Today we’re joined by Reilyn J. Hardy. Reilyn is phenomenal author whose first novel is coming out at the end of January. It’s a fantasy novel and it sounds fascinating (and it has an aro-ace protagonist!). Aside from writing, Reilyn also enjoys digital painting and creates some truly interesting portraits. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I am an author and digital painter. The book series I am currently working on is called The Chronomancer Chronicles, which is centered around an aro ace poc protagonist, who is the son of Father Time, as he’s forced to deal with the curse that follows his bloodline. After his brother is taken, he adopts a new identity in attempt to leave all of that behind him. Being who he is has brought him nothing but pain, and he just wants to be someone else. Normal. A nobody. But that is far from what life has in store for him. The first book in the series, is called The Last Chronomancer, and it is set to release on January 29th, 2016. The Chronomancer Chronicles features a wide range of diversity, whether it’s gender, romantic and sexual orientations, as well as racial diversity. I always thought it was important to have diversity in a fantasy setting that is always heavily filled with white people. Personally, when I tried to write about all white people, I got confused because all of my characters looked the same. People are beautiful, their differences are beautiful, and they need to be shown and appreciated.
As for my digital painting, I like fancasting celebrities as Disney/Pixar characters. I love painting portraits too, and am still working on scenery. I’m still very new with digital painting, I only discovered it last year, but I’ve been sketching for a long while and I used to want to be an animator when I was younger.
What inspires you?
People and perception. I am guilty of being a people watcher. I like observing the way people interact with one another and I like to think about how exactly they are understanding the situation as individuals, from one side, the other side and me, as an outsider. There’s this quote, ‘There are three sides to every story. Yours, theirs and the truth.’ This has been very inspiring to me for as long as I can remember, because it was such an odd realization for me that though you could be seeing the same thing, someone else could be perceiving and comprehending it entirely differently than the way that you are.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I believe the desire was always there, definitely. I have been drawing since I could grip a pencil. My paternal grandfather taught me what he could about certain techniques, primarily shadowing and distance. I was only about 9 or 10, but I like to think I absorbed it. Writing, I didn’t really get into until I was about 11/12. I actually hated to read and write when I was younger and I spent most of my time drawing. Harry Potter was actually what first grabbed me. My sister was really interested in the series so when the movie came out, we all went to watch it and I was hooked. I had to find out what happened next and I was one of those children who expected a Hogwarts letter when I was 11. When I realized the magic was in the books, it inspired me to want to be able to do the same for another reader one day.
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, or at least nothing I do purposely.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Keep going. I know everyone says that, literally everyone. That you can’t get anywhere unless you keep going but they say that because it’s true. You have to keep going and not give up. It’s not easy, regardless of what anyone says. It’s hard and its terrifying. When you put your work out there, it’s like standing naked on display. There are days where I don’t get off of the couch or out of bed because I’m so depressed, wondering why couldn’t I just be like most people, happy with a traditional job? But then there comes a point when you realize, time doesn’t stop just because you do. It’ll keep going, and it’s going to pass anyway, whether you make use of that time or not. So don’t waste it. As artists, we see the world differently. Perception. We have worlds inside us, societies and people, all living inside of us, waiting to come out.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am aromantic asexual. It was kind of weird for me to come to terms with it, but at the same time, it made sense. I realized all of the ‘crushes’ I had, I never wanted to do anything with them or be with them romantically. I just wanted to be their best friend. I just wanted to talk to them and know them.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Most of my work is done in solitary, so I can’t really say that I have. I’m not the most social person, but even then, it’s not something I really feel the need to talk about. Your life is your life, and not everyone needs to know your business. I’m a very private person so unless someone tells me they like me or someone talks about it first, I usually keep my gender and romantic and sexual orientations to myself. Among my writer friends and my editor though, all of them have been very understanding, and if there was something someone didn’t quite understand, they would ask. They’re very cautious and they’re very careful with how they ask and wouldn’t try to hurt me in any way, so I’ve been very fortunate with that.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it doesn’t exist, and people will try to pressure you into ‘changing your mind’, as though it’s something you’ve decided for yourself. Being aro ace, I’ve been made to feel bad for not returning the feelings of those who have liked me. Even if I wasn’t aro ace, it’s very damaging of someone to do that. It’s important to know that when someone likes you or expresses interest in you, you don’t owe them anything.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Don’t be in a rush to figure it out. I didn’t really discover asexuality until last year when I was 24. I had heard about it, but I never really looked into it until last year because I didn’t think it applied to me. It was so ingrained in my mind that we have to feel some kind of attraction toward others that I was actually somewhat against the possibility. I think I went through everything on the ace spectrum trying to find out what exactly applied to me. Labels aren’t important, but they help you understand who you are, and understanding who you are can do so much for your self-esteem. No matter what, just know that you aren’t broken. You don’t have to be fixed, and don’t let anyone make you feel invalid for your identity.
I think the most important thing is that you be yourself and not who anyone wants you to be. As Dr. Seuss says, ‘today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.’
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
People can find out more about my work on Tumblr at reilynjhardy and on my website www.reilynjhardy.com both of which are relatively new so there isn’t much on there yet. I am also on Instagram at reilynjhardy
Thank you, Reilyn, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.