Interview: Nathaniel Hicklin

Today we’re joined by Nathaniel Hicklin. Nathaniel is a wonderful writer who specializes in pulp adventure novels. He publishes with Sic Semper Serpent Books. His current project features a globe-trotting archeologist’s adventures and it sounds like there’s a few fantasy elements thrown in there as well. It’s clear that Nathaniel is a passionate writer with an amazing imagination, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write novels, mostly in the pulp adventure genre. My current series is The Adventures of Dr. Israel St. James, a globe-trotting adventurer archaeologist who tracks down magical relics to contain them so they can’t wreak havoc and chaos on the world. The first book takes place in the mid- to late 19th century, and the upcoming second book covers the entire 20th century. The character doesn’t age, and a lot of the drama comes from him trying to deal with his condition and place in the world while he’s saving the world from tyrannical fairies, evil Nazis, and crazed Pinkerton agents.

What inspires you?

I drew my initial inspiration from shows like Doctor Who and Warehouse 13, things that intersect the mundane world with fantastic elements. These days, I get a little inspiration anytime I see something that mixes magical things in with the real world, making the real world seem that little bit more magical as a result. Superhero stories like The Avengers and stories about the little-known margins of history like Monuments Men always get me going, too.

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

I definitely didn’t always want to be an artist. I read almost exclusively non-fiction throughout my childhood. The only author I reliably read as a kid was Michael Crichton (I read all of Jurassic Park on a family road trip when I was about 9 or so). I got into Tom Clancy in high school, and I transitioned into Terry Pratchett in college.

For most of my college, I wanted to be an engineer. I mostly focused on math and science classwork, but I tried my hand at some story writing on the side, just to see what it might be like. (This was when the early comic book movies like Maguire Spider-Man and Blade were coming out, so I tried to see what kind of superhero story I could write.) I switched from engineering to theater because I discovered that I liked writing a lot more than calculus, but at first I doubted that I could actually make a living with writing. Then I looked over at my bookshelf full of novels, and I thought to myself, “Well, those people made it work. Why the hell can’t I give it a shot?” That was really what got me interested in the field of writing: the realization that it was actually possible to just write for a living, and have that be a real job.

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 have a particular signature element I like to use in my writing. I usually write about characters who are smart and try to solve problems without a lot of violence, but that’s mostly just the kind of character I like to read about. (That’s a good rule of thumb for aspiring writers: write the story you’d like to read.) I try to do something a little bit new with each story, just to keep stretching my boundaries and broadening my horizons.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you want to try doing art, just do some art. If doing the art was fun, do more art. If the art is bad, figure out which parts are bad and make them better next time. If the art is good, figure out which parts are best and make everything that good. Don’t worry about getting people to like your art. If Rule 34 has taught us anything, it’s that absolutely anything can find its audience.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am ace, cis-male, heteroromantic, and as far as I can tell, sex-repulsed. I might be willing to try sex for someone I really, really liked, but I have limited experimental data on the matter. I also have Asperger’s, so that puts some limits on dating.

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

The only way that being ace has directly impacted my work is that I tend not to include sex in stories. I like to have a good romance in there, but there is never anything physical directly featured in the text. The focus is always on the emotional intimacy, which I’ve always felt is the more important part anyway.

It was a bit of an impediment at first, because I used to leave out romance altogether. I didn’t really have any experience to draw from, and the stories never felt to me like they were missing anything. The story flowed logically and the plot made sense, so as far as I was concerned, everything was fine. Other people would say that they thought there should be a sex scene, and that never made sense, because the story would have to stop for the sex and continue where it left off afterward. I had to make a deliberate effort to write stories that had romance in them, but with some practice, I learned how to write stories that the straight folks could wrap their heads around.

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

The most common wrong idea I’ve heard about asexuality is that the first sexual experience will cure it. Like, the only reason I’m ace is that I’ve never had sex. I’ve actually dreamt about having sex before, and I don’t recall feeling particularly excited afterward. My favorite dreams were always the ones where I had conversations where everything I said was just the right thing to say at the time, and I came across as the slickest dude on the planet. If the conversation was with a woman, all the better. I always liked to dream about perfect chemistry, not perfect sex.

