Interview: Juju

Today we’re joined by Juju. Juju is a wonderful writer who is mostly known for their fanfiction. Aside from fanfiction, they also write some original fiction and are currently working on a novel. Juju includes aspec characters in everything they write. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate writer who loves what they do, 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 write things! Most of my readers know me for fanfiction, but I also write short stories and I’m working on a novel! I also like to share stories through little video games made in RPG Maker, although I don’t often share them as much as I probably should.

What inspires you?

At the risk of sounding like an overenthusiastic alien, humanity itself is my greatest inspiration. Humans are utterly fascinating.

We have the power to wage war, and also help each other in times of need. We spend years learning each other’s languages just to communicate with people outside of our own circle. We all share the same range of emotions. We can communicate through looks without saying a word to each other; even a smile is something we can share, if we have nothing else in common.

Our experiences are diverse and universal at the same time. The relationships we have with each other—parents, lovers, siblings, friends, workmates, etc.—are varied, but when you put it all together you have the story of a life. It’s my privilege as an author to take a slice of a life, any character’s life, and portray it for the world.

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

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned what letters were. I used to write little stories for my younger brother on notebook paper, lying on the floor in my bedroom. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t read them; I read them to him! In elementary school when they taught us the writing assessment, I used to pray that I’d get a narrative prompt (sadly, I never did).

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?

Unique feature? That’s a hard one… I have a terrible time recognizing themes in my work; usually other people point them out to me and I just accept that they must be right, haha.

I guess I can say I do enjoy writing about belonging; I like to do character analyses in my work in the form of introspection. I also really enjoy writing sibling relationships, especially if it’s found family and siblings. I love ships as much as the next fan, but there’s something about “they’re like a brother/sister to me”. That’s a deep platonic love that never gets as much recognition as it deserves.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make the content you want to see in the world. Who cares if it’s entirely self-indulgent? If it makes you happy, do it! Do it, do it again, read it and enjoy it; the best part is that sometimes, other people will like it too!

Practice doesn’t have to be boring. How do I practice writing? I read books. I watch movies.. I look at screenplays. I go to the theatre, if I can. I play video games. I study the plot, the dialogue. Look at your favorite stories—why do you like them? What’s your favorite part? How do the character interact? Of course, grammar is important and the fundamentals are there for a reason, but no one said practice had to be all textbooks and essays.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual! I find men and women both aesthetically pleasing, but I don’t experience sexual attraction to them.

When I first learned the terminology I thought I might be gray-ace or demi, but I realized that I was only tying into some of the myths surrounding asexuality. I was letting people who didn’t know me tell me who I was, based on generalizations. It wasn’t until I asked myself who thought I was that I was able to come to terms with my own sexuality.

I also identify as heteroromantic, or at least gray-romantic to some extent.

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

Oh, for sure!

I think what I’ve heard the most is that I’m “faking” being an asexual because I write nsfw content. That’s also the most laughable, since I never realized you could only write about your own experience and nothing else! I’m openly sex-positive; sex is a beautiful, intimate thing… it’s just not for me.

I’ve also gotten anon hate on social media from people who don’t like my headcanons, especially if they’re on the ace spectrum. If it’s a LGBT ship it’s homophobic to have them as ace, if it’s a straight ship it’s too pandering. Can’t win for losing, right? Beyond that, it’s usually the same old “asexuality isn’t LGBT, you aren’t oppressed, make your own community” garbáge that exists all over social media (mostly Tumblr).

It always hurts the worst when it comes from mutuals that I trusted; sometimes people I considered my friends share or say aphobic things and I want to shout “Don’t reblog those lies! Ask me, I’m right here, I’m always willing to talk about my own experience with you!” But, if I said those things, 9/10 times I’m accused of stirring up discourse or being too defensive.

I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut, write what I want, and freely use the Block feature. Life’s too short to worry about what some faceless person on the internet thinks about me, and besides: probably they’d be too cowardly to say those hurtful comments if we were in the same room together.

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

“Asexuals hate sex and look down on people who don’t.”

