories and (revised) fanfics
(2006-2009) are on fanfiktion.de/u/AngelOfFreedom

Unfortunately there are no videos from our Garde
performances online. You have to search YouTube for “Gardetanz” to get an
impression of it.

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

Interview: Eli Alaimo

Today we’re joined by Eli Alaimo. Eli is a phenomenal author and former animator. They have written a full-length novel as well as two cyberpunk novellas. When they’re not working on creative writing, they write for a podcast entitled “The Gimmick Room,” which sounds hilarious. It’s clear they’re a passionate artist who loves what they do. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have to be upfront about it: I’m a failed animator. That sounds grim, I know, but I don’t take it as a bad thing. I have a degree in animation, and spent the better part of a decade trying to find animation work. That’s not meant to be discouraging; I had a lot of other factors going on that I had to sort through. But I did my best for a long enough time that nobody can say I didn’t try. In the end, it wasn’t for me.

Nowadays, I’m a writer. In one way or another I’ve been writing for almost 20 years. I’ve written a full-length novel called Bonneville, and two cyberpunk novellas titled MLAW.EXE and Crystal!. I also do writing for a podcast I’m on called The Gimmick Room, where I and a friend of mine come up with wrestling characters for the fictional company we work for.

Honestly it’s been kind of a big shift for me in the past year switching from animation to writing, but I’ve also been more productive writing than I ever have when animating so while I’m still early in it, it’s a positive career change for me. I don’t feel like my time spent working on animation was wasted, though. At the very least it means that I can design and draw my own covers for my books.

What inspires you?

An important part of my work is whatever project I’m working on, there’s this emotional core to it. Whether it be based upon an event in my life, or a way I felt, or someone I knew, that core is what gives me the inspiration to work on something. It ties into the old saying of “write what you know.” You don’t have to write a 1:1 account of something that happened to you. But you can draw upon the feelings of abandonment you felt during high school and apply it to a medieval story.

Oh, and also cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is rad as hell and a big inspiration for me. Same for any 80’s-90’s anime with two girls teaming up and kicking ass. (See: Dirty Pair or Gunsmith Cats)

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

I picked up drawing in high school, and originally I wanted to get into animation to work on video games. (Jet Set Radio helped with that.) Then I wanted to make my own animated TV show or movie. Through everything though, I would work on writing as a hobby. My reasoning was that I’d get into the animation industry as an animator, and work my way into writing from there. (I know now that it absolutely does not work that way and I strongly advise against anybody else doing 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 decided a while back that nobody in my books would be straight unless it’s explicitly pointed out. At first it was to be kinda cheeky and spiteful, but now it’s more of a “oh, these are the kinds of people I’m interested in writing, and relate to the most.” Plus I want queer people to be normalized. You should never have to explain why a character is queer or not cis. They just are. And I want that to be normal.

Also: one of my favorite things to put into books is scenes with food. I believe that cooking and sharing meals with other people is one of the best ways to get to know someone or help them in bad times. So I always go into detail with scenes where people are eating or prepping food.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You know that idea you have? The one that you’re like “Oh this is my dream project. I’ve been thinking about it for years! I’ll get to it someday when I’m good enough!” Make it now. Just go ahead and make it now. If it’s a book, a comic, a cartoon, a script, album, whatever it is just work on it and finish it to the best of your ability. Because when you finish that first project, the others will come a lot easier. It took me three years to finish my first book. Honestly if you trace the lineage of it that book existed in some form for the better part of nine years. My second book took me 11 months. Then my third took less than a month. Granted, the second two were novellas, so they were shorter, but I knew I was working faster on them, and I knew the quality of my writing was getting better as I did.

The point is: you’re not going to get anywhere waiting for your ‘perfect idea’ to be executed. Just make it. I promise your next idea will be even better, because you will be better.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual. I was undecided on whether I was aromantic or not, and I don’t think I am. But I haven’t really thought about it in years. But even realizing that asexuality was A Thing helped put a lot of things into perspective from when I was younger.

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

Ignorance definitely. An astounding number of people don’t know what asexuality is, and those who do have next to no correct understanding of it. I try to be courteous when I correct people’s misconceptions, or even tell them about asexuality.

