Interview: RoAnna Sylver

Today we’re joined by RoAnna Sylver, RoAnna is a phenomenal author, who has authored such books as Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce. One is a hopeful dystopia involving superheroes and the other involves punk vampires, which sounds awesome. When they’re not writing, RoAnna enjoys visual art and does a lot of digital painting. They have painted most of their own cover art and hope to get into coloring work for comics, including webcomics. It’s clear they’re an incredibly passionate artist with a great drive, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Runtime COver
Runtime cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Hi there! So, most people probably know me by my writing; I write the Chameleon Moon and Stake Sauce series, hopeful-superhero-dystopian and queer-punk-vampire books, respectively. But I’m also an artist, I design and paint the majority of my own covers, and I’d really like to talk more about visual art for a change.

I love digital painting, and find (most of it) really relaxing and soothing, which is very helpful for when my brain goes into nonverbal mode or I’m just feeling burnt out on talking/writing. Which is pretty often.

I’m definitely going to continue painting my own book covers for as long as I can, and have done commissions for a few people too. I love them, and keep meaning to do more. I’d also love to get some work as a colorist for comics (including webcomics) because I find coloring especially relaxing (and I’m good at it darn it!).

One other cool thing, on the subject of ace stuff specifically, I recently had a journal-type article Thing published in The Asexual, about how important representation in mainstream stuff is (and how much I love Todd Chavez from Bojack Horseman). So check that out if you’d like!

What inspires you?

So much. Music, bits of conversation I overhear, people just living their lives. But most of all I think is reading or watching movies and seeing what I’d do differently. Usually, that means “less marginalized people die, and more get to be the heroes.” If that sounds like fix-fic, that’s because it is! I used to write so much fanfiction before I started my own stuff. I STILL DO, but I also used to. (Thanks, Mitch Hedberg!)

Honestly, I hate when people crap on fanworks so much, both art and writing, because not only are they a great starting point (I’ve written more than one thing as essentially fanfiction AUs. I doubt anyone will ever guess which~), but they’re entirely valid works on their own. And they inspire the hell out of me, both writing my own and reading others’.

Also, it’s not as popular to say, but… spite is a hell of a motivator. Wanting to prove people wrong who’ve said I can’t do something, or people like me (queer, disabled, etc.) don’t belong in publishing/the art industry/life. Knowing bigoted assholes hate what I’m doing is an incredible accelerant. Just warms the cockles of my heart, it does.

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Moonbright Tides cover

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

I joke that I just have a lot of emotions and I need different ways of letting them out—writing, drawing, singing—or I’ll explode. And I’m actually only about 30% joking about that, really. I am blessed/cursed with glorious and overwhelming feels, and if I don’t have an outlet for them, I tend to get paralyzed with…over-feeling. I need to express them like releasing internal pressure with a steam valve.

Unfortunately, I also tend to go nonverbal on a pretty regular basis from any number of reasons (illness flares, pain, various brain weird nonsense) so sometimes I’m physically incapable of writing. But I still have emotion I need to express, or else the pressure just builds up anyway. It doesn’t care that I don’t have words. That’s when the drawing or singing comes in—when writing brain shuts down, art or music brain takes over.

So yeah I guess I have always wanted, and needed, to be an artist.

I used to be a much more physical one, though. I have a degree in dramatic performance and used to do a ton of musical theatre. Nothing comes close to being on stage, and I was convinced that was it for me, that was why I was here and what I was supposed to do with my life. But then I got hit with several debilitating health conditions at once, and never really recovered. I haven’t been on stage in years, and probably will never again. But that’s okay. I still have writing and art, and on an extremely good day, music. Expression is still the most important thing in my life. Without it, I wouldn’t have one.

3. BNUH cover
But Not Up Here cover

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 writing, the Themes are definitely found family, queer and disabled people kicking ass, and trauma healing… the ‘secret symbols’ tend to be really nerdy references. Usually Star Trek and/or Greek myth. Go figure.

For art, I don’t really have a watermark or anything, though I’ll usually sign a major work. Trademark-wise though, I love the idea of making digital art look as traditional as possible, so if you look at something and think it’s an actual watercolor and not a digital one, I’ve done my job right~

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For commissions, figure out about how long it takes you to do a thing. Timing yourself/logging time is good. Then find out the minimum wage for your state and charge *at least* that per hour.