I know aces who are sex-repulsed. I know aces who are married with kids. I know aces who are fine with giving, not receiving. I know aces who only dislike intercourse. I know aces who have sex because, for them, it’s a way to be close to their partner.

Sex positive, negative, neutral— we all share one important thing: we don’t experience sexual attraction. That is what makes us asexual… not our opinions.

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

It’s okay to be asexual.

If you think you’re 1% ace today and 99% ace tomorrow, you can say you’re ace. If you’re not sure yet, you can say you’re ace. If you think you might change your mind, or you’re using this label until you figure yourself out, you can say you’re ace.

Sexuality is fluid and confusing, and it’s even more confusing if you don’t experience it at all. We’ve been there. We are there. We know. The people with the loudest voices and biggest hatred are often the minority. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Remember to love, and allow yourself to be loved. Love isn’t binary, it’s not limited to intimacy or romance. Love your friends, your family, your pets, and (most importantly) yourself. Love is so many shades, a thousand thousand nuances that we can experience together as humans. Don’t lose hope by focusing on one color when you’re surrounded by a rainbow.

Having sex doesn’t make you less ace. Being in a relationship doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting to be closer to your partner doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting children doesn’t make you less ace. You are allowed to ask for physical affection without it having to lead to sex. You are allowed to want to kiss, to cuddle, even to make out or pet your partner without it having to lead to sex. You do not have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. You don’t owe the world, or anyone in it, anything that will bring you harm.

You are not broken. You are valid. You are loved.

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

You can find my work at https://archiveofourown.org/users/Jubalii! Just look for the sheep, haha! I’m also on Tumblr at https://heyheyitsjuju.tumblr.com/. On Tumblr I post fanfiction as well as more about my original stories, OCs, etc.

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

Interview: Megan Hustmyer

Today we’re joined by Megan Hustmyer. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist and author who does a bit of everything. They paint, sculpt, and do illustrations. On the writing side, they write poetry and prose. Megan is currently working on a novel featuring an asexual succubus. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and passionate 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 am an artist and a writer. I draw, I sculpt, I paint, and I write prose and poetry. My work has undertones concerning self-love and acceptance, which is especially potent for me personally as a queer creator. I really love imagining queer creatures, aliens, monsters, realms and the like.

I’m working on my first magical realism novel, which focuses on an asexual, non-binary succubus living in contemporary America. So they’re pretty much screwed, but they make their best go at it.

What inspires you?

I’ve always loved fantasy, science-fiction, magic, mythology and folklore. More recently I’ve been attracted to queer theory, particularly the academic work of Ela Pryzbolo, an asexual scholar who writes theory on asexuality. I’m heavily inspired by her mission to expand and fuck with the limitations of asexuality/sexuality. I believe that a narrow definition of queerness isn’t queer at all. Which is why I want to write about an asexual succubus, it’s a great way for me personally to explore the identity of gray-sexuality and be able to look at sexuality through an asexual lens.

I also love ‘We Were Witches’ by Ariel Gore, trees, and affirming that nature is gay.

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

I didn’t actually start to think of myself as an artist until I was in my sophomore year of college, majoring in fine arts. I knew there wasn’t a way I could just not have art in my life. Before that, I considered it a hobby. I also daydreamed a lot, and for a long time I thought that it was unhealthy, but now I’ve come to terms with my imaginative sight-seeing and I use it as a processor for my art, my stories, emotions, and anything else I need it for.
Art itself is a fantastic processor. I’ll always be thinking about a lot of things at once and it can be overwhelming, so the artistic process is very helpful for me. I’ve always felt there was a link for me in particular between art and healing. Especially when drawing or painting, I’m able to think in ways on paper that would be too confusing in my brain. There’s a link to be made between art therapy and tarot readings… hmmm.

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?

An underlying fondness for grossness.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fuck shit up.

They’re gonna tell you that it’s hopeless, that it’ll waste of time and you’ll just be a starving artist. Fuck that shit up. They’ll say that the art market won’t have you. Fuck it up. They’ll say there’s nothing to be done.
Fuck.
It.
Up.

01_MARSUPIALLOVEAFFAIR
Marsupial Love Affair

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray-asexual or as I’ve grown fond of, ‘grace’.

