Category: queer characters

Interview: Anne Hawley

Today we’re joined by Anne Hawley. Anne is a phenomenal novelist and editor who writes queer-themed historical fiction. She has a novel entitled Restraint, which features an ace secondary character. Anne is currently working on a new historical novel that features an ace protagonist, which is exciting (we need more historical fiction featuring aces). It’s clear she’s a talented and passionate writer 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 write novels featuring queer characters in historical
settings, exploring issues of identity and acceptance. I’m also a Story Grid
Certified fiction editor, helping other writers shape their novels and
screenplays.

What inspires you?

People’s individual search for wholeness and
self-acceptance. The search for meaning. My stories revolve around people on
spiritual journeys, and my editing work is focused on helping writers find and
tell the story that’s in their heart to tell.

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

I’ve been writing since I could read. I started my first
novel when I was nine. I was inspired by fantasy novels and wanted to create my
own worlds.

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 always name something after a notable feature in my
hometown of Portland, Oregon USA

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

If you’ll permit me to change the question, I’d like to say
something to aspiring artists who may not have started young, or aren’t young
anymore. Ageism is real and insidious in our culture, and it has a huge
silencing power. Just as the dominant culture would still prefer it if you were
allosexual and cisgendered (though thank goodness that’s changing), it would
like you to be silent and invisible if you’re not young. If you have a story to
tell, tell it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Aromantic asexual. I think “autochor” is probably a term
that applies to me.

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

There’s not much ace representation yet in fiction, and as a
person who came to the identity late in life, I’m still working to change my
own ingrained belief that “nobody” wants to read stories without sexual
tension, or about individuals who are fulfilled without romance.

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

That asexual people don’t really exist, and that people in
my age group who claim that sexual identity are simply resigned to being “too
old” for love or sex–or that we’re some sort of holdover from an earlier and
more prudish, sex-negative era. We aren’t.

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

Many, many people in older age groups like mine have never
even heard of asexuality. If you’re like me, hearing about it at a late age
might create a real internal struggle, especially if you’ve given a lot of
energy over the years trying to conform to old cultural standards of “normal”
sexuality.

It helps to read as much as you can about all the nuances in
the spectrum of asexuality, and realize that it’s okay to try on different
names and labels. It might take a while to feel at home with one or another of
them. But you might also find, as I did, that little by little embracing
asexuality solves so many mysteries of your life.

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

https://annehawley.net

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

FAQ – How do I make a character queer without …

scriptlgbt:

Every story requires conflict. In stories about queer issues, the conflict is usually focused around being queer in some way – whether it is struggling to be accepted by friends/family/society, fighting with internal homophobia, challenging systematic oppression, etc. However, queer characters can (and should!) exist in a story in which the conflict is not focused on queer issues!

It is okay if the character deals with some conflict and struggle in the story because they are queer, but this should not be the central issue. I know this can be difficult, but sit down and ask yourself – if I removed this conflict from the story, would it still be complete? If the answer is no, then you have written a story about queer issues, and need to restructure it. If the answer is yes, then you have included a queer character in a story that is not about queer issues!

This is a difficult thing to fix in late stages of writing, so I would recommend considering this while outlining/planning! Again, remember, queer people are people first. Being queer is simply one of their traits. Since this trait has historically been a source of conflict, it is easy for it to “take over” your story. If you are struggling, try putting your character in a supportive environment, with accepting friends! An easy way to do this, if you are writing a story that takes place in some fictional society, is to simply have being LGBT+ be considered a non-issue in their world. If you want to add some conflict, make it systematic, rather than personal. It’s easier for systematic bigotry to be a “background conflict” than personal bigotry. I know you can do it!

Signal Boost: Special eBook Sale

asexualartists:

Hello all!

I hope you don’t mind a small personal signal boost. A few authors from my publisher, Snowy Wings Publishing, were invited by another publishing collective to participate in an eBook sale (in the hopes of boosting our rankings a little, since we were all hurt by the Pronoun shutdown). I am also part of the sale.

I am so proud to be part of Snowy Wings (I seriously can’t believe I’m part of this collective with such a talented group of authors). Not all the authors taking part in this sale are ace, but every book has queer characters. And they’re all incredibly good and highly, highly recommended.

Anyhow, from January 26th – February 1st, you can get the following eBooks on Amazon for 99 cents:

image

Sere from the Green by Lauren Jankowski (me!):
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.

image

Cheerleaders from Planet X by Lyssa Chiavari (my friend and fellow ace author): Laura Clark thought she was just your average college freshman—until the
day she saw a cheerleader on a skateboard get into a superhuman brawl
with a lightning-wielding stranger in a trenchcoat. And the weirdest
thing of all? Nobody else saw it happen. Nobody, that is, except the
beautiful but standoffish Shailene, one of the mysterious (and possibly
super-powered) cheerleaders from Laura’s rival school, Bayview
University.

