Interview: K O’Shea

Today we’re joined by K O’Shea. K is a wonderful writer who has completed a fascinating sounding graphic novel. Anytime someone mentions The Maltese Falcon, I perk right up (I’m a sucker for noir). K’s novel is entitled The Ghost Army of Atlantis and it’s currently being illustrated. It’s clear they’re very passionate about the project, 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.

I currently have an unpublished but fully written graphic novel called The Ghost Army of Atlantis: A Millie Buckle, Ace Investigator Adventure. It is currently being drawn and colored by the artist, who is an equal partner on the project.

Millie Buckle was a project I began while I first was working out what being asexual meant to me, and is a reflection of what I always wanted in literature – awesome women, zero romance, and skeletons fighting ghosts in a two-page spread splash panel. Millie is a private investigator in the 1930s who often gets called for some of the weirder crimes – the elevator pitch is basically “What if The Maltese Falcon also summoned ghosts?”

I also write the occasional editorial and review on a website created by friends.

What inspires you?

A lot of my inspirations come from experiences or shared stories with my friends, but I do take a lot of influence from the books and movies I had growing up. There’s a little bit of Stephen King in me, but also some K.A. Applegate and Terry Pratchett.

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

Honestly, I always have ideas for stories, but I get the most excited when I get to share them with friends and family.

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?

That would probably be a good idea, huh? Probably my love of the semi-colon, which gets used far more than grammatically should be allowed.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to shove things back in the vault if it’s not working. You might get to it later when you’ve learned more. It’s okay to let yourself stop and move on to something else if you’re just not feeling it. If you force it, it’ll come out forced.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Sex-neutral, alloromantic, asexual. It’s never been that important to me as it has been for my partners – I get intimacy from emotional bonds and physical closeness.

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

Not personally, but I’ve seen more published authors struggle with it.

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

That my marriage is not as valid as it otherwise would be. My spouse and I love each other, and sex doesn’t factor into it. We’re no less married than we were before I figured this out.

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

You’re not broken. You are absolutely not broken.

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

My reviews, editorials, and former podcast (I have since given it to my former cohost who continues to produce it) are at Made of Fail Productions (http://www.madeoffail.net). When Ghost Army is nearing artistic completion and ready for publishing, it will be there as well.

I’m also around at Twitter and Tumblr under the username osheamobile.

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

Interview: James Loke

Today we’re joined by James Loke. James is a phenomenal writer who has written in a variety of genres. Aside from being a novelist, they’re also a journalist. It’s very obvious that James is incredibly passionate about art, 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.

I’m an author! My first published novel was Dead Ringer, an m/m romance about Brandon, a down-on-his-luck guy who looks exactly like his grandfather, who was a Marlon Brando, James Dean-esque actor in the 1950s. Brandon parlays his genetic luck into working as a look-alike escort, and meets a young film enthusiast shut-in with juvenile arthritis.

My upcoming book Kill Switch is completely different, hahaha — it’s cyberpunk, about a girl obsessed with XXX-rated horror fetish video games. She’s hired by a shady game developer to test their brand-new virtual reality horror games, only to realize there’s something not quite right about the company’s programs.

And for yet another completely different twist: after Kill Switch, I’m planning to turn my attention to writing speculative and contemporary YA.

What inspires you?

Other people’s art, mostly! My office walls are plastered with pieces of art, from paintings to short comics to newspaper clippings to screenshots from films and TV shows. I’m a super visual writer—I cast actors for all my characters and often keep folders of scenery inspiration like shots of cityscapes, streets, parks, the insides of shops, etc. When I’m writing, I’m watching the scene in my head.

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

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, yes. The first thing I ever wrote was fanfic for the middle-grade series Animal Ark. I think I was eight or nine. And I sort of just…never stopped writing after that. In like sixth grade or so, I distinctly remember turning in an enormous tome of a horror story for a creative writing assignment and horrifying my teacher. Coming up with stories was one of the very few things I was effortlessly good at.