I saw a really good tweet a while ago saying you should charge at least 3x minimum wage for commissioned art, because 1) it’s your time and energy, 2) art is a specialized skill that you’re applying to this individual request, not a standard product, and 3) you’re your own boss here and paying for your own materials/food/life.

I don’t know if I could ever do that, but I’m sticking to At Least Minimum Wage for myself. I still feel a lot of guilt (as I do asking for money ever even if I’ve worked for it) but honestly, selling your stuff for super cheap really does devalue the whole market and cheats both you and other artists out of hard earned cash. I know it’s different when you’re just starting out and trying to get established, but really, once you are… your efforts are worth so much more than the bare minimum, but that’s a place to start.

4. ev merm
Evelyn merm

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Biromantic ace, and definitely on the aro spectrum too. It took me a long time to figure this out, in all its maybe-seemingly-contradictory glory. I’ve never really experienced sexual attraction to a (real) person. (“Real” because there are some fictional characters who could get ittttt) But I’m romantically attracted to women, agender, and nonbinary people… but like I said, definitely aro-spec too, so this happens much less than you’d think. Polyamorous too; I have queerplatonic partners as well as one romo partner~

In short, “potentially attracted to a lot of people on paper, but not in practice!”  It’s one of those “sounds very complicated, is actually very simple” things. Except for when it actually is very complicated. (What the hell is attraction? I don’t know it.)

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

…Never so much as during Pride Month. It’s really sad, but entirely true. Usually I manage to stay away from the Ace Discourse and keep it to a dull roar in the background of my life, but whenever the spotlight is on The Queer Community in general, that ugly particular head rears once again, and it’s very hard to avoid.

But there’s social media Discourse (harmful on its own) and then there’s creative field prejudice or ignorance, and that’s arguably even more annoying and damaging. Luckily, most of mine has been confined to the occasional shitty comment about my work. I generally don’t read reviews, but sometimes someone will point one out to me that’s particularly… not bad in a ‘didn’t like the book’ sense (I don’t care about those, for real), but a ‘wow, this is a dangerous and bigoted viewpoint actually.’

When people “can’t relate” to asexual (and aromantic, and neurodivergent, disabled, any other marginalization) characters, that tells me right there that I’m not going to be able to trust them. If someone slams a book or marginalized character for displaying characteristics of their marginalization (mentally ill people will act mentally ill; ace people will act ace), and dislike them specifically for what makes them them… that’s a Red Flag right there.

I don’t really “handle” that. I don’t comment (and you shouldn’t either, ever), but I take notice of who said the bigoted thing, and remember. Then I keep writing.

5. goliath elisa
Goliath Elisa

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

Oh lord, the aro/ace conflation thing. Where people think “asexual” means “aromantic,” and “aromantic” means “what is that, I don’t know what that is, how is that even a thing.” You can absolutely be asexual without being aro, or aro without ace, or a blend of the two that fluctuates over time and you have no interest in categorizing.

The most common individual misconceptions are definitely the “unfeeling, inhuman, dead/lifeless, passionless, robotic, forever alone” ones, because surely it’s romantic love and sex that makes us human, not anything else. Nope, that’s it, that’s the most important “universal” experience. Ever notice how it’s usually the same people who scream “don’t reduce our identities to one thing/define us by that!” Who then go on to do exactly that for others? There’s a lot of TERF overlap here too.

I have to say though, the special poison aimed at allo aromantic people is really something else; apparently just by being sexually but not romantically attracted to someone, you’re a horrible abuser/predator. (This is, of course, not true, and there are such things as attractions and bonds that are not romantic. The small-minded tunnel vision is exhausting.)

So yeah, there’s a lot, and I have absolutely no interest in getting involved in Discourse of any kind anymore. No spoons left for that at all.

6. Zenith Sheet
Zenith Sheet

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

There’s nothing wrong with you, first off. You might feel like there is, and people might decide to be gigantic asshats and say that there is, but there isn’t. There isn’t, regardless of how you end up identifying, even if that’s not ace at all. Try different identities out like clothes until you find one that fits. If none do, keep trying, or throw them out. It’s your “body,” and your identity and life. Use what serves you and makes you happy, not what someone else wants you to.