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

For the most part, I encounter ignorance. Whenever you’re open about being something ‘abnormal’, you kind of also become a spokesman for that identity, which has its positives and negatives. With asexuality, I’m still learning about it myself, similar to my gender identity.

I met someone who considered even acts of flirting or ‘feeling sexy’ to be sexual in nature, which is an arguable stance, and yet also admitted that the act of sex itself wasn’t always inherently sexual. By his definition of sexuality, which also included dancing and finding people attractive, I was sexual. By mine though, which is influenced by my conception of sexuality in contemporary America, I was gray-asexual. He had also been born in an earlier time in another culture. In that situation I was with someone I trusted and I valued his opinion, so it was a little hurtful to hear that he just didn’t understand my identity, but I’m glad we were able to talk about it openly.

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

That asking whether or not someone masturbates is an appropriate response to learning that someone is asexual.

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

Sexuality is confusing. It could be argued that asexuality confuses it even more. Is asexuality a lack of something? Or is it a presence? If it’s not a presence, then what is that feeling that completed me when I first identified as ace? Even if you’re unsure (I still am most days), if you know that feeling, you don’t have anything to prove. You’re not naive. You’re not broken. You have the courage to claim a name that fits you, and you wear it because you feel good when you do. That’s all you need.

And once again, fuck it up. Whatever that means for you. Maybe it means taking a rad bubble bath and reading manga. Maybe it means doing drag. Maybe it’s creating a loud sign and going to a protest. Maybe it’s singing as loud as you can. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite album. It’s whatever gives you strength. It’s doing what you need to do. It’s taking care of yourself.

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

The novel I’m working on is still under the radar for the most part, but I’ll be sure to post updates on it via social media and my main website.

My fine art, sculpture, social practice work, can be found here: meganhustmyer.carbonmade.com

My graphic design an illustration portfolio can be found here: meginetdesignsthings.myportfolio.com

My Instagram:  m.g.aoh or _meginet

my landscape
My Landscape

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

Interview: RK

Today we’re joined by RK. RK is a phenomenal writer who writes a variety of things. Xi writes mostly fanfiction, though xi also writes a fair amount on Tumblr as well. It’s clear xi loves what xi do and is incredibly passionate about writing. My thanks to xi for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have a variety of art, from knitting and jewelry-making to writing songs and stories, to the more “traditional” artforms of drawing and painting. I tend to consider myself a writer first and foremost, feeling that writing is my vocation if anything could be considered such, but I spend a lot of time knitting and creating colored pencil or watercolor anime-esque portraits.

What inspires you?

Everything. Random thoughts, TV shows and books and movies (for the fan creations), my kids, my cat, my partner, the sunlight pouring down through the tree canopy in the backyard…. Inspiration is everywhere.

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

Always. I’ve been writing since the first time I could hold a crayon, or so my mother tells me, and drawing for almost as long. I love telling stories, whether it’s written or illustrated or even just making up a story on the fly to tell my kids at night.

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?

Nothing so consistently across the board, I’m afraid.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Everyone begins as an artist at their own place and advances at their own pace. It’s inevitable to find yourself measured against other artists, fairly or unfairly, and it’s important not to let those measurements discourage you from producing your art. Trends come and go, fads fade, but as long as YOU are happy with what you’re creating, that’s all that matters in the end.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I tend to identify as Asexual/Gray-Asexual Demiromantic.

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

In the regular world of art and writing, very little, which may change if/when my work gets a broader recognition. Online? Occasionally. I’m fortunate enough to have found a niche that allows me to surround myself with people who also tend to be on the Ace/Aro spectrums. I see the prejudiced/ignorant commentary on occasion, but very rarely has anyone directed it towards me. Mostly, people who question me about asexuality/aromanticism are honestly seeking knowledge, which I’m pleased to provide for them to better their understanding.

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

Probably that being asexual supposedly means not liking sex. Most of the people who question me about my being asexual express confusion over how my partner, a cis man who used to identify as het and now identifies as “RK-sexual”, can be in a happy and stable monogamous relationship with me, an asexual, or how we have two kids if I “don’t have sex”. This is usually cleared up by reminding people that asexuality doesn’t have to include sex-repulsion or celibacy.

