Interview: RoAnna Sylver

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

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Runtime cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

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

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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Moonbright Tides cover

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

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

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

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

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

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But Not Up Here cover

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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

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

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Evelyn merm

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Goliath Elisa

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

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

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

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

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

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Zenith Sheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nonbinary Fire Witch, Zadkiel

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

Interview: Luke

Today we’re joined by Luke. Luke is a phenomenal fanartist who I met at Indy PopCon. A few days later, he sent me an email and I was impressed with wonderfully passionate artist. He’s a cosplayer but he also enjoys writing quite a bit, mostly fanfiction. Luke is an incredibly dedicated, passionate, and excited artist, 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 don’t think of myself much as a writer, but I do write fanfiction (mostly Star Wars) and a lot of backstories for original characters of mine. So, I don’t really consider it “original” writing of my own, but it’s still a fun pastime for me to have. My two main works that I have are (not so surprisingly) Star Wars fanfics on both AO3 and Wattpad because seriously, have you seen the Wattpad app? It’s so nicely organized and easy to use. I also am a cosplayer, but I don’t consider myself to be that good of one. I used to cosplay Hetalia mainly, but I slowly drifted away from anime and found more fun in cosplaying Star Wars and emo stuff. (cough, cough MCR cough, cough)

What inspires you?

One of the main things that inspires me to write and cosplay are my friends. I have so many friends who are amazing at writing and cosplaying, I always look up to them and think “dang I wanna be like that someday”. Other things that inspire me are the cool people I find through the internet and social media, like Tumblr and Instagram. I’ve found some awesome writers and cosplayers online and, although I’ll never have the confidence to actually talk to them, I always look at them and get all teary eyed like “I love you, let me be like you,” you know?

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

When I was younger, I loved to read. Like, I had an entire shelf of books in my room and when I was bored, I would just pick out a book that I’ve read 30 something times before and read it again. I wasn’t into any specific genre, but I always steered away from romance and sci-fi. Which is ironic because that’s basically all I write about now. But after entering high school, I found myself hating reading. I’m not entirely sure why, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I was forced to read books I hated/didn’t want to read. But now, as of finally graduating, I’m trying to get back into reading. And not just fanfiction, I mean actual books. When I was younger, I wanted to be an author. As I’m going through old stuff that I wrote when I was younger (and cringing, I might add) I would think back to how much I loved to read and write. And now that I’m getting back into it, it’s making me much happier. It’s like a coping mechanism for me. And as for the cosplaying, I honestly have no idea when or how that started. It just kind of happened.  I have the memory capacity of a two minute old goose, that’s probably why I don’t remember.

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 think I have a specific feature in my writing, other than the fact that’s it mostly consists of dialogue and really strange references to inside jokes I have with my friends. (It’s a whole fiesta) But I do sometimes write fanfics based on really emo songs that I listen to. As for cosplaying, I usually just carry around something funny with me at conventions so people will get a laugh out of it. Like with my General Hux cosplay, I have a stuffed orange tabby cat that I like to hold for pictures. Her name is Millicent. I love her.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I may not have great advice for cosplaying because I’m still an amateur myself, but for my fellow fanfiction writers, I’d say just keep writing, Cliché, yes I know, but it’s true. Out of all the ways to improve your writing, practice is the one of best answers. Look at other people’s writing styles and see what you like about them, and try to incorporate some of their style into your writing. But don’t copy them completely, trust me I’ve done stuff like that before and it’s a bad idea lemme tell you.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and biromantic. I don’t like the sexytimes, but I will, in fact, hold a person’s hand if I like them. I like guys more than girls, but that’s probably because I’ve only had a crush on two people in my entire life, one a boy and the other a girl, and I got to kiss the dude and oh goodness, I could go on for hours about this guy.

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

I haven’t really had to deal with any sort of hate from people about my asexuality. At least, not yet. But it’d be nice to keep it that way, ya know?

