Interview: Adrienne

Today we’re joined by Adrienne. Adrienne is a phenomenal young up-and-coming writer who is currently studying creative writing at college in Canada. She has been writing fanfiction for years and has just started getting into original work. She’s a wonderfully enthusiastic writer with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a creative writer. I currently specialize in fan-fiction and original short stories. I must admit – however, that much of the latter is still very new to me and is currently a work in progress. 😀

What inspires you?

There’s so much! I almost don’t know where to start! A lot of my inspiration for writing comes from the fantasy/fiction genre. A lot of my inspiration also comes from what I see in other people’s writing/art work, as well as what I see in my day to day activities.

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

The Lord of the Rings. I started writing self-insert fiction when I was 14, and it sort of spiraled upwards form there.

I have always wanted to be an artist, yes. It’s fun!

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’m not sure that I’ve got any special sort of writing style or anything. I guess it’s hard to figure out your own writing style when you’re constantly editing and re-reading it. ;D

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep writing! Keep drawing! Keep doing! It’s super hard, I know. But you must try!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am pretty firm on the asexual part of the spectrum. There are other unrelated attractions there as well, but all in all – pretty firm on the asexual part.

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

I have been fortunate enough to not have experienced any sort of ace prejudice or ignorance in my field yet.

There have been a couple encounters where I’ve had to explain my sexuality with close friends, but otherwise no negative feedback yet.

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

I have been most fortunate in having friends and family who have accepted my sexuality and have made attempts to learn more about what it is to be asexual.

That’s not to say that there are no misconceptions about asexuality, only that I have been lucky in my personal experiences.

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

Your identity is real. What you experience is real. You are valid. You are not alone.

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

My work can mainly be found at diariesofawaywardwriter.wordpress.com.

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

Interview: Sabrina

Today we’re joined by Sabrina, who also goes by how-to-sit-gay. Sabrina is a phenomenal writer and dancer from Germany. She has recently picked up fanfiction again after a five year hiatus. She started writing fanfiction over ten years ago and wrote in a variety of fandoms. When she isn’t writing fic, Sabrina writes a lot of original work, mostly short fiction and poetry. Aside from writing, Sabrina also danced quite a lot. She danced in a Gardetanzgruppe, which is part of carnival culture in Western and Southern Germany (for an example, here’s a video). My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

PENTAX Image

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

It feels like I’ve been writing stories since I was able to spell my name, even though this might be far from true. I wrote my first proper fanfiction back in 2005, but I started writing poems and original stories before that, way back to when I was in elementary school. Since then I have written more short stories and poems than I can count, apart from fanfiction.

Gardetanz is a very special dancing style that is deeply rooted in the carnival culture of Western and Southern Germany. I started dancing when I was a wee little 7 year old and only stopped 17 years later when I moved away to a federal state that has no carnival traditions whatsoever and hence no dance group for me to join. I still miss it so much. Luckily, any kind of dancing or working with my body still comes naturally to me.

What inspires you?

Usually it is my latest obsession, which I think is not uncommon for fanfiction writers. I’m quite often inspired by songs – some lyrics fragment that just makes me immediately develop a scene in my head.

When it comes to original stories or poems I draw a lot from personal experience, especially when it’s about struggle or going into the dark places of one’s mind. I’ve only ever written two “happy” poems in my whole life, and that just to prove myself that I can.

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

Looking back, it seems like I was born with a pencil in my hand. Always either drawing or writing. And when I was not holding a pencil, I was running and dancing around. Little Me didn’t care for her 39.5 °C fever, she just needed to relentlessly jump and flail.

How and why I started dancing I is a simple story. Our across the street neighbour told my mother about starting a children’s dancing group in our local carnival club, and she thought this would be a nice way to have me use my pent up energy. It was one of her best decisions.

I never wanted to be any kind of artist, or at least I hadn’t planned to. In the end I just became Me with a raving passion to create stories, and to move my body.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t, except you count the main characters having a snarky and sarcastic kind of banter going on. This just happens naturally. But I’m actually thinking about implementing something like this now, like in Bones where there’s always a clock showing 4:47 in key scenes.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Go for it. And of course practice makes (almost) perfect. It’s actually a good sign when you look at your old work and cringe a little (or a lot in my case), because it shows that you’ve grown and improved yourself. This counts for works both of the mind and the body.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

It’s really hard to tell, the safest bet would be grey-asexual, but there are times when I go “full ace” for different lengths of time. As I have figured out thanks to my last relationship, if there is any sexual attraction to happen it definitely isn’t towards male identifying persons. Romantically I’m pan, though.

