Interview: CG Thomson

Today we’re joined by CG Thomson. CG is a wonderful fantasy author who is currently working on a seven-book fantasy series. She’s currently pursuing representation for the first novel of the series. CG is an imaginative and passionate artist, 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 a fantasy writer, currently working on the fourth book of my seven book series while seeking representation for the first book.

What inspires you?

Everything. 🙂 No, really. I have so much wonder for this world we live on. I find inspiration in nature, humanity, everyday life. I can spend twenty minutes marveling at sunlight dappling the ground, lose hours by the sea.

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

I’ve been writing since I was three. My mother chose storytelling as a way to focus her very ADHD toddler and whether I was simply telling her stories or learning how to write them down, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer of fantastic tales.

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?

There is always an element of found family in my work, specifically a flawed heroic father figure, a man whose daughter is not his biologically but chosen by heart. This is an homage to my father who is (technically) my stepfather. We chose one another when I was very young and he has defined my life like no other.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s so much advice out there, and most of it is good, but no matter how good, no matter how successful the person giving that advice, that does not mean it will work for you. Figure out what you want from your art. Not everyone wants a career and not everyone can make a career of it (I’m certainly still waiting to see) and there’s nothing wrong with that. Figure out what you want and then figure out what works for you. Sadly, there isn’t a formula for success, but if you’re doing something you love and you’re improving regularly, you’re on the right path.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual.

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

Interestingly enough, I would have answered this with a no just a week ago, but when I tweeted a boost to this website’s call for interviewees, I lost followers. That said, as a cisgender female married to a cisgender male, I am heteronormative passing. There is some privilege there and I acknowledge that and try to use it to raise asexuality awareness.

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

That being on the asexuality spectrum means a person must be sex-repulsed. Of course a person can be, but frankly a person who is not asexual can be sex-repulsed. Likewise a person can be asexual and sex-ambivalent or even sex-positive.

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

Understand that you don’t have to “know” right now. You can be questioning. You can still be figuring things out. No matter what, you are perfect and lovable just as you are.

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

I’m currently seeking representation, so there’s nothing out yet, but anyone wishing to keep up with my process can find me at onaredhorse on Twitter.

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

Interview: Sean Shannon

Today we’re joined by Sean Shannon. Sean is a phenomenal artist whose a bit of an artist-of-all-trades. She has two main focuses at the moment: writing and creating webseries. She has written a novel entitled The Prostitutes of Lake Wiishkoban that was up for an international award. Sean has also written two ebooks of classroom exercises for humanities instructors, several poems, some short stories, and a seventeen-year-old blog. As if that’s not impressive enough, Sean has also created a couple webseries. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist who loves what she does, 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 am the author of the novel The Prostitutes of Lake Wiishkoban, which was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and a quarterfinalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. In addition, I’m the creator and host of the teaching webseries Socratic Sense, which explores current issues in teaching, and the intersection of education with politics and popular culture, as well as a personal webseries called Musecast. Those are my (current) major efforts, but I call myself an “artist-of-many-trades” because I work in all kinds of mediums, from writing to the visual arts.

What inspires you?

I could name specific artists whose influences I can see in my work, but what inspires me more than anything is the desire to leave the world a better place than I found it. That’s a drive that influences all my work, across all mediums.

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

My parents were both artists, so I kind of come by it naturally. I also had a very difficult childhood, and while I’ve never had formal sessions in art therapy, my art has always been a refuge for me, and a place for me to work out the problems I’m having (then and now). I’ve always wanted to be an artist on some level, but I’ve always wanted to be everything. I still haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up.

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?

Whenever I’ve tried to include something like that in my work, it always feels forced to me. Other artists don’t seem to have that problem, so I guess I’m just not very good at that sort of thing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Absorb everything you can. Consume art far and wide, even if it’s not in a medium or genre you want to work with. Everything you experience will fill your artistic well, and could inspire your art five minutes or fifty years in the future.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a panromantic asexual.