When girls start disappearing all over the City,
Laura suddenly realizes that she may have seen more than she should. And
if she wants to keep from disappearing herself, she needs to find some
answers. But though Laura can’t shake the feeling that they’re somehow
connected, Shailene is more than a little reluctant to share her
secrets. With strange, bug-like creatures and a sinister man in a dark
coat stalking her every step, Laura will have to uncover the truth fast
if she wants to survive.

The fate of the planet just might hang in the balance.

image

Phoenix Descending:
Curse of the Phoenix

by

Dorothy Dreyer

(a ridiculously talented author who I featured on my personal website: read here): Who must she become in order to survive?

Since the outbreak of
the phoenix fever in Drothidia, Tori Kagari has already lost one family
member to the fatal disease. Now, with the fever threatening to wipe out
her entire family, she must go against everything she believes in order
to save them—even if that means making a deal with the enemy.

When
Tori agrees to join forces with the unscrupulous Khadulians, she must
take on a false identity in order to infiltrate the queendom of Avarell
and fulfill her part of the bargain, all while under the watchful eye of
the unforgiving Queen’s Guard. But time is running out, and every lie,
theft, and abduction she is forced to carry out may not be enough to
free her family or herself from death.

image

Let Me Fly Free by Mary Fan (a really phenomenal author who is a treat to read and should be on everyone’s shelves):
Fire fears nothing. And Elaia is about to show her world that she doesn’t, either.

Like
the rest of her kind, fire nymph Elaia is bound to her homeland, a
forest whose borders were closed centuries earlier in a peace agreement
between the humans and the enchanted creatures of the Terrestrial Realm.

But her heart is as restless as the flames she casts, and she secretly yearns to defy that order.

When
a mysterious threat creeps into the forest, an invisible beast that
leaves a trail of death in its wake, Elaia is determined to fight back
and protect her people. But first she must learn what the beast is … and
the answers lie beyond the borders of her land.

Defeating this
evil means she’ll have to go outside the rules, but she’ll do anything
to find the answers she seeks—even if leaving her homeland means not
only breaking the law, but risking her own life.

image

Ballad of the Beanstalk by Amy McNulty (another fantastic author who should be on everyone’s bookshelves):
As her fingers move across the strings of her family’s heirloom harp,
sixteen-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn’t dwell on the recent
passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold
everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives
Clarion life. She doesn’t think about how her friends treat her like a
feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn’t worry about how to
tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn’t
want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses
herself in the song.

When Mack, a lord’s dashing young son, rides
into town so his father and Elena’s can arrange a marriage between the
two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the
first time. Drawn to Clarion’s music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena’s
relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant
beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won’t
help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and
for all that she doesn’t need protecting. But while she fancied herself a
savior, she couldn’t have imagined the enormous world of danger that
awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.

A prequel to the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.

I cannot state enough the quality of books from the authors in my collective. So if you believe in supporting indie authors and diverse characters, please grab a copy of these books and leave a nice review (seriously, I cannot state enough how vital word of mouth is to indie authors).

On a personal note, I hope a few of you are enjoying my novels 🙂

Again: this particular eBook sale is running from January 26th – February 1st.

Thank you, everybody!

Signal Boost: Special eBook Sale

Hello all!

I hope you don’t mind a small personal signal boost. A few authors from my publisher, Snowy Wings Publishing, were invited by another publishing collective to participate in an eBook sale (in the hopes of boosting our rankings a little, since we were all hurt by the Pronoun shutdown). I am also part of the sale.

I am so proud to be part of Snowy Wings (I seriously can’t believe I’m part of this collective with such a talented group of authors). Not all the authors taking part in this sale are ace, but every book has queer characters. And they’re all incredibly good and highly, highly recommended.

Anyhow, from January 26th – February 1st, you can get the following eBooks on Amazon for 99 cents:

image

Sere from the Green by Lauren Jankowski (me!):
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.

image

Cheerleaders from Planet X by Lyssa Chiavari (my friend and fellow ace author): Laura Clark thought she was just your average college freshman—until the
day she saw a cheerleader on a skateboard get into a superhuman brawl
with a lightning-wielding stranger in a trenchcoat. And the weirdest
thing of all? Nobody else saw it happen. Nobody, that is, except the
beautiful but standoffish Shailene, one of the mysterious (and possibly
super-powered) cheerleaders from Laura’s rival school, Bayview
University.