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

Not personally, so far. I think when it comes to writing fanfiction where people try to live out their own fantasies (not necessarily sex-wise), there are a lot of misconceptions about ace writers. Yes, I am ace. Yes, I can enjoy reading smutty scenes. Yes, I am also capable of writing them myself and have already done so. No, I’m not an innocent child who squeals ‘ewwww’ as soon as the characters kiss.

I don’t know how it is with dancing. Luckily for me, Gardetanz isn’t a dancing style loaded with sexual undertones, even though the skirts are so short and your panties are visible most of the time. In my group there was never any other sexuality discussed than heterosexuality, so I don’t even know if my fellow dancers realised I was and still am utterly queer. In the end, probably the same common misconceptions apply there as in most other cases.

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

First and foremost of course, that it doesn’t exist and I just haven’t had good sex yet. That it’s not natural. That I must have lived through some trauma but maybe can be ‘repaired’.

When I was looking for a therapist for my depression and anxiety, one said to me that I probably don’t want to have sex because I’m such a closed off person. That woman never saw me again.

And being on Tumblr for quite some time now, I noticed the astounding misconception that ace people don’t belong to the LGBTQIA+ community, that we’re basically just prude/virgin hets-to-happen. The first ones I can shrug off, the latter one really riles me up.

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

Don’t doubt yourself and your feelings (or lack thereof), everything you experience and feel is valid. You don’t need to put a tag on yourself if you can’t or don’t want to. There are times it feels like the world just wants to spit in your face, but there will be a time all that sh*t will go away to make room for all the good things.

I basically try to live by some wise words by Charlie Chaplin: “Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.”

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

After a very long writing hiatus, I finally published a fanfiction again. It can be found on AO3 under my username how_to_sit_gay. I’m thinking about uploading my old (English) RP fanfiction after re-reading and editing it as well, but this might take some time.

Said old tennis RPF can be found at poetry-of-dance.livejournal.com/tag/fic but I probably really have to revise them as they are more than 8 years old. Last but not least, a lot of my German short stories and (revised) fanfics (2006-2009) are on fanfiktion.de/u/AngelOfFreedom

Unfortunately there are no videos from our Garde performances online. You have to search YouTube for “Gardetanz” to get an impression of it.

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

Interview: Eli Alaimo

Today we’re joined by Eli Alaimo. Eli is a phenomenal author and former animator. They have written a full-length novel as well as two cyberpunk novellas. When they’re not working on creative writing, they write for a podcast entitled “The Gimmick Room,” which sounds hilarious. It’s clear they’re a passionate artist who loves what they do. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

BVcoversmaller

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have to be upfront about it: I’m a failed animator. That sounds grim, I know, but I don’t take it as a bad thing. I have a degree in animation, and spent the better part of a decade trying to find animation work. That’s not meant to be discouraging; I had a lot of other factors going on that I had to sort through. But I did my best for a long enough time that nobody can say I didn’t try. In the end, it wasn’t for me.

Nowadays, I’m a writer. In one way or another I’ve been writing for almost 20 years. I’ve written a full-length novel called Bonneville, and two cyberpunk novellas titled MLAW.EXE and Crystal!. I also do writing for a podcast I’m on called The Gimmick Room, where I and a friend of mine come up with wrestling characters for the fictional company we work for.

Honestly it’s been kind of a big shift for me in the past year switching from animation to writing, but I’ve also been more productive writing than I ever have when animating so while I’m still early in it, it’s a positive career change for me. I don’t feel like my time spent working on animation was wasted, though. At the very least it means that I can design and draw my own covers for my books.

What inspires you?

An important part of my work is whatever project I’m working on, there’s this emotional core to it. Whether it be based upon an event in my life, or a way I felt, or someone I knew, that core is what gives me the inspiration to work on something. It ties into the old saying of “write what you know.” You don’t have to write a 1:1 account of something that happened to you. But you can draw upon the feelings of abandonment you felt during high school and apply it to a medieval story.

Oh, and also cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is rad as hell and a big inspiration for me. Same for any 80’s-90’s anime with two girls teaming up and kicking ass. (See: Dirty Pair or Gunsmith Cats)

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

I picked up drawing in high school, and originally I wanted to get into animation to work on video games. (Jet Set Radio helped with that.) Then I wanted to make my own animated TV show or movie. Through everything though, I would work on writing as a hobby. My reasoning was that I’d get into the animation industry as an animator, and work my way into writing from there. (I know now that it absolutely does not work that way and I strongly advise against anybody else doing it.)