You’ll know when it’s right. When I finally hit on exactly what my gender and attraction type was, it felt like releasing every clenched muscle all at once. My constant, constant anxiety was silent for once, the panic in my head finally shut up. It was the absence of strain and exhaustion and tension and fear that was shocking. I hope it feels like that for you. The cessation of pain is a hell of a drug, and we don’t get it nearly enough.

Also, you’re totally queer if you want to be. If someone says you aren’t because you’re ace or aro, that person is not your friend. You don’t HAVE to identify as queer, the way some nonbinary people don’t identify as transgender, but you absolutely can, and screw anyone who says otherwise. (Or don’t. Especially if you’re sex-repulsed. *weak rimshot*)

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

I have an Artstation portfolio over here (if you need a colorist and/or inker, talk to me!) – https://www.artstation.com/roannasylver

All of my books are on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/RoAnna-Sylver/e/B00OI321DO

And most are available through other places like B&N and Kobo, which you can find at their universal links at my Draft2Digital page – https://books2read.com/ap/RWk0PR/RoAnna-Sylver

But by far the best place to support me is my Patreon. For as little as $1 a month, you can get Tons of Chameleon Moon bonus content—advance stories, art, lots of stuff—and exclusive looks at what I’m doing next (Like my upcoming interactive fiction portal-fantasy romance, Dawnfall for Choice of Games)! And also make me a little more secure as a disabled creator. patreon.com/RoAnnaSylver

Stake Sauce/Death Masquerade also has one over here, for if you enjoy monthly fiction about queer vampires! patreon.com/ModulatingFrequencies

Also, if you want to say hi on Twitter, I’m at RoAnnaSylver!

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Nonbinary Fire Witch, Zadkiel

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

Interview: Isis E. Prosser

Today we’re joined by Isis E. Prosser. Isis is a phenomenal writer and jewelry maker who I met at Indy PopCon. I was blown away by the gorgeous jewelry she made and then she told me about the web novel she was working on entitled Lamenting City (chapters are posted on her main blog: https://lairofthestormdragon.com/). Not only does it sound positively fascinating, but it’s an ownvoices work. The main character of the series is an ace lesbian named Axel and there are also two minor asexual characters. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate author, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer and a jewelry maker. When it comes to my writing, I tend to focus on humour and emotions, lots of humour and emotions. Sometimes I write purely humourous stories and sometimes I write purely emotional (whether angsty or uplifting) stories. Longer stories tend to swing between both extremes and I like to think the more I write, the better I become at blending the two together. I write a mix of fanfiction and original stuff, and I’m also not the greatest at updating either in a timely fashion (sorry!), but I am trying and getting better at that.

My jewelry is something I also do with my mom (she’s my teacher!) and currently I’m focusing on Pride jewelry and fandom jewelry (currently, Harry Potter-inspired pieces with some My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic-inspired pieces coming…. eventually). I’m very new to this craft.

In the future I’d like to make video games, too. I’ve written scenarios/concepts and dabbled a little in RPG Maker over the years, but haven’t yet finished a thing. Maybe one day soon I’ll have something to show. In the meantime it’s likely the characters of those ideas will be introduced in short stories or novels.

I’m very passionate about storytelling in general.

What inspires you?

Many, many things! From real life experiences to other fiction, and to the beauty of the natural world and that of architecture, as well as mythology (Egyptian mythology is my fave). I’ve also been inspired by vivid dreams I’ve had. And my inspirations tend to shine through in my work, whether original or fanfiction. For example, my current web novel project, Lamenting City, was initially inspired by a dream I had that came about when I was marathoning every Zoids anime with a friend. The dream introduced me to Axel and offered a tantalizing glimpse of her world, and afterwards I knew I had to write it. And often times I’ll have scenes or entire stories inspired by music I listen to.

When it comes to jewelry, I tend to find inspiration looking at gemstones or browsing jewelry supply shops. Sometimes I also get inspiration from media, hence the Harry Potter bracelets.