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

The only misconception I’ve really gotten was that asexual people don’t like sex. Which is true for me, yes, but I do know some asexuals who enjoy sex. I’ve had to explain to my sister a few times that me being ace means that I don’t look at somebody and say “damn, I wanna bang that”, and that I, instead, think “damn, I don’t feel sexually attracted to that”

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

Man, I’d just say keep searching around on the internet (trusted places of course) and ask any friends who are LGBT+ and might know a thing or two about asexuality. Or a person who is actually asexual, if they’re around at all. It’s hard to go through those kinds of things alone, so try to find someone who understands what you’re going through and is willing to help.

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

I have like two whole places that I post my work, which are, like I said before, AO3 and Wattpad. My AO3 is https://archiveofourown.org/users/sirbuttsalot and my Wattpad is https://www.wattpad.com/user/sir-butts-a-lot I also use Deviantart sometimes, which is https://sir-butts-a-lot.deviantart.com/.

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

Interview: Tori

Today we’re joined by Tori. Tori is a phenomenal artist who does a little bit of everything. She acts, writes, plays music, and is even a photographer. For music, she plays a number of instruments (clarinet, piano, bass clarinet, and contra-alto clarinet). Tori has even dabbled in cosplay and animation. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an artist, a photographer, a writer, an actress, and I play piano, clarinet, bass clarinet, and contra-alto clarinet. I’ve also done a few cosplays and animations/edits.

What inspires you?

It could really be anything. I’ll take pictures of anything I think is pretty. I’ll draw whatever comes to my head. I’ll write about anything I think has a story to tell. I think that almost everything has beauty in it, and I love trying to capture it. I also deal with anxiety and depression, so I like to personify different feelings using drawings, because I feel like it makes them easier to deal with.

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

Ever since I was a kid, I loved drawing, singing, telling stories, and performing. I don’t think I ever thought I would be as into it as I am now, but the passion was always there.

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. I try to make everything I do look different. Everything should have its own style.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I mean, I am an aspiring young artist. I’m only 14. But I’d say, just do what you love to do. It doesn’t matter what field it’s in, if you take pride in what you’re doing, you will improve.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I currently identify as asexual biromantic.

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

Not really. I try to surround myself with supportive people, and if people don’t support me, they shouldn’t be around me at all. I do understand ignorance, though. There’s a difference between being ignorant and not knowing everything about a particular topic, and being prejudiced and unaccepting.

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

A lot of people seem to think that because I’m ace, I don’t want to have a relationship with anyone. That’s not true at all. Currently though, I just don’t know anyone that would be worth taking time out of my schedule to go on a date with them.

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

Just know that labels can change. Sexuality, especially asexuality, can be difficult to define. Don’t worry about the specifics of a label. Just be you.

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

If I think that my art is good enough, which I usually don’t, I’ll post it on my Tumblr blog (torieltears-art.tumblr.com), but other than that, I’m usually pretty secretive with my work.

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

Interview: Keam

Today we’re joined by Keam. Keam is a wonderful fanartist who is currently most active in the Doctor Who fandom. They write fanfictions, mostly one-shots, and also some long-running projects. When they’re not writing, Keam does a lot of visual art, including recolouring and photo edits. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I write fanfiction and occasionally draw fanart, as well as making a wide variety of picture edits, icons and recolouring black and white photos. I’m mainly in the Doctor Who fandom at the moment, but have been around in several other book and TV series fandoms before. Most of my fanfics are one shots, but I also got a couple of long running projects. My drawings are always hand drawn and coloured in with ink/crayons/coloured markers or regular pencil.

What inspires you?

My never ending mind. Due to having ADHD, I got a mind that never slows down. When I get into it, I can be thinking about a show or book 24/7. It also means that there’s always new ideas appearing, encouraging me to draw something new or write a new story. It never ends, and I don’t want it to.

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

I suppose I partly have it from my family. My mum is a self-published author who’s currently written 5 books, and both my grandmothers are talented at painting and drawing. I’ve never really intended to be an artist in any professional manner, but as I’ve matured as a fanfic author the idea of writing an original book seem more and more appealing.

