Today we’re joined by Sarah Pickard. Sarah is a phenomenal writer who specializes in genre fiction. She writes a variety of genres and has a wide array of LGBTQ+ characters populating her work. Her passion and enthusiasm shines through in her interview, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
While I’ve been published for poetry, I mostly work writing LGBT+ genre fiction. In my experience as a reader, too much of LGBT+ media is focused on the coming out process, so I try to fill a niche of writing fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, etc. novels that has a full LGBT+ cast. There’s none of the angst that comes with the discovery or coming out process. Instead we have a cast with a full range of gender identities and sexualities who are out living their lives, commanding airships or working in underground street-racing teams. When you already had to live through the experience, sometimes you just want to see a lesbian punch a dragon.
(I also have a personal pledge to only ever write one straight character, which to this day I’ve maintained.)
What inspires you?
I think every comment about ‘pandering diversity’ or ‘if you want representation, go out and make it’ fuels me to take these genres that have been traditionally very heteronormative and queer the fuck out of them. For anyone who widely reads fanfiction, the transition back to reading traditional literature is always a jarring one as you remember how white/straight/cis everything really is. And there’s no reason it has to be! Diversity breathes life into plotlines – not stifles them. Why close yourself off to possibilities? I mean, when we add nonbinary people to high fantasy, think of all the curses/prophecies that get foiled. And why deprive yourself of all the puns? Yes, that’s it. I’m inspired by all the pun-possibilities.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve wanted to be a writer…always. Honestly, my first written work was dictated to my grandmother at the age of four. And in some ways it’s terrifying to have no idea who I’d be without writing, but I count myself very lucky that I found my calling at such a young age. There was never any specific moment or event that triggered it. I probably came out of the womb this way.
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?
Yes! So, I basically write my own novel length AU fanfiction. That is, I have a set cast I work with in all my novels and genres, and the fun comes from exploring how they and their relationships grow and change and develop under different circumstances and settings. And most of my readers find comfort knowing that just because their favourite character died in one novel doesn’t mean they won’t survive the next. How many works can boast that?
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
If you really love something, do it. Do it in every free moment you have. If you wait for inspiration, you’ll never be inspired. Writing is hard work (no matter how easy Stephen King makes it seem) and it never gets any easier. Most of the time it gets harder as the years go on! You start worrying about sentence structure repetition and never using the word ‘was’ and staying in the active voice and before you know it you’ve rewritten the same sentence ten times because something’s wrong with it and you can’t figure out what. Yeah, some days words will fly off the keyboard like little fairies with minds of their own, but most of them time you’re going to slog through it one word at a time.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as asexual, and I have no idea what my romantic orientation is.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
While I haven’t personally encountered any writers who are against asexuality, I have run into the old rhetoric of asexual characters being boring to write about. But honestly, if you need sex to move your plot along, you have a pretty terrible plot?
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That we’re all either Childish, Sociopaths, or Geniuses instead of actual people.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Right now, Tumblr is probably the worst place to be if you’re struggling with your asexual identity. Nearly every LGBT+ space I’ve encountered in person has been warm and welcoming and accepting. So just forget all the bullshit about whether or not you’re a part of the community – because you absolutely are – and figure everything out on your own terms. Also aromantic heterosexuals and heteromantic asexuals are 100% queer (no take backs) and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m afraid I don’t post any of my work online. I’m soliciting my first novel right now and it can’t be previously published – and some publishing companies consider posting online as ‘previously published’. But if anyone wants to Beta any of my work, they can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to get feedback and constructive criticism!
Thank you, Sarah, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.