Interview: H. Anthe Davis

Today we’re joined by H. Anthe Davis. Davis is a wonderful self-published writer who specializes in a hybrid of dark and high fantasy. She’s currently working on a series that involves plenty of magic, monsters, and body horror. Though she has only been publishing for a few years, Davis already has four books out. She’s very obviously a talented and dedicated writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

shelfie1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a self-published writer, specializing in a hybrid of high- and dark-fantasy — lots of magic, lots of monsters, big dollop of body horror.  I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and working on this series for…honestly longer than I like to contemplate, but I actually started publishing the series in 2013 and I now have four books out.

What inspires you?

I am a voracious reader of fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and science/adventure/disaster nonfiction.  I’ve always been interested in the process of building a world, especially in making it internally consistent and essentially realistic — and to that end, I’m kind of interested in everything.  Arts, culture, sciences, religion, politics, psychology — all are important (in various levels) to building a consistent and convincing world, and the more real it feels, the more impactful the stories written in it. I do a lot of background work on critters, maps, mythology and the like.  It’s a passion.

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

My mother has always been a big fantasy buff, so I started reading her big stacks of paperbacks when I was quite young.  Eight or so?  I have a book report from that age that I wrote on one of the pulp fantasy series she read back then, complete with illustrations.  Mom was also a social worker back then, so I also read some of her psych texts, and got very interested in the psychology of the characters both in what I was reading and in the proto-stories I was already spinning. I never wanted to be anything but a writer (even though I tried to be a physics major for a while there in college).

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?

Since my body of written work isn’t terribly large yet, I don’t have anything secret, but I imagine one or two of my immortal characters will be around in everything I write, passing by in the background quietly, only noticeable if you’re already aware of who they are.  There’s one character who’s been with me since I was about thirteen, who I don’t think I’ll ever set aside.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make a habit of your work — set aside a space and time in your life where you can consistently create.  Wean yourself off any time-sucking entertainments; I lost ten years of my life to MMORPGs, gah, World of Warcraft you were fun but you almost destroyed me.  Chew on criticism, don’t swallow it whole; I’ve learned a lot from constructive critiques, and used it to fix a lot of issues with my work, but some criticism comes from people who weren’t paying any frickin’ attention or who just think too differently to accept what you were trying to do.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual aromantic.  I don’t want to be involved with anyone else’s body or emotions. Heck, most of the time I don’t want to be involved with my body or emotions — I just want to do my work.

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

Most people aren’t aware that I have any preference or lack thereof.  In my Day Job, though, I have been nagged about my singlehood.  The nags means well, I guess, but that stiff traditional mindset has caused tension in the past.  I am a prickly person, so I don’t know that I handle it well; I think I usually respond to the tune of ‘naaaah that’s not gonna happen’.  Regardless, I haven’t been nudged about it in a while, so maybe that was good enough.

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

That it can be ‘cured’ by the ‘right person’.  I know that for certain portions of the ace spectrum, that is kind of possible — you grow close to them and then get interested physically. Demi-sexual, right?  But that’s not a frickin’ cure, it’s organic interest. It can’t be forced.  For me, if anything, getting closer to someone makes me even less physically interested, something that two almost-not-really-boyfriends had a hard time accepting.  I know myself better now, and am better at not putting my foot into that sort of trap. You can like someone strongly, platonically, without dating them or being physical.  If they can’t handle that, it’s not gonna be a good relationship.

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

Don’t let someone else’s professed need for you overwhelm your own needs.  Don’t date people out of sympathy/pity — it’s not good for either of you.  Don’t fall into the cultural trap that says you need another person to complete you.  You are a complete person in and of yourself, and only you can decide how you should express any emotionality or physicality you need — or don’t need. Finally, your wants and needs can change over time; we’re not our labels, we’re living, breathing, changing creatures.  Don’t be afraid of that.  Explore it.

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

I have a website!  https://warofmemory.com/
I am also on Facebook under my pen name, https://www.facebook.com/HAntheDavis/.

