Interview: Anne Hawley

Today we’re joined by Anne Hawley. Anne is a phenomenal novelist and editor who writes queer-themed historical fiction. She has a novel entitled Restraint, which features an ace secondary character. Anne is currently working on a new historical novel that features an ace protagonist, which is exciting (we need more historical fiction featuring aces). It’s clear she’s a talented and passionate writer who loves what she does, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Laughing

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write novels featuring queer characters in historical settings, exploring issues of identity and acceptance. I’m also a Story Grid Certified fiction editor, helping other writers shape their novels and screenplays.

What inspires you?

People’s individual search for wholeness and self-acceptance. The search for meaning. My stories revolve around people on spiritual journeys, and my editing work is focused on helping writers find and tell the story that’s in their heart to tell.

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

I’ve been writing since I could read. I started my first novel when I was nine. I was inspired by fantasy novels and wanted to create my own worlds.

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?

I always name something after a notable feature in my hometown of Portland, Oregon USA

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’ll permit me to change the question, I’d like to say something to aspiring artists who may not have started young, or aren’t young anymore. Ageism is real and insidious in our culture, and it has a huge silencing power. Just as the dominant culture would still prefer it if you were allosexual and cisgendered (though thank goodness that’s changing), it would like you to be silent and invisible if you’re not young. If you have a story to tell, tell it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aromantic asexual. I think “autochor” is probably a term that applies to me.

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

There’s not much ace representation yet in fiction, and as a person who came to the identity late in life, I’m still working to change my own ingrained belief that “nobody” wants to read stories without sexual tension, or about individuals who are fulfilled without romance.

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

That asexual people don’t really exist, and that people in my age group who claim that sexual identity are simply resigned to being “too old” for love or sex–or that we’re some sort of holdover from an earlier and more prudish, sex-negative era. We aren’t.

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

Many, many people in older age groups like mine have never even heard of asexuality. If you’re like me, hearing about it at a late age might create a real internal struggle, especially if you’ve given a lot of energy over the years trying to conform to old cultural standards of “normal” sexuality.

It helps to read as much as you can about all the nuances in the spectrum of asexuality, and realize that it’s okay to try on different names and labels. It might take a while to feel at home with one or another of them. But you might also find, as I did, that little by little embracing asexuality solves so many mysteries of your life.

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

https://annehawley.net

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

Interview: Sarah Viehmann

Today we’re joined by Sarah Viehmann. Sarah is a phenomenal author whose debut novel, Unrooted, is scheduled to be released this winter. Unrooted is a retelling of Snow White that features two protagonists on the ace spectrum. When she’s not writing novels, Sarah frequently blogs about fairy tales and sometimes about asexuality. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

sara2

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a novelist writing adult fantasy, a series of fairy tale retellings beginning with Unrooted, debuting Winter 2018 with REUTS Publications. The first book retells the “Snow White” fairy tale and features protagonists on the ace spectrum, along with other LGBT+ characters, disabled characters, and characters of color. Unrooted is the first in a series of five books called The Iridia Series.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the human impulse that drives us to tell stories. How do we use stories to communicate deep needs within the individual and the community? How do stories changes based on who is telling them? How have stories changed and how will they continue to change in the future? My fairy tale retellings seek to explore, if not answer, these questions.

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

When it comes to fairy tales, I was introduced to them by my father reading me Three Billy Goats Gruff and similar fairy tales before bed at night. I also frequented the local library and always went directly toward the 398.2 section where fairy tales are housed. As for writing, I tend to joke that I’ve been writing since I could hold a marker, but that really isn’t too far off from the truth! I’ve always been inventive and a lover of words, so combining those two things into writing seemed to be incredibly natural 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?

Oh goodness . . . I’m not sure how to best answer this. I think the themes that appear most frequently in my work include mother-daughter relationships, women who have lost and regain their voices, and attention to language. There are also many elements from my academic study of literature that appear in my work, such as structuralism and mise en abyme (the mirror in the text), and those who might be familiar with such ideas should be able to pick them out.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do it, and do it for yourself. Disregard any thoughts of “what if no one likes it?” It’s yours to like, and what other people think only matters once the work is done and/if you decide to share it. Don’t let the input of others affect your creative process, because then the work won’t be true to you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and grey-biromantic. The latter part of that is more nebulous for me and I slide around a lot. I tend to find cis-women and nonbinary people more aesthetically attractive than cis-men, but that could be a matter of circumstance than anything else!