For, a long time, I never thought of myself as A Real Writer, though, and I never thought I could make a future out of writing. All through high school, I swore up and down I was going to go to college to be a forensic psychologist, because I was always told writing couldn’t be a career. But hey, I ended up going to journalism school, and now writing is my entire job, even if not all of it’s fiction. 🙂

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, I don’t include anything on purpose. Except queer characters! All my books have queer main characters and I doubt that’ll ever change.

But I guess storytelling-wise, my books tend to have a trust theme. I like enemies-to-lovers stories, I like tenuous situations where people have to trust one another against their wishes in order to succeed, and I like writing about people fighting to learn to trust, or fighting to gain someone else’s trust. Trust is a hard thing for me to give, so I guess writing about people who freely give or receive it gives me the warm ’n’ fuzzies.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

A lesson from my mistakes: Don’t be too eager to “get up there.” Don’t get it in your head that you have to be published at 17 or a star at 21 or have your life together by 25, or 28, or 30. Or 40, or ever, really. Don’t look at the hard numbers of ages and compare your success to others’ based on how low that number is. Being published when you’re young and not yet ready is way worse than not being published till your forties or fifties.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual, alloromantic.

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

I haven’t encountered it from any of my coworkers or fellow authors. I’m lucky enough to have LOTS of colleagues who are also asexual, and the queer romance sphere—where I’ve spent all my professional publishing time so far—tends to be a super supportive environment for people of all orientations and genders.

However, I have noticed pushback from readers when it comes to books with asexual main characters, especially m/m books with asexual characters, so that’s disheartening. I’ve seen readers go so far as to question why anyone would even want to write books about people who don’t want sex.

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

There are two: (1) that we don’t have any sexual anything at all (2) that we can’t tell if someone’s attractive and/or can’t be attracted to people. With (1), there’s a huge misconception that we don’t masturbate or get aroused, and that’s waaaaay off base. In my experience, sex with yourself is a very different thing than sex with someone else, and ace people have all kinds of different levels of sex drive, just like allosexual folks.

And with (2), if I never have to see another “joke” where someone gasps dramatically because an ace person said Jason Momoa looks great soaking wet, it’ll be too soon.

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

Find someone asexual to talk to. Hell, talk to me. Through all my comings-out, being able to talk to other people who ID the way I ID has been invaluable. Obviously you can Google and learn everything you ever want to, but talking to a real live person who maybe shares your fears and doubts and questions of legitimacy is incredibly affirming.

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

My website: http://www.jamesloke.com

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/jameslokewrites

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

Interview: Amelie

Today we’re joined by Amelie. Amelie is an absolutely phenomenal illustrator. She graduated art school with a degree in illustration and currently works as a freelancer. Her work has such a beautiful sense of whimsy and the way she uses color infuses her work with so much vibrancy and life. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

death
Death

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I work in a few different areas with regards to illustration—pattern design, character design, and more recently comics. I work on freelance projects and am supported in my personal endeavors over at my Patreon.

I work digitally because I am very, VERY messy art-wise and digital gives me the room to muck around without wasting physical pieces of paper or supplies. It’s also better because I’m visually impaired to the point of being legally blind.

My favorite thing to do with my visual art is to celebrate the things that lift my spirits.

What inspires you?

I said I’m blind earlier. That inspires me to make art as much as I can before my sight deteriorates completely. If it does.

What really attracts me to an artwork is colors and the “physicality” the colors elicit. Something can be abstract and nonrepresentational in its visuals but still able to give off a sense of lushness. Gigi Digi, Olivia Huynh, and Sachin Teng are people I’ve been following for a while and who I’d say have achieved that kind of quality in their work. You can really feel like they things they portray are “solid!” I guess you could say as a result, my stuff is really texture-based, which naturally lends itself to pattern and textile design.

Feelings inspire me as well. I always put my own feelings into my work, whether I’m trying to squeeze out a certain feeling or if I’m just happy about what I’m working on, I try to show it.