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

Interview: Rebecca

Today we’re joined by Rebecca. Rebecca is a wonderful writer who mostly writes as a hobby. She specializes in poetry and has plans to write a dark fantasy series. She’s a talented and dedicated 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 am a writer for fun that mainly focuses on poetry and dark fantasy. I am planning on writing a series called Luminosity sometime in the future, but I still have not gotten around to putting a lot of work into it.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the world around me. I love looking at the world and thinking about what would have changed if X event happened. I am also inspired by other people’s stories, fictional or not.

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

When I was younger, I had really bad depression. I was at the point where I didn’t care about myself or anyone around me. I had no friends or anything that would tie me down enough that I wouldn’t want to commit suicide. But a few days after I started to contemplate ending my life, some sort of story popped into my head. That story, which will eventually become Luminosity when I get to writing it, saved my life by giving me happiness. But long story short, I wanted to write my story so everyone can experience the random thought that saved my life.

No, I haven’t always wanted to write and it still will not be my career.

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 always resides in a gray area. Not literally, but in all of my books and the poems that have something significant in them, there is no one that is fully good or fully bad. I believe that everyone is good and bad, depending on who is looking at them and that reflects greatly into my writing. My work also almost always has some sort of magic or supernatural sense to them, but that may not be a feature at all.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Believe in yourself. No one is perfect when they first start. In fact, most people, unless they were born brimming with talent, suck at writing or drawing when they first start out. I know I did. That being said it is very important to edit, not when you are immersed in the work, but afterwards to look back on your work. Or at least for writing. For drawing, I have no clue what to say because I am about as good as an elementary schooler when it comes to drawing.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a demiromantic asexual.

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

I have been lucky enough to never experience any ace prejudice and I hope I never will. That being said, most people don’t realize what asexuality is so they are very ignorant about me. I handle it by not handling it. I just ignore any ignorant comments that I get because I am confident about who I am. I just think to myself that I know myself best and if I don’t want to have sex, or have kids I just won’t. Ignorant people are not the ones that are in charge of my sex life and the only person I would have to worry about is a potential lover.

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

That it doesn’t exist. I have been told by my parents that eventually I would want sex and to have kids, or that eventually I would find “the one” but I know that will most likely not happen. I mean, I do want a relationship, like really badly, but I am not looking hard for one and I won’t die if I never get into another relationship.

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

Only you know what you are. If you feel like you are asexual, then you are asexual. Don’t let other people parade on your feelings because they don’t understand. And if you need to stay in the closet, then just make sure the closet is nice and comfy until you are ready to come out. There is no perfect time to come out, and you never have to come out if you were not comfortable with it.

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

You can find me on Wattpad at https://www.wattpad.com/user/Destructive_Rain.

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

Interview: Victoria Jeon

Today we’re joined by Victoria Jeon. Victoria is a phenomenally talented writer and visual artist who specializes in webcomics. Most of her work falls under dark fantasy, though she explores many themes and ideas through her art. Victoria currently has a webcomic entitled Perfection Engine, which has just the most fascinating premise. She’s clearly a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read and see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. Lucifer
Lucifer

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a digital illustrator and a webcomic artist. I mostly draw original character art, although I’ve drawn and sold some fanart in the past and recently started to participate in fanzines. My art often involves dark fantasy, symbolism and wordplay, philosophical subjects, and I strive to make works that look like traditional, oil paintings.

My current webcomic project is “Perfection Engine,” a fantasy webcomic that involves an angelic race in a seemingly perfect society, devoted to bringing back their beloved Maker. It is meant to be a shorter webcomic before I start some of my longer stories, but it’s a dark satire that hopefully comes across with a lot of insight and symbolism.

I am actually also a first year law student, meaning I am effectively living a double life with the beginnings of my legal career and my art. My art, whether I am painting illustrations or making webcomic pages definitely is a source of joy and comfort when I’m burnt out from law school work. It’s a huge challenge keeping up with both, but when both are in balance, I get fulfillment from both sides of my life.