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

Yes. I once pointed out amisia in a very popular book series that appeared in the preview a few days before the newest book release. I spent a weekend fending off aggressive anons on tumblr telling me I’d read it wrong and I shouldn’t be upset by it. It’s difficult being in the minority of writers and readers who can and do point out things like that in published writing (and that’s not the only example). I still find it very important to point these things out so readers and writers alike learn, but it’s always a little uncomfortable having to be That Person. In addition to that, I try and model positive ace and aro representation in my own writing as a model for what I as an ace and grey-ro person would like to see in writing.

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

Recently, I think it’s the idea that ace people don’t like sex or are disgusted by it. That’s not the experience of all ace people, and it shouldn’t be a stereotype. That said, the experience of those who are sex-repulsed should be respected.

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

It’s okay to try on labels to see what fits. You’re not betraying anyone by adjusting the label over time to figure out what fits you best. I had to play around with my romantic orientation a lot before I decided on one, and I’m still not wholly committed to it. Also, seek out other ace folks, because on the whole I find we’re an incredibly kind and welcoming community willing to help you figure things out if you have questions.

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

My official website is www.sarahviehmann.com, but I’m most active on Tumblr (sarahviehmann.tumblr.com) and Twitter at SarahViehmann. You can also find Unrooted on Goodreads! Please stay tuned for its release and other exciting things leading up to the release date!

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

Signal Boost: Another Book Trailer

Hello all!

April was an incredibly rough month for me and it just seemed to drag on. It was one of those months where almost everything went wrong and I was just miserable (I’m still having difficulty wrapping my head around my late friend’s passing). There was a bright spot though: I was able to collaborate with Britty Lea again to make another book trailer, this one for the 2nd book in my series.

The trailer for Through Storm and Night debuted yesterday:

I love the spookiness and I’m just super happy with how it came out (and one of my dear, dear friends, Robyn Byrd, did some of the voice over).

Britty and I have already scheduled a brainstorming session to plan the trailer for From the Ashes. I’m looking forward to that.

I know some authors follow this site. If you’re looking for a badass ace filmmaker to make a super cool trailer for your book, I really recommend Britty. She’s fantastic. If you’re interested in commissioning Britty, check out her personal site (https://www.brittylea.com/) or her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/brittyleafilm/).

And, of course, if you’re interested in helping out an indie ace author, you can always pick up a copy of my books. More information can be found at my personal website (https://laurenjankowski.com/) or my publisher’s, Snowy Wings Publishing, site (https://www.snowywingspublishing.com/).

I just wanted to share this because I’m super proud of it and I really appreciate the kindness of the artists and followers this site has. You all are amazing 🙂

Thank you, everybody!

Interview: DarkChibiShadow

Today we’re joined by DarkChibiShadow, who also goes by DCS. DCS is a fantastic visual artist, writer, and game developer who specializes in erotica comics. They are very interested in erotica and sexuality, which informs much of their work. DCS strives to make things that everyone can enjoy, but are particularly dedicated to making things ace people can enjoy. Their stories include a wide variety of ace and aro spectrum characters. DCS also makes a copious amount of SFW comics and games as well. They have recently started SofDelux with their friend Nami, who was interviewed yesterday. The pair of them are a powerhouse, collaborating to make some truly awesome visual novels and games. It’s clear DCS is a passionate and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hey! I’m DCS, otherwise known as DarkChibiShadow!

When it comes to my art — it’s my life! It has been for so long, ever since I was little.

I would say I mainly make comics with a heaping side of visual novels right now — as well as a ton of different kinds of commissions! I’m basically always working on something!

Right now my biggest focuses are my webcomic, Space School, and my various erotica comics! I update both once a week; with my erotica comics rotating between a cast of characters and stories.

Good ‘ol Space School has been going on for a long while now — and it’s had it’s ups and downs cuz of that. It started out as a really silly RP idea that I then grew super attached to and wanted to make a comic of. (Little did I know at the time just how attached I’d get, haha!)