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 think I particularly have any special thing that represents my writing like that. I am told I have a bit of a unique pattern in my writing, which I think comes from not being native to the language and there for using a vocabulary and word combinations you wouldn’t see used by a native writer.

Otherwise, I always try to include a tall, blond haired person in my fanfics. That’s me by the way. The author standing there and enjoying her own work. Just a little symbol of my emotional investment in my own writing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up. It sounds so cheesy, but is there something I’ve learned it is that it’s absolutely true. I’m not native to English, you see, and when I wrote my first fanfic I still did not know how to string two words together. I was 13 and had five years of theoretically learning behind me.

I had a dream in my head and with some help from my mother I managed to put it on paper. It’s still published out there on the internet on fanfic site somewhere. A horrific, self-indulgent drabble about pastel ponies.  But even if it was bad it taught me the joys of writing.  Because after that, I kept writing, one year after another, and now I’m five years down the line from when I started. Today, I even spend more time writing than sleeping (it’s 10.30 PM as I write this!). And for all that work, I really think I’ve gotten better, too. Today I feel proud of myself. I read my fanfics and enjoy them and I get good reviews.

Just recently a work I’d done in collaboration with another friend actually got a comment from the actress behind one of the characters we were writing about. She loved it. Another of my fanfics  got published in a fan letter/ezine for an American Fanclub in my fandom back in February. I got a free PDF copy of the ezine as a thank you, and on the first page was a content section with the title of my name proudly displayed.

All this is a far cry from the pastel Pony drabble I wrote at age 13. And the reasons I’m here, the reason I’m 18 and growing more and more professional, getting more and more attention from people that you want attention from, is because I kept going. Because I kept going, and I didn’t give up. Giving up is the worst disadvantage you can give yourself, so please don’t!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a Bi/Quoiromantic Asexual who is partially sex repulsed.

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

Well, as a part of the Doctor Who fandom, Asexuality is always a hot topic. The show has 36 seasons, and during the majority of the 26 first seasons the main character appears as though they are asexual. A lot of people try to bypass this by referring to the character not acting in such a way in the ten newest seasons after they rebooted the show. There are a lot of fights over the fact that newer fans gladly write smut and ship the character as of old with characters from the newer episodes, completely ignoring the implied asexuality of the character back then, which is hurtful. Mostly, I just ignore this and instead look up content creators that treat the character fairly and knows to be aware of the characters implied asexuality.

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

That we’re incapable of having loving relationships, and that if you’re asexual it means aromantic as well. Naturally, aro aces exist – I’m an aspec ace myself – but it feels very ignorant and prejudiced to assume such things.

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

Relax. Take it easy. It is fine to be uncertain. The Ace community is very open and inclusive, and we’re ready to welcome everyone – even if you’re still questioning or not quite comfortable yet. We’ll give you some friendly cuddles and advice and it’ll be alright.

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

I have several social media accounts!

My Tumblr is at Gemvictorfromtheponyverse
My AO3 & Ff.net is Pearlislove
My Instagram is at aesteticfandomdreams.

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

Interview: Emilie Tremblay

Today we’re joined by Emilie Tremblay. Em is a wonderful visual artist who is just starting out and already shows a great amount of talent. They paint and draw mostly. For painting, they draw inspiration from abstract art. Drawing is a little different: Em enjoys drawing all sorts of life, like people and plants. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate artist with a bright future ahead of them. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a visual artist. I practice mainly with the traditional media of painting and drawing. I really love abstract art and you can probably see that style influences my paintings a lot. I also love to play with colour and shapes. When it comes to drawing though I tend to be more interested in life; people, plants, architecture (especially people) I just find it all very fascinating.

What inspires you?

The world I would say. The people around me (my family and friends, even strangers on the bus), the people I see on TV (Bob Ross, Tuppence Middleton, etc.) Anything and everything I set my eyes on has the potential to be… reformed? Perhaps you could say. I just love to create. And the things that I encounter, the things that I participate in or engage with, they all stay in my mind and gather into these weird abstract ideas that can become beautifully interesting things that I just need to set to paper. It’s all very poetic I think; to have so many wonderful things and people around you that can inspire you to create something or do something that can make you so happy.

