Today we’re joined by Cassandra Wolfe. Cassandra is a phenomenal artist jack of all trades. She’s predominantly a fantasy writer who is working on a novel that sounds absolutely fascinating. When she’s not writing, Cassandra enjoys photography, particularly wildlife. She’s incredibly passionate, 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’m a bit of a jack of all trades really but my main focus at the moment is my writing (funny considering I’m trained as an art teacher). I work mainly in the fields of urban fantasy. I am currently working on the final drafts of what I hope to be my first novel featuring a bunch of werewolves living in modern day Australia along with a few short stories that I’m working on getting published in some online anthologies.
Outside of writing I’m trained in painting but I find that these days most of my work tends to utilize photography as a medium, with wildlife being one of my favourite subjects. I’ve also dabbled in both ceramics and sketching.
What inspires you?
I get most of my inspiration from the natural world and folklore. I grew up in a family that loved nature so I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the African wilderness which made me fall in love with the wonder that is wildlife. There’s a certain thrill that comes with getting up close to wild animals and it hasn’t faded now that I’m dealing with kangaroos instead of springbok. I’m rather proud of the fact that I can and have gotten within meters of hartebeest, bat-eared foxes, snakes and lizards. Reptiles are my absolute favourite subjects to shoot simply because they’re so chill that it makes approaching them a piece of cake.
The folklore that inspires me comes through mainly in my writing where it combines with my love of the natural world in the form of critters that are closer to that world than most people are. I tend to include a lot of shape shifter lore in my work and the fae are never far behind! I also enjoy including aspects of my religion into what I write in terms of how I shape the magic and witchcraft that is 99% guaranteed to be a part of my fictional work.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I was the kid who always wanted to sit down and write stories when asked what I wanted to do; it used to drive my sister up the wall. I actually entered a writing competition when I was pretty young and got to meet a whole bunch of authors at the close of it which helped drive my passion even if my story for it wasn’t what you’d call great. I still own the signed copies of one of Fiona McIntosh’s series and every time I feel disheartened by my writing I find reading that ‘keep writing’ on the front page keeps me going. Reading that little handwritten quote inspired me to be published one day when I was all of ten years old and that dream has yet to die on me.
My passion for Visual Arts came later in life even if, like most kids, I liked to draw when I was young. I actually originally planned on going into the equestrian industry with hopes of training race horses one day and even got a job as a groom at a show yard but unfortunately I had a bit of a tough time of it there. I ended up being rather over worked and on top of a couple of injuries I received I was slowly wearing my body out. I found that at that time the one thing that got me through it all was my art. I was doing some writing at the time but what really distracted me from my sore legs, ankle and back was painting. I bought a couple of canvas boards and some acrylic paint and Bob’s your uncle, I was falling in love with art all over again.
When I finally accepted that working in the equestrian industry wasn’t going to be possible going into art was the obvious choice. And since I had no desire to try and live purely off of my art I felt that being an art teacher was a perfect fit for 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?
Not so much in my drawings and photographs per say but I do have a few in my writing. One of the big things is ‘circles’, I love having little tidbits here and there that circle back and link to another part of the story. Half the time they’re completely irrelevant to the plot and very subtle in their implementation but I just love including them. Eyes would another one, I fully believe that eyes are the window to the soul and as such the eyes of my various critters tend to tell a tale in themselves. It’s one of the reasons why all of my shifter characters retain their human eye colour when in animal form.
On a larger scale you can expect to see a bunch of diversity in what I write, half of my characters end up being some version of queer (often less well known sexualities) and I try to limit the amount of cis, straight, white males in my writing since they’re over-represented in fiction.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t be afraid to experiment; try different mediums and genres, play around, try something that might not work for the hell of it. It’s the only way to grow no matter what your field is. And above all, persevere. It doesn’t matter if what you made didn’t come out the way you wanted it to, you still made it and the next time it will be even better. Even your worst mistake is better than not having tried in the first place.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as demisexual and homoromantic.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Most people haven’t heard of it to be honest, I’ve only heard it mentioned once. That time there was a bit of confusion about it but I didn’t exactly feel comfortable explaining more since I was just a prac student at the time. As a whole the Australian education system is generally anti-LGBTQIA+ with a recent program designed to teach high school students about the various genders and sexualities and why it’s wrong to discriminate being muzzled and defunded by the government over fears that it was sexualizing children. I find that being an art teacher makes it easy enough to get around that prejudice however as half of the artists I teach experienced some form of discrimination.
I haven’t really encountered anything in terms of my writing but if I get published it’ll only be a matter of time considering Wolf Moon and its sequel currently feature at least two lesbians, an ace-aro, and two non-binary folk.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it’s the same as being straight. That’s the big one online at the moment and it drives me demented considering that most of the people spouting it refuse to be swayed from their position by the experiences of actual ace and aro people. It’s especially frustrating because of the impact it has on the ace (and aro) communities as both are made to feel unwelcome in both straight and LGBTQIA+ spaces.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Ignore the current online discourse; it’s not reflective of real life LGBTQIA+ spaces at all. Most of the people in those spaces have no issues with aces or aros and those who do aren’t worth giving a damn about if you ask me. Whatever your orientation you are valid, it doesn’t matter if things change down the line or if you don’t have the exact word to describe your orientation, you and your experiences remain valid. Just hold your head up high and be proud of who you are.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Those interested in my writing can find it at http://cassandrawolfe.tumblr.com/ I tend to post drabbles, and writing advice there as well as keeping people updated on the progress of my bigger works there. My art can be found at http://thepaintedwolfe.tumblr.com/ with the vast majority of it being wildlife photography.
Thank you, Cassandra, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.