The main character, Zeggy, is a reflection of me as a teenager struggling to find acceptance among people my age — I was rowdy and way outspoken about my interest in sexuality and I think it drove some people around me batty. (Sorry everyone I hung out with!) Needless to say I uh, understand boundaries a lot better now and am always glad seeing when readers of mine relate to Zeggy in the same way. Plus, it’s got a great ‘lil ace bird boy named Joe, who is very outspoken and a lot of fun. Oh! Alkaline (the love interest) is demisexual as well — with a few other background characters also being on the ace spectrum but they don’t get into it as much during the main plotline.

The comic is very old now — with the beginning being…made by me in my late high school years; but I still love it, and want to finish it one day even if it takes me another five years, haha.

1. DCS Space School [2017]
DCS Space School [2017]
My other passion is my Erotica Comics! They focus on a few different stories and set of characters; and right now it’s featured me and my girlfriend’s characters, Dennis and Booker.

I’ve made a ton of erotica comics thanks to my Patrons (Love ya! You know who you are!) and I’m always super excited to explore new worlds and characters and see how they fall in love and get down ‘n dirty.

Porn and sexuality have always been a huge thing for me; and something that I always wanted to create. There was just…not a lot of porn out there that made me feel good — despite my interest in it. I’ve just always wanted to create my own little corner of the internet where I could enjoy fun porn and invite people in to enjoy with me.

I’m always really excited and happy when there’s ace people who reach out to me and say they like my porn. Knowing my stuff can help other ace people feels great, honestly! It’s all I ever wanted! I just want to make stuff that’s fun and focuses on characters and romance and having a good time, having a laugh!

Agh — if I go on I’ll definitely write a whole essay about it. Needless to say; I really enjoy erotica and I’m passionate about making more comfortable and fun stuff for me and my fans.

2. Solanaceae, Ch.2 (2016)
Solanaceae, Ch.2 (2016)

And lastly — but certainly not least — I make visual novels now too!

I believe I started making visual novels in 2016 (around this time of year, actually) with some short fan-games and then went from there.

I had dabbled in making games a bit when I was a teenager but never thought I would be fit for finishing any? I guess I just never thought I’d have an idea that would fit — but once I started thinking of ideas specifically JUST for games; it became a lot easier.

Going from comics to visual novels was actually pretty easy since both involve lots of pictures, and lots of words — but there were definitely things in either that were easier or harder to do depending on the medium.

It’s only been 2 years but I’ve already released or help release a bunch of VN’s! It’s been awesome!

The ones I’m most proud of are Tomai, Disaster Log C, and Mermaid Splash: Passion Festival!

3. Sofdelux Studio, Disaster Log C (2017)
Sofdelux Studio, Disaster Log C (2017)

They were all collabs and all super fun and I’m so proud of the final product — check ‘em out if you like stuff that’s goofy, romantic, and not-too-long, haha.

In 2018 I’m expecting to release the first of four games in my “One-Eyed Lee” series of games, titled, “One-Eyed Lee and the Dinner Party” as well as helping release, A Werewolf Oppunirty, Obviously; which has a massive 30k word count demo out right now. As you can tell by the name, it’s a queer werewolf dating sim and it’s awesome. Check ‘em out!

And as a side note — I always try to include PG-13 options in any game I make so that people who are not comfortable with sexual stuff can avoid it entirely!

I’m really excited to be making visual novels and I’m pumped to make more in the future.

Shout-out to Nami who has taught me basically all there is to know about making games in Ren’py and is probably the sole reason I can keep making them. Love you!!!

What inspires you?

There’s so much that inspires me! My friends, nature, animals, mythology, games, comics, movies, shows — so much!

I’ve always been big into the look of PS2 games and am always kind of searching to emulate that in my style — I think. Games like Shadow of the Colossus, Okage: Shadow King, the Katamari line of games, Dark Cloud, Space Channel 5, Kingdom Hearts — all of those things really inspired me when I was young and still continue to do so!

Right now a BUNCH of indie-games inspire me! Just seeing other game devs go for it and make stuff is…so awesome! Whenever Nami shows me her WIPs I always get excited to work on my own games — and vice versa! Any game that really feels like it was made by a team or person who is really passionate about it shine through to me so much…it’s such a good feeling!