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

The biggest problem I’ve come across is people who assume that I can’t write a novel about sex work, or a novel with sex scenes, because I’m asexual. (Never mind that I fit some people’s definition of the term “sex worker” because I’ve taught safer sex practices before.)

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

That asexuality is synonymous with celibacy, and that asexuals can’t have (or enjoy) sex.

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

Above all, you are not alone. I don’t believe in making promises like “it gets better,” because I’m not in a position to be able to keep that promise to anyone else (or even myself), but know that some of us out here are at least trying to make things better for asexuals. We would very much like your help if you can provide it, but it’s okay if you need to stay private about your asexuality for now, regardless of the reason.

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

My blog, seanshannon.org, has links to my books and videos, examples of my photography, and short written pieces about everything on my mind these last couple of decades, ranging from political essays to narrative non-fiction.

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Thank you, Sean, 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.

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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.

Exciting Announcement

Hello everybody!

Interviews shall resume next week (and I still need more, so please keep sending those interview requests!).

Today I have an exciting announcement about an upcoming appearance.

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Yours truly is going to be in Artist Alley at Ace Comic Con with my series The Shape Shifter Chronicles! I’m super excited about this show because it’s freaking massive. I love meeting readers and fellow aces at these shows. And I’m also going to be table neighbors with a fellow ace artist, who was actually featured on this site a while back (Hallopino: Tumblr & WordPress).

Here’s the message that was sent with this shiny social media badge: “I am thrilled to announce I will be appearing at @acecomiccon Midwest at Chicago’s Navy Pier October 12-14th alongside Tom Hiddleston, Josh Brolin, & many more for an amazing weekend! Want to join us? Get your tix here: http://ow.ly/uqjO30l7DOf #acecomiccon”

It’s going to be a great show.

If you’re planning on attending, please drop by Artist Alley and say hi!

Thanks, everybody!

ADDENDUM: Ace Comic Con has nothing to do with asexuality. Rather that’s more a hilarious coincidence :-p

Interview: Lauren Hemphill

Today we’re joined by Lauren Hemphill. Lauren is a wonderful author whose novel, Viridis, is available for pre-order. She has created a sci-fi narrative revolving around an aromantic asexual character, who is supported by numerous LGBT+ characters. Lauren has written the characters that she wished she had growing up. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate author with a bright future, 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.

My work is primarily fiction writing, specifically sci-fi and fantasy. I focus on themes such as gray morality, loyalty, and friendship. I also tend to write LGBT+ characters, with a focus on aro-ace orientations.

What inspires you?

Music tends to be what inspires me most, with instrumental songs from various soundtracks being what I write to most. Excellent storytelling by fellow writers also pushes me to do better, be it T.V. shows or other novels. Seraphina, Orleans, and The Uglies being some of the novels that have inspired me throughout my writing career.

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

Since I was a child, I have always been telling stories. Originally, I sought to be a painter, where I could tell stories through the canvas. As I grew, though, I found myself drawn to writing, and amazed by the use of words and style to make a world come to life. The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld was the first novel that ever hooked me, and is what ended up inspiring my road down 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?

A common theme in most of my written work is the graying of morality. I tend to enjoy playing with the idea that not everything is black and white, that good people do bad things, and vice versa. I seek to show the world as complex in my writing as it is in real life.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Advice I would give fellow artists is this: not everyone will believe in you. Throughout my time as a writer, I have had many people doubt my ability to be published and be successful. In those times, remember how far you’ve come, remember that you need to be your biggest fan. All the best things in life are hard to achieve, but I would encourage all of you to continue your art, because there are people out there that need it more than you could ever know.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual.

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

Luckily, I have seemed to dodge most prejudice within the writing field. I’ve found a good group of friends and writers who support what I’m doing, and haven’t had to face writers being ignorant of the orientation. I have encountered people in the outside world who have disliked my inclusion of LGBT+ characters and believed asexuality to be a phase, but writers themselves have come across as inclusive and kind in my experience.

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

I’ve heard most often that asexuality is a phase, or something that will pass when I get older. As I have held no interest in any gender in either a romantic or sexual sense for over twenty-four years now, however, I don’t see legitimacy in the claim.