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

I’ve wanted to be writer for as long as I can remember. I’m not entirely sure where it started, but I know it did start in some form with kid me’s obsession with Beatrix Potter’s stories and later stuff like OT Star Wars and Disney’s Gargoyles. I would also read a lot and then read some more, and the more I read, the more I wanted to write.

As time went on, I also noticed more and more that there weren’t a lot of characters like me in fiction. There weren’t a lot of diverse characters and author voices in general. So, a lot of my writing is me creating the stories and characters I wanted to see, and to give myself a voice.

With jewelry, I played around with plastic beads as a child but then the hobby faded for many years. Earlier this year I got interested in it again after looking at pride jewelry and deciding I could make the types of bracelets I wanted… and then a lightbulb turned on and I realized that, hey, if I wanted jewelry like this, other LGBTQIANP+ folks might want it, too. And then my love for fandom made me start slowly getting into making fandom jewelry as well.

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?

Well, looking at my writing as of 2015, dream and nightmare sequences seem to be a pretty big thing. They appeared in my (currently unposted) Metroid fic that I wrote for my first NaNoWriMo (2015), appeared again in my Camp NaNoWriMo project, a Legend of Spyro fanfic (I haven’t yet posted the chapter with the first dream sequence however), and then they’ve appeared in every NaNo project since…

I find dream and nightmare sequences really fun to write. They’re a good way to explore the character’s mind without having to worry about realism or even my own canon.

In general, I like to use dreams/nightmares to introduce concepts and foreshadowing in ways that (hopefully) aren’t immediately obvious.

With my jewelry, it’s a bit hard to say since it’s all so new to me. But I like to add a touch of whimsy to everything I create!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To not be discouraged, and to get your art out there. It can be very daunting, yeah, I’ve been there (and in many ways still am), but your voice is needed. Perhaps some people won’t get your story, but for the people who do, it could mean the world.

Understand that you have room to grow, but to also be you. Improve and become the best you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Homoromantic/demiromantic asexual. Also sex-repulsed.

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

More times than I’d like to count, especially offline. I try to clarify things for people who simply don’t know, but find it’s easier on my mental health to avoid actually prejudiced people who are unlikely to change their mind. Sometimes both of those things are easier said than done.

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

The most common seem to be “Asexuals are incapable of love in any form” and “Asexuals can’t have sex/be sex positive”. Trying to correct either misconception isn’t usually a fun time for me, especially the latter (where being a sex-repulsed ace with no intention of having sex gets thrown back in my face as if it’s some kind of gotcha).

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

That you’re not broken, and that you’re ace enough.  You’re loveable and amazing as you are, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

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

My main home of operation is on my website/blog: https://lairofthestormdragon.com/

There I post short stories, chapters of Lamenting City, and blog posts where I yell about video games and music.

And while there’s not as much content as I’d like (I’m working on it!), you can find my newer fanfiction on AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/MetroidReploid/profile

I will be updating my Legend of Spyro fic (well, the first one) soon and will be adding a Metroid fic and a Star Wars fic at some point this year. I like many fandoms!

And you can check out my jewelry here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/StormDragonsWares

More designs coming soon!

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

Interview: Sayle Owen

Today we’re joined by Sayle (pronounced Say-lee) Owen. Sayle is a phenomenal author who is just starting out. She has already accomplished quite a lot. Sayle has won several awards and has completed two novels and two novellas. It’s clear she’s an incredibly passionate author with a very bright future ahead of her, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

IMG_1472

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My “art” is the words, specifically in English. Currently, I’ve got several Scholastic Awards to my name (three of them Silver Keys), and have completed four (with a fifth to be finished by July) books, three novellas and two full-length novels. The two novels are called Elemental and Tamer, 132,000 and 51,000 words respectively. The two complete novellas, The Vanished Princesses and The Silver Flame, are both around 20,000 words. The fifth book, a novella, is not yet complete and nameless, but I estimate it will also be around 20,000 words. All of those books (in addition to lots of other uncompleted ones) are part of one extended universe I call the Elemental Spiral (with Elemental and its sequel being the main series and the other books being side stories). And since this interview is about Ace creators, I feel it appropriate to mention that the two lead protagonists of Elemental, Selene and Klaus, are both ace themselves (though I didn’t realize that until over a year after it was finished, as I discovered my own aceness after it was completed and it wasn’t until I was editing Elemental I realized it. Additionally, I’ve written a handful of short stories and poetry that I’m willing to share.