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

There is no right or wrong way to be asexual, only what is right for you. You can ask other people for advice or assistance in navigating how you feel, but ultimately YOU are the only one who can decide what label or labels do or do not fit you.

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

You can find my fan works easily enough on AO3 (under the pen name LadyShadowphyre) or on Tumblr (“ladylilithprime” and “rkdoesartthings“), and I have a Patreon as “RK Hart” (with the profile picture of a white tiger).

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

Interview: Jenna Rose

Today we’re joined by Jenna Rose. Jenna is a phenomenal author who specializes in LGBTQ+ romances. She has currently released two novels in a planned 5-book series. It involves a mysterious supernatural society and a pair of PIs who try to solve the mysteries in their communities. It sounds like a fascinating read and Jenna obviously loves writing it, 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 write LGBTQIA romances. My favorite genre is fantasy, and science-fiction, but I have some stories in the works that have a more contemporary setting.

The books I have published are written with co-author Katey Hawthorne. They take place in a world where a supernatural society exists in secret alongside our own, and follow Lowell Kanaan, a private investigator and wolf shifter, and John Tilney, an author and pyrokinetic, as they work together to solve mysteries in their community. Lowell’s a gruff kind of guy with a heart of gold underneath it all, and John (who’s demiromantic!) is a sweet and tenacious oddball.

There are currently two books out in a planned series of five. The first in the series is Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Arms Dealers, and the second is Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Man-Eater. I will mention that the books do contain sex scenes, so if those aren’t your jam, you can skip over them or they just might not be the books for you. Thanks to the publisher I’m currently with, sex scenes are no longer more or less required, so future books of mine will not always have them.  🙂

What inspires you?

Man, so many things! I save pictures of places all the time. Natural wonders, different kinds of houses, abandoned places… Anything that I think would make for a cool setting. Other books inspire me too. I might read something and realize hey, I’d love to see a steampunk story with queer characters, or, it might touch on a subject that I would have liked to seen explored more.

Also, I play Dungeons & Dragons and I find their character creation system in the current edition weirdly useful for coming up with character concepts.

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

The list of things I wanted to be when I grew up changed a lot when I was a kid. One day I’d want to be a Power Ranger, then the next I’d want to be an archeologist (because, you know, Lara Croft), annnnd then the next I’d want to be a zoologist. But, writer was the one thing that was always on the list. I loved how books contained whole worlds you could get lost in, and I always wanted to create my own and share them with people.

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?

Haha! I don’t, but now I feel like there should be.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be comfortable with things not going the way you expected them to. There will be times when a plot point won’t always work out the way you hoped, and now and again a character will surprise you and do something unexpected. Hell, sometimes you’ll end up writing something completely different than what you started with. And you just kinda gotta go with it.

When I was younger, when I dreamed of being a writer, I didn’t see myself writing romance. I wanted to write Young Adult novels. LGBTQIA romance is something I kinda stumbled into. Turns out, though? I love writing romance. I’m having fun and getting to tell stories I love. It’s totally not where I expected to end up, but now that I’m here, I’m glad that I did.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as biromantic demisexual.

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

I’m lucky to work at a publishing company that works hard to be inclusive, so I’ve never run into any issues with anyone at Less than Three Press, or with any other authors. However, I do unfortunately get the occasional review that’s acephobic or just uneducated about asexuality in general.

I think, like with anyone, I have my good days and bad days when it comes to dealing with prejudice or ignorance. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not so much. On the days it’s harder to brush off, I try to remind myself that part of why I write LGBTQIA fiction is because of how little representation there is out there. A lot of people don’t know or understand what asexuality is and, my hope, is by putting it out there in my writing that it will help educate people. And if not? Well, my writing isn’t for them. It’s for people, like me, who want to see themselves in stories. If even just one person out there feels a little bit less alone, or realizes that they are not broken and are fine just how they are, because of something I wrote, then that’s all that matters.