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

That asexual people don’t have a sex drive at all. In reality, sometimes the truth is even more hellish because you can have a libido, but also be asexual which means now you have this energy but don’t feel attraction to anybody. This also helped put a lot of my earlier life into perspective.

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

Don’t let anybody tell you it’s not real, or that you’re invalid, or that it’s a phase, you’re not “queer enough” or any other hot trash take. Ace people are part of the queer community, and never feel like you’re not. It can be tough because a lot of times the community can feel “sex positive” in a way that can make a lot of people uncomfortable. But remember; it’s not a failing on your part.

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

Currently you can find my books on my Gumroad and my itch.io pages. They’re pay what you want! If you wanna download them for free, go ahead!

https://gumroad.com/ealaimo

https://ealaimo.itch.io/

The podcast I work on is the Gimmick Room and we update every two weeks: https://thegimmickroom.simplecast.fm/

I also use Twitter more than any other social platform: https://twitter.com/ealaimo

Be warned I say a lot more cuss words on there than this interview would lead you to believe. But I’m also really funny. We all make sacrifices.

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

Interview: Zoe

Today we’re joined by Zoe. Zoe is a wonderful young up and coming author who writes YA and middle grade fiction. She has drafted three novels, all are in the genres of supernatural and magical realism. They feature a diverse cast of characters, most of them are LGBTQIA+, the kind of characters Zoe has often wanted to see in the books she was reading. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated writer with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, 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 write young adult/middle grade books that could
also count as magical realism or supernatural. My current project centres on
different supernatural/paranormal beings such as angels, demons, vampires,
sirens etc. It is pretty diverse compared to a lot of books I’ve read recently,
and includes a gender fluid vampire, a pansexual warlock, an aroace demon in a
queer-platonic relationship, a bisexual demon, a biromantic angel, a lesbian
werewolf, an aroace fae who is sex and romance repulsed (There are others, as well
as heterosexual characters.) It also includes all the struggles they have to
deal with because of their sexualities and genders, as well as their
supernatural race. (While also trying to stop a very evil woman from taking her
revenge out on the whole world)

I thought it should be a bit more diverse than the
other young adult/middle grade books I have read because to me, having two or
three LGBTQIA+ characters in an entire 16 book world seems very unrealistic. At
school, I had at least three or four LGBTQIA+ kids in each class I went to for
every lesson.

What inspires you?

Usually, books I’ve read. I didn’t really know
what to write about to be honest, before I started. But then I read a few young
adult books of the same type I wanted to write and something clicked. With
every book I read, I had a new idea for something that could happen. Of course,
I didn’t steal from the books. What I mean, is that I could picture how old
spell books looked, and realised a King would probably care more about having a
son for an heir than a daughter. This helped me picture a possible scene for an
argument between a father and daughter, in which this point could have been
brought up.

Also, music inspires me a lot. I always listen to
music. Classical pieces, soundtracks from movies, actual songs even musicals.
Whatever it takes to give me some inspiration, I even sleep while listening to
music to help me better picture what might be giving me trouble when writing.
Think of it like writing fanfiction in my head, of my own stories, while I try
to sleep.

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

I have always loved reading, and throughout
primary school (ages 3-11) we had a lot of opportunities to write our own short
stories in class. I loved it, and thought it was fun. I didn’t know I wanted to
be a writer until a few years ago when I discovered NaNoWriMo (I won) and
realised how fun writing could be and got back into 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 haven’t done the math, but there’s roughly the
same amount of LGBTQIA+ characters as there are heterosexual characters (not
counting small children). In any book I will ever write, I will always try to
keep it as close to 50/50 as I can, because that is the most realistic figure.
There’s also hardly ever any angst revolving around romance, or any explicit
stuff because I strongly dislike it and have no time for that nonsense of “he
loves me, he loves me not.”

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop writing. If someone says you write too
much, or you should spend more time doing something that benefits them, don’t
listen and keep writing. I was told that I spend too much time reading and
writing, the only two things I do for fun, by my family who wanted me to
essentially become a third parent to my brother who is only 2 years younger
than me. It upset me, and I stopped both. I didn’t read anything for ages, and
eventually forgot about my writing for a few months. It’s good to take a break,
but on your terms, or as close as you can get.