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

Probably the best way to feel comfortable with my orientation was to build up self-confidence, and the best way for me to do that was to become an artist and be constantly working to get better at my art. If anyone tries to slight me for my orientation or accuse me of being dishonest with myself or whatever, I always just say to myself, “Screw you. I write awesome adventure books. I don’t care what you say. Write a novel or two and then come back at me about being ace.” Frankly, that’s a good self-help line if people slack off my writing, too. Anyone who wants to tear me down for fun is welcome to try doing what I do. This crap is hard.

That probably sounded a little aggressive, but that’s kind of what self-promotion does to a person. Meekly polite writers don’t get a lot of publicity.

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

Anyone interesting in learning more about my stories can visit SicSemperSerpent.com, the digital home of my publisher, Sic Semper Serpent. We can also be seen in person at fine literary conventions in and around the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area.

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

Interview: S.C. Wines

Today we’re joined by S.C. Wines. S.C. is a wonderful author who recently published her first novel (which is available at this link: http://www.xlibris.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001147919). She specializes in YA fiction and it’s very apparent that she’s a passionate author, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer. I have a passion of YA and adventure novels that turn classic tropes on their head.

What inspires you?

My generation (millennials) inspire me the most. I have always heard the complaints about book/TV/movies and how they could be so much better if someone explored a topic or two. I became inspired to be the change instead of waiting for that to happen. In my stories I love to add LGBT+ characters because we are a tragically underrepresented group, as well as using characters of color, and other minority groups to give positive representation. I also get inspired to tell stories with a realistic representation of women (and their relationships with other women). Additionally I am inspired by social and historical events so I can depict real and honest topics in my writing.

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

I have always loved to write. English and reading were my favorite subjects in school. I had always gotten great grades on my papers, and I even wrote short stories for fun. When I was 18 my teachers told me I needed to find a realistic career goal. I ended up going to college and majoring in Political Science (I had a small Elle Woods fantasy), but after a while I realized I wasn’t going to be happy, unless I was writing. I left school to become a writer, and I have never been happier.

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 tend to base my main character after myself. I know that’s a classic writers signature, but considering I’m not your classic person, I feel like it brings something fresh to fiction. No matter if my character is a exactly like me, I try to at least bring my personality into the character so I can personalize and humanize their interactions within the stories.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you honestly believe you can make a living out of your work, do whatever it takes to get there. You will be so much happier if you listen to your heart, not the people who say you can’t.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an asexual/biromantic/demigirl. As far as asexuality goes, I am pretty deep into the “no sexual attraction” classification. I’ve never experience anything I could consider as sexual attraction, but I am not fully sex repulsed. (I call it oral repulsed, if that’s not too much information.)

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

As a writer, I would love to be able to write about a character just like me, however the commercial value of an Ace is sadly small. I find myself struggling between staying true to what I want and what would make the best story for a wider audience.

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

The classic “So you just don’t like sex or…?” It’s the run of the mill disbelief that a person could lack sexual attraction. It’s just harmless ignorance about the topic. I don’t mind explain my sexuality it all that much, except when people don’t believe it, or make fun of it. It’s always the worse when someone makes a joke about something so important to me.

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

Don’t be ashamed. It’s understandable to be afraid to come out, especially if your romantic/gender identifications are non het/cis. But be honest with yourself and be proud of who you are. It can be a quiet, personal celebration, but it’s important to know that you are valid and there is nothing wrong or broken about you.

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

I am have published my first book, a YA entitled Camisado. Updates can be found on the book’s Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook all under the username “CamisadotheBook”.

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

Interview: Shalyse

Today we’re joined by Shalyse. Shalyse is a phenomenal author who is currently working on a novel that features a main character who is an asexual POC and also polyamorous. That novel will be published under the name Zephyrrine. Aside from writing, Shalyse is also the founder of DFW Asexual Meetup and has a couple other blogs. Aside from fiction, Shalyse also writes poetry and nonfiction. She’s quite a dedicated writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The primary piece I want to discuss is a book I am writing that features an asexual polyamorous character in a queer polycule. The primary character is a cis-woman of color who is asexual and some of the secondary main characters are multiple men of varying sexualities. This book will also feature aspects of the kink community as well to show the various ways asexual and kink relationships can play out. It is also based in a fictional timeline and with the characters begin from a fictitious civilization that integrates into our modern world. This is a fantasy style novel.

