Category: sex-repulsed asexual

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: 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: Caw

Today we’re joined by Caw. Caw is a wonderful young fanartist who writes fanfiction for a number of different fandoms. She enjoys writing for people with similar interests to enjoy and enjoys writing as a hobby. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist who really enjoys writing, 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 fanfiction for communities such as Sander Sides, The
Phandom (Dan & Phil), and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi but I have been planning a
very own original story of my own for the last year, I’m happy to say I’ll be
publishing the first chapter on October 1st!

What inspires you?

I’d have to say my best friends and quotes from my idols!
Dan or danerkuu as many know her is such an inspiration to me, she’s always
been there when I needed her and I cherish every waking moment we share
together. When it comes to a single quote that still gets me is by Daniel
Howell, “You are an independent mind in this universe that can do anything and
everything you have ever dreamed of.”

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

Well, at first I was intrigued after reading fanfictions
about Inuyasha couples so I decided to give it a try and subconsciously it was
really to cope with some past trauma of mine through characters I cherished and
stories I put them in.

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?

Crutches. It comes from a catchphrase of mine, “When the
entire world breaks your legs, I’ll be your crutches always.”

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Fail. Fail over and over and over and over again because
then you learn, you become wise and you adapt to the constructive criticism you
get. Don’t give up, keep practicing, keeping making your art whatever it may be
because if you keep trying that means you’re making progress. It took me three
years to get here and I’m still learning. There’s no perfection but progress is
so much better than perfection because guess what? That means there’s always
something new to learn, some mistake to make, and something to improve which
makes you an even better artist.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Apothisexual, I identify as asexual and I’m sex-repulsed by
the idea of sex. I really just prefer cuddles and kisses honestly! I prefer to
just say asexual but if you want the detail answer, that’s the closest hit
home!

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

Not necessarily in my field since I’ve only discovered it
recently and I haven’t been attacked either but I am scared for that prejudice.
I know Tumblr is split on what to think about asexuality and one of my family
members isn’t keen on believing my sexual identity. He’s said I couldn’t
possibly know what I am because apparently my hormones haven’t hit yet although
I know that’s not true.

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

To be honest, I didn’t hear about it much before 2018 Pride
Month but looking through forum discussions and the like, people think we just
can’t find the one suddenly spark that sexual attraction.

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

You don’t have to know what you are exactly, I was very
hesitant to say I’m apothisexual because that might be wrong but I’m pretty
comfortable with it and I think that’s the best thing to go with. If you feel
comfortable with your label, then that’s your label! I’m happy just being
labeled as asexual and I prefer it actually. Don’t feel a rush to place label
on yourself either, you don’t have to place yourself in a box because no one is
a perfect size for any box society tries to force upon us!

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

Well, you can always ask on my Tumblr about it and you can
read my stories on a few sites; Tumblr,
Wattpad, Archive of Our Own, and
Amino under the same name I am now – cawerkuu. I talk about when I’m writing on
my Instagram, the same
username, as well if they’d like to follow that, I’m much more active on it!

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

Interview: Jess Renae Curtis

Today we’re joined by Jess Renae Curtis, who also goes by Jess or Pup. Jess is the phenomenal artist behind PuppyLuver Studios. She does mostly fan work at the moment but has also recently branched out into original work. She is currently dabbling with creating an original universe. Jess is mostly a digital artist and creates both fanart and original characters through drawing. Her work is bright and colorful, capturing the viewer and drawing them in. It shows an amazing attention to detail. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

I’m both a writer and a digital artist. My illustrations are
generally focused on characters, both original designs and those from fandoms
I’m involved in, and tend to use a lot of varied color. My writing is involved
in both fanfiction (notable ones I’m working on at the moment include Chronicles of Tajiria, a Pokémon series but with the Pokémon as
people with superpowers/magic, and Sonata
in Triplicate
, a Legend of Zelda
AU series) and my original series Theia
Historica
, of which I have the first entry (titled A Kingdom of Children) published.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a definite answer for that, it could be
just about anything depending on what sort of thing or things it ends up
inspiring. I’ve had small one-page comics based on something funny that
happened to me while playing a video game, I’ve designed a character because a
YouTuber I follow posted a video of himself shaving his beard with a razor that
I initially thought looked like an owl, I’ve drawn pieces based on something
funny a friend said to me, lots of things. In fact, the general art direction
of Theia Historica has its roots in
one very specific part in the PS2 role-playing game Okage: Shadow King, but it’s a long explanation so that’s a story
for another time.

