Today we’re joined by Oliver. Oliver is a wonderful up and coming writer. They’re working toward publication and have written a fascinating sounding queer mystery novel. Oliver is admirably dedicated to the craft of writing, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I write historical fiction mostly along with some fantasy. My current project is a queer mystery novel that is finished and under revision. It follows a detective’s faith in humanity as his professional and private life begin to unravel.
What inspires you?
I draw much of my inspiration the books that I enjoy reading and my own experiences. I grew up absolutely in love with the stories of Holmes, Poirot, Marple, and Dupin just to name a few. As I grew older, I started to look at these characters that I had adored so much and think about how much better they could have been if the traits that they and many others had been coded with were clearly written about. I wanted stories about diverse characters that were allowed to be imperfect and weren’t forced into awkward romances by their writers. While all of the detectives that had guided me through my childhood came the closest to that, there were still so many things that I would have changed about the stories. Finally, I realized that what I needed to do was just write my own stories the way that I wanted them to be told.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve been writing since I was very young. It was mostly just short stories that I could fit on one sheet of paper. It was just a fun way to pass the time, but as I got older I began to realize that it was one of the few things that I was truly passionate. Because of that, I decided to go to college to study English and creative writing.
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?
My work sounds dark, but I actually refuse to bury my gays or have sad endings. There’s just too much of that right now. I also write characters with established queer identities as opposed to coming out stories. Coming out stories were very important to me when I was starting to accept myself as being ace, gay, and nonbinary. Yet as I grew older, I found that what I wanted wasn’t stories based around accepting oneself and more things along the line of “You’re bi? Neat! I’m trans, she’s aro, let’s go on an adventure.” So that’s what I write.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Any kind of art takes practice. It doesn’t matter if you think you write silly stories, draw poorly, sing off key, etc. If you enjoy it, keep doing it. Eventually, you’ll come to realize that you’ve come a long way from where you started. Don’t give up on something you love just because you don’t think that you’re good at it. Putting art in the world is a beautiful thing whether you’re an artist that’s a household name or you just like making things for yourself.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m asexual, still a bit unsure of where I fit romantically, but I’m in no rush to figure it out.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’ve been lucky that all of the beta readers that I’ve worked with have been very respectful of who I am and my choice to have ace and ace spectrum characters. Being ace isn’t something that people always understand, but there are also plenty of kind people who, while they may empathize, will still be positive, respectful, and supportive. If anybody tries to give me guff about my ace characters, they’re more than welcome to go read something else. Ace people deserve to see themselves well represented and I intend to add more books about ace people to the world.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
The two misconceptions that I run into the most are that asexuality just doesn’t exist or that aces are all innocent and naive. I’m honestly not sure what to say about the first one other than that I’m concerned about how close minded those people must be. Given how many people have found and come to use the label of asexual in the past years, it’s clearly a thing. But being a trans person, I hear people talking about how that’s not a thing either so I guess if people don’t like something they just like to pretend it doesn’t exist. Ace stereotypes are difficult sometimes because I am a very stereotypical ace. I’m mentally ill, childish, introverted, etc. Even my friends who are very accepting of aces and have taken some time to read about the ace spectrum often associate being ace with the stereotypical traits about it and that’s highly frustrating. There’s so many aces who don’t fit that model and if we view asexuality in one dimension it just makes it even more difficult for aces who don’t fit the stereotypes to come to accept themselves.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
It’s okay to take your time. Not having an exact word or words for who you are is absolutely fine. What matters is that you’re comfortable. If that means that you want to call yourself asexual even if you’re not totally sure if that label works for you, go for it. If it means that you think you’re asexual but don’t want to call yourself ace or be out, go for it. No matter what, you’re not alone and who you are is natural, good, and wonderful.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
To be honest, it’s probably going to be quite a while before I publish anything. I have a short story with an aro ace protagonist on my aro ace Tumblr (at aroacepositivityplace) along with some artwork of ace headcanons on my art Tumblr (at olihaspencils). Messages on either blog are always welcome. I love talking about all things ace with people. Once I get published, I probably will create a Tumblr specific to my books.
Thank you, Oliver, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.