My secondary piece is my poly blog, lettalkaboutpoly.wordpress.com, that seeks to explore polyamory and the intersection that individuals bring to the relationship style. Similar to the way the book will, but with real life experiences.

My other blog is my xoxshalyse.wordpress.com, which host some of my poetry and think pieces.

What inspires you?

The need of visibility and education for alternative lifestyles. I know what it’s like to feel so completely broken because I didn’t know that it was OK to go against the societal norms, especially when my norms seem to contradict watch other.

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

I have always written stories and poetry, as well as I used to paint and draw. Creativity and art were my main outlets for dealing with being suicidal and having trouble understanding the illogical world around me. I recently however decided to use my love of writing to promote alternative lifestyles to give us the visibility we need.

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

There is a running theme of finding and addressing the dark parts of yourself and embracing it to become whole person that loves and respects yourself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just do it. Even if you think it will suck, because it will probably turn out better than you thought.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a sex repulsed asexual. I am also aromantic and polyamorous, though I engage in relationships as bi/pan – romantic.

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

Not professionally.

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

That we are celibate and abusive to our partners for disliking or refusing to force ourselves to participate in sexual encounters.

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

It’s OK to be confused. Asexuality means you don’t experience sexual attraction. There are a hundred plus ways we can present. There is no rush to figure it all out even in a relationship. Just be honest with yourself and your partners.

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

You can find me on Twitter at xoxshalyse.

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

Interview: Oliver

Today we’re joined by Oliver. Oliver is a wonderful up and coming writer. They’re working toward publication and have written a fascinating sounding queer mystery novel. Oliver is admirably dedicated to the craft of writing, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write historical fiction mostly along with some fantasy. My current project is a queer mystery novel that is finished and under revision. It follows a detective’s faith in humanity as his professional and private life begin to unravel.

What inspires you?

I draw much of my inspiration the books that I enjoy reading and my own experiences. I grew up absolutely in love with the stories of Holmes, Poirot, Marple, and Dupin just to name a few. As I grew older, I started to look at these characters that I had adored so much and think about how much better they could have been if the traits that they and many others had been coded with were clearly written about. I wanted stories about diverse characters that were allowed to be imperfect and weren’t forced into awkward romances by their writers. While all of the detectives that had guided me through my childhood came the closest to that, there were still so many things that I would have changed about the stories. Finally, I realized that what I needed to do was just write my own stories the way that I wanted them to be told.

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

I’ve been writing since I was very young. It was mostly just short stories that I could fit on one sheet of paper. It was just a fun way to pass the time, but as I got older I began to realize that it was one of the few things that I was truly passionate. Because of that, I decided to go to college to study English and creative writing.

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

My work sounds dark, but I actually refuse to bury my gays or have sad endings. There’s just too much of that right now. I also write characters with established queer identities as opposed to coming out stories. Coming out stories were very important to me when I was starting to accept myself as being ace, gay, and nonbinary. Yet as I grew older, I found that what I wanted wasn’t stories based around accepting oneself and more things along the line of “You’re bi? Neat! I’m trans, she’s aro, let’s go on an adventure.” So that’s what I write.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Any kind of art takes practice. It doesn’t matter if you think you write silly stories, draw poorly, sing off key, etc. If you enjoy it, keep doing it. Eventually, you’ll come to realize that you’ve come a long way from where you started. Don’t give up on something you love just because you don’t think that you’re good at it. Putting art in the world is a beautiful thing whether you’re an artist that’s a household name or you just like making things for yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual, still a bit unsure of where I fit romantically, but I’m in no rush to figure it out.

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

I’ve been lucky that all of the beta readers that I’ve worked with have been very respectful of who I am and my choice to have ace and ace spectrum characters. Being ace isn’t something that people always understand, but there are also plenty of kind people who, while they may empathize, will still be positive, respectful, and supportive. If anybody tries to give me guff about my ace characters, they’re more than welcome to go read something else. Ace people deserve to see themselves well represented and I intend to add more books about ace people to the world.