Not to mention all of the good comics out there!

I’ve always been a huge fan of Full Metal Alchemist and for a long time Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure was a huge influence too. (I got into it back in…2008? I think? I was a Junior in High School and BUDDY, was it hard to get back then. Anime fans have it good right now!)

And then as I got into my twenties I finally got into One Piece and it’s soooo good! Plus it’s great that Luffy is basically confirmed as ace-aro, hell yeah!

Other comics like Mushi-shi, Franken Fran, Nana to Kaoru, and a hand full of smaller or one-shot comics have also been a huge influence.

Not to mention all of the doujins and porn and movies and TV shows I like…there’s so much!

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Overwatch, a BUNCH of documentaries — AGH! It’s just all so interesting and exciting!

Every new thing I see and learn about just gives me another fun idea for something to work on! Again, if I keep writing I’ll never stop — there’s too much fun stuff! It’s all so good! I’m so glad people create things!

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

I’ve always been an artist — and I don’t remember a time I wasn’t drawing?

I’ve been making comics more “seriously” since the 5th grade and I started posting my comics online when I was a freshmen in High School. Back then, I had a comic I used to update every day! I don’t know how I did it. I was wild.

For a while I wasn’t convinced I could do art full-time just because (at the time) the internet wasn’t where it was right now for freelancers and because so many people around me told me that being an artist wasn’t viable.

So I originally went to community college thinking I would maybe go abroad — but once I saw my girlfriend, Niku, going to art school and doing her best I thought, “If I don’t at least TRY to do what I love for a living won’t I end up regretting it later on?”

So I said fuck it and started on my way to full-time art!

I was really lucky though. My parents are together still and I’ve got a great support system of family and friends — and not to mention I already had a following from posting my comics back in High School — so I think the stars were just aligned for me. I’ve still got a long way to go!

I think anyone can do what I do! All it takes is working a lot, honestly! As long as you’re finishing work and communicating with people; I think it’s possible!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep at it! If you’re feeling like your art will never find it’s audience — just keep at it!

These things take time — so much time!

I’ve struggled for so long to find people who connect with my art, but I know even more are out there and I just gotta work even harder to find them.

If you draw it…they will come…

You can too! You can make your thing, you can find your people!

Also; try not to be a perfectionist, mmkay?

Finishing your thing is more important than it being “perfect” and often times people will not notice the flaws you do — so just look at that finish line and get to it.

Getting your thing out there and in front of people will make it that much easier to get working on your next project and get better and better.

You got this!

To inspire you, here’s some of my first Webcomic art from 2007:

4. Wires
Wires

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am demisexual~! I also identify as queer, since it’s a nice blanket term for “not straight” and because I’m interested in so many types of people and bodies.

(I’m also genderfluid; but my gender has always been much harder for me than my sexuality, ugh.)

For me– knowing a character, knowing a person is…it’s everything.

I find myself totally not caring about a character until I get to know them, see them, fall in love with them in a way? Then suddenly I’m SO invested in all of the little things they might like to do in bed. Stuff I wasn’t even remotely interested in before I can become interested in because it’s what that character is into — and for me, that’s everything…

When I found out what being demisexual was — it was such a relief; because it perfectly described me and how I felt towards other people and characters. I wish I had known about it when I was a teen!

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

Hmm, in the past I’ve gotten some hate from random people but I think every artist has that to some point. Some people just don’t like your work and…well, that’s really that!

It sucks, and I hate it, but knowing it happens to just about everyone makes it easier!

Otherwise — I have had people question whether “being ace is a thing” in terms of some of my characters; which is annoying but hey!

I’ve also seen some rather un-kind things said in articles about ace-focused media — it sucks!

Typically I tend to keep to my own lane and just focus on my work; that tends to be the easiest way to go about it all.

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

That every ace person ever hates sex and anything to do with it!

Being ace, like being anything, is a spectrum! There’s a ton of ace people who like porn and there’s a ton who don’t and I think being able to make spaces for either is a good thing!

