Today we are joined by Claudie Arseneault. Claudie has just released her first novel through a small press. I’m very excited to have her participate in this project and my thanks to her.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a writer! I put one word after another in such a manner that you’ll wind up in bed at 3 am, crying over characters you didn’t know existed a week ago, and I think that’s the most beautiful thing in the world.
I stick to science fiction and fantasy, with stories led mostly by LGBTQ+ characters. My first novel just came out, and I’m hard at work on a high fantasy saga with a large cast of mainly queer characters. It’s a lot of fun!
What inspires you?
Really, though, there are many things that can spark a story. It can be small things, like a few lyrics in a song, or gorgeous pictures of hot air balloons (I love hot air balloons), or other people’s stories too. Anything out of the ordinary – any kind of knowledge – you never know where inspiration comes from, or where it’ll fit in a story. And that’s part of what I love about writing, too.
Then there are works like Welcome to Night Vale that manage to be both funny and weird and incredibly rich in themes, messages, stories and diversity – those also inspire me to keep trying and do better.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I guess I’ve always been interested, because I’ve always been a huge reader of fantasy and science fiction. It started with Lord of the Rings in 6th grade, and Harry Potter at about the same time.
But despite being an excellent writer at school, and my English being super good too (French is my first language), I never thought I’d be a writer in high school. I wasn’t an artist. I was the nerdy science girl. My older sister painted, my twin sister was in theatre, but me? I was the science girl, and that was it. I kicked ass at school, I loved all kinds of science things, which in my mind meant I couldn’t be an artist, especially not something as wonderful as a writer.
It took roleplaying games before I started creating my own stories, and it took my ex’s constant reminders that I crafted fantastic (and very painful) stories for me to start believing I could do this. And just as I had my first idea for a novel, in 2008, I discovered NaNoWriMo. After that I knew without a doubt.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
It’s not really signature, but I have a tendency to mix upbeat, funny elements with the more heavy themes and events of my stories. I mean, when you really think about it, Viral Airwaves is about a noodle-obsessed couch potato launching a clandestine radio from his hot air balloon. But it’s also about grief, about individual nobodies taking matters in their own hands, and the importance of at least trying.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
The best thing that happened to me as a young writer (and I still consider myself a young aspiring writer) was to find other writers. Get writer friends. Betas are important (super important) but friends who understand how painful and confusing the process is? They will keep you writing.
Oh, and on a more technical side … don’t be afraid to rewrite. And don’t do it halfway! You’ll learn about plot structure and saggy middles, and suddenly your novel feels all wrong, and that’s normal. Viral Airwaves was rewritten so often I forget what I introduced where. It used not to even have the noodles, or the radio! You’ll learn so much during rewrites, about your story and the craft, and even about yourself as a writer. They are long and painful, but very much worth it.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Asexual, most of the time.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Not really, but then again I don’t go around telling most people. It’s written on my tumblr, and my close friends know, but that’s pretty much it. It should be noted that I don’t have an asexual character in a published novel, however, so these things might happen with my next project, who has one as a narrator. We’ll see, I guess!
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it means I have no sex drive or never get horny. And this was really hard, because I was in a relationship (and still am) before I found out about asexuality and for months I thought I wasn’t really asexual, because I still had the occasional desire to do stuff with the boyfriend. It’s so hard to define sexual attraction, especially when you don’t experience it, I sometimes still wonder if I’m just lying to myself.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Screw sex. No but really, there are so many enjoyable things in life, I’m still not sure what the obsession about sex is. I started feeling better about myself when I stopped trying to make myself want it so bad. It was really freeing to understand that you know, that’s who I was and the world was going to have to deal with it.
Not wanting it does not make you, or your life, incomplete. It’s no more part of The Human Experience ™ than skydiving is. It’s a thing that people do and enjoy, and if you don’t feel like it, then don’t.
The second advice would be to trust yourself. If you’re like me, you won’t always feel like you belong. People will tell you you don’t. They are liars. If you think you’re asexual, no matter where on the spectrum, you are. And welcome!
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m semi scattered all over the web, and I love to talk, so don’t hesitate!
Kindle Preorders: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00SXYMBQG
And I occasional blog on my tiny website: https://claudiears.wordpress.com/
Thank you so much, Claudie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated