Interview: Kat Lawson

Today we’re joined by Kat Lawson. Kat is a phenomenal writer and visual artist. She’s working on an urban fantasy novel that is filled with diverse and interesting character. When she’s not writing, Kat is a photographer who focuses on perspective and color. It’s clear she’s a very passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m primarily a fiction writer, specifically urban fantasy (though I’m not yet published, give me time). My books feature all kinds of sexualities and gender identities in the hopes that everyone who reads them can find someone like themselves, as well as a lot of vampires and other supernatural creatures. I also do a lot of photography on the side, where I focus on perspective and colour, and how changing your perspective can completely change what you see.

What inspires you?

I’m most inspired by the world around me. I go on a lot of nature walks to find inspiration for my photos, and I’ll take photos of anything that takes my fancy. Anything that holds beauty, even if it’s not traditional, will find itself my muse. I spend a lot of time down at the local gardens, the gardens there are themed and so no two photos are the same. I can often be seen in strange positions trying to get the perfect photo, especially when I’m playing with the perspective, trying to make a flower look like a tree or a puddle look like the sky.

My writing comes from the people around me and the stories they share with me, as well as a life-long fascination with the paranormal and fantastic. An English teacher I used to have in high school told me to write what you know and you can never go wrong, and I live by that. How I feel, experiences I’ve had, and research I have done all contribute to my stories.

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

My dad is a professional photographer, so he kind of passed on his love down to me. Right from the first camera I got at age ten I knew that I wanted to be able to share my photography with people and to share with them the memories that said photos hold.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I remember, I’ve always been a bookworm, and when I couldn’t find the sort of stories that featured people like me, I decided to write them myself.

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 don’t really have a signature, that I know of anyway.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never give up doing what you love, and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t good enough. As long as you are doing what you love, then there will always be someone who will recognize it and love it in return.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m one of those people who has kind of jumped around the spectrum, trying on every label I could find until I eventually found one that fit me best. I grew up in a super religious household, where it was expected that I would marry a guy and have kids with him. It wasn’t until a friend told me (right at the end of high school) that I had other options that I even began to seriously consider that how I felt was okay and I didn’t have to pretend anymore. Realizing I was ace was easy once I found the word, I always felt like the whole sex thing was a joke, I never understood it or why it was so important in every story I felt. I always thought but why don’t they just not have sex? It was a total mystery to me. But now, after several years of experimenting with different labels, I’ve settled on asexual lesbian.

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

The joys of being an independent artist is that I can pick and choose the people around me. I have come across a few people who haven’t been able to understand who I am, but I either do my best to either educate them, or simply ignore them. I’ve never really encountered true prejudice, more ignorance than anything else. All the jokes about sex and how I’d like it if I just tried it really grate after a while, but you learn to ignore it.

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

That sex-repulsed aces are the only aces out there. There’s this whole misconception that sexual attraction must be present for one to enjoy sex, which I totally disagree with. That, and that asexuality is a mental disorder, or just flat-out isn’t real.

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

It’s okay to question, and it’s okay to change your label. Asexuality is hard to figure out, especially when you have nothing to compare it to. But you’re not broken, and it does get easier. Sexuality is a spectrum, and you’re allowed to change where you fall on it.

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

As I’m unpublished, you can’t find my writing anywhere (yet, give me time), but my photography is on Instagram at Lady_Nyx and Tumblr at disaster-gay-beauregard.tumblr.com

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

Interview: Fran

Today we’re joined by Fran. Fran is a phenomenal musician who plays a variety of instruments and also participates in her school’s marching band. When she’s not playing music, Fran enjoys doodling and is currently writing a novel, which sounds like a fun adventure (a superhero rom-com, how can you not love that). She has also written some poetry and short stories. It’s very clear that Fran is a dedicated and versatile artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Ace Flute

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I just graduated high school and plan to attend university as a double major in music education and music performance. My primary instrument is flute, but I also play saxophone and a little bit of piano, ukulele, and clarinet. I really enjoy playing classical music, but a lot of my passion lies in jazz, and I am a member of my high school marching band and a future member of my college marching band. I also doodle a little bit, and I am writing a rom com superhero novel about a meteorite that wishes that she can become human and the stars grant her wish. It is a wlw romance, but mostly it consists of humor and superhero action. I also write poetry and short stories.

What inspires you?