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 decided a while back that nobody in my books would be straight unless it’s explicitly pointed out. At first it was to be kinda cheeky and spiteful, but now it’s more of a “oh, these are the kinds of people I’m interested in writing, and relate to the most.” Plus I want queer people to be normalized. You should never have to explain why a character is queer or not cis. They just are. And I want that to be normal.

Also: one of my favorite things to put into books is scenes with food. I believe that cooking and sharing meals with other people is one of the best ways to get to know someone or help them in bad times. So I always go into detail with scenes where people are eating or prepping food.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You know that idea you have? The one that you’re like “Oh this is my dream project. I’ve been thinking about it for years! I’ll get to it someday when I’m good enough!” Make it now. Just go ahead and make it now. If it’s a book, a comic, a cartoon, a script, album, whatever it is just work on it and finish it to the best of your ability. Because when you finish that first project, the others will come a lot easier. It took me three years to finish my first book. Honestly if you trace the lineage of it that book existed in some form for the better part of nine years. My second book took me 11 months. Then my third took less than a month. Granted, the second two were novellas, so they were shorter, but I knew I was working faster on them, and I knew the quality of my writing was getting better as I did.

The point is: you’re not going to get anywhere waiting for your ‘perfect idea’ to be executed. Just make it. I promise your next idea will be even better, because you will be better.

crystal!coverart

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual. I was undecided on whether I was aromantic or not, and I don’t think I am. But I haven’t really thought about it in years. But even realizing that asexuality was A Thing helped put a lot of things into perspective from when I was younger.

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

Ignorance definitely. An astounding number of people don’t know what asexuality is, and those who do have next to no correct understanding of it. I try to be courteous when I correct people’s misconceptions, or even tell them about asexuality.

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

That asexual people don’t have a sex drive at all. In reality, sometimes the truth is even more hellish because you can have a libido, but also be asexual which means now you have this energy but don’t feel attraction to anybody. This also helped put a lot of my earlier life into perspective.

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

Don’t let anybody tell you it’s not real, or that you’re invalid, or that it’s a phase, you’re not “queer enough” or any other hot trash take. Ace people are part of the queer community, and never feel like you’re not. It can be tough because a lot of times the community can feel “sex positive” in a way that can make a lot of people uncomfortable. But remember; it’s not a failing on your part.

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

Currently you can find my books on my Gumroad and my itch.io pages. They’re pay what you want! If you wanna download them for free, go ahead!

https://gumroad.com/ealaimo
https://ealaimo.itch.io/

The podcast I work on is the Gimmick Room and we update every two weeks: https://thegimmickroom.simplecast.fm/

I also use Twitter more than any other social platform: https://twitter.com/ealaimo

Be warned I say a lot more cuss words on there than this interview would lead you to believe. But I’m also really funny. We all make sacrifices.

mlawcovernew

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

Interview: Zoe

Today we’re joined by Zoe. Zoe is a wonderful young up and coming author who writes YA and middle grade fiction. She has drafted three novels, all are in the genres of supernatural and magical realism. They feature a diverse cast of characters, most of them are LGBTQIA+, the kind of characters Zoe has often wanted to see in the books she was reading. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated writer with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, 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 young adult/middle grade books that could also count as magical realism or supernatural. My current project centres on different supernatural/paranormal beings such as angels, demons, vampires, sirens etc. It is pretty diverse compared to a lot of books I’ve read recently, and includes a gender fluid vampire, a pansexual warlock, an aroace demon in a queer-platonic relationship, a bisexual demon, a biromantic angel, a lesbian werewolf, an aroace fae who is sex and romance repulsed (There are others, as well as heterosexual characters.) It also includes all the struggles they have to deal with because of their sexualities and genders, as well as their supernatural race. (While also trying to stop a very evil woman from taking her revenge out on the whole world)

I thought it should be a bit more diverse than the other young adult/middle grade books I have read because to me, having two or three LGBTQIA+ characters in an entire 16 book world seems very unrealistic. At school, I had at least three or four LGBTQIA+ kids in each class I went to for every lesson.

What inspires you?