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

This is a tough one. There are a few things I hear all the time, even from my own family, but I guess the most common would be is that asexuality isn’t a real thing. I’ve seen arguments that aces just haven’t met the right person, that we need to experiment more with sex, or that we just have low sex drives and medication would fix things. I’ve even seen accusations that asexuals are making it up for attention, or so we’ll be included in queer community without actually being queer.

But the craziest thing I’ve heard? I’ve legit had my own family tell me that my lack of interest in sex is normal for women. Lots of women feel like I do, so clearly asexuality is a made-up thing and why do I need a special label for it anyway?

It’s a lot of bullshit arguments with nothing to back them up other than ignorance, sexism, and acephobia.

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

You’re not alone. I know that there are times when it feels like you are, and that you might always will be, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are people out there, both asexuals and allosexuals, who love you and accept you for who you are. There’s an entire community eager to embrace you. You belong, you’re valid, and you are loved. And, if you ever need anyone to talk to, I’m here for you.

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

They can check me out at my website (http://www.jennarosewrites.com) which has links to my Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media accounts as well as information on where to find my books.

They can also head on over to the official Kanaan & Tilney website (http://kanaanandtilneyinvestigations.com).

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

Interview: Eva I.

Today we’re joined by Eva I. Eva is a phenomenal South Asian visual artist and author. She draws portraits and character concepts, using a variety of mediums. As far as writing, Eva is currently working on two fantasy novels, both of which feature asexual protagonists. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Character Concept
Character Concept

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m one of those artists who likes to dabble in, well, everything. Over the years, I’ve tried out typography and hand lettering, crafts, music (I still play the ukulele occasionally), writing, and drawing. Out of all those things, I suppose the ones that have stuck with me would be the latter two.

Even with drawing, I can’t make up my mind. My style fluctuates with my mood, the weather, every time I sneeze… This is evident if you scroll through my Instagram feed; it’s like one of those repost accounts featuring different artists. However, I am consistent in the sense that I mainly draw portraits and character concepts, and my preferred medium is digital art – although I do work traditionally, using ink and sometimes watercolours, whenever the fancy strikes me. I’m hoping to branch out and try illustrating more environments in the future.

As for my writing… I’m currently working on two fantasy novels, both of them featuring ace protagonists, because I want to see more ace characters (particularly those of colour) in SFF. I’m a slow writer, especially as my mental and physical health are never that great, but I think I’ve made good progress with both novels. I’m almost done with a passable draft for one of them, which I hope to send out to trusted readers soon. I’m not sure if I want to publish these stories or not – at least, not at this point in my life.

What inspires you?

I draw inspiration (haha) by consuming all kinds of art by all kinds of artists. In fact, I’ve found it pretty inspiring to go through some of the interviews on this blog! Whenever I need to recharge my creative battery, I just read a book, study the works of my favourite artists, watch a movie/show, read/watch interviews, and listen to some music. In addition to that, I also like sleeping? I’m a permanently exhausted pigeon (aka I have a chronic illness) so I tend to sleep a lot; I end up having a ton of cool dreams, which I sometimes weave into my writing.

fish
Fish

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

Creativity runs in the family, so I picked up art as a matter of course when I was very young. I have vague memories of throwing tantrums at the age of five when I couldn’t draw things the way I wanted; thankfully, I’ve since managed to improve my skills (and my temper). I opened my first art account on Facebook when I was fifteen-ish. I deleted that one a few years ago, and started my current accounts on Twitter and Instagram under a pseudonym so I can be more out about myself.

More recently, I started accepting freelance commissions via social media, which has helped expand my reach (and my wallet). I wouldn’t consider this as a career, yet, though. I don’t receive enough commissions to depend upon it as a main source of income, so I have a day job of sorts, and I’m trying to figure out how to get myself yeeted into college.

Writing has also been a huge interest for me since I was a toddler; my earliest memories are of my father telling me stories. I was quick to develop my reading skills, and you would rarely find me without a book to read. From there, it felt natural to me that I would eventually write my own stories. I’m a big fan of fantasy, so I read and write those for the most part. I used to post my writing on Wattpad, but I’m a little more private about my writing at the moment.