I’ve personally had some friends who weren’t interested in porn at all (and were actually kind of repulsed by it) turn a new leaf because they found out porn ISN’T ALL just the typical hentai stuff — it’s a whole range of things! Seeing someone find their kind of porn is so sweet!

It sucks for me knowing that there are people struggling balancing being ace with liking porn or liking sexuality — because I think those two things can totally live in harmony!

Nothing breaks my heart like seeing someone who is ace get asked questions like, “You still like porn? Aren’t you ace?” and “Are you really ace if you like porn?”

Because of COURSE SOMEONE IS STILL ACE IF THEY LIKE PORN! AAAAH!

I’m super interested in porn, in the sexuality of a character — but I am just not that interested in having sex. When I’m super in love with someone — there’s interest — but even then, not that much?! And I think a lot of people feel this way and think maybe it’s not right?! But it’s totally fine!

Also; it’s tough when people expect everyone who is ace to also be aro. It’s seperate!

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

Don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t real and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be loud and proud!

And don’t let anyone tell you it’s a “PHASE” either — even if you eventually find the label isn’t for you — someone saying this to you is bullshit!

Yell you are ace as loud as you want! Put it all over your profile if you want — dye your hair like the ace flag — do it all! BE LOUD, BE PROUD, BE ACE! YEAH!

I’m so proud of you for being you!

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

I’ve got a lot of different sites — some include R18 work and some STRICTLY DON’T so I will organize them as such down below:

PG-13/SFW:
SFW Art Blog
Deviantart
Space School Comic
Sofdelux Studio

R-18/NSFW:
R18 Art Blog
Weasyl
Furaffinity
Comics Masterpost

A mix of PG-13/R-18:
My Itch.io
(My Itch.io includes stuff that is R18 but nothing explicit is shown and everything has a content warning before downloading.)
My Twitter
(I don’t post anything NSFW, but sometimes I like suggestive things and with the way Twitter currently works– that can sometimes be a problem!)

Or, if you want to support me monetarily, here’s some ways!

My Erotica Patreon My Space School Patreon My Ko-fi

Commission me!Hire me for your game!

Any follows, reblogs, retweets, anything like that– always help a ton and keep me making new free stuff for everyone!

Thanks a ton for reading my interview! I hope you found something new you liked!

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

Interview: NomnomNami

Today we’re joined by NomnomNami. NomnomNami is a phenomenal game-maker and author. With her friend DarkChibiShadow, a fellow ace, she has a game studio SofDelux. NomnomNami makes a number of games with numerous ace characters in them. She specializes in wlw characters and is very passionate about greater visibility for aces. NomnomNami is an incredibly talented and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Clever Fox Moxie

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I make stories about girls who like girls! I mostly like designing femme and androgynous characters who are all excessively adorable. I’m currently doing a variety of visual novels and RPG maker games, but I’ve also done comics and some animation every now and then.

What inspires you?

Gotta say the Disgaea series! I’ve been a huge fan since childhood, and a lot of my storytelling is really just me trying to emulate the feeling I get from those games. Looking back, the series is actually really ace-friendly so it’s no wonder I fell in love with it so easily, haha.

First Kiss at a Spooky Soiree

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

Pretty much! I’ve always loved games, cartoons, and comics, so I just ended up drawing a lot to express that. I remember in middle school I told my class I wanted to be a mangaka — and although it turned out comics weren’t really my passion, I still get to do storytelling through drawings! So I feel like I pretty much had the right idea, even back then.

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?

Hmm… just cute girls loving cute girls. Nothing secret about that 🙂

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t let anyone tell you drawing anime will get you nowhere, and don’t let them stop you from drawing fan art either — HAVE FUN DRAWING WHAT YOU WANT THE WAY YOU WANT TO!

Friendly Bunny Mochi

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I consider myself gray ace!

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

Definitely ignorance, but I’ve never had any kind of negative interaction over it. Anyone I can think of that I’ve had to explain things to has been very open to listen and ask questions in very non-intrusive ways.