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

The two misconceptions that I run into the most are that asexuality just doesn’t exist or that aces are all innocent and naive. I’m honestly not sure what to say about the first one other than that I’m concerned about how close minded those people must be. Given how many people have found and come to use the label of asexual in the past years, it’s clearly a thing. But being a trans person, I hear people talking about how that’s not a thing either so I guess if people don’t like something they just like to pretend it doesn’t exist. Ace stereotypes are difficult sometimes because I am a very stereotypical ace. I’m mentally ill, childish, introverted, etc. Even my friends who are very accepting of aces and have taken some time to read about the ace spectrum often associate being ace with the stereotypical traits about it and that’s highly frustrating. There’s so many aces who don’t fit that model and if we view asexuality in one dimension it just makes it even more difficult for aces who don’t fit the stereotypes to come to accept themselves.

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

It’s okay to take your time. Not having an exact word or words for who you are is absolutely fine. What matters is that you’re comfortable. If that means that you want to call yourself asexual even if you’re not totally sure if that label works for you, go for it. If it means that you think you’re asexual but don’t want to call yourself ace or be out, go for it. No matter what, you’re not alone and who you are is natural, good, and wonderful.

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

To be honest, it’s probably going to be quite a while before I publish anything. I have a short story with an aro ace protagonist on my aro ace Tumblr (at aroacepositivityplace) along with some artwork of ace headcanons on my art Tumblr (at olihaspencils). Messages on either blog are always welcome. I love talking about all things ace with people. Once I get published, I probably will create a Tumblr specific to my books.

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

Interview: Jordan S. Brock

Today we’re joined by Jordan S. Brock, who also goes by Kryptaria. Jordan is a wonderful author who specializes in queer romance. She writes both original work and fanfiction. Jordan is currently working on a book she describes as “a kinky m/m asexual romance.” She is obviously an incredibly passionate writer, 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’ve been writing all my life, though I spent forty-plus years trying and failing to muster the courage to submit to a publishing slush pile. For years, I read and wrote sci-fi/fantasy. Then I found fanfiction and fell in love with romance in fanfic — which is strange. I was never able to connect to mainstream romance, to the point where I could reasonably say I hated romance novels.

But romance in fanfic is a different creature altogether. As at earlgreytea68 says here [http://anauthorandherservicedog.tumblr.com/post/159134116719/on-fanfic-emotional-continuity]:

“[F]anfiction has nothing to do with using other people’s characters, it’s just a character-driven *genre* that is so character-driven that it can be more effective to use other people’s characters because then we can really get the impact of the storyteller’s message but I feel like it could also be not using other people’s characters, just a more character-driven story. Like, I feel like my original stuff–the novellas I have up on AO3, the draft I just finished–are probably really fanfiction, even though they’re original, because they’re hitting fanfic beats.”

This is the original fic I write. It’s marketed as romance, and the focus is on a happily-ever-after ending, but the romance is organic. It grows step-by-step, as true to the characters’ motivation as I can get, without heavy-handed external machinations to cram the characters together.

My first published romance novel, The Longest Night, is actually a nearly word-for-word copy of my Sherlock (BBC) fanfic, Northwest Passage [http://archiveofourown.org/works/531662/chapters/943040]. After I posted NWP, a senior editor at Sourcebooks contacted me on Twitter and asked if I’d be willing to scrub the fic and change it from m/m to m/f. After forty years of wanting to see my name in print, I agreed and signed a two-book contract.

Never let anyone say that fanfic isn’t real writing!

These days, though, I’m much happier to be writing queer romance. In October 2016, at Riptide Publishing released Change of Address [http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/change-of-address], an #ownvoices story about PTSD, a service dog, and a Jewish character — who, unlike me, is a fantastic cook. The sequel, tentatively titled Building Bridges, will be written as soon as my brain cooperates.

COA Book cover from Riptide

For now, I’m very excited to be working on a kinky asexual m/m romance. It’s an awesome challenge, writing an asexual character who’s sex-neutral (bordering on sex-repulsed) but also has a mile-wide dominant streak. He’s learned to navigate kinky spaces in various ways, both healthy and unhealthy, but he’s never found his happily ever after — until now, though it doesn’t come without a whole lot of stumbling blocks in the way. I hope to have the first draft done before May 2017 so the book can be released this year, but no guarantees. Real life keeps getting in the way!

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

I’ve always needed to write, for my own mental health. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between periods when I don’t write and times when I’m depressed or unhealthy.