Usually, books I’ve read. I didn’t really know what to write about to be honest, before I started. But then I read a few young adult books of the same type I wanted to write and something clicked. With every book I read, I had a new idea for something that could happen. Of course, I didn’t steal from the books. What I mean, is that I could picture how old spell books looked, and realised a King would probably care more about having a son for an heir than a daughter. This helped me picture a possible scene for an argument between a father and daughter, in which this point could have been brought up.

Also, music inspires me a lot. I always listen to music. Classical pieces, soundtracks from movies, actual songs even musicals. Whatever it takes to give me some inspiration, I even sleep while listening to music to help me better picture what might be giving me trouble when writing. Think of it like writing fanfiction in my head, of my own stories, while I try to sleep.

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

I have always loved reading, and throughout primary school (ages 3-11) we had a lot of opportunities to write our own short stories in class. I loved it, and thought it was fun. I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer until a few years ago when I discovered NaNoWriMo (I won) and realised how fun writing could be and got back into it.

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 haven’t done the math, but there’s roughly the same amount of LGBTQIA+ characters as there are heterosexual characters (not counting small children). In any book I will ever write, I will always try to keep it as close to 50/50 as I can, because that is the most realistic figure. There’s also hardly ever any angst revolving around romance, or any explicit stuff because I strongly dislike it and have no time for that nonsense of “he loves me, he loves me not.”

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop writing. If someone says you write too much, or you should spend more time doing something that benefits them, don’t listen and keep writing. I was told that I spend too much time reading and writing, the only two things I do for fun, by my family who wanted me to essentially become a third parent to my brother who is only 2 years younger than me. It upset me, and I stopped both. I didn’t read anything for ages, and eventually forgot about my writing for a few months. It’s good to take a break, but on your terms, or as close as you can get.

I still struggle trying to get into writing again, because I feel like it will be hard. Because I don’t remember what I was going to do with this sentence, or because I can’t remember what that character looked like or if they are even in this book. Don’t let anyone – and I mean anyone – tell you that it isn’t worth it. Write for you.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a sex and romance repulsed aroace, and I experience aesthetic attraction. I also identify as pan because my aesthetic attraction can be to anyone of any gender.

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

I haven’t experienced any. However, when I was talking to my best friend and fellow Asexual about some of the characters, trying to work out a scene, I mentioned they were both Aroace. I also have an ace-biromantic character not in that scene. She asked “That makes three on the Ace Spectrum, right? Isn’t that a bit much?” No. it is not “a bit much” because I know several asexual people online, and together we make two. In real life, in a world with billions of people, at least 1% of which (7 million I think total) asexuals, it makes sense to have a few who know each other. She knew this, it was just more of shock at seeing more than one Ace character in a single book, and she wasn’t being mean or anything.

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

I have several, and they are all from my best friend’s ex-boyfriend, although I have heard other people say stuff along these lines too.

  • (asexual refusing to have sex with her boyfriend because she’s a sex repulsed asexual) “But biologically speaking everyone needs sex.” – This isn’t true. I’ve heard it can be fun, great, stress-relieving, and a bunch of other positive things from people who continuously talk to me about it even when I tell them not to. But biologically, you don’t crave it. You don’t die without it. Biologically speaking, it is how babies are made. Nothing more.
  • “You’re not asexual because you don’t need to photosynthesize” – hahaha, no. he said this sincerely, and he meant this to hurt. It isn’t a joke. There are multiple meanings for different words in the English language. “My nose is running” does not mean you’re nose is in fact running down your face and about to make an escape to go join the party next door.
  • “Asexuality isn’t a thing. It’s just an excuse. You’re a lesbian” – yeah she’s an Aroace lesbian, but she didn’t know it at the time. She’s still aroace. It doesn’t matter what else you identify as, if you think you are on the spectrum, no one can invalidate you like this. Asexuality is a thing. It is also annoying to hear this several times in the same conversation.

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

Asexuality, and the whole spectrum, is a thing. Aromanticism is a thing. Aroace is a thing. You can be both, you can be one or the other. You can be in a qpr, you can be single forever. You can have a partner, or not. You can be a third sexuality on top of this. You can hate sex/romance with a fiery passion or you can still enjoy it. Don’t let uninformed people try to tell you how you feel, because the person who knows you best is you. And if this means having your aroace-pan awakening at 2am and grinning like a fool for three days then so be it. Because you deserve to be happy. If someone you love says the words “but biologically-“or “you aren’t ace/aro” or any variation of “it’s a fad/you just want attention.” Even after you’ve explained it to them? Even after you’ve given them a chance to learn about your orientation? Get rid of them because you can do better. Any loved one who forces you to ignore how you feel, or invalidates you, or pressures you into things you don’t want to do, is not worth your time.