When girls start disappearing all over the City,
Laura suddenly realizes that she may have seen more than she should. And
if she wants to keep from disappearing herself, she needs to find some
answers. But though Laura can’t shake the feeling that they’re somehow
connected, Shailene is more than a little reluctant to share her
secrets. With strange, bug-like creatures and a sinister man in a dark
coat stalking her every step, Laura will have to uncover the truth fast
if she wants to survive.

The fate of the planet just might hang in the balance.

image

Phoenix Descending:
Curse of the Phoenix

by

Dorothy Dreyer

(a ridiculously talented author who I featured on my personal website: read here): Who must she become in order to survive?

Since the outbreak of
the phoenix fever in Drothidia, Tori Kagari has already lost one family
member to the fatal disease. Now, with the fever threatening to wipe out
her entire family, she must go against everything she believes in order
to save them—even if that means making a deal with the enemy.

When
Tori agrees to join forces with the unscrupulous Khadulians, she must
take on a false identity in order to infiltrate the queendom of Avarell
and fulfill her part of the bargain, all while under the watchful eye of
the unforgiving Queen’s Guard. But time is running out, and every lie,
theft, and abduction she is forced to carry out may not be enough to
free her family or herself from death.

image

Let Me Fly Free by Mary Fan (a really phenomenal author who is a treat to read and should be on everyone’s shelves):
Fire fears nothing. And Elaia is about to show her world that she doesn’t, either.

Like
the rest of her kind, fire nymph Elaia is bound to her homeland, a
forest whose borders were closed centuries earlier in a peace agreement
between the humans and the enchanted creatures of the Terrestrial Realm.

But her heart is as restless as the flames she casts, and she secretly yearns to defy that order.

When
a mysterious threat creeps into the forest, an invisible beast that
leaves a trail of death in its wake, Elaia is determined to fight back
and protect her people. But first she must learn what the beast is … and
the answers lie beyond the borders of her land.

Defeating this
evil means she’ll have to go outside the rules, but she’ll do anything
to find the answers she seeks—even if leaving her homeland means not
only breaking the law, but risking her own life.

image

Ballad of the Beanstalk by Amy McNulty (another fantastic author who should be on everyone’s bookshelves):
As her fingers move across the strings of her family’s heirloom harp,
sixteen-year-old Clarion can forget. She doesn’t dwell on the recent
passing of her beloved father or the fact that her mother has just sold
everything they owned, including that very same instrument that gives
Clarion life. She doesn’t think about how her friends treat her like a
feeble, brittle thing to be protected. She doesn’t worry about how to
tell the elegant Elena, her best friend and first love, that she doesn’t
want to be her sweetheart anymore. She becomes the melody and loses
herself in the song.

When Mack, a lord’s dashing young son, rides
into town so his father and Elena’s can arrange a marriage between the
two youth, Clarion finds herself falling in love with a boy for the
first time. Drawn to Clarion’s music, Mack puts Clarion and Elena’s
relationship to the test, but he soon vanishes by climbing up a giant
beanstalk that only Clarion has seen. When even the town witch won’t
help, Clarion is determined to rescue Mack herself and prove once and
for all that she doesn’t need protecting. But while she fancied herself a
savior, she couldn’t have imagined the enormous world of danger that
awaits her in the kingdom of the clouds.

A prequel to the fairy tale Jack and the Beanstalk that reveals the true story behind the magical singing harp.

I cannot state enough the quality of books from the authors in my collective. So if you believe in supporting indie authors and diverse characters, please grab a copy of these books and leave a nice review (seriously, I cannot state enough how vital word of mouth is to indie authors).

On a personal note, I hope a few of you are enjoying my novels 🙂

Again: this particular eBook sale is running from January 26th – February 1st.

Thank you, everybody!

Interview: Elliott Dunstan

Today we’re joined by Elliott Dunstan. Elliott is an awesome grey-ace trans writer who works in a couple different styles. He’s currently working on an online webnovel (found at Ghosts in Quicksilver), which features an ace main character. When he’s not working on his webnovel, Elliott also writes quite a lot of poetry and he has also published two zines. It’s very obvious that he’s incredibly passionate, 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 of poetry, mythic fiction and queer literature,
and I’m happiest when I find those three things intermingling with each other.
My primary project right now is Ghosts in
Quicksilver,
a web-novel about a 17-year-old wannabe private investigator
who can speak to the dead. The book features characters from all over the queer
spectrum, and the main character is an ace butch lesbian.