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 almost always sign my art, either with ‘EVA’ or ‘evadrawssometimes’. I don’t really hide anything special in my artwork, but there is one thing about them that I can confess to: I sometimes forget to draw eyelashes. I’m not very good at drawing them either. I’m working on it.

In contrast, I think my writing contains many elements that I feel are personal to me; I include puns (multilingual ones, too) and references to real-life events that I’ve experienced personally, or have taken place in my hometown. Those who know, will know.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Your art is a luxury, so if you’re offering commissions, price them as such! You deserve to be compensated for your time and efforts. (Still working on this one myself).

Breaks are good! Don’t burn yourself out just for the sake of updating your social media. Your most dedicated fans will still stick around even if you miss a post or ten. Maintaining a social media presence is not worth the risk of burnout, injury, or even losing passion for your art.

If you’re offering commissions, try to include your contact information on your profiles. Make it easier, not harder, for potential clients to reach you.

Don’t feel obligated to post all your art on social media.

Don’t forget to make art just for yourself sometimes! Even if capitalism says otherwise, you don’t have to monetise all your work/hobbies, particularly when it comes to art.

It is acceptable – and good, even – to use references. It’ll save time, and ultimately it will help you improve.

ilyas
Ilyas

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m ace, I guess. I’m still figuring it out, though I’ve gotten more comfortable with my identity over time. I experience little to no sexual attraction, aesthetic attraction to people of all genders, and romantic attraction mainly towards people who are not of the same gender as myself (I think??).

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

In my field? Not directly, I would say. I choose my audience very carefully, and so far people have been largely accepting. I have come across some misconceptions from others, but thankfully, most people have been receptive to being corrected. I block those who are not interested in changing their minds, and honestly? Best decision I ever made.

I’m not out in other circles except for a select few family members, friends, and my current partner. I only come out to and explain my identity to those who I think will be understanding. I don’t really mind explaining, but it can get exhausting, especially when you’re dealing with people who don’t listen in good faith.

Lake of Voices
Lake of Voices

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

One of the major ones I’ve come across is the conflation of asexuality with aromanticisim, and asexuality with lack of desire for sex; the Venn diagram of those experiences is often seen as a circle, when in reality there are an intersection of various experiences, some of which may or may not overlap depending on the individual.

In addition to that, there are people who believe that the ‘A’ in LGBTQIAP+ stands for ally and not asexual, aromantic, and agender. I’ve also had someone suggest that asexuality was a phase I would outgrow, or that I was simply nervous or afraid. There have been other extremely harmful hot takes I’ve come across on Twitter by trolls, but they’re too numerous and unpleasant to recount.

All of these misconceptions seem to multiply during Pride month, which is disappointing but not surprising.

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

I would say… be open to the possibilities, and don’t be too worried about taking your time figuring yourself out. It’s also okay to decide on another label in the future; it does not negate the label itself nor your experience while using it. Ultimately, it’s your identity and you are in control of deciding who you are. Even if you’re not comfortable with/able to come out to certain people, I hope you get to feel confident about your own sense of self.

I’ve also managed to connect with a lot of aces during my time on Twitter, which has been a big help in affirming and discovering more about my identity – and, incidentally, picking up on quality ace puns (and pins. Gotta love well-designed merch by ace/LGBTQIAP+ artists).

Finally, I highly recommend checking out The Asexual (http://theasexual.com), an online journal about asexuality run by Michael Paramo. The site includes content like essays, artwork, and personal pieces, contributed by ace people of various backgrounds. The Asexual has helped me pick apart many of my own misconceptions and find joy in being who I am. You can find The Asexual on Twitter as asexualjournal (https://twitter.com/asexualjournal).

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

You can find me on Twitter as isthispigeon (https://twitter.com/isthispigeon), where I sometimes post my art and accept art commissions, but mostly tweet about art-related shenanigans. If you want to get to know me, or commission me in a more informal setting, that’s the place to go!

I’m also on Instagram as evadrawssometimes (http://instagram.com/evadrawssometimes), if you want to see all my art in one place without getting distracted by random thoughts and terrible puns (though they sometimes work their way into the captions). I accept commissions there as well.