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

I’ve been drawing ever since I was a little kid, and while I
always liked drawing it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life for the longest
time. Funnily enough, my first career choices were astronaut and veterinarian,
before I realized that the things in space kinda scared me and I was squeamish
about blood and other bodily fluids, so around middle school I decided to try a
career path that I already had some skill and comfort in. I started
storytelling shortly after becoming literate, though unlike visual art that was
always something I could see myself doing professionally, though more as an
“after I’m done being an astrovet” thing than as part of my main career.

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?

Can’t think of anything in particular except for the star
that I use as my watermark (a five-point star with each point being a different
color of the rainbow except for orange). Also in major writing projects I tend
to find some way or another to put myself in there. Just…self-insert in the
background, there I am.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

If you’re feeling discouraged about your skill level,
remember to keep trying and that you can only get better. You’ve got wonderful
visions that’ve been concocted solely by the processes of your imagination, and
only you can bring them to life for the world to see. Also, don’t pay attention
to what cringe culture says. Make that multicolor Sonic OC if you want. Write a
short story about you getting transported to your favorite fictional world and
becoming best buds with the main characters if doing so cheers you up when
you’re feeling down. Don’t let anyone stop you from enjoying something that
makes you happy and doesn’t hurt others.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I’m a sex-repulsed asexual. I’m not entirely sure yet of
where I fall in regards to romantic attraction, but if I were to try dating I
think I’d want my first attempts at romantic experiences to be with women.

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

Not specifically in my field, no, and I don’t really know
how I would handle it if I were to encounter prejudice that was physical or
coming from a position of authority. Most people I’ve told about my asexuality
are a bit confused as to what it means at first, but once I explain they’re
generally supportive. I have had encounters with people who flat-out refused to
believe that I was an adult who didn’t enjoy sex and couldn’t ever imagine
doing so, but that one was on me for commenting on a video explicitly titled “Why Does Sex Feel Good?” and saying that I
couldn’t understand why sex-havers craved it so strongly (I mean, I technically
can, cuz if sex weren’t at least somewhat pleasurable to those willingly
engaging in it then the species would die out because then no one would be
boinking and possibly making babies) and I thought the whole societal obsession
with it was a bit ridiculous. I kinda walked into that one, and I ended up just
muting that conversation and moving on.

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

If they don’t outright dismiss the possibility of
asexuality/aromanticism existing, they tend to assume all asexual people share
my feelings in that sex is something they wish to avoid. While I am not one of
them, there are obviously plenty of asexuals who either are indifferent or even
enjoy sex as an activity. I’m put off by all the mess that I’ve heard results
from a typical sexual encounter to even consider trying it, but I will never
knock on any sex-positive or sex-neutral aces.

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

Not having a sexual or romantic attraction is just as normal
as having a sexual or romantic attraction to people of a different gender, the
same gender, or multiple genders. You’re not broken just because all your peers
are ogling “sexy” celebrities and you find yourself feeling indifferent to the
whole thing. And don’t listen to all the highly vocal exclusionists plaguing
the internet that say a-spec people don’t belong. They are the minority given
megaphones, and the majority of LGBT groups and spaces are inclusive of
a-specs.

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

You can find my stuff on DeviantART under the username PuppyLuver, and on Tumblr, Twitter, FanFiction.net,
and AO3 under the
username PuppyLuver256. I also have a Redbubble store and a
Patreon.

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

Interview: Morgan

Today we’re joined by Morgan. Morgan is a phenomenal artist who is currently studying to become a fashion designer. When they’re not studying, Morgan cosplays as a hobby and they also draw as well. It’s clear they’re an incredibly talented and dedicated artist with a very bright future ahead of them, 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 am
studying to be a fashion designer and also cosplay and draw casually. I have
various designs as well as cosplays and art pieces.