I’m also the author of two self-published zines, Deep in the Bone and Home Is Where The Ghosts Are, available
in both print and digital formats on my Etsy store. They’re collections of
poetry and a short story each, the first centered around mythology and the
second telling the story of my semi-haunted apartment.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. Music is a big one – certain songs
inspire visuals which in turn become stories. I’m also inspired by the
reflection of mythology onto modern day issues and vice versa; the story of Icarus
projected onto somebody’s manic phase, the tale of the Golem in a world where
AI is becoming a certainty, or the story of the forbidden love of Eros and
Psyche recontextualized as a queer love story.

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

Always, always, always. I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a writer; I learned to read
when I was two and how to write a few years later, and even from very early on
I was scrawling poetry in margins. Not very good
poetry, but poetry nonetheless.

As far as my genres and medium of choice, I prefer to have a
certain amount of control over my work, and the business practices of Cory
Doctorow is probably what inspired me the most directly to do a webnovel. It’s
also a testament to old Dickens novels and Stephen King’s slightly more recent The Green Mile; serial novels have
always been around in one form or another. My poetry zines are a little bit
more directly inspired by ‘zine culture’ in indie writer/musician circles.  

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 really sure! I suppose there is symbolism I return
to, but in general I think my ‘trademark’ would be the clash between darkness
and humour. I have a very morbid sense of humour, so I manage to find something
funny in almost everything I write. A girl seeing the ghost of her dead sister
is scary. A girl arguing with her
dead sister and hoping nobody else catches on is hilarious. Dionysus going to
the Underworld is a myth. Dionysus catching a cab and striking up a casual
conversation with the cabbie while terrorizing them into driving to the Styx is
bizarrely entertaining.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

A couple things, I suppose. One, that the whole ‘keep
writing no matter what’ phrase is true. It really is. But having a few bad days
isn’t going to ruin everything. Two, your writing is never going to be perfect. But you have the right to talk it up
like it is, to have pride in your own work, and
to have the courage to open up to criticism and filter out the good from
the bad. There’s a lot of culture around how you’re ‘supposed’ to talk about
something you’re proud of, and I hate it. Be proud of what you’ve made, even if
you know you’ll do better next time.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Oof. Uh, all over the place? Somewhere between gray-ace and
demisexual, or both at once. Or maybe completely asexual – I haven’t been able
to divide up how I feel about things accurately enough to really know. But I
know I’m definitely somewhere in there. The actual label I think is less
important than being in the right general area.

I’m also somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, although that
one’s even harder to pin down. I just know I have a very different way and
intensity of feeling those emotions, so

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

I actually haven’t dealt with any direct ace prejudice in my
artistic field, but I do see it a lot on the platforms where I try to market
with social media. I generally deal with it by blocking and moving on –
sometimes it means I’m cutting myself out of a potential audience but I
consider it worth it.

Offline, it’s mostly the pressure to put romance in my books
and stories even when it doesn’t fit, or sexual commentary on my characters
when it really, really isn’t appropriate. I have no interest in explaining to
people whether my asexual character is a ‘top’ or a ‘bottom’. I count that as
ignorance because it’s the running assumption that I’m writing a YA book, it
must have something to do with sex.
Otherwise teenagers won’t pay attention. Whereas what I’ve discovered is that
teenagers and young adults are actually thirsting for a book that doesn’t treat
these topics as the be-all, end-all of human existence.

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

You can’t be asexual and attractive. You can’t be asexual
and still have sex. You can’t be asexual and gay. You can’t be ace from trauma.
You can only be ace from trauma. If
you’re aromantic, you don’t have a heart. You can’t be aro and ace, that’s just boring.

Basically, there’s too many to count. Asexuality is
critically, functionally misunderstood in both mainstream straight communities
and queer/LGBT+ circles. I think if I had to pick one, though, it’s the idea
that asexuality is just ‘straight lite’ or ‘gay lite’. Being on the ace
spectrum doesn’t make my attraction to men or women any less potent – it’s just
a different way of feeling and expressing that attraction. And the ‘gay lite’
in particular upsets me because, if two guys are walking down the street
holding hands, no homophobe is going to stop and ask if they’re having sex.

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

That it’s okay to identify as ace and/or aro. Whether it ends
up being temporary, whether it’s a reaction to trauma, whether it’s something
you’ve known for years, whether it poked up its head yesterday – it’s okay to
identify this way. A lot of people are going to try tell you that it’s not, or
that it’s a phase (and what’s so wrong with phases?) and honestly? Ignore them.
Your identity is yours to negotiate, nobody else’s.

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

You can find me at moonlitwaterwriting.tumblr.com
or at elliottmoonlit on
Twitter. My Etsy is AnachronistPanic
and linked on my Tumblr page, and if you want to read Ghosts in Quicksilver, it’s up to read for free at ghosts-in-quicksilver.tumblr.com.

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