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

Honestly I can’t remember a time I wasn’t playing in paint! I’ve always liked getting dirty and splashing different colours together. It’s just something that has always been a part of me. Obviously I’ve refined the skill since I was two, but yes I’ve always wanted to be involved in the arts in some way. My mother being an artist probably also had something to do with 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?

Nope! Just my personality 😉

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just do it. Practice, practice and practice some more. Do a little bit every day and just keep doing it. Never stop and never give up. I understand it can be a lot and you might not always want to or have the energy to, but if it makes you happy it can be the most wonderful thing in the world. However it is not just raw talent that is going to get you in the business! You need to refine your skills, diversify your portfolio, make connections and share your work (not all of it though because you do still want to make money and you definitely don’t want anyone to steal your work and say it’s theirs! Be careful!) Especially in this technology obsessed world, it is very important to have followers. The more you post and the more consistent you are with posting the better! But please don’t overwork yourselves. You all need to remember that the most important thing, before anything else, is to take care of yourself: mentally and physically! Take a me-day if you have to; it’s okay!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Biromantic asexual

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

I’ve only fully come to terms with my asexuality last year (2017) during my final year of high school and let me tell you that was an intense journey. I’ve also only decided I want to be a professional artist probably about six months ago? (I am the most indecisive person ever!) Saying this, however, I have encountered my fair share of ignorance (not as much prejudice thank the lord) and it has made me wary of sharing my sexuality.*I am open with myself and whoever wants to know me, I am completely comfortable with my sexuality and full of pride let that be known!* But I’m also incredibly socially awkward so I don’t particularly like to flaunt myself (if that is even the right word) Oh gosh what am I even saying anymore (sorry I ramble!) The point is yes I have encountered it in my field and yes it sucks every time but the best way to fight ignorance is with knowledge! I will be the first to say it honestly sucks having to always explain and re-explain what something is, especially when that something is so ingrained in your identity; it can be a very personal blow. Being a non-binary person as well, I am no stranger to ignorance when it comes to identity and it can honestly be so exhausting to have to constantly have a 300 page essay on hand with varied, credible sources stating that “yes, it does exist. I’m not making this up.”

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

The most common misconception is that asexual people don’t feel romantic attraction either. Yes, there are also aromantic people and yes, those are two attractions that often coexist. However, they are two different things; asexual just means that I don’t feel sexual attraction. That’s it, that’s all. Another one would be that I hate sex. Personally I am not a sexual person, nor do I think I ever will be, but I am fine talking about it and watching movies with sex scenes. But not every asexual person is the same. Again; asexual just means that I don’t feel sexual attraction.

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

Don’t rush it. And don’t fight it. Please. Life is so complicated and so difficult already, don’t force yourself to do anything you don’t want or feel comfortable doing just because it’s what everyone is saying you’re supposed to be doing. You have the best knowledge of who you are. Remember that.

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

You can like my Facebook page: artisteft, or follow me on Instagram: at eft.art! And please feel free to DM me, my inbox is always open and I would love to talk to you about art, asexuality or anything else at all!

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

Interview: Shelby Eileen

Today we’re joined by Shelby Eileen. Shelby is a phenomenal poet who has recently released a book of poetry entitled Soft in the Middle. She uses poetry to express herself and has an amazing dedication to her art. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with an incredibly bright future, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art, currently, is poetry. I have one self-published poetry collection titled Soft in the Middle and almost all of my WIPs are also poetry. Writing is something I’ve always, always done and poetry has long been my preferred way to express myself in writing. I think my art has always had a lot to do with communication even if I didn’t always know it; trying to communicate better not only with others but also with myself. Picking the right words and putting them together in such a way that I feel I’ve finally made sense of something is the best thing about what I do.

What inspires you?

