Interview: 61Below

Today we’re joined by 61Below. 61Below is a wonderful fanfiction writer. She writes in quite a few different fandoms. 61Below loves to get into characters heads and explore motivations. It’s clear she loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an author…who writes fanfic. It’s taken me a long time to feel comfortable using that word, but you know what? I write. I’ll claim that title.

What inspires you?

Stories that don’t get told, plot holes, alternative ways for something to get from point A to point B, headcanons that don’t get explored or worse, get mangled. I like being able to take a thing (a plot, a character, a location) and looking at it from all angles. Meta is honestly my favorite thing ever.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have a distinct memory of being bored and sad and lonely in 1st grade, sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen while it was raining, but the only thing on TV was my least favorite show, and I realized that instead of this, I could tell myself my own stories. So I did. And it kind of went from there.

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 really? Too many em-dashes, maybe. I don’t ever let anyone ever finish a sentence, but to be honest, no one really talks like that. So I kind of ignore grammar rules while writing dialogue or the ‘in-head narration’ bits.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Let yourself be bad, or mediocre, or less-than-great. Practice. It’s easier to edit crap that’s already on the page than to stare at a blinking cursor waiting for perfection. Perfectionism is a pretty temptress, but she’s a siren waiting to drown you. (bahaha, listen to me… at self, come on now and take your own advice)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Bi-romantic Grey-ace. I used to think I was demi, because even the handful of people I’ve ever had pants feelings for were already people I knew and trusted, but even so, it’s such a rare feeling. Honestly, my most important realization? Understanding the difference between aesthetic appreciation, attraction, and internally-driven desire. I’m usually low-libido but I’m not sex-repulsed. I’ve noticed, especially in my writing, that even my smut scenes are very much based on how someone feels. Like, the sight of sweaty, heaving, sculpted bare abs isn’t going to do anything for me, but boy howdy, the description of the feel of the brush of someone’s knuckles down someone’s arched throat? *fire emoji*

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

It hasn’t really come up within comments, because the fic I’ve written doesn’t actually deal with ace characters. But in my real world job? Let’s just say that I should not have had to explain asexuality to the lecturer giving a diversity training about sexual orientations. I mean, the hyper-sexualization of people who feel same-sex attraction is already the problem at the root of the whole ‘well I don’t want to share a locker room with a [slur]’ nonsense. But I believe that this sort of nonsense stems from ignorance, and the cure for ignorance is the presentation of facts in a clear-cut, non-confrontational way.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we’re straight, or that we don’t face oppression. The misconception that hurts the worst? When your partner’s feelings are hurt. Like, romantic love has been so centered around sexual attraction that most people can’t separate the two, so they think, ‘Well, if they’re not attracted to me, then they don’t love me.’ My own husband, who I have loved dearly for 11 years, has had to deal with feeling like this. Tbh the most frustrating aspect of all this is that he thinks I’m just sick, that this is a symptom of a chronic health issue I’ve been dealing with since my childhood. And you know what? He might be right, but I’ve never lived without this, so I would not know any other way to feel. I don’t consider this to be something that needs to be ‘fixed’.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

No one else can tell you how you feel. It is possible to have a romantic relationship without sex, (or with very little sex) but you know what? If you’re with an allosexual who really does need it (their desires are just as valid as ours), they make toys for that. The partner that disagrees with this and isn’t willing to make some concessions for that? Is not someone who deserves your time. Don’t let anyone pressure or guilt you into doing stuff just because you’re in a relationship.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

My username is 61Below. I post my works on AO3, and I’ll throw around some headcanons on my Tumblr, too.

Thank you, 61Below, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

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