I still struggle trying to get into writing again,
because I feel like it will be hard. Because I don’t remember what I was going
to do with this sentence, or because I can’t remember what that character looked
like or if they are even in this book. Don’t let anyone – and I mean anyone –
tell you that it isn’t worth it. Write for you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as a sex and romance repulsed aroace,
and I experience aesthetic attraction. I also identify as pan because my
aesthetic attraction can be to anyone of any gender.

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

I haven’t experienced any. However, when I was
talking to my best friend and fellow Asexual about some of the characters,
trying to work out a scene, I mentioned they were both Aroace. I also have an
ace-biromantic character not in that scene. She asked “That makes three on the
Ace Spectrum, right? Isn’t that a bit much?” No. it is not “a bit much” because
I know several asexual people online, and together we make two. In real life,
in a world with billions of people, at least 1% of which (7 million I think
total) asexuals, it makes sense to have a few who know each other. She knew
this, it was just more of shock at seeing more than one Ace character in a
single book, and she wasn’t being mean or anything.

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

I have several, and they are all from my best
friend’s ex-boyfriend, although I have heard other people say stuff along these
lines too.

  • (asexual refusing to have sex with her boyfriend because
    she’s a sex repulsed asexual) “But biologically speaking everyone needs sex.” –
    This isn’t true. I’ve heard it can be fun, great, stress-relieving, and a bunch
    of other positive things from people who continuously talk to me about it even
    when I tell them not to. But biologically, you don’t crave it. You don’t die
    without it. Biologically speaking, it is how babies are made. Nothing more.
  • “You’re not asexual because you don’t need to
    photosynthesize” – hahaha, no. he said this sincerely, and he meant this to
    hurt. It isn’t a joke. There are multiple meanings for different words in the
    English language. “My nose is running” does not mean you’re nose is in fact
    running down your face and about to make an escape to go join the party next
    door.
  • “Asexuality isn’t a thing. It’s just an excuse. You’re a
    lesbian” – yeah she’s an Aroace lesbian, but she didn’t know it at the time.
    She’s still aroace. It doesn’t matter what else you identify as, if you think
    you are on the spectrum, no one can invalidate you like this. Asexuality is a
    thing. It is also annoying to hear this several times in the same conversation.

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

Asexuality, and the whole spectrum, is a thing.
Aromanticism is a thing. Aroace is a thing. You can be both, you can be one or
the other. You can be in a qpr, you can be single forever. You can have a
partner, or not. You can be a third sexuality on top of this. You can hate
sex/romance with a fiery passion or you can still enjoy it. Don’t let
uninformed people try to tell you how you feel, because the person who knows
you best is you. And if this means having your aroace-pan awakening at 2am and
grinning like a fool for three days then so be it. Because you deserve to be
happy. If someone you love says the words “but biologically-“or “you aren’t
ace/aro” or any variation of “it’s a fad/you just want attention.” Even after
you’ve explained it to them? Even after you’ve given them a chance to learn
about your orientation? Get rid of them because you can do better. Any loved
one who forces you to ignore how you feel, or invalidates you, or pressures you
into things you don’t want to do, is not worth your time.

When you come out to people, be ready for the
inevitable vocab lesson, but don’t be upset about it and if they ask a lot of
questions, try not to be offended. In all likelihood, they have no idea what
any of this means because when they were growing up it wasn’t as widely known.
Take a few minutes to explain. They might get it, they might not. They might be
supportive, they might not. But at least they know. And if they get confused
somehow and think you just came out as a lesbian, please, for the sake of your
sanity, correct them. Do not let them think you and your best friend are
lesbian lovers unless you, for some reason, want them to think that. It is
about what you are comfortable with.

Tell the person you are dating what your
boundaries are, or what you are uncomfortable with. For example, I personally
despise all physical contact with all but 2 people. Maybe they can work their
way in, but for now, tell them. Don’t let yourself be uncomfortable just so you
don’t have to have the awkward conversation where you tell them you don’t want
to be kissed or you don’t want to have sex. And if they don’t respect your boundaries,
get rid of them. A person who is willing to just be platonic cuddle buddies
with no pressure on either side is much better than a person who refuses to
understand your orientation and the things you don’t want to do.