The thought that there is really nothing that has already been created that is exactly like what I have the potential to create. I don’t know if it’s naïve or self-centered to think, but my own individuality inspires me. Other asexual artists inspire me. Self-published poets inspire the absolute heck out of me. There’s something so pure and immeasurable about their success- they are literally the embodiment of that “she believed she could so she did” sentiment and I think that’s so badass.

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

Yep, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even before that though, I’ve always wanted to be an editor. Reading got me into this whole world and I’ve never felt like I was meant to do anything else but work with authors and be an author myself.

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 think I do, or at least, not yet. I haven’t been at this long enough to figure that out. I would almost prefer to have readers pick up on a “unique signature” on their own, whatever that could be, without me actively trying to tie all of my works together. I find myself focusing a lot more on the differences between my projects than on the similarities anyway.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make friends with people who are already doing what you want to do! Social media is a great way to do that.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual. Since figuring out that I’m ace I’ve grown to absolutely love that part of myself. The label brings me a lot of comfort and peace. I also identify as queer, bi, and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum.

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

Online and in the poetry/writing community, no. I have yet to see anyone criticize my work specifically for reflecting my asexuality. My family and many of my irl friends haven’t ever commented on my asexuality though, and seeing as I explicitly state that I am asexual in my work, it definitely feels like they avoid it because they’re confused or made uncomfortable by it. Silence and passivity on the matter can hurt just as much as outright objection or disapproval. That doesn’t feel nice but it’s not the absolute worst reaction I could get, I suppose. I handle it by constantly reminding myself that my work is first and foremost for me and no one else. Even if I don’t show it or admit to it often, no one is more proud of me than me for what I’ve accomplished so far- as long as I feel pride in what I do, negative reception is easier to deal with.

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

Oh god. That asexuality and the mere concepts of sex and intimacy can’t overlap at all. That asexuals are just straight people weaseling their way into the LGBTQIAP+ community. Asexuality as a sexual/mental health issue. Asexuals are broken. Asexuality isn’t real. Everyone is demisexual. Asexuals can’t have relationships. It’s disgusting how common it all is.

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

It’s REALLY okay to question stuff and be unsure or even unhappy with where you’re at in regards to your orientation. You’ve come this far on your own and that’s something to be proud of. You should never hesitate to investigate, dissect, confront, and share all of the feelings you have. I dealt with orientation struggles/ general unhappiness by seeking out a bunch of books with asexual characters. A lot of them made me feel so much better about myself- quite frankly, it made me feel like less of a freak. Getting swept up in stories with characters that you can relate to that get a happy ending is great medicine.

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

Amazon buy link for soft in the middle! http://a.co/fLDIzIw

Goodreads page! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36812982-soft-in-the-middle

My Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are all at briseisbooks. My social medias are not exclusively for my writing, they do contain a good amount of personal content as well!

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

Interview: Jessica Meats

Today we’re joined by Jessica Meats. Jessica is a phenomenal author from the UK who writes science fiction and fantasy. She writes about everything from superheroes smashing the fourth wall to werewolves fighting for their rights. With a new release on the horizon, Jessica is definitely an author to watch for. When she’s not writing original work, Jessica is curating an online database of books with strong LGBTQ+ representation and is always looking for more recommendations. It’s clear she’s a passionate 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.

I am a writer, mainly of science fiction and fantasy books of various lengths. The shortest is The Adventures of Technicality Man, a fun and silly superhero parody that doesn’t so much break the fourth wall as smash it into a million pieces. The longest is my soon-to-be-released fantasy novel Wolf Unleashed, a considerably more serious work which explores themes of oppression and prejudice in a world where werewolves are fighting for equal rights.

What inspires you?

I write the sort of stories I enjoy, so I would have to say that I’m inspired by other creators. I’m an avid reader and I love watching SF&F TV shows and films, so I like playing with these ideas and trying to find something new and different to say.

I also find inspiration in the real world. The SF&F genres have always been used to address real world issues by framing them so that people can look at them in a new light. That’s what I’m trying to do with Wolf Unleashed and there were some scenes that were inspired by acts of injustice that have been reported in the news (or frequently misreported and hushed over in cases of institutional racism). There’s a scene in which a Muslim character talks about some of the prejudice he’s faced that I rewrote after the travel ban fiasco in the United States.