What inspires you?

As a
cosplayer and artist, I am influenced by shows and characters I love and feel
passionate about. For original art and designs I am inspired by issues I care
about as well as interpretations of my environment and my own feelings. My
gender identity and sexuality also inspire my art.

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

I
was always interested in drawing, especially nature and humans. My passion and
creativity extended to my self-expression through clothing and led me to create
my own clothing.

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?

Not
necessarily. When I start to have more clothing designs that I have made and
created I plan to name my brand after my grandmother’s last name, because she
has always supported my art and all aspects of my identity.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Explore
different ways of expressing your creativity and don’t limit yourself to one
media. Even if you aren’t as experienced or skilled in other areas, trying
different methods opens new ways to interpret your feelings and your art.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I am
asexual and sex-repulsed.

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

Not
yet. Though I feel as though some of my family/friends doesn’t understand why
some of my art/designs are more revealing or “sexual” in nature when I myself
am not sexual.

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

That
being asexual (and/or sex repulsed) means you think sex and people who have sex
are dirty/wrong. I believe sex is a very natural thing and if all parties
concerned are happy and consenting, then that’s great. Do what makes you happy.
Just because there are people who aren’t into it doesn’t mean they are against
it.

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

Even
if you are worried that you might change your mind in the future or that you
should be sexually attracted to others, remember that your feelings and
identity NOW are valid, no matter what you have felt in the past or could
potentially feel in the future.

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

I
have an art Tumblr under the URL mmmdraws and a cosplay Tumblr with
the URL maeroncosplays. I also post a lot of my
cosplay/cosplay progress on my Instagram irish.i.was.dead. My clothing design Instagram is morrisroe_designs though I haven’t posted a whole lot on there yet.

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

Interview: Phoebe Barton

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

Portrait by Philippe McNally

WORK

Please, tell us about
your art.

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

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

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

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

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

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

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

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

That it’s not a thing that exists.

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Isis E. Prosser

Today we’re joined by Isis E. Prosser. Isis is a phenomenal writer and jewelry maker who I met at Indy PopCon. I was blown away by the gorgeous jewelry she made and then she told me about the web novel she was working on entitled Lamenting City (chapters are posted on her main blog: https://lairofthestormdragon.com/). Not only does it sound positively fascinating, but it’s an ownvoices work. The main character of the series is an ace lesbian named Axel and there are also two minor asexual characters. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate author, 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 writer and a jewelry maker. When it comes to my
writing, I tend to focus on humour and emotions, lots of humour and emotions.
Sometimes I write purely humourous stories and sometimes I write purely
emotional (whether angsty or uplifting) stories. Longer stories tend to swing
between both extremes and I like to think the more I write, the better I become
at blending the two together. I write a mix of fanfiction and original stuff,
and I’m also not the greatest at updating either in a timely fashion (sorry!),
but I am trying and getting better at that.

My jewelry is something I also do with my mom (she’s my
teacher!) and currently I’m focusing on Pride jewelry and fandom jewelry
(currently, Harry Potter-inspired
pieces with some My Little Pony:
Friendship is Magic
-inspired pieces coming…. eventually). I’m very new to
this craft.

In the future I’d like to make video games, too. I’ve
written scenarios/concepts and dabbled a little in RPG Maker over the years,
but haven’t yet finished a thing. Maybe one day soon I’ll have something to
show. In the meantime it’s likely the characters of those ideas will be
introduced in short stories or novels.

I’m very passionate about storytelling in general.

What inspires you?

Many, many things! From real life experiences to other
fiction, and to the beauty of the natural world and that of architecture, as
well as mythology (Egyptian mythology is my fave). I’ve also been inspired by vivid
dreams I’ve had. And my inspirations tend to shine through in my work, whether
original or fanfiction. For example, my current web novel project, Lamenting City, was initially inspired
by a dream I had that came about when I was marathoning every Zoids anime with a friend. The dream
introduced me to Axel and offered a tantalizing glimpse of her world, and
afterwards I knew I had to write it. And often times I’ll have scenes or entire
stories inspired by music I listen to.