I have a few phone wallpapers available on my Buy Me A Coffee account (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/isthispigeon), if that’s something you might be interested in.

Finally, if social media is not for you or if you wish to contact/commission me in a more professional setting, you can reach me via email: eva (dot) isq4 (at) gmail (dot) com. Currently, my writing is not available anywhere.

Shampoo ad Alucard
Shampoo ad Alucard

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

Interview: Annie O’Quinn

Today we’re joined by Annie O’Quinn. Annie is a phenomenal artist who was previously interviewed for asexual artists. However, she has recently released her first novel and is very eager to speak about it. She writes queer urban fantasy, so you know it’s going to be an awesome read. Annie is a dedicated and passionate 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’m an author and concept illustrator, meaning I write books but I also design book covers and other illustrations that are meant to tell a specific story or message. I lean towards urban fantasy in both, along with having a focus on diversity. My recently released book, The Defined Role, is a queer urban fantasy and I was also the artist of the cover!

What inspires you?

Different things at different times! For instance, The Defined Role was inspired by theatre heavily, along with the city of Charleston, South Carolina. There are many books that have inspired me, many pieces of art, and honestly? My friends. With them, I know I can talk freely, and they let me ramble on about my ideas and their excitement fuels me to the point a small rambling idea becomes fully fledged projects easily.

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

I’m pretty sure I knew I wanted to be an artist and author before I knew that’s what I could be. I drew all the time and that was definitely what clicked first as something I knew I wanted to do. It was definitely animation that originally got my attention and everything evolved as I grew up. I still wrote, mostly fanfiction, for a long time before realizing that, oh, I can write, too! Now I would say a part of the reason it interested me, as far as taking it seriously, was the community, too. I wouldn’t have believed I could do it for a living without them.

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 hmm… I wouldn’t say I have a signature. Although, in writing, my editors can tell you how much I love em dashes. Many of them were edited out, don’t worry! Other than that, I can show the cover of my upcoming novel, The Defined Role! Drawn by yours truly. 🙂 Along with the summary:

It is said that when you die, one of three things happen: You receive an offer to become a demon, an offer to become an Angel, or you receive no offer at all.

Samuel Stewart wants nothing more than to be an Exorcist. Convinced a demon was responsible for his sister’s apparent suicide, he has strived to prevent the same from happening to others. However, he thinks his chances at fighting demons is lost once he’s deemed unqualified to be an Exorcist. It’s only when he learns of Davis Turner – the youngest person to have ever been possessed and survive – that his hope is rekindled.

Davis wants absolutely nothing to do with Exorcists. He’d much rather lose himself to a character on stage than to a demon, but his childhood possession has left him vulnerable to demons, and a risk to those around him.

What starts out as a wary friendship turns into something neither of them want to live without, but when the Charleston Exorcist Squad drafts Davis as their new member, the horrors of being an Exorcist are revealed. Davis must struggle to come out of the draft unscathed, while Samuel must go on a journey within himself to accept the truths of his past ideals and search for something to fill the void left behind.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It’s okay to not be successful right away. It’s okay if you can’t draw or write every day, because the truth is? As an artist, you’re always working on something. Taking care of yourself and experiencing the world is part of the process of being creative. Just make sure it brings you joy first and the results will follow.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m panromantic asexual! I thought I was demisexual before learning it was more about the attraction than the willingness to be sexual.

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

Oh definitely. I’ve definitely been called a prude. Honestly, I just handle it by knowing their wrong and not engaging. I’ve realized that the best way to continue and take care of myself is to just let it go. The arguments I used to have did nothing but give me negativity. I definitely think those arguments should be had, but accepting I’m not one of the people who can really made it much easier.

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

That we’re cishets and can pass as such, honestly. Oh, and that it automatically means I won’t like sex jokes. I mean it’s always good to ask if those type of jokes are okay first, but I was a theatre major, I was surrounded by it. As far as passing, though, it’s hilarious because I am ace… and I have a partner who is a transman. They just aren’t anything close to synonyms, not to mention gender has nothing to do with sexuality.