When you come out to people, be ready for the inevitable vocab lesson, but don’t be upset about it and if they ask a lot of questions, try not to be offended. In all likelihood, they have no idea what any of this means because when they were growing up it wasn’t as widely known. Take a few minutes to explain. They might get it, they might not. They might be supportive, they might not. But at least they know. And if they get confused somehow and think you just came out as a lesbian, please, for the sake of your sanity, correct them. Do not let them think you and your best friend are lesbian lovers unless you, for some reason, want them to think that. It is about what you are comfortable with.

Tell the person you are dating what your boundaries are, or what you are uncomfortable with. For example, I personally despise all physical contact with all but 2 people. Maybe they can work their way in, but for now, tell them. Don’t let yourself be uncomfortable just so you don’t have to have the awkward conversation where you tell them you don’t want to be kissed or you don’t want to have sex. And if they don’t respect your boundaries, get rid of them. A person who is willing to just be platonic cuddle buddies with no pressure on either side is much better than a person who refuses to understand your orientation and the things you don’t want to do.

Also, don’t listen to aphobes, at all.

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

I haven’t published anything anywhere, but I’m always up for questions about my work in progress, or anything to do with writing (or my orientation really). My Tumblr is at solangelo3088.

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

Interview: Jacob

Today we’re joined by Jacob, who is known on social media as Jacob’s Jottings. Jacob is a phenomenal author who writes both original fiction, nonfiction, and fanfiction. For nonfiction, he writes about autism and mental health for the site “The Mighty.” For fiction, he has mostly written fanfiction and original short stories, but has recently taken on two large projects. One involves a detective in post-war Britain and the other is about an autistic wizard (which is something i would absolutely love to read because it sounds fantastic). It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. The Capitoline Academy (Sunset) (A4 cover logo)
The Capitoline Academy (Sunset)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer, and I’ve really started to come out of my shell in the last few years. I’ve always written short stories and never shown them to anyone before, but that changed when my friends started writing fan-fiction, and my English teacher at college told me to attend a creative writing club.

Though I’m still very private about my larger projects, I started publishing articles for mental health site The Mighty, one of those articles received 32,000 hearts on the site, and got shared a lot on social media, so I started to say to myself ‘what if people would like my creative work too?’ and here I am now, writing two large scale projects, one about an autistic wizard, the other about a detective in post-war Britain. Not just that, but I published some fan-fiction of my own, and I found once that was out there, I found it a lot easier to write without much self-doubt.

I’ve recently finished college, and I’ve been accepted onto the Creative Writing BA course at a university I’ve dreamed about going to for years. I’m hoping this will really make my dream of being a full-time writer a reality, even if it takes years to take off.

As well as writing, I also do a bit of photography, and some digital design. I make all my own covers for my projects, as well as posters for events, and I love going out and taking pictures. I often use the pictures for reference for my writing, and it’s a great skill to have alongside.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in many things, mainly everyday life. But I often find myself looking into what I loved as a child, certainly what comforted me. Sometimes this is in the form of stories by other authors, such as J. K Rowling, or Terry Pratchett, but other times its films and music, or most importantly to me: knowledge. Plants, animals, and space particularly always have heavy presence in my stories, and that’s because I love to learn new things.

I’ve always written to escape the real world, so I suppose it is natural that my other methods of escape blend well with this, I often find that going to a museum or exhibition particularly fuels my writing, it often ends in me trying to fit a lot into one box- my wizarding story contains as much knowledge of the natural world as it does fictional magic for example.

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

I’ve always been creative, and I was sure I wanted to utilise that in some way, but could never find an exact form that suited me. I tried art, and drama, and found myself not ever truly comfortable. I mainly thank books, films, and television, for getting me into writing. The idea of making my own stories was irresistible! I cannot pinpoint when it exactly started happening, probably about five years ago, but I finally found that writing (alongside reading and watching) was the most enjoyable thing to do. Then it all fell into place, and I find myself writing all the time, even if it never gets added to again- it’s fun.

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 definitely! The infinity symbol finds its way into most of the stuff I write, not just because of its use by the autistic rights movement, but because of my fascination with the concept behind the symbol. I also always incorporate types of birds as symbolism- usually owls, or penguins, as they’re my favourite, penguins especially.