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

I would tell my fellow aces that it’s okay to not be sure, and it’s okay to take things slow. You should also know that you’re not broken. I know that’s common rhetoric within the community, but please believe all of us that you’re truly not broken. It can be hard accepting your orientation when it’s different than what the world would like to accept, but there’s a community where you belong, and there’s a community that will support you as you figure yourself out. Take your time.

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

My first novel, Viridis, featuring an aro-ace lead and a cast of LGBT+ characters in a sci-fi universe is for preorder now on both Amazon and Barnes and Noble! Searching my name on either website will bring up my novel, or you can follow this link:

http://a.co/6fHcDAC

My website, winter-publishing.com, is occasionally updated with writing WIPs and various other projects, and my YouTube channel, TheKnightmare, is a place where I review indie animated series. You can also follow me on Twitter at knightmarelair and DeviantArt at knightmarekm.

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

Interview: Abby Grace

Today we’re joined by Abby Grace. Abby is a wonderful writer and musician. They have been playing the cello for over ten years and are even studying for a degree in it. They’re also going for a degree in English Literature and have written both fanfiction and original poetry. As if that’s not impressive enough, Abby has also recently taken up crochet. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer and musician – specifically, I write various fanfictions, and some original poetry, and have been playing music from the age of four. My main instrument is the cello, which I’ve played for almost 12 years now. I’m lucky enough to have been able to pursue both of these passions, and am currently at university studying English Literature and picking up a minor in cello. I also recently picked up crocheting.

I’ve had two original poems published in the past, in Skipping Stones (an international children’s magazine). Personally, though, I feel most accomplished about my work whenever I receive a heartfelt review on my fanfics. I’ve actually cried over a couple of emotional reviews on a specific story, “Firsts,” which is about a trans character trying on his first binder. I also recently started sharing some of the funnier stories from my life and my family, and am considering collecting them into a book of short stories.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere – from silly things overheard in public to major life events to watching a storm roll in. Inspiration for art, no matter what medium, is everywhere.

There are a few specific people who inspire me every day, though. My grandmother, who was known locally for her amazing quilts, didn’t learn how to sew until her late twenties. I crochet to feel closer to her. Janelle Monáe, who is so unapologetically herself at every turn. Yo-Yo Ma, the best-known cellist in the world, who is still so kind and friendly as to grin widely and give a fist bump to a shy fourteen year old who plays the cello, too.

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

I’ve always loved reading and writing, it’s been an important part of me for as long as I can remember. More than half of my family is musically-inclined in some way or another, too, so it was really less of an ‘if’ I would be a musician, and more of a ‘when.’ There’s definitely a few pictures in a family album somewhere of me sitting on my grandfather’s lap at the piano, looking absolutely delighted as he shows me that pressing the keys makes sound.

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?

Hm, I don’t believe I have anything that I work into every piece I do. A lot of my poetry involves stars in some way, but that’s just because I really like space.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be discouraged by only getting a couple of notes or kudos, or even nothing at all. You still have something valuable to share with the world – the world just takes a little while sometimes to notice it. I have one fanfic that has the most kudos of that specific ship on AO3… and I have 10 fanfics with less than 30. I have even more with less than 3 comments. Don’t worry about the numbers. Focus on doing your best.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual

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

Luckily, I have yet to see anything specific in the general writing and music communities. Within fandom itself, however, I have most certainly seen people attack others for being ace and/or aro and trying to identify with a character by suggesting that they are also ace and/or aro.

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

That we are frigid, unfeeling, or that asexuality isn’t ‘a thing’ and is just ‘attention-seeking.’ I hear this most often in regards to demisexuality.

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

Be confident in yourself. And if you’re not, ask questions! Talk to the community – most people are happy to chat and help where they can. It’s something that I wish I had done more when I was younger. It could have helped me avoid a seriously bad time.

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

I’m on AO3 (DarthAbby), and Tumblr (main – butim-justharry) (side – official-cello). Please feel free to send an ask or private message to either blog if you want to talk!