My hero is Michael Giacchino and other movie soundtrack writers like him. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved getting inspiration for my music from soundtracks. Because of this wonderful music guiding my life, I plan on inspiring others to pursue music by teaching, and maybe even continue my talents into the professional field. For my visual art, I mostly get inspiration from my friends. We all draw together as a hobby so we get inspired by each other often. For my writing I am inspired by my favorite authors, J.K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, David Leviathan, and Rick Riordan. I love writing books with positive outlooks and messages about love and peace.

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

I have loved music and art ever since I was a child. I started playing flute in 4th grade and I have been obsessed with band ever since. I loved watching movies and playing games almost solely for the excellent musical track. It was only a matter of time until I decided it would be my career. I’ve drawn and written for just as long. I wrote many short stories when I was young, and drew in that stereotypical 6th grade anime style that all artists cringe at later in life. My writing and drawing styles are a little bit better now, though I look back at my childhood doodles and stories with fondness.

Ace artwork 3

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. My signature is just my name in cursive.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you want to be a musician, do it! Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a “phony career” and that you won’t be able to make a living with it. With hard work and a little thinking outside of the box, you can make a good career out of any art form. Follow your dream and don’t let the downers destroy your passion!

Ace artwork 2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an Asexual Lesbian. I experience no sexual attraction, but I am romantically attracted to girls exclusively.

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

I’ve had people tell me that you can’t have a romantic relationship without sex and that I’ll “change my mind”. It used to bother me, but now I just let the words wash over me. I know that I’ll find someone who will understand and love that part about me. I can’t help it that their concept of relationships is so small-minded. I don’t experience that often, though. Most people in my field are very accepting.

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

That I can’t experience a romantic relationship. Many people lump asexual and aromantic together without realizing that they are both different. You can be both, or just one or the other. There are also people who think I’m just innocent. It’s true that I’m a bit innocent in some areas, I don’t like to cuss, I don’t have a dirty mind, I would rather watch Disney movies than anything with too much sex or violence, but that has nothing to do with my orientation. I know how sex works. I just don’t want to have it.

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

Don’t feel like you have to rush into a label. And your label can be fluid and change over time. I know that I may change my label in the future. Just like your favorite color changes over time, so can your label. Also, I know it’s hard living in a world where sex can be prioritized over a healthy and understanding relationship. Be who you are. Because “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter won’t mind”. Your identity is a beautiful thing!

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

I don’t really have a website or anything. Most of my work is just in my ensembles or in my community.

Ace art 1

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

Interview: Mal

Today we’re joined by Mal. Mal is a wonderfully talented musician who specializes in song covers. She also plays the guitar and is starting to learn the violin as well. Aside from music, Mal is also a dedicated writer who enjoys crafting novels and occasionally dabbles in poetry. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a musician and a writer. In terms of music, I sing and play guitar, and I’ve recently started learning the violin but I haven’t incorporated it into my recordings yet. I don’t generally write my own stuff; I mostly do covers, particularly a lot of Indigo Girls as they’re my all-time favourite band (seriously, I think half of my Soundcloud is Indigo Girls covers). My style is pretty stripped down, mostly just me on acoustic guitar and vocals, although sometimes I record harmonies to accompany my own singing.

As for my writing, I generally tend towards longer forms – I’ve written two novels, and I’ve got a third in the works. My first novel was about a suburban street and it was divided into four parts and each part was from the perspective of a different person who lived on the street, and it was about grief and family and appearances. My second one was a coming of age story about this girl named Julie and the band she’s in and the family she forms and the family she leaves behind and the first girl she falls in love with. And the one I’m starting to write now is about a band of female soldiers, kind of like knights, and they’re sworn to protect the royal family but there’s corruption creeping into the nobility, and it’s going to be a story about loyalty and betrayal and proving yourself. There’s also going to be a cool metaphor/storyline for asexuality and I’ll be primarily featuring gay relationships, and I want to explore the relationships that women have with each other and how they can be incredible avenues for change as well as sources of deep love and commitment. Oh, and I also dabble in poetry.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration for my writing is definitely music. If I listen to the right song, it can give me really great inspiration for a scene or a character’s backstory. For instance, in my second novel, at least three of the scenes are directly inspired by specific songs. I also draw a lot from my own experiences and the situations I’ve found myself in. My characters aren’t all like me, but I’d say they all draw from an aspect of my personality or my life; they all come from a place of truth within me, and I think that’s really important. People will tell you to write what you know, and I don’t think that means you can never write about things you haven’t experienced. I see it more as always writing from a place of truth, of authenticity; the scenes I write that have the most raw emotional honesty, that I really draw from my own experiences to write, always ring the most true and pack the most punch.