Playing with colour is something I’ve recently moved into, I don’t have a single character that does not heavily associate themselves with colours and their meanings, even if it is just a subtle inclusion. Blue for my protagonists usually, a colour I use not only to create a cold atmosphere, but also to show the presence of intelligence, imagination, and peace. Reds and oranges meanwhile shows up my more passionate and instinctual characters, with purple showing a combination of the two.

I also love playing with imagery, with many of my characters having ‘hair the colour of fertile soil’ or the ‘great spurts of an ancient wine, hemorrhaging profusely’- it can feel a bit forced sometimes, but it often pays off, and I find it a great way of illustrating the worlds I’ve made.

I’m also told I tell stories in a unique way, my friend recently commented that when she reads my writing, I am clearly telling the story, rather than just creating it. I’ve never quite understood this evaluation, but I’ve heard it quite a few times in several forms.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It sounds cliché- but I would say just do whatever you love! I spent far too long worrying about what others think, and though that matters if you want to make a career out of it, the initial starting of a new art is a solo-activity. If painting makes you happy- paint! Everyone I know who does something creative for a living started off doing it to just kill time, or to help them with another activity, and it grew from there.

2. Inherited Intuition A4 Cover
Inherited Intuition

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I use the label asexual as standard, to me, this means not feeling sexual attraction. I’m confident in identifying as a sex positive asexual, but I’m yet to 100% settle on my romantic orientation.

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

I think one of the strangest encounters in my life was when I first explained asexuality to someone, without attaching the label to myself. I was told its ‘unnatural’- for this reason, in my private life, I don’t talk about my sexuality until prompted.

I also find that some in my age group is often sex-obsessed, I’ve often been labelled prudish just for not wanting to talk about sex, and I find it very hard to try and express my frustration with that. I am not at all prudish, I just think about it completely differently to they do!

I incorporate it into my work- I actually find it harder to write allosexual characters, and therefore many of my characters are asexual by accident! And I do worry that some people won’t understand the representation if they haven’t experienced it first-hand, but I do my best to write characters that educate as well as represent now.

Outside of my field, I see prejudice and ignorance regularly, insults such as ‘frigid’ and so on, I also see the constant discourse present on sites such as Tumblr, and though I do my best to keep out, I sometimes worry for our community, I hate the idea that anyone who identifies as asexual will feel like it isn’t valid or can’t talk about it in case they’re verbally attacked.

As an autistic person, I also find that some people think my asexuality is part of that. I don’t think it is- and it’s quite insulting to assume that someone’s sexuality is part of their sensory issues for example. The two often overlap for me, and I also know autistics that do feel sexual attraction and have those sensory issues anyway. Some people in both communities would even say their sensory difficulties enhance their sexual experiences.

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

Personally, I find that the definition of asexual is often mis-identified. It means lacking sexual attraction. But I know people who are completely convinced it simply means ‘won’t have sex, or won’t masturbate’- it is often a pain to try and debate it with them, and I find myself bringing up articles from the community to back my side up.

I don’t like discussing the personal details of my own asexuality in too much depth with people who might not understand, and therefore I think the extra labels of ‘sex positive’ are really useful when discussing asexuality, as well as the other identities within the spectrum.

At the end of the day though, the only person other than me who has a right to that deeper information is a partner, and I don’t think asexuals should ever feel pressured to dissect their identities for another person’s curiosity or because of an ignorant person’s misconceptions.

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

Firstly, it is okay to struggle! I found it incredibly hard to find the orientation that best described me. I still think sexual orientation is a fluid concept, and I think people who are struggling should remember that. If something doesn’t feel right, find the label that does feel right, and don’t feel guilty if that changes. Some asexuals might not find that identity for a long time.

I myself often find myself wondering if I might be aromantic as well as asexual, or demisexual instead of asexual, this is a natural part of development. Just as sexuality in all its forms is natural. A lot of people go through that internal debate. And nobody should ever be afraid of using the label that best suits them.

I would also repeat that the only person who needs to be happy is you. Come out at your own pace. Experience your sexuality at your own pace. Some people don’t find the identity they’re most comfortable with until they’re halfway through life, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s a thriving asexual and LGBT+ community waiting to help you through it all, and the right people within it are not going to judge you for struggling.

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

People can find my work in several places. For a more personal touch, there’s my own Tumblr blog which is at jacobs-jottings, or my AO3 under the same name (but without a hyphen).

As well as this there’s my new Facebook page, also called Jacob’s Jottings, and my user page on The Mighty, under my full name- Jacob Durn. If anyone is curious, my photography can be found easily on Instagram, where my username is identical to my AO3 one.