As for inspiration, these days I look to the unusual romances: ones that sneak up on people from unexpected connections, ones that are realistic, ones that don’t fix the world or cure a character’s problems but that make life a little happier for everyone involved.

That’s what I love about queer romance. I’m not shoehorning or stereotyping my characters into “male” or “female” roles as they’ve become traditionally defined in the romance genre. I can let my characters develop as they will, without fear that an editor will redline a character because of breaking those gender-based molds.

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?

Animals! I tend to sneak in animals, especially dogs or cats, wherever I can, because they’re so important in my own life. I have a service dog for PTSD — two, actually, since my senior service dog, Darian, has retired due to bad hips and I’m now working with Bucky, my service dog in training. Isn’t he gorgeous?

Bucky 39

In Change of Address, I gave Michael, who also has PTSD (from combat), a service dog named Kaylee. She’s a German Shepherd Dog who’s a mix, in temperament, of Bucky and Darian. She’s not perfect, but she’s the steady rock that Michael needs to anchor himself as he finds his way in the civilian world — and the reason that he and Josh eventually end up together.

COA tumblr header

In my next book, one of the characters has an adopted greyhound. She offers her human unconditional love in exchange for long naps on the sofa. Really, what more could a person want? And I have plans for a golden retriever puppy to take a starring role in Building Bridges.

My fanfics, whether solo- or co-written, also tend to have pets of various types, whether it’s a pair of ferrets, a basket of kittens, or an over-dramatic saluki.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Remind yourself that art isn’t a zero-sum game. Other artists aren’t your competition — they’re your colleagues. Cheer their successes, because every successful artist brings new consumers into the fold, whether it’s a Big Name Fan writing a breakaway hit fanfic and bringing in new readers who eventually discover your fics or a New York Times bestselling author bringing new readers into the sub-genre in which you write. Yes, sometimes success is a matter of luck, of connections, of timing, but mostly success is a matter of talent and hard work.

Consume other art in your chosen field. If you’re a writer, read all the books you can in your genre — and a few in related genres. For example, I’ve learned a whole lot about writing humor in romance by reading historical m/f romances, even though I don’t think I’ll ever write a historical.

Study the market if you want to turn your art into a career. Learn the formulas and what made the big names successful. Study the fundamentals. Learn all the rules, whether grammar or color theory or whatever applies to your art. You can’t know which rules to break until you have a deep understanding of those rules.

Then feel free to break the rules. Be true to the art you create. You’ll find a market somewhere.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

These days, I come closest to identifying as autochorissexual.

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

I’m fortunate that I haven’t, though I suspect that’s because I’m working with publishing professionals who are from all over the queer spectrum, including an ace senior editor.

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

Any sentence that includes the words “all aces” is bound to be 1) “commonly” believed or taken to be true and 2) actually flat-out wrong.

When it comes to my next book, I’m actually bracing for backlash from outside the ace community from people telling me I can’t write a kinky asexual character because “all aces” don’t like sex and therefore can’t be kinky.

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

A few things:

  1. “All aces” don’t exist. Every asexual person is different. Sex-positive, sex-neutral, sex-repulsed. Kinky, vanilla, or none of the above. Masturbates or doesn’t. Experiences arousal under whatever circumstances or none at all.
  2. If someone tells you “you can’t be ace because…” or “you’re not a real ace because…” walk away and don’t look back. Nobody elected these gatekeepers, and nobody has a lock on knowing everything about asexuality — not even other aces. We all live in a continuous state of self-discovery, from the day we’re born until the day we die.
  3. And that means sometimes you change, whether from biology or circumstance or because you simply learned a new word that comes closer to resonating with who you really are inside. There was a time I identified as het, then bi, then pan, then gray-ace, then demi-ace, then back to gray-ace/aro. It took me something like 43 years to get where I am now, and that doesn’t mean it won’t change again. That’s okay!

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

These days, I tend to be most active on my Twitter, https://twitter.com/jordansbrock/ for original work or pictures of Bucky. I’m terrible at keeping up my website, jordansbrock.com, even though it’s a Tumblr. You’d think it’d be easy!

