Today we’re joined by Elowen. Elowen is a phenomenal author who is currently hard at work on her first novel. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy. The novel she’s currently working on features an ace main character and it sounds like a fascinating story. 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.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m a fantasy and science fiction writer, albeit still unpublished. At the moment I’m working on what I hope will be my debut novel, a fantasy novel set in a bronze age-world heavily inspired by Ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq). One of the main characters is an asexual priestess, the other is a cis-het single mother who fights against the religious establishment. This story is a complete overhaul of my very first novel, combined with some elements from my third, and it has taken me several months of research and false starts, but I finally have a completed first draft that I think I can work with.
What inspires you?
Everything, really. The world around me, other people’s lives and relationships, other fantasy and sci-fi stories, my own experiences of being “the odd one out”. There’s a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s Tales from Earthsea that I have stuck on my computer: “The great and mighty go their way unchecked. All the hope left in the world is in the people of no account.” It’s this quote that inspires me to continue working on my current novel. I want to try to tell the stories of people of no account. The ordinary people who are made to suffer because of the greed of those in power.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
When I was six, I found out what a writer was and I decided I wanted to be one. I still have my old notebooks from that time, with stories that blatantly ripped off Care Bears and My Little Pony, though I’m glad to say that later on, my stories became a bit more original ,-). Unfortunately, although I definitely have creative family members, none of them are or were professional artists, so becoming a writer wasn’t considered a proper career choice, and my writing ambitions were reduced to keeping a diary when I was a teenager. I went to university to study science instead, and later theology. It was only when I moved to a different country that I came back to wanting to be a writer. One of my “problems” is that I’m multi-passionate. I play baroque violin, I was a fanatic badminton player in my teens, and in my early twenties I got heavily into Irish dancing, for example. Only when I moved away from all these “distractions” and started afresh in a different country was I able to come to terms with the fact that I’m just interested in many different things, and reasonably successful at pursuing those interests. My love for science got me into writing science fiction, and my fascination with religion, mythology and anything magical got me into fantasy. Fantasy, to me, isn’t ‘make-believe’, it’s a modern type of mythology meant to explore fundamental ideas about the world, and about life. Together with science fiction, I think fantasy is the perfect genre to explore alternatives to reality.
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 love inventing religions and write about made-up gods. I also love writing about mentors, and I think that’s because all my life I’ve been looking for one myself. I had teachers and mentors, of course, but none of them could really help me figure out where my real talents lie. They were all specialists in their field, while I have to see ‘the big picture’ and explore many things at once.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Do what you love doing, but play the game if you have to. I.e. if you need a steady day job to support your own artistic efforts and have stability in your life, it doesn’t make you any less of an artist. Keep learning and stay curious. You’re never too old to try something new.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I’m grey-ace leaning towards being demisexual, and I also identify as genderfluid between cis-female and non-binary. After having been a happy single for most of my life, I’m now in happy, stable relationship with a man, so to all intents and purposes I’m a cis-het woman, but I don’t feel that way. For me, sex is a form of intimacy that I can enjoy because it brings me closer to the man I love, but I’d have no problem going without it for the rest of my life. It’s something to enjoy like a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate, nothing more. Sex has never played an important part in my life. I am however a very touchy-feely type of person with people I trust, and that kind of non-sexual contact is much more important to me.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
No, because so far I’m only out on Twitter, where I use an alias.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I think that having no interest in sex is often “infantilized”, as if being ace means you’re not developed enough yet to join in with the adults. At one point I was convinced that the only difference between YA and adult fantasy is that in adult fantasy the characters explicitly talk about sex and genitals, and have sex. I thought that my own writing was not adult fantasy because I didn’t want to write about those things.
Another thing is that I can have platonic crushes, meaning that I am attracted to certain people (or even fictional characters) for their intellectual insights or artistry or their personality. One example is the actor Alexander Siddig. I’d love to be able to have a deep conversation with him one day, but there is no way on earth I’d ever be interested in any kind of sexual contact. And yet many people confuse these things. I can also admire physical beauty in certain people, but even then there’s no sexual attraction involved, and many people find that hard to grasp. That always puzzled me, until I discovered I was ace.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Sex is overrated. There, I said it.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
Well, there’s nothing to find yet, but you can follow me on Twitter if you like (at scriobhann_si). I love connecting with other artists!
Thank you, Elowen, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.