When it comes to jewelry, I tend to find inspiration looking
at gemstones or browsing jewelry supply shops. Sometimes I also get inspiration
from media, hence the Harry Potter bracelets.

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

I’ve wanted to be writer for as long as I can remember. I’m
not entirely sure where it started, but I know it did start in some form with
kid me’s obsession with Beatrix Potter’s stories and later stuff like OT Star Wars and Disney’s Gargoyles. I would also read a lot and
then read some more, and the more I read, the more I wanted to write.

As time went on, I also noticed more and more that there
weren’t a lot of characters like me in fiction. There weren’t a lot of diverse
characters and author voices in general. So, a lot of my writing is me creating
the stories and characters I wanted to see, and to give myself a voice.

With jewelry, I played around with plastic beads as a child
but then the hobby faded for many years. Earlier this year I got interested in
it again after looking at pride jewelry and deciding I could make the types of
bracelets I wanted… and then a lightbulb turned on and I realized that, hey, if
I wanted jewelry like this, other LGBTQIANP+ folks might want it, too. And then
my love for fandom made me start slowly getting into making fandom jewelry as
well.

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, looking at my writing as of 2015, dream and nightmare sequences seem to be a pretty
big thing. They appeared in my (currently unposted) Metroid fic that I wrote
for my first NaNoWriMo (2015), appeared again in my Camp NaNoWriMo project, a Legend of Spyro fanfic (I haven’t yet
posted the chapter with the first dream sequence however), and then they’ve
appeared in every NaNo project since…

I find dream and nightmare sequences really fun to write.
They’re a good way to explore the character’s mind without having to worry
about realism or even my own canon.

In general, I like to use dreams/nightmares to introduce
concepts and foreshadowing in ways that (hopefully) aren’t immediately obvious.

With my jewelry, it’s a bit hard to say since it’s all so
new to me. But I like to add a touch of whimsy to everything I create!

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

To not be discouraged, and to get your art out there. It can
be very daunting, yeah, I’ve been there (and in many ways still am), but your
voice is needed. Perhaps some people won’t get your story, but for the people
who do, it could mean the world.

Understand that you have room to grow, but to also be you.
Improve and become the best you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

Homoromantic/demiromantic asexual. Also sex-repulsed.

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

More times than I’d like to count, especially offline. I try
to clarify things for people who simply don’t know, but find it’s easier on my
mental health to avoid actually prejudiced people who are unlikely to change
their mind. Sometimes both of those things are easier said than done.

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

The most common seem to be “Asexuals are incapable of love
in any form” and “Asexuals can’t have sex/be sex positive”. Trying to correct
either misconception isn’t usually a fun time for me, especially the latter
(where being a sex-repulsed ace with no intention of having sex gets thrown
back in my face as if it’s some kind of gotcha).

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

That you’re not broken, and that you’re ace enough.  You’re loveable and amazing as you are, and
there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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

My main home of operation is on my website/blog: https://lairofthestormdragon.com/

There I post short stories, chapters of Lamenting City, and blog posts where I yell about video games and
music.

And while there’s not as much content as I’d like (I’m
working on it!), you can find my newer fanfiction on AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/MetroidReploid/profile

I will be updating my Legend
of Spyro
fic (well, the first one) soon and will be adding a Metroid fic and a Star Wars fic at some point this year. I like many fandoms!

And you can check out my jewelry here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StormDragonsWares

More designs coming soon!

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

Interview: Brit

Today we’re joined by Brit. Brit is a wonderful fanartist who is mostly active in a few different fandoms. She enjoys writing fanfiction as well as drawing her characters from her favorite fandoms. Brit is most active in the Undertale, Homestuck, and Hiveswap fandoms. It’s clear that she’s an incredibly 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.

I am mostly a fanartist, be it with drawn fanart or with
written works (fanfiction). I’ve been mostly active in the Undertale fandom, but lately I’ve been on a bit of a Homestuck/Hiveswap kick. I also do a lot
with original characters (OCs). The biggest project I’ve had going on for a
long while now is a fanfiction titled With
and Without
, a Sans/OC fanfiction that now has 59 chapters.