My Riptide Publishing author page will also have a link to all books I’ve released through them. http://riptidepublishing.com/authors/jordan-s-brock

For fanfic, my work is all available on AO3 at http://archiveofourown.org/users/Kryptaria/works and my Tumblr, at kryptaria, is full of inspirational pictures. These days, it’s mostly Marvel Cinematic Universe. I keep my James Bond stuff at kryptaria00Q and post random writing/service dog bits at anauthorandherservicedog.

Thank you, Jordan, for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.

Signal Boost: “Albenzauber“

Hello all!

I’ve got a special signal boost today. Carmilla DeWinter is an author who did an interview with Asexual Artists a while back (Tumblr & WordPress). She’s got a new book out entitled Albenzauber. Carmilla is also going to be doing a reading on April 23rd in Mainz, Germany.

Here’s all the information about the book:

“Albenzauber” (Elven Charms) is about the elf Nives, who has raised her prince Cir in the human realm after saving him from a coup. When she accidentally uses the elven charm on a young human male, thus driving him out of his mind, she and Cir return home to find a cure. There they find out that the usurper, beautiful and power-hungry Noctuola, is preparing a war with the humans. Cir is determined to save his heritage and asks a seer for help: They will have to find a human being, neither man nor woman, who is immune to the elven charms. This seems highly unlikely, until they meet the androgynous human mage Heilika. Heilika does agree to help them, while forcing Nives to question everything she believes about herself.

You’ll meet two aces, one of them genderqueer with female pronouns, plus everything a sword and sorcery adventure needs.

Unfortunately, only available in German.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.de/Albenzauber-Carmilla-DeWinter-ebook/dp/B06Y5CLPQ1/

Albenzauber 1200pt

I’ll be reading an excerpt on Sunday, April 23rd, in Mainz, Germany. (Link for more info: https://carmilladewinter.com/2017/04/09/lesung-5/

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So if you’re in Germany, please go show a fellow ace some love!

Thanks, everybody!

Interview: Brandon

Today we’re joined by Brandon. Brandon is a fantastic author who is a prolific writer who has written a novel and is currently working on the sequel. Aside from writing novels, he’s also working on short stories. When he’s not writing, Brandon enjoys singing and has begun to dabble in visual artist. It’s very apparent he’s an incredibly passionate artist. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My main artistic interest is in writing, specifically narrative work. At the moment I’ve got a 250,000 word novel waiting in the wings, I’m starting up on the sequel and I’m bouncing around ideas for a new (shorter) story which I’d like to get published as my debut to help get my foot in the door of the novel-writing world. I’ve dedicated the past three years to two writing-related major goals – completing my novel and earning my Bachelor’s degree in English and Writing. Like I said, I’ve completed the former (sort of, bar the publishing thing) and I completed the latter last year – I’ll be graduating in May and hopefully moving on to do a Master’s degree in 2018, focusing on narrative features of video games.

Besides that, I also love to sing. One of my major projects for a paper in my final year of my degree allowed me to write a creative non-fiction piece on a topic of my choice, so I decided to write a piece on barbershop after reminiscing about the several years I spent singing bass in a chorus during high school. I also recently joined the internationally ranking chorus, Vocal FX, which has rekindled my love of performance.

I’ve found that I enjoy visual art but I’m not particularly good at it since I only recently got into it. My favourite part is always coming up with the ideas for a scene rather than drawing it. I suppose given my writing habits that wouldn’t be surprising.

What inspires you?

A friend of mine has been with me every step of the way since I started working on my novel and she’s been the one who encouraged me at all times. She’s one of the few people in the world who’s read my novel (I sent it to her chapter by chapter or sometimes scene by scene whenever I finished a draft I was satisfied with) and she’s the only person other than me who knows the upcoming plot as well as I do. I can never thank her enough for her help and for putting up with me constantly needling her with sad plot points, and for her willingness to bounce ideas back and forth which often gives me better ideas than I started with. She is without a doubt one of my biggest inspirations simply because her genuine enthusiasm helps spark that creative flow that I need to get going better than anything else.

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

I think the first piece of creative writing I can remember doing was when I was only six or seven years old. I remember it quite vividly because it was basically a butchered plagiarized fanfic that smashed together Lilo and Stitch and a video game called Impossible Creatures, where the protagonist was one of Jumba’s experiments which was basically this horrific monstrosity of numerous combined animals. It landed on earth and ended up being worshipped as a god and had to defend its people from other creatures that came to harm them. I’m surprised my parents didn’t put me into therapy for that. I also labeled it as ‘a true story’ because I had no fear of being sued for false advertising. I also remember having a dragon phase (didn’t everyone?) and writing a series of short stories about dragons which I think I still have lying around, as well as a phase after buying the game Spore in which I wrote a lot about aliens.