My blog has a bit of everything (including personal posts, and lots of reblogs), my AO3 some fanfiction, and soon some original works, whilst the last two focus on my non-creative work.

3. Murder On The Hogwarts Express
Murder On The Hogwarts Express

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

Interview: Reimena Yee

Today we’re joined by Reimena Yee. Reimena is a phenomenal visual artist and writer whose graphic novel, The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya, was recently nominated for an Eisner Award. Reimena has done a bit of everything, but webcomics are where her focus is at the moment. Much of her work is rooted in an ace POV and many of the characters she writes are asexual, including the main character of The Carpet Merchant. How cool is that!? Reimena is a talented and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Dullahan
Dullahan

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Heylo! I’m an artist, writer and designer. I’ve worked on all kinds of projects, from game design, clothing collaborations and editorial illustration, but I spend most of my time developing comics. I’m the creator of two webcomics, The World in Deeper Inspection, and The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya, which recently was nominated for the Eisner Awards.

I’d consider myself a visual problem solver — I provide artwork that my clients want, whether it’s something personal like a wedding card or a commercial thing like a game. If I’m not occupied working on solutions, I’m telling stories.

What inspires you?

I’ve a deep passion for the world’s history, art and cultures. Learning is what inspires me. It’s fascinating to think about the lives and stories of people back then, and how they expressed themselves through artwork and literature.

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

I’ve always been doing some form of art and storytelling throughout my life; if not a dominant pursuit, it was something that occurred at the periphery. It was only recently that I decided to commit to it as a career, after half a life of pursuing science and academia.

3. BabushkaCatWitch
Babushka Cat Witch

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Not really. My work is all over the place, in the sense that you can see what is my latest obsession at the time. Lately, it’s tapestry and florals, but I want to progress to something with a more Malaysian flavour.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’d recommend finding a passion, interest or even side gig that isn’t art-related, or as removed from your art specialisation as possible. For example, sports, knitting, cooking, reading, etc. Having something separate, especially if you don’t monetise it, helps in establishing balance and perspective in your life, as doing only one thing for the rest of your time can affect you mentally and emotionally.

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The Carpet Merchant Tapestry

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Probably closer to demi, but if asexuality was a black-white spectrum, I’m a dark grey.

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

Personally I haven’t had any issue. I rarely ever talk about asexuality or sexuality. I only speak about myself as ‘queer’, which is true due to being non-binary, and my biromantic interests (disclaimer: more complex than this).

BUT there has been some feeling in the field that asexuality, along with bi/pansexuality, and other so-called smaller identities, have been looked down upon as identities that don’t experience the same kind of trauma or oppression as the more prominent identities. This logic (which needs to be unpacked for its problematic implications) skews the community’s ability to be a safe space.

How I handle that is to just to do good work. Hopefully, by being myself and making work I believe in that also happens to include aces, it normalises asexuality as an identity that can just exist.

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

There’s just a general misunderstanding of what asexuality is, and how it is a nuanced and complicated experience that differs even between aces. It doesn’t help that there are parts of the ace community that adopt puritan, conservative language to control other people’s expression of queerness. Having such a voice be the dominant one narrows other’s view of what asexuality can be.

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

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but it helps to think of your asexuality (however it expresses itself) as part of the large, varied, diverse, individualised experiences of being human. The bigger your conception of what being a person is, the easier it is to accept your unique brand of asexuality, alongside others’, as a normal, human thing. And you don’t have to be asexual, or strictly a particular kind of asexual, forever either – things can change, morph, shift, be more complicated – but you’re still a valued human with talents to contribute to society.

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

My website is reimenayee.com
I post a lot of my art, and talk aplenty on Twitter (at reimenayee)
A more curated experience is blog.reimenayee.com

You can read my webcomics at alcottgrimsley.com

At the moment, The Carpet Merchant has a crowdfunder to publish a hardcover copy of Vol I. If you want to buy a book, head on here: https://unbound.com/books/the-carpet-merchant-voli

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Enchanted

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

Interview: Jess Renae Curtis

Today we’re joined by Jess Renae Curtis, who also goes by Jess or Pup. Jess is the phenomenal artist behind PuppyLuver Studios. She does mostly fan work at the moment but has also recently branched out into original work. She is currently dabbling with creating an original universe. Jess is mostly a digital artist and creates both fanart and original characters through drawing. Her work is bright and colorful, capturing the viewer and drawing them in. It shows an amazing attention to detail. It’s clear she’s an extraordinarily talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Owl Barber