What inspires you?

It’s difficult to say what inspires me…but I think, more
often than not, anything that gives me an idea of an emotion, or makes me
experience that emotion, then I get inspired. That’s part of what I always aim
for in my written work, too, to make people feel something.

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

I’ve always had an interest in being an artist. I’ve always
done well with creative writing in school, and that’s what really got me
started with writing fanfiction.

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 necessarily have a special signature…but this has
made me think about it, and I might start making one from now on!

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be to keep going. I know that sounds cliché,
but no matter what, you’ve got to keep going. That doesn’t mean go nonstop,
though! Sometimes I’m just not in the right mood to write or draw, so I don’t. I
take a break, play a game, or do something else. I feel that it helps me be
able to come back to it with a fresh mind and renewed motivation. But you can’t
give up on it. I used to draw using bases off of DeviantArt and tracing, and
with all the effort I’ve put in, I’ve gotten to the place where I am now.
(Which isn’t that far, compared to other people, but that’s the other thing.
You can’t compare your journeys to one another because each one is unique.)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as a mostly sex-repulsed pan-romantic asexual.
It’s difficult, and I say mostly sex-repulsed, because on some days I’m
repulsed and suddenly on others I’m not. It can even change by the hour. It’s
very frustrating at times, but I’ve come to accept that that’s just how I am.

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

I don’t know about prejudice, but I have been asked how I
can write NSFW content if I’m asexual (especially being mostly sex repulsed). I
just explain that the two aren’t really related, and that usually clears it up.

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

The most common misconception I’ve encountered personally is
that all asexuals don’t like sex, which just isn’t true! Even though I
personally don’t always like it, I’ve met others who have a high libido.

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

I would say to definitely surround yourself with people who
are accepting, and have patience with the people who have been in your life if
you’ve only just now come out. To those who aren’t asexual, it can be difficult
to understand. But yeah, keeping away the people who are negative or
unsupportive will definitely help with accepting your orientation. If someone
who’s unsupportive is someone you can’t avoid (i.e. family) then you can always
try limiting your contact with them if at all possible. But seriously, surround
yourself with support and love and kindness. It’ll help more than you’ll ever
know.

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

I mostly post on Tumblr these days, so you can find me here
(https://life-sans-sin.tumblr.com),
but I also post on DeviantArt (https://life-sans-sin.deviantart.com).
I have an archive account here on Tumblr as well, where more of my older stuff is
posted. You can find that here (https://life-sans-sin-archive.tumblr.com).
For Tumblr, my tags are #brit writes and #brit arts.

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

Interview: Chimney

Today we’re joined by Chimney. Chimney is a wonderful poet from Germany. He writes mostly for a hobby and his poetry tends to focus on emotions. Chimney mainly writes in German though he has translated some of his poetry into English. It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate artist, 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 and
poet. I write a lot of poems about love and being heartbroken by love, but also
other stuff. In my writings I concentrate a lot on the emotional side, like how
the characters feel, why they feel that way. I want the reader to understand my
characters and feel with them. I really want to have this transparency in my
stories and poems.

My poems
especially are very personal. And I try to throw as much emotions and pain as
possible in them, that’s why it often hurts
to read them, because their pure emotions.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by
a lot of stuff, actually. Obviously I get inspired by real life experiences,
but music is one of those things that inspires and influences me the most. When
I listen to songs there are always popping up some lines and ideas in my head.
But I also get inspired by other people or artist who achieved something in
their life. Seeing them getting from bottom to almost the top inspires me and
gives me the courage to try my best. And even if I don’t made it there will be
always people who I can inspire and that’s it what keeps me going forward.

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

Honestly at first
I hated writing poems, because I never was able to rhyme something good. So I
first started with writing stories, because some guy in my class wrote a very
funny story and I wanted to write something funny as well xD. But after finally
starting to rite I realized how much fun this is to me. I love creating
stories, telling  stories and share them
with others. Being an artist was never my main goal. It was and unfortunately
still is one of my greatest hobbies. But I really hope that it someday will be
more than just this little hobby of mine.