So, long story short (hah) I’ve always loved to write, but when I got older I started worrying that it wouldn’t be a viable career. I initially planned to study my second love (zoology) at university, but not long after I finished high school, I started my novel, and I decided to hell with practicality, I wanted to pursue my dream. Now I’m here with a completed novel, a bunch of ideas, and my fingers crossed that I strike lucky with publishing.

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 think the biggest feature of my work is more in the background, in the worldbuilding, particularly when it comes to fantasy wildlife. I spent a very, very long time on the worldbuilding of my novel before I started writing on it and by far enjoyed coming up with creatures, their habitats, and their behaviours the most (I once had an hours-long chat with a couple of my friends about the territorial and communal habits of trolls in my novel despite them never having read it). I think this translated well to the plot, given that one of my main characters has a troll for a companion and their interactions with each other and those around them added a significant and special dynamic to the story.

Can you tell trolls are a major thing in this book?

brandon-troll-art
Troll Art Commission by padalickingood

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Inspiration won’t always be there for you. Honestly, in my experience, it’ll barely be there for you at all. But that shouldn’t stop you. If you have it, seize it with both hands at every possible opportunity. If you don’t, push forward regardless. Write something that you know you’ll just rewrite later. Draw that sketch you don’t feel confident about. Practice that song you hate. You never know when inspiration will rear its head, and if you’re lucky, all the hard yards you put in without it will force it out of hiding and allow you to make something incredible.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify most closely with demisexual but I’ve come to feel pretty lax with the specifics. I’m not sex-repulsed but I definitely don’t have any particular urge for it, and god knows where I am when it comes to gender identities I’m attracted to. Throw a dart at the Kinsey triangle and I might be somewhere near that.

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

I’ve never dealt with any prejudice directed towards me for being an ace writer specifically. I mean, every ace person has probably had to put up with an acephobe at some point, but when it comes to writing I’ve never had an issue. As a viewer/reader, though, I’ve noticed ace-spec characters aren’t really that common – even just implied asexuality doesn’t show up often. And even in the event that it does, a lot of the time it’s full of misconceptions or just poor writing, including the good old ‘but sex is so great / sex brought you into the world why don’t you like it’ talk that I’ve come to hate with a burning passion.

As for how I deal with it, I just think the best thing to do when confronted with lack of representation is to fix the problem. Be the change you want to be and write your own ace characters. Headcanon characters as ace. Nobody can stop you from seeing yourself in a character that already exists, and remember that no matter what people may say, headcanoning a character as ace is not ‘stealing’ them from another community – gender attraction and level of sexual attraction are two different things, and you aren’t harming anyone by headcanoning a character as ace or aro regardless of their gender leanings. Just be considerate to others if they express concern and keep their points in mind so long as they treat you with a similar respect.

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

This is honestly hard to pick from because I’ve heard a lot (nothing malicious but people have a habit of really not getting how asexuality can work) but I think the biggest thing is people think I don’t like physical intimacy or that I would never have sex. They could not be more wrong about the first point and I’d probably say they’re wrong about the second.

I love physical intimacy. I’m a human teddy bear, I crave contact from certain people. I love hugs, I love kisses, with the right people I could be down for anything. All I ask from people is that they respect my boundaries for each individual person, because they vary. This isn’t even a uniquely ace thing – everyone has certain levels of comfort with physical affection – but I’ve heard people cite my asexuality a lot when they express uncertainty about it.

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

Finding a label or a category can be satisfying, but it’s not a necessity. It’s fine to not know where exactly you fit in the spectrum, and in fact sometimes it’s easier to be flexible with it. That being said, if you do find something you identify closely with and it means a lot to you, take pride in it. You are who you are and nobody has the right to question that or take it away from you.

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

I do have a sideblog dedicated to stuff from my novel series – the username is chroniclesofandrasfar – but I haven’t used that very much lately. If any big news comes up, you’re sure to find me raving about it on my main blog, mythicfictionist.

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