It’s not all dark though. I wrote most of my first novel, Child of the Hive, while I was at university studying mathematics and computer science. In the computer science side of the course, we had various lectures and discussions about technology that was currently being worked on, and some of the technology in that book was directly inspired by those discussions of what was cutting edge at the time I was writing it.

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

I have written stories since I first learned how to pick up a pen. When I was little, I would fold sheets of paper together to make little books and write stories in them. I don’t remember ever making the decision to be a writer – I just always knew I would be. As I grew up, I had to temper that desire with realism about the odds of making a living as an author, but I never stopped 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?

If I do it’s hidden even from me. My writing style is heavily driven by plot, so I suppose you could say that’s a signature of my style, but It’s not symbolic.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep going. Gaining a skill takes time, so keep working on your art and you will keep getting better. Nothing teaches like practice.

For writers in particular, think about the things you read. If you read a book you love, stop and consider what it is about that book that appeals to you so much, Likewise, if you read something you hate, consider what it is about the work that’s putting you off so much so you can try and avoid those things in your own work.

Above all, create the art you enjoy. Focus first and foremost on creating works that you have fun creating and that you’re pleased with when you’re finished. Worry about how you’re going to sell them or find an audience second.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am biromantic asexual. For a long time, I thought I was bisexual because I didn’t realise the concept of asexuality existed.

I’ve never been sexually attracted to anyone but I have had relationships and I’m open to romantic love with persons of any gender. To me, the match of personalities is more important than anything physical.

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

Not really. I’ve seen some ignorant comments on social media sites and the like, but nothing that has really impacted my writing. This may be because the discovery of the concept of asexuality and my revelation about how it applied to me came after I’d been writing for several years. Given the length of time it takes for a book to go from inspiration, to first draft, to complete, to publication… my past books haven’t really focused on asexuality. I have one book that is almost ready to go to the publisher which has an asexual protagonist, and another one about halfway through the first draft with an asexual love interest. I may find different reactions when those books come out.

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

The one I’ve seen most often is just a lack of knowledge – people don’t know that asexuality is a thing. I went through my teen years thinking that there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t getting crushes on pop stars and actors the way everyone around me seemed to be. I know I’m not the only person to go through this. I had a conversation with a woman in her late fifties, who told me, “I’d always just assumed I was broken,” because she didn’t feel any interest in sex.

I had a conversation with some colleagues from work where we got onto the subject of sexuality. I mentioned asexuality and one of my colleagues asked me to explain because it wasn’t a term she’d heard before. As I explained, her face just lit up with excitement and she went, “That’s me!”

This complete lack of awareness when it comes to even the existence of asexuality is harmful for so many people who think there’s a problem with them. These people need to see asexuality discussed openly and represented in fiction so that they can recognise that they’re not alone.

Outside of LGBTQ+ circles, people aren’t aware of asexuality, and so that leads to people who fall somewhere on the spectrum themselves to develop the misconception that there’s something wrong with them.

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

You’re not alone.

There are a lot of different experiences across the breadth of the asexuality spectrum, so don’t worry if the way you feel isn’t a perfect match for the way someone else describes their feelings, just know that you aren’t the only one. There’s nothing wrong with you.

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

I have a blog at http://plot-twister.co.uk where I post book reviews, articles on writing advice, and news about my own books. I also have a queer reading list on that site, which is a list of reader-recommended sci-fi and fantasy books that contain strong LGBTQ+ representation. You can apply filters to find books that have specific representations. So if you want to find a book that has a demi-sexual protagonist, or an aromantic major character, you can apply the filters and see what people have recommended. I’m always keen to get new recommendations so if you know of good SF&F with asexual (or other queer) representation, please recommend them.

You can also follow me on Tumblr at http://jessicameats.tumblr.com or Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicameats or like my Facebook page.

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