Also, don’t listen to aphobes, at all.

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

I haven’t published anything anywhere, but I’m
always up for questions about my work in progress, or anything to do with
writing (or my orientation really). My Tumblr is at solangelo3088.

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

Interview: Jacob

Today we’re joined by Jacob, who is known on social media as Jacob’s Jottings. Jacob is a phenomenal author who writes both original fiction, nonfiction, and fanfiction. For nonfiction, he writes about autism and mental health for the site “The Mighty.” For fiction, he has mostly written fanfiction and original short stories, but has recently taken on two large projects. One involves a detective in post-war Britain and the other is about an autistic wizard (which is something i would absolutely love to read because it sounds fantastic). It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate 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’m a writer, and I’ve really started to come out of my
shell in the last few years. I’ve always written short stories and never shown
them to anyone before, but that changed when my friends started writing
fan-fiction, and my English teacher at college told me to attend a creative
writing club.

Though I’m still very private about my larger projects, I
started publishing articles for mental health site The Mighty, one of those
articles received 32,000 hearts on the site, and got shared a lot on social media,
so I started to say to myself ‘what if people would like my creative work too?’
and here I am now, writing two large scale projects, one about an autistic
wizard, the other about a detective in post-war Britain. Not just that, but I
published some fan-fiction of my own, and I found once that was out there, I
found it a lot easier to write without much self-doubt.

I’ve recently finished college, and I’ve been accepted onto
the Creative Writing BA course at a university I’ve dreamed about going to for
years. I’m hoping this will really make my dream of being a full-time writer a
reality, even if it takes years to take off.

As well as writing, I also do a bit of photography, and some
digital design. I make all my own covers for my projects, as well as posters
for events, and I love going out and taking pictures. I often use the pictures
for reference for my writing, and it’s a great skill to have alongside.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in many things, mainly everyday life. But
I often find myself looking into what I loved as a child, certainly what
comforted me. Sometimes this is in the form of stories by other authors, such
as J. K Rowling, or Terry Pratchett, but other times its films and music, or
most importantly to me: knowledge. Plants, animals, and space particularly
always have heavy presence in my stories, and that’s because I love to learn
new things.

I’ve always written to escape the real world, so I suppose
it is natural that my other methods of escape blend well with this, I often
find that going to a museum or exhibition particularly fuels my writing, it
often ends in me trying to fit a lot into one box- my wizarding story contains
as much knowledge of the natural world as it does fictional magic for example.  

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

I’ve always been creative, and I was sure I wanted to
utilise that in some way, but could never find an exact form that suited me. I
tried art, and drama, and found myself not ever truly comfortable. I mainly
thank books, films, and television, for getting me into writing. The idea of
making my own stories was irresistible! I cannot pinpoint when it exactly
started happening, probably about five years ago, but I finally found that
writing (alongside reading and watching) was the most enjoyable thing to do. Then
it all fell into place, and I find myself writing all the time, even if it
never gets added to again- it’s 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?

Oh definitely! The infinity symbol finds its way into most
of the stuff I write, not just because of its use by the autistic rights
movement, but because of my fascination with the concept behind the symbol. I
also always incorporate types of birds as symbolism- usually owls, or penguins,
as they’re my favourite, penguins especially.

Playing with colour is something I’ve recently moved into, I
don’t have a single character that does not heavily associate themselves with
colours and their meanings, even if it is just a subtle inclusion. Blue for my
protagonists usually, a colour I use not only to create a cold atmosphere, but
also to show the presence of intelligence, imagination, and peace. Reds and
oranges meanwhile shows up my more passionate and instinctual characters, with
purple showing a combination of the two.

I also love playing with imagery, with many of my characters
having ‘hair the colour of fertile soil’ or the ‘great spurts of an ancient
wine, hemorrhaging profusely’- it can feel a bit forced sometimes, but it often
pays off, and I find it a great way of illustrating the worlds I’ve made.