What inspires you?

The entire world around me. Literally, anything I see, hear, or do may become a part of a story. But specifically, Tamora Peirce is literally my writing hero. She is a goddess among writers and I adore her work to no end (and may or may not own every book she’s ever written).

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer since second grade, when I first read the Harry Potter series. However, it wasn’t until my freshman year of high school (after discovering Tamora Peirce, with the addition of having the most amazing Honors English teacher) that I became serious about my desire to be an author by actually starting to write. My draw to it is a couple of reasons. Mainly, I love creating something that is different from my reality. Being able to control the details (control being used loosely, as characters really do have a mind of their own) and craft stories to entertain others (and myself) is such a wonderful feeling.

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 honestly work with a lot of color symbolism in Elemental, specifically with the colors of silver, gold, and other colors like bronze, copper, and violet. I do have one symbol, a specific kind of six-pointed star (with a very set pattern to create it) where each point has a certain element it represents—air, water, fire, earth, spirit, and soul. Additionally, I like working with different kinds of magic within my universe of the Elemental Spiral.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It won’t be easy. There will be times when you can crank out thing after thing and then it will be followed by a month of inactivity. But don’t give up. If you’ve got a lot of WIPs, choose the one that is most important and stick with it. Sure, start other things to get them out of your head, but keep going back to the one. There’s very little that is more satisfying than finishing something that took you two and a half years to complete (*cough*Elemental*cough*). It’s so worth it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

As far as I can tell, 100% ace. Not necessarily repulsed, but just totally not interested. Of course, I could be grey-ace, but I’ve never found a guy who would make that come to light. So until then, if it ever happens, I’m Ace to the max.

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

My dad and stepmother don’t believe it’s a thing, and the few times I’ve tried to bring it up its lead to long conversations (read: them talking at me) about how it’s natural to have a sex drive and how I shouldn’t be emotionally cutting myself off and whatnot. But I just stopped bringing it up. It’s not like being ace really affects anything (not that I’m straight, highly religious, conservative, that fact that I love writing) other than making me come off as more mature than other people my age. I’m comfortable in my asexuality, and my parents (though my mom does know and just doesn’t care much) not believing it’s real or of the devil or whatever doesn’t really change that. It’s all about having confidence that you know yourself better than anyone else.

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

People seem to keep confusing it with Aromantisicm. Like, I can still feel plenty of emotional/romantic attraction, but I have to explain the difference between love and lust a lot. Like dude, I’m ace, not aro.

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

Don’t feel obligated. You are the one who decides what your orientation is. In the long run, the only reason it matters is so you can feel more comfortable with yourself. For me, I discovered that I was ace literally the day before my senior year of high school (Labor Day 2017). I heard someone talking about it and (writer that I am) decided to research it. Suddenly, a lot of things about myself made sense—how I thought/acted growing up, the lack of caring about sex most teens seem to think about, etc. It’s not an obligation to figure it out. Sure, it’s nice having a name for things, but if you think you’re ace or not, it’s up to you.

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

Unfortunately, I don’t have anything truly published yet (I want to complete more of the Elemental Spiral before I try and publish it), I do have a website. It’s a portfolio thing I made for freshman Honors English and have kept up since then. Please note that it does need a pretty major redo in design for my things from last year, but a good majority of my stuff (school English portfolios, a list of my scholastic award winning pieces), save things from the Elemental Spiral, can be found there. Hopefully, I’ll get the Elemental Spiral published…eventually. http://sayleowen.wixsite.com/writing-portfolio.

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

Interview: Chimney

Today we’re joined by Chimney. Chimney is a wonderful poet from Germany. He writes mostly for a hobby and his poetry tends to focus on emotions. Chimney mainly writes in German though he has translated some of his poetry into English. It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer and poet. I write a lot of poems about love and being heartbroken by love, but also other stuff. In my writings I concentrate a lot on the emotional side, like how the characters feel, why they feel that way. I want the reader to understand my characters and feel with them. I really want to have this transparency in my stories and poems.