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?

Not that I’m
aware of. I try to change my still very often and I like to experiment a lot.
Especially with my poems. I often change the metre and sometimes even use
different languages.

But more like
snippets or a few specific words. Other than that all I can say is that my
writings are full of emotions.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

I would say:
“Have the courage to post your art online!“ Why? Because there will always be
at least one person that will like it. Art is very important and it can help
people, inspire people etc.

So it doesn’t matter how
insecure you feel about your stuff, there will be people who supports you and
by sharing it you can grow. Be open-minded accept critique and advice, so that
you can grow.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as quoiromantic
asexual. And I think more on the sex-repulsed side.

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

Yes I did, from
one person actually. Who actually very radical and I don’t want to explain the
details. They said horrible things to me. First I tried to have a real in-depth
conversation with them about it, but after that didn’t worked I broke contact
with them, because in the end it was better for my mental health.

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

From what I’ve
heard most people think that asexuality = anti-sexuality. Like that we’re all
against sex and everything that has something to do with it. Which is just not
right.

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

Seriously, the
most important part is that you accept yourself how you are and that you
understand that you’re fine, lovable and not broken by being asexual. The
sexuality is just one small part of you and what really matters is your
personality. I can understand that finding out that you’re ace can be
frightening, but when someone really likes or loves, they will do it because of
your personality, because you make them smile and give them a reason to stay
strong.

You’re all valid.

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

So for my German
fellas you can always read my work right here: https://www.fanfiktion.de/u/Chimney

For the others I
suggest you to follow me on my Tumblr where I’m planning on releasing little
English poems and snippets: megahyperchickenwing.tumblr.com (yes, that is my name)

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

Interview: Sierra

Today we’re joined by Sierra. Sierra is a phenomenal poet and dancer. She uses art as an outlet. When she’s not choreographing dances, Sierra enjoys writing poetry. It’s clear she’s a passionate artist with a great amount of enthusiasm, 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 dancer and poet. I write or choreograph what I am
feeling and use my art as an outlet for my emotions. I try to address issues
and subjects many people deal with such as mental health, grief, etc. I think
it is important for everyone to express themselves, and if my art can be used
to help someone express themselves, I feel I have reached my goal.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by everything, but my main inspiration is people.
When I see someone being purely themselves, I can see the art in them and want
to be able to express that to others. I also get a lot of my inspiration from
music of all kinds.

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

I have always loved the arts, specifically dancing. I grew
up dancing and felt like it was the only thing I could relate to others
through. As I got into high school I discovered a love for poetry and began to
write. I have not published any of my work, but it is a goal I have for the
future. Art has always been something very close to me.

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

There isn’t anything special about my work. I just try to
capture raw humanity and convey it to others.

What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love and don’t worry about what others think.
You will grow into a uniquely beautiful artist no matter what you do. Not
everyone will love your work, but if you reach just one person and help them
feel something, you have done the best you can as an artist. Push yourself to
your artistic limits and allow your creativity to flow freely.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum
do you identify?

I identify as aromantic-asexual. I consider myself
sex-repulsed and between romance-neutral and romance repulsed.

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

Not specifically in my field have I encountered prejudice or
ignorance, but in life in general I find a lot of ignorance. So many people
can’t understand how something so engrained in their minds can be non-existent
in ours, and therefore ridicule us for it. I think as long as you can stand
tall and ignore that hate that comes towards you, you can be whoever you want
to be. Anyone and everyone is valid.

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

I’ve found the most common misconception of asexuality is
what it actually means and that it is different for everyone. Many people don’t
understand asexuality and try to decide for themselves what it is. They then
have an incorrect idea and/or opinion of asexual people which can be hard to
change.

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

If you embrace who you are, you will feel amazing. Its okay
if you don’t know what that is yet, you will figure it all out in due time. If
you don’t feel like coming out yet, then don’t. Just know that the ace
community is such a loving family that is always looking for new members.

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

You can find out more about my work on my Tumblr, at poeticaceinspace. P.S. I’m
pretty bad about keeping up with my blog but I’m trying to get better.

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