Someone once said my art was like having a blanket wrapping around your eyeballs. She meant that in such a good way though. That makes me laugh, but it’s essentially what I’m trying to do!

Another thing that drives my character-based art is diversity. As a first generation Vietnamese-American, non-binary girl surrounded by American media and living in a predominantly white suburb, I never really saw anyone like me growing up on TV or otherwise. Even now, there will be a get-together and I’ll still be the only southeast Asian in the room, haha! I wanted, and still want to see more characters that go through experiences that I personally relate to. At least in more recent comix, I’m working on my struggles growing up and walking a line between assimilation and heritage.

Lastly, to not make this list too long, my partner. She’s the one who I’m not afraid to bounce ideas off of. I can ask her whether something is off, or could be better, and she’s not afraid to help me step a step back and look at it. She’s also an incredibly talented writer and I’ve done some illustration work for her. Bonus: she’s also ace.

pattern-ex

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

I’m going to be honest and tell you the entire reason I got into the visual arts was because I had a less than stellar childhood. I loved video games, I loved TV, there were a lot of hobbies I wanted to be into when I was a child. I think that my parents didn’t understand what nurturing those things means for a kid growing up in the US. Every hobby cost money and they didn’t want to spend money where they thought things were useless so there wasn’t anything left but drawing on pieces of printer paper.

I started out drawing as any kid did. Who knows what I drew? My parents never kept anything. I bet I drew a lot of self-portraits as stick hands and feet. Then, in elementary school, I started to draw Pokemon fanart as well as inside jokes shared between friends. I never learned how to take notes. No one ever taught me. I spent much of my third grade years drawing a comic titled “The Stupid Bird”. I laugh out loud every time I think of me, a small child, being SO ableist without knowing what she was saying. Also, The bird spoke entirely in swears, but the swears were censored with symbols such as “#”, “@”, etc… I don’t know why I thought that was funny. From middle school onward, drawing was pretty much my escape, but I didn’t get seriously into art until I attended art school. That’s when I really wanted to hone my skills, knowing I never had quite a foundation like many others were fortunate to have.

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 include my logo in my works sometimes. Sometimes I forget. But its purpose is to making stealing and ripping harder. It’s just a circle with a lowercase a in it. I prefer lowercase a’s. They’re round and non-threatening.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to fall down, art is learned, not blessed to. And don’t be afraid to start something-anything-because you think it’s too late. I’m a late bloomer myself. Try not to be self-deprecating unless you know exactly why you don’t like how something you made come out. I’m not saying that because I think it’s whiny to be self-deprecating. It’s healthier in the long run. The more you’re able to keep your own morale up, the more you will be able to bloom as a person and it’ll be easier to get through the tough times.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I waiver between grey-ace and ace. I’m alloromantic.

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

The worst thing I can say I’ve experienced while attending college is being in a conversation where somebody remarks someone is hot or sexy or something. I would just hang back and not say anything if it was a bigger group but in a one-on-one conversation, I would lie and nod, say “yeah, definitely,” that kind of stuff. Erasure is so not cool!

And of course, we’re entirely swamped by hetereonormativity in media today. As if drawing a sensual naked woman is edgy (sarcasm).

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

That it doesn’t exist. Or that it exists and it’s rare. I’m talking about the aces are unicorns or dragons rhetoric.

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

Introspection is always a difficult game to play. It requires time, your patience, and self-care. If you’re spending most of your weeks confused, find a quiet block of time and dedicate just to you. Whether it’s consuming your favorite show, eating a special treat, or just sitting there thinking about yourself. Do that for as many days as you can.  Quiet 5 minutes, 40 minutes, whatever.

Also, anything you feel is valid. Having a fluid sexual orientation is valid.

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

I’m mostly on Twitter! almondette but I also have an art blog.

Other places:

Store – store with new stuff being added soon

Patreon – support my work and get previews of my current projects

Portfolio site – see my favorite things and a list of my current personal works

the-hermit
The Hermit

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