My poems especially are very personal. And I try to throw as much emotions and pain as possible in them, that’s why it often hurts to read them, because their pure emotions.

What inspires you?

I get inspired by a lot of stuff, actually. Obviously I get inspired by real life experiences, but music is one of those things that inspires and influences me the most. When I listen to songs there are always popping up some lines and ideas in my head. But I also get inspired by other people or artist who achieved something in their life. Seeing them getting from bottom to almost the top inspires me and gives me the courage to try my best. And even if I don’t made it there will be always people who I can inspire and that’s it what keeps me going forward.

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

Honestly at first I hated writing poems, because I never was able to rhyme something good. So I first started with writing stories, because some guy in my class wrote a very funny story and I wanted to write something funny as well xD. But after finally starting to rite I realized how much fun this is to me. I love creating stories, telling  stories and share them with others. Being an artist was never my main goal. It was and unfortunately still is one of my greatest hobbies. But I really hope that it someday will be more than just this little hobby of mine.

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 that I’m aware of. I try to change my still very often and I like to experiment a lot. Especially with my poems. I often change the metre and sometimes even use different languages.

But more like snippets or a few specific words. Other than that all I can say is that my writings are full of emotions.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would say: “Have the courage to post your art online!“ Why? Because there will always be at least one person that will like it. Art is very important and it can help people, inspire people etc.

So it doesn’t matter how insecure you feel about your stuff, there will be people who supports you and by sharing it you can grow. Be open-minded accept critique and advice, so that you can grow.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as quoiromantic asexual. And I think more on the sex-repulsed side.

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

Yes I did, from one person actually. Who actually very radical and I don’t want to explain the details. They said horrible things to me. First I tried to have a real in-depth conversation with them about it, but after that didn’t worked I broke contact with them, because in the end it was better for my mental health.

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

From what I’ve heard most people think that asexuality = anti-sexuality. Like that we’re all against sex and everything that has something to do with it. Which is just not right.

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

Seriously, the most important part is that you accept yourself how you are and that you understand that you’re fine, lovable and not broken by being asexual. The sexuality is just one small part of you and what really matters is your personality. I can understand that finding out that you’re ace can be frightening, but when someone really likes or loves, they will do it because of your personality, because you make them smile and give them a reason to stay strong.

You’re all valid.

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

So for my German fellas you can always read my work right here: https://www.fanfiktion.de/u/Chimney

For the others I suggest you to follow me on my Tumblr where I’m planning on releasing little English poems and snippets: megahyperchickenwing.tumblr.com (yes, that is my name)

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

Signal Boost: A Shard of Sea and Bone

Hello all!

No interview scheduled for today. Instead, we have a signal boost. L.J. Engelmeier has just released the first novel in her series. I already signal boosted a giveaway, the winner of which was announced on Twitter.

But now there are links to the eBook and paperback:

Paperback

eBook

A Shard of Sea and Bone - Final Cover - Front Cover Preview

Summary: “The Infinity. Sea of Seas. A multiverse teeming with life and magic. Long have two species, humans and demons, subjugated one another within it, all while living beneath the might of hierarchies designed to protect them. Long have their masses worshipped elected deities—the Guardians—who serve the dimensions as saints, mercenaries, and officers of the law. The Guardians are believed to be indomitable, but now, one by one, they’re being murdered. When three of them turn up dead—eyes and hearts ripped out, seemingly by their own hands—seven very different people are thrust into the mystery surrounding their deaths, a mystery that spans from the icy mountains of Lutana all the way to the dunes of Khajal and to the slaughtered bay city of Lindennacht. Any hope of uncovering the culprit behind the Guardian murders now rests with those seven people: a street-fighting princess, an illiterate ex-slave, a libertine potioneer, a reluctant heir, a former royal dancer, a clan’s queen, and a gunslinging spellcaster with nothing to lose.”

So go out there and show L.J. some love! Get a copy of her book, leave a nice review, etc.

Thanks, everybody!