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

Labels aren’t necessary, but if you think it fits, then explore it. But explore it like you explore what you want to do for a living, just like artists. It can change over the years, you can know when you’re born or discover if extremely late in life. Picking a label now doesn’t mean it’s permanent. People change, but self-awareness also grows. Just let yourself enjoy who you are now.

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

You can find my author blog at annieoquinn.tumblr.com or, if you want to see fanart and mostly just my art in general, my art blog is aoqart.tumblr.com. I have an author website that is annieoquinn.com and you can find my book on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46117235-the-defined-role

Here’s a link to my Tumblr post with all the different places people can buy it: https://annieoquinn.tumblr.com/post/185942115382/you-can-find-it-internationally-as-an-ebook

But also here’s Amazon for the US for a straight (lol) link: https://tinyurl.com/y5unodag

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

Interview: Ellannra Kingfisher

Today we’re joined by Ellannra Kingfisher. Ellannra is a phenomenal writer and photographer. She writes a lot of poetry and short stories. Ellanra is also currently working on a novel that she hopes to publish one day. It’s clear that she’s a dedicated and passionate writer with a very bright future ahead of her. 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, first and foremost, a writer. I write both poetry and stories, and I am currently working on a novel that I hope to get published one day. I am also a photographer, mostly in micro photography, but I also do the occasional landscape or wildlife photo.

What inspires you?

My main inspiration has always been the way real, modern life relates to fantasy, history, and mythology. So much of our day-to-day lives is still dictated by the patterns we learned from our ancestors, both real and not-so-real.

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

I didn’t learn to read until I was almost in Kindergarten. Most kids at least learn the basics long before that, but I just never had anyone try to sit down and teach me. When I finally did learn, though, I couldn’t get enough. By the time I reached second grade, I was reading Harry Potter on the playground at recess. I had pretty much decided by the time I reached middle school that I would be an author one day.

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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?

I have both a signature of my pseudonym and a logo. Right now, they aren’t featured in any of my works, but that’s because they would detract from my photos and I haven’t published any written works yet. They are, however, visible on my Tumblr (which I’ve included below), and when I eventually get either a novel or a book of my photos published, they’ll be in that.

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Logo
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Signature

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Find something you enjoy. If you don’t genuinely enjoy it, you’ll never get anywhere with it. I can’t tell you how many stories I have had to abandon because I started writing with a purpose and got so lost in that purpose that I forgot to have fun. Let yourself be distracted. If you see something shiny, go chase it down. Odds are, that shiny thing is your next piece of inspiration.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual, sex repulsed, and homoromantic.

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

Whenever I tell people about my stories, a lot of them tend to wonder where the romantic part is. “How can you expect to sell a book with no love story in it?” My response is always the same: “If I am writing about dragons, then why would I include something as distracting as a romance? If I want to read about pirates, then I want to read about pirates, not the hot guy or pretty lady who lives on that one seaside colony.”

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

People, in general, tend to think asexuality is a moral/ethical choice. When I try to say, no, the thought of sex physically disgusts me, they just think I’m adamant about staying chaste and virtuous. The only way I’ve been able to explain it so far where people who do experience sexual attraction understand is this: “Imagine I take a piece of bread, a shallow pan of water, and a sunny place. Those three combined creates moldy bread. Now, you take two people, feelings, and hormones, and you get sex. Factually interesting, on a level of ‘this plus this equal this. Huh. Neat.’ Now imagine eating my moldy bread, and you’ll get the same instinctive ‘nope’ that I get at the thought of having sex.”

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

There are going to be people who tell you asexuality doesn’t exist, that you’re just too young, once you stop focusing on this or that you’ll find someone who’s right for you, etc. Don’t listen to them. Nobody in this entire universe knows you the way you know yourself. They don’t hear the thoughts that run through your head, they don’t feel the emotions you feel, and they certainly can’t dictate what you feel and what you don’t. So just don’t pay attention when they try.

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

You can find me on Tumblr at ellannra-kingfisher.tumblr.com. You can also email me at ellannra.kingfisher@gmail.com. I am always willing to answer questions and share details about my work!

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