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

Interview: Tanya Lisle

Today we’re joined by Tanya Lisle. Tanya is a phenomenal author who writes mainly supernatural YA fiction. She has a number of books available and is currently hard at work on a couple series. She loves the horror genre and there’s brushes of that in most of her work. It’s clear she’s an incredibly passionate artist who loves the written word, 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 tell stories, largely with a supernatural bent (Urban fantasy, superheroes, general supernatural elements) and with a horror edge to it, usually with some queer content as well.

Currently I’m working on two sequels to White Noise, which is an older YA series, and The Looking Glass Saga, which started as middle grade, but has gotten older as the characters age. I’m also looking at writing one more book for Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector, which is for an older audience, as well as the next book in Cloned Evil, which is more in the New Adult range.

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What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me. I tend to get the majority of my ideas when my mind wanders during stressful periods of my life looking for that escape. Coming up with interesting concepts to explore always seems to happen when I’m neck-deep in the middle of another project, so I end up jotting the ideas down and come back to them later when I have more time to flesh them out.

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

I have been writing since I was little. Originally, it was asking teachers if I could write an essay or do a project as a story instead, or adding a narrative to the project in a way that still got the requirements across. When I got into high school, a friend of mine wanted to do a comic with a bunch of us in it and asked me for a backstory for my character, which she ended up really liking. After that, I just kept writing stories without needing the excuse of doing it for I have been writing since I was little. Originally, it was asking teachers if I could write an essay or do a project as a story instead, or adding a narrative to the project in a way that still got the requirements across. When I got into high school, a friend of mine wanted to do a comic with a bunch of us in it and asked me for a backstory for my character, which she ended up really liking. After that, I just kept writing stories without needing the excuse of doing it for homework!

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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?

It doesn’t always make it into the final version, but every draft has a scene where a fridge is thrown. It’s a long standing joke and, if you know me, you know that I cannot let a joke die. And sometimes it ends up being necessary to the plot, so it’s not all bad! A little ridiculous, admittedly…

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s already been a lot of great advice, so I’ll stick with this one: Know why you’re doing it and what success means to you. Your success might look different from other people’s and you don’t need to compare yourself to other people in order to determine if you’re on the right track for your artistic journey.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual aromantic. It took me a very long time (Until I was 26!) to figure out that was even an option, but once I did I was so happy I found something that fit!

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

It’s less prejudiced than it is a lack of representation. Like in other places, some people don’t think of it as legitimate, but I’ve also heard that it’s boring to have a story without romance. I’ve seen more books with asexual characters, but less on the aromantic side. There’s a sense that without that romantic subplot, a book won’t sell and therefore you must include some romance.

I’ve admittedly fallen into this trap as well. More recently, now that I’m getting more comfortable talking about my own asexuality, I’m starting to make it more of a point to make various character’s sexualities more explicit and to not walk so carefully around it in fear of not gaining that larger audience. The Looking Glass Saga is a series with an aro/ace lead that I’m going to be making more explicit, and I’m working to include more characters on the spectrum in upcoming projects.

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

It’s either that I just haven’t find the right man yet (Because really you’re straight dontcha know?) or that it’s just that I don’t like sex.

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

It’s okay to not know exactly what words fit you, and sometimes it takes a while to figure those out. It’s a spectrum and you might not fall neatly into one box or another. And, of course, you may find out later that one word doesn’t fit you as well as you thought it did, and that’s fine too!

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

You can check out this link, which has all my books and will redirect you to the store of your preference: https://www.books2read.com/ap/nlzBXx/Tanya-Lisle

And if you would like a sampler of books, you can check out the mailing list here: https://mailchi.mp/506eec46f344/get-your-free-book-now

And, of course, the blog and social media links:

http://tanyalisle.com/
https://twitter.com/TanyaLisle
https://www.facebook.com/ScrapPaperEntertainment
https://www.instagram.com/tanyalisle/
http://tanyalisle.tumblr.com/

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