Interview: Allyssa

Today we’re joined by Allyssa. Allyssa is a wonderful author and visual artist. For writing, she specializes in realistic fiction with plenty of LGBT+ characters. In visual art, she does drawing and painting, both in abstract and realistic styles. It’s clear she’s a passionate and dedicated 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 usually write, paint, and draw. My writing is typically from the point of view of a girl facing deep personal issues or mental health issues. I would classify my writing as realistic fiction. I write characters that are LGBTQ+ and are not considered the norm by society. My paintings are usually either abstract or realistic people. My drawings tend to stay on the side realistic portraits of women.

What inspires you?

People that inspire are Dodie Clark and Luna Lovegood. I love how they are unabashedly different and true to themselves. Dodie’s music is so full of heart and soul and emotion that I can’t help but feel inspired from it. The state of the world also inspires my writing and themes for my paintings. My art typically has undertones and themes of despair and how messed up the word is. On the other side of things, the beauty and complexity of humanity and nature never ceases to amaze me. My own issues with mental health and my poetic sort of view of the world helps me with using my words, choosing colors and shapes, and writing the darker parts of stories. My personal experiences with mental health gives me the ability to portray mental health in a more realistic way.

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

I first got into writing when I read the book Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. It was written so beautifully and held so much emotion and creativity that I wanted to make something as wonderful. Family members, my older sister and my aunt, also influenced me with their art. I think I have always wanted to be an artist, especially when I look back and see how I was more content making something as a child rather than letting it disappear once playtime was over.

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?

Something that I always include in my writing is a character that is LGBTQ+, neurodivergent, or defies gender roles. My paintings and drawings are also almost always a portrait of a young adult woman that has some kind of physical flaw.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Though I am a young aspiring writer myself, my advice to others like me is to write what you love to write and to write something with feeling. Write what you feel passionate about and that you feel could make an impact on someone, even if it’s just one person, and if that one person is yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as noviromantic asexual. I have never had a crush on anyone and did not want to have sex with anyone now or in the future. My romantic orientation is complicated and a mixture of many different romantic orientations. Some of the basics are hetero and demi romantic. Most parts of my romantic orientation seem contradicting to each other and is hard to describe, so I use novi. Majority of my romantic orientation is part of the aromantic spectrum.

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

I haven’t encountered any prejudice, but that’s mostly because I haven’t told anyone besides my two closest and open-minded friends. I don’t hide the way I feel. When the topic of sexual orientation comes up and anyone asks me, I just say that I’m not attracted to anyone in that way. No one has had an issue with that so far, though I have only used the word asexual to describe myself to the two friends.

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

The most common misconception I’ve seen is that it is cut and clean, that you either don’t feel any sexual or romantic attraction or you do. This is something that my struggles with accepting the labeling I use fed on.

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

I advise anyone who is struggling with their asexuality to not be afraid of the terms and slang used. You can identify however you feel suits you. Once I found a community and people that didn’t criticize my orientation, I felt so much happier and comfortable with myself. Know that you don’t have to use terms you don’t feel comfortable using to please the people around you. Your orientation is for you, not other people. Orientation is fluid, and it’s not your obligation to make other people feel comfortable with who you are.

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

You can find me on Tumblr. I have two separate accounts. I post my writing and artwork on this account. My other account is mostly quotes, art, fandom, and other things I enjoy and inspire me. You can find that account here.

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

Interview: Kristen

Today we’re joined by Kristen. Kristen is a phenomenal author who self-publishes a series with her partner under the name Riley S. Keene. She enjoys writing speculative fiction: fantasy and horror mostly. In fact, the series they’re working on is LGBTQIA+ fantasy and it sounds fantastic from the summary. It’s clear that Kristen is a passionate and dedicated author, 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 art of choice is writing—specifically LGBTQA+ and POC positive speculative fiction, including Fantasy, LitRPG, and Horror. I have been writing speculative fiction for way more years than I’d like to admit (somewhere upwards of 25 by now), but I only got serious about it in the last five years. Before I got serious about writing, I was an artist who took way too much influence from anime and manga.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration for Fantasy and LitRPG are table top games, like Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire the Masquerade, and Savage Worlds. I also take a lot of inspiration from video games, including Horizon Zero Dawn, the Final Fantasy series, and MMOs like Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft. I’m also greatly inspired by books, including the Dragonlance series, the first Fantasy books that showed me people could enjoy accessible Fantasy that didn’t need to copy Tolkien’s style.