Lonely Wolf Treat

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

Hmm, it’s hard to think of any I’ve run into a lot personally. This is gonna be a NSFW answer, but a big one is definitely the idea that ace spectrum folks can’t be interested in porn. Some of us absolutely are!! Sex is a really interesting facet of relationships between fictional characters — there are a lot of people who love exploring those sorts of ideas without any desire to be involved in it themselves. Like, for me, it’s about the strong emotional connection between the characters. There’s a lot of great, really emotional porn out there if you know where to look! Heck, I’VE released a comic like that!! I even got comments from ace spectrum friends telling me it was one of the few NSFW things they’ve enjoyed/felt safe reading. I want to provide more stuff like that. Just, comfortable Yuri!! I’m very passionate about this.

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

IN THE END, it’s up to you what you are. Don’t hold yourself to others’ standards. You’re not weird or wrong for being whatever way you are. Love yourself!! ❤

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

All my games are available free on Itchio: https://nomnomnami.itch.io/
And I have an art blog for doodles and finished works: http://nomnomnamiart.tumblr.com/
And a personal Twitter! For updates and yelling about my favorite things: https://twitter.com/nomnomnami.

Syrup and the Ultimate Sweet

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

Interview: Anne Bashore and M.E. Wilson

Today we’re joined by Anne Bashore and M.E. Wilson. Anne and M.E. (who also goes by Liz) are two phenomenal indie authors who have just released the first novel in their trilogy entitled The Portal Series. The two main characters are both a-spec as both Anne and Liz are interested in creating literature that gives aces the chances to see themselves in fiction. It’s very clear they’re dedicated artists, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

promo 2

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

We’re writers, currently working on a trilogy called The Portal Series. Our protag, Daphne Seidler, and her romantic interest are A-spec. Our purpose in writing this series is to create Ace-centered literature that allows Aces to see themselves portrayed in fiction, and portrayed in a positive light. The focus of the novels aren’t the sexualities of either character, as we also very much wanted this to be entertaining. Aces don’t need a swamp of sad literature focusing on how alienating and terrible the experience can be — we need literature that shows us as human, and as capable as anyone else is of being happy.

What inspires you?

We draw our inspiration from a lot of places — if you asked us for an exhaustive list of the things that have inspired just The Paris Portal, it would be quite long. If you mean what gives us the drive to work through our novels, it’s each other and our desire to do things better, for ourselves, and for other Aces.

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

Liz has always wanted to be a writer — they’ve been telling stories for almost as long as they can remember. The first one that they really started to write would have been probably around sixth grade. It was never finished, and suffice to say, it was terrible — it involved griffon races, bequeathed princesses, and escaping said betrothal, and that was the entire concept.

Anne’s interest in writing started in 8th grade, when her first creative writing assignment ended up being 22k words. Surprise, it was about French people.

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?

We don’t, currently — at this point, we don’t have a body of work large enough at this time to have a signature, and our next project after The Portal Series is still very much in the planning stages.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Liz: Get to work, but be gentle with yourself. Burn your fictional bridges and don’t look back. Ashes make for great soil — use it to your advantage. Find people who support you in every aspect of yourself, and who support your work. Anyone who doesn’t want to support you isn’t worth your efforts, but don’t forget to be supporting of others, too.

Anne: Don’t delete anything, as you never know what you’ll be able to pick and choose from later. And frankly, it’s always fun to reflect on how far you’ve come further down the road. However, also don’t hold onto anything too tightly. Let your characters and projects breathe and grow. Trust me, it’ll be much more rewarding in the long run. Sometimes it will surprise even you!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

We’re both Ace.

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

We probably aren’t big enough to attract a lot of attention quite yet, but there’s always the common sort of discussion about how asexuality isn’t real or how Ace-spec individuals aren’t a part of the larger Community.

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

That it’s just a matter of not finding the right person or that it’s a choice — that I’m not making enough effort to find what I want. That if I engage in sexual activity of any kind I can’t be asexual.

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

Liz: Be patient with yourself, be gentle with yourself. Anyone who doesn’t support you with whatever identity you have, whether you’re questioning or kind of certain, super certain, or anywhere in between, isn’t worth investing in. Even if you find out you aren’t Ace later, that’s okay. Life isn’t about being stable, being stagnant. Everyone will have their constants, but you are in a state of constant change. Also, people used to think that uteri wandered around the bodies of those that housed them, so if you don’t understand yourself, you’re in decent company.

