Today we’re joined by Nora Rose. Nora is a phenomenal artist who does a bit of everything. She’s a passionate writer who does everything from novels to fanfiction. When she’s not writing, Nora is also an avid cook, an actor, and an audiobook narrator (I think that’s a first for Asexual Artists). Whatever art she’s working on, Nora throws herself fully into it. She’s an incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I have my fingers in a lot of pies. I’m a fanfiction writer, an unpublished novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, an amateur actor, an audiobook narrator, and aspiring cook.
Writing has been a passion since I was in second grade, and I’ve been pursuing it as a habit and career since I was eleven. My senior project for my undergrad degree was a play in one act that I wrote. I’ve been writing fanfiction for almost as long.
I studied theater at college. I fell in love with acting in high school, and I was probably the first person in my grade who knew what they were going to major in. My grandest moment was as Mrs. Bennett in a stage rendition of “Pride & Prejudice” that our director was writing.
Unfortunately, since graduating I haven’t had much chance to do any acting, but I would love to end up in television–writing, acting, directing, and producing.
The audiobook narrating was unexpected. I did some live voicework for some friends’ senior shows in college, and afterwards had people come up to me and tell me I should pursue it. I never really thought I would until it turned out the son of my parents’ neighbor had just self-published a book and wanted to do an audiobook. I was just about to move to the same city he lives so we connected, and I’ve recorded the first two books of his series.
Growing up, I hated cooking. I think it was part rebelling against the expectations of being a housewife someday and part the fact that I’m a picky eater. One summer during college, however, I was doing a summer semester and was bored out of my mind. So I started making a whole bunch of different foods–mostly desserts–for my landlady. Someday soon I want to actually go to culinary school and maybe eventually open a little bistro.
What inspires you?
I’ve found that inspiration for me can come from anywhere. It can come from that one image in a dream that sticks long after waking up. It can come from a personal story someone told me that sounded like something out of a fairytale. It can come from real life experiences where the emotions were loud and visceral. It can come from a visual of certain actors in certain costumes or situations. I can be inspired by an actor that makes me cry. And, of course, the Food Network and Pinterest can be extremely inspiring when it comes to cooking.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
As for writing, I’ve loved it so long I honestly have no idea what got me interested. I finally decided to start writing my own books after falling in love with Tamora Pierce’s “The Song of the Lioness” series.
Acting, it was the first director I had in high school. The first play I was in, I was just a somebody. The second one, he cast me as the lead female part. He took a chance on me, and he believed in me, and I fell in love.
Narrating was explained a little in the first question, but I really decided I liked it once I started and realized it was a form of acting. While I wasn’t on stage or in front of a camera, I got to act and put heart into it, and it was a relief to be doing that again.
Cooking was boredom. I’ve really fallen in love with cooking because I love feeding people. It’s just like storytelling–I get to give people this beautiful thing I’ve created and I love watching their reactions.
Have I always wanted to be an artist? Yes. I don’t know that I could be anything else.
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?
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
This is cliché, but just do it. As someone with mental illness, trust me, I know it can be hard sometimes to motivate yourself even to do the things you love. But you have to. Don’t let it stress you out, of course, because then you’ll start to hate it. But do little things. If you write, but you’re having trouble getting any words down, outline. If you act, but you’re having trouble getting out the auditions, act out some of your favorite movie scenes in the shower. Do what little you can.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Asexual, poly, panromantic. I’m not sex repulsed, but I’m not really interested too much in sex. It doesn’t faze me usually. I like having sex, but I forget that it’s an option a lot of the time, and I’m in a committed relationship with someone with a high sex drive. I’ll watch porn and I read porn, but if I’m not in exactly the right mood for it, I get bored really quickly.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
The only example I can think of that happened in any of my fields was once I was discussing with the producer of the audiobooks I’ve worked on other types of books I’d be interested in narrating. He made some comment assuming that I’d like to steer clear of romance novels. I said, actually, I wouldn’t mind. In fact, someday in the future, I plan on narrating my fiancé’s novels, most of which fall in the category of “romance”. He then made some comment assuming I’d like to stay away from more hardcore stuff, and again, I said actually, I don’t mind. I’m asexual, I said, so it really doesn’t faze me. The rest of the elevator ride was quiet and uncomfortable.
I talked to my fiancé about it afterwards. That’s how I deal with most things. It felt a little funny. It was kind of tiring. I didn’t know how to react, really, because in this particular situation–wouldn’t that be an advantage? Why should it matter if it’s actually going to make both your job and my job easier? It never came up again. I guess we’ll see if it does if I ever narrate a romance produced by him.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Mostly I’ve just met people who had no idea what it meant and said as much. Who’d either never heard the term or only had in high school biology talking about asexual reproduction. Luckily, most of the time they just ask, and I’m able to explain in a way that I’m comfortable with, saying this is a general definition, and this is what it means in my case.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
It’s a spectrum. It’s a moving spectrum. Do you know how old I was when I realized I was asexual? Twenty-three. For a while I even thought I hadn’t always been asexual. But the more time goes on, the more I look back, I just realize that I’ve simply become more comfortable with my asexuality and let that color how my life is. Don’t stress. If you used to think you were straight, or if you used to think you were demi, or if you’re certain you’re into women but the idea of sex freaks you out? It’s a scale. Things change. And you’re allowed to feel more ways than one.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Check out my Tumblr at nrsully.tumblr.com and my Facebook page at Nora Rose Sullivan. You can find the audiobook for “Orchard” on Audible here. You can also find my more recent fanfiction on AO3 at Briar_Elwood.
Thank you, Nora, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.