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m both a writer and a digital artist. My illustrations are generally focused on characters, both original designs and those from fandoms I’m involved in, and tend to use a lot of varied color. My writing is involved in both fanfiction (notable ones I’m working on at the moment include Chronicles of Tajiria, a Pokémon series but with the Pokémon as people with superpowers/magic, and Sonata in Triplicate, a Legend of Zelda AU series) and my original series Theia Historica, of which I have the first entry (titled A Kingdom of Children) published.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a definite answer for that, it could be just about anything depending on what sort of thing or things it ends up inspiring. I’ve had small one-page comics based on something funny that happened to me while playing a video game, I’ve designed a character because a YouTuber I follow posted a video of himself shaving his beard with a razor that I initially thought looked like an owl, I’ve drawn pieces based on something funny a friend said to me, lots of things. In fact, the general art direction of Theia Historica has its roots in one very specific part in the PS2 role-playing game Okage: Shadow King, but it’s a long explanation so that’s a story for another time.

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Mermaids Working Out

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

I’ve been drawing ever since I was a little kid, and while I always liked drawing it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life for the longest time. Funnily enough, my first career choices were astronaut and veterinarian, before I realized that the things in space kinda scared me and I was squeamish about blood and other bodily fluids, so around middle school I decided to try a career path that I already had some skill and comfort in. I started storytelling shortly after becoming literate, though unlike visual art that was always something I could see myself doing professionally, though more as an “after I’m done being an astrovet” thing than as part of my main career.

3. brunswick manor front
Brunswick Manor front

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?

Can’t think of anything in particular except for the star that I use as my watermark (a five-point star with each point being a different color of the rainbow except for orange). Also in major writing projects I tend to find some way or another to put myself in there. Just…self-insert in the background, there I am.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you’re feeling discouraged about your skill level, remember to keep trying and that you can only get better. You’ve got wonderful visions that’ve been concocted solely by the processes of your imagination, and only you can bring them to life for the world to see. Also, don’t pay attention to what cringe culture says. Make that multicolor Sonic OC if you want. Write a short story about you getting transported to your favorite fictional world and becoming best buds with the main characters if doing so cheers you up when you’re feeling down. Don’t let anyone stop you from enjoying something that makes you happy and doesn’t hurt others.

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Journey-Traveler’s Hub

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a sex-repulsed asexual. I’m not entirely sure yet of where I fall in regards to romantic attraction, but if I were to try dating I think I’d want my first attempts at romantic experiences to be with women.

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

Not specifically in my field, no, and I don’t really know how I would handle it if I were to encounter prejudice that was physical or coming from a position of authority. Most people I’ve told about my asexuality are a bit confused as to what it means at first, but once I explain they’re generally supportive. I have had encounters with people who flat-out refused to believe that I was an adult who didn’t enjoy sex and couldn’t ever imagine doing so, but that one was on me for commenting on a video explicitly titled “Why Does Sex Feel Good?” and saying that I couldn’t understand why sex-havers craved it so strongly (I mean, I technically can, cuz if sex weren’t at least somewhat pleasurable to those willingly engaging in it then the species would die out because then no one would be boinking and possibly making babies) and I thought the whole societal obsession with it was a bit ridiculous. I kinda walked into that one, and I ended up just muting that conversation and moving on.

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Skull Kid and Deku Tree

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

If they don’t outright dismiss the possibility of asexuality/aromanticism existing, they tend to assume all asexual people share my feelings in that sex is something they wish to avoid. While I am not one of them, there are obviously plenty of asexuals who either are indifferent or even enjoy sex as an activity. I’m put off by all the mess that I’ve heard results from a typical sexual encounter to even consider trying it, but I will never knock on any sex-positive or sex-neutral aces.

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

Not having a sexual or romantic attraction is just as normal as having a sexual or romantic attraction to people of a different gender, the same gender, or multiple genders. You’re not broken just because all your peers are ogling “sexy” celebrities and you find yourself feeling indifferent to the whole thing. And don’t listen to all the highly vocal exclusionists plaguing the internet that say a-spec people don’t belong. They are the minority given megaphones, and the majority of LGBT groups and spaces are inclusive of a-specs.

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

You can find my stuff on DeviantART under the username PuppyLuver, and on Tumblr, Twitter, FanFiction.net, and AO3 under the username PuppyLuver256. I also have a Redbubble store and a Patreon.

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Shiny Mahina

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