Anne: It doesn’t hurt to ask questions, do research, read experiences, investigate. You’re better prepared to understand and educate others the more you know yourself. Also, don’t forget you’re part of a society that, for the most part, is just becoming aware of and educated about the whole spectrum. You probably will meet people who don’t know anything–but you telling them your experience is valuable in teaching everyone else around you. If you don’t feel comfortable telling a soul, that’s okay, too. Even if you don’t want to put a label on it, or you don’t have a neat and tidy “name” for it, do what makes you comfortable. That’s the bottom line.

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

We’re available on most social media sites at BWAuthors (Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Ko-Fi, Patreaon), and we’re always happy to answer questions wherever you find us! Our first of book, The Paris Portal, is currently available on Amazon, and the first three chapters are available for free on Wattpad.

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

Interview: Casey Ashwood

Today we’re joined by Casey Ashwood. Casey is a wonderful author who recently just published his first ace book. While he mostly writes M/M gay romances, Casey is hoping to bring more ace characters into the romance genre. It’s a great and important goal. Casey is an incredibly dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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“Chase the Ace” book

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an indie gay (M/M) romance author. I focus a lot on the relationship between characters and how they experience intimacy. My stories tend to have contemporary settings and are on more of the light and fluffy side. My work does contain adult content because most romance readers very much expect to see sexy times in their stories.

Although my catalogue currently mostly contains books featuring gay cis men as main characters, I want to branch out and write more genders and sexualities. It’s tricky to market anything that isn’t gay cis men romance, but I’m hoping the audience will one day be more open to other representations of the LGBTQIA+ community.

I recently published my first ace novel, which I’d love to get more attention for! It’s called Chase the Ace and can be found here on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078BQ14Y5 I really enjoyed writing it and have gotten positive feedback from it so far. If I can get the novel enough attention, I’d love to turn it into a series. We definitely need more ace representation.

What inspires you?

The main drive behind writing what I do is the hope that I can put out some positive representations of the community, especially as someone that is LGBTQIA+ myself. I also want to challenge how a lot of mainstream LGBT romance stories are written. For example, a lot of books really hone in on homophobic themes. While I also have to include such themes sometimes just to sell my books, I try not to make it my main focus. Many of us face that kind of stuff in real life on a daily basis—the last thing we want is to read it in our books.

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and have written stories since I was a very young child. I always have words in my head and stories in my heart, as corny as that sounds. Although I’ve bounced around awhile to make ends meet, I’ve finally been able to focus on being an author as my career. I hope to be able to keep it that 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?

For my latest story, Chase the Ace, for those of us that are ace, the title is pretty self-explanatory. However, the phrase is also the name of a card game. I have a Newfoundland background, and the game is particularly popular as a lottery of sorts. The jackpots can become very high!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I don’t think I can offer anything that hasn’t already been said before. All I can say is just work at your craft and give it your all. Some days will always be more productive than others, so make sure you take care of yourself (both mentally and physically). On the days that you’re not feeling so productive, try not to beat yourself up over it. There’s always tomorrow.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as ace, and have for a good few years now. I can’t 100% say that I’m not demisexual, but I feel much more contented to simply use asexual as it is.

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

I haven’t come across any outright ace prejudice or ignorance in my field yet because I tend to just chug along and do my own thing. However, it’s very annoying to feel as though I have to write steamy scenes in my stories just to ensure it sells. I’d love to be able to showcase more that you can have a deeply loving, meaningful, and committed relationship without sex.

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

The most common misconception I’ve come across is the usual “you just haven’t found the right one” sort of thing. I’m in my thirties now, though, so I don’t hear variations of it quite as often anymore.

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

You don’t have to choose one label and stick with it your entire lives. Be fluid. Experiment. If something doesn’t sit well with you, try something else. Changing labels doesn’t make you a fraud. You’re just human, and we’re all wondrously intricate.

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

People can learn more about my work through:

My Amazon product page: https://www.amazon.com/Casey-Ashwood/e/B01B4V13HW
My email newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bMA8ir
My email address: caseyashwood@gmail.com
My Tumblr: https://caseyashwood.tumblr.com
My Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/caseyashwood

Thank you very much for your time!

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