Today we’re joined by Gemma Irene. Gemma is a phenomenal writer who writes a variety of things. She’s written a few novels and hundreds of poems, as well as some fanfiction. When she’s not writing, she enjoys visual art. Gemma draws, paints, sews, and takes photographs. She even plays the violin. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate individual who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about
I’m primarily a writer, though I’ve been known to draw,
paint, sew, take pictures, and play violin. Anything to keep my hands busy! As
far as writing goes, I stick to fiction, with occasional detours for poetry,
and a song on the very rare occasion. I haven’t published anything yet, but
I’ve got about three original novels and around a hundred poems under my belt.
I’ve also been pretty immersed in fan fiction the past few years, writing for The Phantom of the Opera, The Boondock
Saints, The Walking Dead, and Supernatural.
What inspires you?
I hate to say it, it sounds cliché, but inspiration comes
from anywhere and everywhere. I wrote my first novel after a daydream I had
when I was bored at the mall and trying to entertain myself. I’ve drawn things
I’ve seen in dreams. I’ve photographed things that happened to catch my eye.
One of my favorite poems I ever wrote came about while I was sitting outside
listening to the creek flow. I try to stay alert to anything that feeds the
muse, which means either living very much in the moment, or hiding out in my
own little world.
What got you
interested in your field? Have you
always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always loved stories and storytelling. One of my
earliest memories is of sitting in my grandpa’s lap with a book, with me
reading to him as much as he read to me. I remember telling stories to my
mother and her writing them down in a blank journal. I relate a lot to Anne
Shirley, or Sara Crewe in A Little Princess like that; my stories always
started as a game of pretend, and realizing I could share them with people was
a game changer. With the Internet, I could share with even more people. And in
the case of fan fiction, connecting with people who were as passionate about
the same characters as I was helped me get even more joy out of it. So, long
answer to a short question, I’ve always wanted to do this!
In my writing, I notice a lot of alliteration, and a lot of fire imagery. I like getting down
into the deep, personal aspects of storytelling, so I’m very concerned with the
soulful and intimate. I don’t know if there’s any specific thing that
watermarks my writing as mine…if any readers would like to point something
What advice would you
give young aspiring artists?
Experiment. Let yourself suck. That first novel I wrote? As
is, nobody is reading that, if I have
anything to say about it. There’s a lot of hang-ups about being trite or
cringey, but that’s the only way you grow and evolve. And it’s cool if you want
to pursue more interests than one, or if you’re only so-so at something else
but do it for the joy of it. I’ve worked for years at my writing, but only ever
turned to drawing when I needed the release it gave me. Consequently, it’s not
one of my strongest skills. Same deal with the violin. I’ll never be the next
Van Gogh, or play in an orchestra, but that’s fine. I draw and play for love of
both, and that’s enough for me.
The inverse is true, as well. If you’re passionate about
your art, don’t be afraid to invest yourself in it. Any way you feel called to.
I’m going to go off on a tangent for a second and say how glad I am that fan
fic is slowly getting positive traction, because if I hadn’t started writing
fic, I would never have found an audience, much less one willing to give
feedback and help me grow as a writer. That’s the thing about finding someone
genuinely interested in what you’re sharing, they want more, and they’ll often help you in the process. Whether it’s
encouragement, advice, or simple enthusiasm, it’s out there. Hold it up to your
ear and give it a listen, then decide if it will help you develop your art.
Keep what does, discard what doesn’t. That’s what fan fiction did for me, is
help me find my voice a lot sooner than I might have without it.
Where on the spectrum
do you identify?
I’m a panromantic demisexual, which is at once very broad
and very specific. To me, they go hand-in-hand. I don’t develop sexual
attraction without an emotional bond, and if I’ve gotten close enough to
someone to form that bond, I’m unlikely to care about gender. It’s the person I’ve developed feelings for.
Have you encountered
any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
In my field? No. In my life? A bit. I was discussing
sexuality and orientation with a group of ordinarily open-minded individuals
and casually mentioned I identify as demi. I explained it was similar to being
asexual, and they were on board with the ace part but casually dismissed the
demi part. “Some people just want to be special.” It took a while to get past
that, and I’ve presented myself since then a little differently. On social
media, I proudly post all the ace, aro, demi, bi, pan, gay, trans, nb, everything, supporting positivity that I
want to see in the world. In person, I’ll comment on my aesthetic attractions,
regardless of gender, I’ll express support of representation, and shut down
discourse when I hear it. I do what I can to be an ally and a safe space, and
hopefully send a message that I won’t stand for any prejudice.
What’s the most
common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That we’re prudes, afraid of sex, damaged, or “waiting for
the right person.” Yeah, some of us are, but so are some allosexuals. Sexuality
is such a complex, complicated subject, and I don’t understand the aphobia and
ace discourse I’ve seen. The thing is, we’ve always been here, it’s just that
now we’re willing to claim our space, and hopefully we can spread more
knowledge to put an end to the misconceptions.
What advice would you
give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their
Hang in there. It’s a process. I remember that I was elated
at first to realize I was demi, then I had to process what that meant to me,
evaluate my relationships with people in light of my new understanding of my
identity, decide whether this was something I wanted to keep to myself or make
known to others. Then on down the line, after I felt reasonably secure in my
identity, I realized I was panromantic and had to start all over again. I’ve
found my writing is a very good way to explore my sexuality and my orientation,
and I’m working on more aspec characters to reflect how I feel about my
My biggest ongoing struggle is feeling ace enough to
identify on the spectrum. I’m very sex positive, and I lean towards the, let’s
say, colorful side of sexual expression, which is far removed from the
misconception about asexuals and how we’re all prudes afraid of sex. That’s
where the ignorance hurts us the most, in my opinion. We measure ourselves by
the stereotypes and assumptions, which are often incorrect, and we cut
ourselves down when we don’t fit. Thing is, I’m still aspec whether I like sex
or hate it, whether I’m kinky or vanilla, because it’s about attraction, not
Aces, grays, and demis, you do you. Own your identity. Share
it if you want, or keep it secret. It’s who you are, and it’s as much about
discovery as the rest of you.
Finally, where can
people find out more about your work?
Tumblr is my primary hang out. My URL is at risingphoenix761, and my blog
is a giant mess of fandom, writing, music, humor, and positivity. I’m also on
Fanfiction.Net as AngelxPhoenix,
and Archive of Our Own as RisingPhoenix761.
For anyone interested in my visual art (I consider myself a passionate
amateur), my Instagram is at risingphoenix_761. Come
say hi to me!
Thank you, Gemma, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.