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

I’ve been singing since I was really little – my first performance was when I was six years old. My dad’s a musician, and he really kindled that interest and that passion and dedication in me since I was really young, and taught me so much. I’ve also been writing for a really long time. I think I started writing (mostly the beginnings of what I conceptualized as novels, though I never finished any) when I was about eleven; I remember my favourite thing to do at the time was sit down at the computer and pull up a Word document and create something. I wrote in all genres back then: I remember writing a realistic fiction story about girls at a music summer camp, a fantasy story featuring dragons who lived underground, a historical fiction piece about a family in 1865, and some truly terrible Harry Potter fanfiction in which I wrote myself in, full name and everything, as the “star Ravenclaw seeker.” (I know, cringe.) Because of this love I had for writing, I wanted to be an author for a large part of my childhood, till partway through high school when I decided to keep it more as a hobby than pursue it as a career.

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 don’t know if this counts, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. Like I said, I did a lot of writing when I was eleven or twelve, and of course created a lot of characters at that time. They were all in middle school of course, like I was at the time, and they were generally pretty one-dimensional – at eleven I had no concept of how to create a complex character. But I still remember all of them, and what their names were, and what I pictured them looking like. So whenever I can, I insert these characters that I invented when I was younger into the things I write now. Same thing goes for setting. When I first wrote these characters, they almost always lived in the fictional town of Chandler Valley, and the city of Merinda Heights was right next door. In my second novel, I mentioned both of these cities as settings the characters visit. I like to call back to these old characters and settings because it’s almost like paying homage to my younger self – like, yeah, I’ve improved a lot in the ten years since I started writing, but I wouldn’t want to forget those beginnings.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For the writers out there, I would say to just write your story – tell the story that you believe in, that you think is important, that you connect with the most. As soon as you try to cater to what you think people will want, your writing will fall flat and become hollow. Writing coming from a place of authenticity will always be your best writing, and there will always be people that connect with it and it’ll become important to them too. So never underestimate your story – you never know who you could reach with it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an ace lesbian. I used to think this identity was unique and kind of weird, but it turns out there’s a really cool little community on Tumblr of women who identify as gay and also identify along the asexual spectrum. I think it’s a cool place to be.

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

I wouldn’t say I’ve directly encountered any prejudice or ignorance myself, mostly because I haven’t really entered into the professional realm with any of my art, but the feeling of exclusion is definitely there. As someone who identifies as ace, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t understood, and when the overwhelming majority of literature is geared towards people who aren’t like you, that can make you feel lonely. As well, as a musician I am continually frustrated with the amount of music that’s about sex and sexual attraction and that equates love with sex. Not only do I identify as ace, but I’m also sex-repulsed, so I can’t relate to songs about sex and they also often tend to make me uncomfortable. So it can be challenging to find music that I can relate to enough to do it justice when I perform it. Sometimes that requires me to put on a bit of an act, as if I actually know what I’m talking about when I sing about wanting someone in that way.

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

A misconception that bugs me is that asexual people just haven’t found the right person yet, or assuming that they’ll feel attraction eventually, and that bothers me because you essentially aren’t trusting that person to know their own self and their own feelings. When someone tells you that they know who they are, you don’t get to decide that they don’t know yet – you have to trust that they’ve likely spent weeks or months or maybe even years figuring out their identity, and know themselves inside and out. It’s also missing the point. Will I ever feel sexual attraction? Probably not. But if I ever do, that doesn’t suddenly invalidate or negate my identity right now, which is as someone that doesn’t experience that attraction.

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

First of all, let yourself struggle. I had a really hard time at first accepting the asexual part of my identity, but I just let myself feel those feelings and rode it out and now I couldn’t be happier or more comfortable in myself. I just had to get through the gross hard part first. Second, seek out people who get it. I cannot stress enough how important it is to surround yourself with other aces, because it can be so isolating when you feel like you’re the only one that feels this way. You’re not the only one, so follow as many ace blogs as you can find, and see if you can meet other aces through local queer groups or community centres near to where you live. That’s made a huge difference for me.

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

The best place to find both my writing and music is on my blog, isobelfree.tumblr.com. My writing is at isobelfree.tumblr.com/tagged/isobelwrites, and my music can be found at isobelfree.tumblr.com/tagged/isobelsings.

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