For Horror, my biggest inspiration is my own anxiety. Thanks, brain. Maybe also the 80s and 90s horror movies I grew up with (before jump scares became the norm) and the work of Ania Ahlborn and Richard Laymon.

Lately though, my biggest inspiration has been knowing that self-publishing gives me a platform to share my words with others, to influence and inspire them, just like others have influenced and inspired me.

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

I was always a creative child. As far back as I can remember, I read books, played with art supplies, and enjoyed the Steno notebooks and typewriters that my grandmother had in her attic from her time as a secretary.

When I graduated from college, I decided to pursue art as a source of income (how I got into Engineering Marketing from Graphic Design is anyone’s guess) so I focused on writing for the fun stuff. I studied and studied and, you guessed it, studied some more. I have nearly a hundred how-to writing self-help books that I’ve collected over the last ten years, and all of them have helped me hone my craft. Or, you know, gather dust. Whichever.

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?

Nearly all of my stories feature a broken religion and/or government. I was born and raised in a very strict religion (purposefully not named to avoid upsetting anyone) and when I grew into an adult, much to the anger of my family, I renounced my religion to focus on the one religion that spoke to me as a person—Wiccan. I’ve since transitioned to just general Agnosticism. But it was the flaws in that first religion, the leaders and the way the believes were applied only when convenient, that made me realize that organized religion is a perfect vehicle for everything terrible I could do on large scale in Fantasy worlds.

All of my stories also feature LGBTQA+ and POC characters in worlds that don’t discriminate against them.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My biggest advice to young, aspiring artists is to stop listening to anyone who tells you that you aren’t good enough. A lot of people in the world want to share negative thoughts, especially about the creation of art. With the internet—specifically crowdfunding and online marketplaces—there has never been a better time to become a creator. It doesn’t matter if you are writing, painting, filming, singing…you can share your art with the world. Be sure you are producing as professional of a product as possible, but nothing has to be perfect. And anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to crush your dreams just like someone else crushed theirs. Break the cycle. Make your art. Be happy.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic gray asexual cis woman. This is kind of new to me, as I always identified as bisexual and it wasn’t until the last year or so that I realized I am actually asexual. I am happily married to a wonderful, supportive cis straight man.

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

Absolutely. I’ve gotten feedback from readers that they don’t understand how a conventionally attractive character could be uninterested in sex. They always assume the character has suffered some sort of sexual assault or other trauma…which always elicits a sigh of exhaustion from me.

I haven’t yet had anyone come after ME specifically as an ace creator, but there is always a first for everything, right?

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

That the assault and trauma I’ve suffered has anything to do with my asexuality. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and questioning about my views on sex. I’ve come to realize is that sexual assault is a much smaller factor than people really realize. But it still becomes the first question out of anyone’s mouth when I explain to them my thoughts on sex and sexuality.

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

The biggest thing that helped me come to terms with my orientation was research. I read a lot of articles and thought pieces and a lot (a lot a lot) of ace-positive blogs. I spoke to other ace individuals about their experiences, and then also talked to a lot of my bisexual and pansexual friends about their experiences with sex and thoughts on sexuality. It was at that point, that I realized I was a lot more like my ace friends than I was my bi friends. And a loooot of stuff made a looooot of sense.

Main takeaway I got from all of my research though was this—no one’s sexuality is set in stone. It can change, adapt, and be fluid. Just like gender. So be you, ignore the naysayers, and as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others, do you. Or not, if that’s your thing.

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

I publish my books under a pen name, since I work with my partner. That pen name is Riley S. Keene, and you can find our work on Amazon (only for right now, sorry, KU is just so good for authors starting out!) or you can just find out more about us on our website at www.rileyskeene.com. We’re also on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook at RileySKeene. Our Tumblr just has a lot of aesthetic/character inspo stuff with some light self-promo mixed in, Twitter is where I get to be my queer little self, and Facebook is all business all the time.

I’d love it if we could hang out sometime!

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