I’m also told I tell stories in a unique way, my friend
recently commented that when she reads my writing, I am clearly telling the
story, rather than just creating it. I’ve never quite understood this
evaluation, but I’ve heard it quite a few times in several forms.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

It sounds cliché- but I would say just do whatever you love!
I spent far too long worrying about what others think, and though that matters
if you want to make a career out of it, the initial starting of a new art is a
solo-activity. If painting makes you happy- paint! Everyone I know who does
something creative for a living started off doing it to just kill time, or to
help them with another activity, and it grew from there.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I use the label asexual as standard, to me, this means not
feeling sexual attraction. I’m confident in identifying as a sex positive
asexual, but I’m yet to 100% settle on my romantic orientation.

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

I think one of the strangest encounters in my life was when
I first explained asexuality to someone, without attaching the label to myself.
I was told its ‘unnatural’- for this reason, in my private life, I don’t talk
about my sexuality until prompted.

I also find that some in my age group is often sex-obsessed,
I’ve often been labelled prudish just for not wanting to talk about sex, and I
find it very hard to try and express my frustration with that. I am not at all
prudish, I just think about it completely differently to they do!

I incorporate it into my work- I actually find it harder to
write allosexual characters, and therefore many of my characters are asexual by
accident! And I do worry that some people won’t understand the representation
if they haven’t experienced it first-hand, but I do my best to write characters
that educate as well as represent now.

Outside of my field, I see prejudice and ignorance
regularly, insults such as ‘frigid’ and so on, I also see the constant
discourse present on sites such as Tumblr, and though I do my best to keep out,
I sometimes worry for our community, I hate the idea that anyone who identifies
as asexual will feel like it isn’t valid or can’t talk about it in case they’re
verbally attacked.

As an autistic person, I also find that some people think my
asexuality is part of that. I don’t think it is- and it’s quite insulting to
assume that someone’s sexuality is part of their sensory issues for example.
The two often overlap for me, and I also know autistics that do feel sexual
attraction and have those sensory issues anyway. Some people in both
communities would even say their sensory difficulties enhance their sexual
experiences.

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

Personally, I find that the definition of asexual is often mis-identified.
It means lacking sexual attraction. But I know people who are completely
convinced it simply means ‘won’t have sex, or won’t masturbate’- it is often a
pain to try and debate it with them, and I find myself bringing up articles
from the community to back my side up.

I don’t like discussing the personal details of my own
asexuality in too much depth with people who might not understand, and therefore
I think the extra labels of ‘sex positive’ are really useful when discussing
asexuality, as well as the other identities within the spectrum.

At the end of the day though, the only person other than me
who has a right to that deeper information is a partner, and I don’t think
asexuals should ever feel pressured to dissect their identities for another
person’s curiosity or because of an ignorant person’s misconceptions.

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

Firstly, it is okay to struggle! I found it incredibly hard
to find the orientation that best described me. I still think sexual
orientation is a fluid concept, and I think people who are struggling should
remember that. If something doesn’t feel right, find the label that does feel
right, and don’t feel guilty if that changes. Some asexuals might not find that
identity for a long time.

I myself often find myself wondering if I might be aromantic
as well as asexual, or demisexual instead of asexual, this is a natural part of
development. Just as sexuality in all its forms is natural. A lot of people go
through that internal debate. And nobody should ever be afraid of using the
label that best suits them.

I would also repeat that the only person who needs to be
happy is you. Come out at your own pace. Experience your sexuality at your own
pace. Some people don’t find the identity they’re most comfortable with until
they’re halfway through life, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s a thriving asexual and LGBT+ community waiting to
help you through it all, and the right people within it are not going to judge
you for struggling.

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

People can find my work in several places. For a more personal
touch, there’s my own Tumblr blog which is at jacobs-jottings, or my AO3 under the
same name (but without a hyphen).

As well as this there’s my new Facebook page, also called
Jacob’s Jottings, and my user page on The Mighty, under my full name-
Jacob Durn. If anyone is curious, my photography can be found easily on Instagram, where my
username is identical to my AO3 one.

My blog has a bit of everything (including personal posts,
and lots of reblogs), my AO3 some fanfiction, and soon some original works, whilst
the last two focus on my non-creative work.

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