2. Perfection Engine Cast
Perfection Engine Cast

What inspires you?

As far as my art style goes, I primarily draw inspiration from Blaze Wu, Yoshitaka Amano, Ayami Kojima, and Minori. I also tend to draw inspiration from baroque paintings, rococo paintings, and impressionist paintings, although it’s really hard to pinpoint a favorite or several from there!

Fashion also is a huge inspiration for me as well. I’ve been involved with Japanese fashion styles (i.e. Lolita fashion, Shironuri, and Mori fashion) for quite some time, so some of my characters naturally have designs similar to those fashion styles. I’ve been looking a bit more towards Haute Couture and up and coming fashion designers for inspiration too. Lately, I’ve been looking towards Comme de Garçons, Alice Auaa, Alexander McQueen, Linda Friesen, and more.

Subject matter for my stories is a lot darker, haha. I take from fairy tales, world history, philosophy, real life events, my life, and general observations about human nature and society. For example, one of my future projects brings a question, “What would it be like to search for truths people have taken to the grave?” Another explores the question, “What’s the point of all that power in your hands if you cannot reach for help?” Perfection Engine, my current webcomic, explores, in part, the question, “What if a God does not want to be worshipped?” and is very loosely based on a toxic relationship I’ve had in my past. A lot of my stories thus tend to lean to a tragic atmosphere, although I do hope people get some food for thought in the process of exploring them! It’d be good if some people got good out of what spite or anger I may feel against real life.

Aside from fairy tales, history, philosophy, and just reality in general, video games, movies and TV shows inspire me greatly as well. I take great amount of inspiration from Yoko Taro (Drakengard/Nier series), Final Fantasy 10, Dark Souls, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Pan’s Labyrinth, Project Itoh (Empire of Corpses, Harmony), and more.

Lastly, close friends are always an inspiration, even if we have very different philosophies and inspirations for our respective works. They help provide the drive and the food and drinks when all the visual and material inspirations cannot. Literally.

3. Golden - Self Portrait
Golden – Self Portrait

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

It’s a bit embarrassing to say, but I got into drawing a while after writing terrible fanfiction of video games when I was ten. At first, it was drawing fanart and self-inserts. Then it was a bunch of RP characters. I eventually got introduced to DeviantArt when I was 14, at which point I started to devote serious time and effort into drawing, writing stories, making characters, and improving my craft. I think I always enjoyed drawing, but it wasn’t up until this point that I seriously considered a path in art.

Due to a variety of personal reasons, circumstances and other interests in my life, I’ve ended up going to law school instead. I definitely was not going to give up art just because I was going into an entirely different field altogether though. I still have some stories I want to tell and endless things I want to illustrate.

4. Conjoined Souls
Conjoined Souls

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?

The penname “Alberloze” is a word in a fictional language that spans across almost all of my current stories. It means “White Rose,” but it colloquially means “True Love.” This is not restricted to romantic love either; it could be true love between friends, family, and so on. As for certain symbols and features, I tend to use a lot of flower, animal, and divine symbolisms. I also adore wordplay (namely palindromes, dual-meanings, and anagrams), and use them where I can.

It’s probably worth noting that a lot of my stories involve the soul in some form or another. I can’t exactly divulge how so as some of these stories are not published yet, but the human soul has always fascinated me. So many people define the soul in vastly different ways. Some do not believe in souls or anything spiritual, that it is a fictional concept. Some believe humanity and souls are the same thing. Some believe the soul is made of our thoughts and feelings. Some believe it is our will. Some believe souls straight-up cannot be comprehended.

My stories also tend to revolve around a theme. For my current project, Perfection Engine, for example, the theme is “Obsession.” Another story’s is “Truth.” Another story’s is “Vengeance.” And the last in that sequence of stories is “Karma.” I’m aiming to make stories with the theme of “Hope” or “Dreams” eventually too — something a lot happier and lighthearted. I’m contemplating on a magical girl series or a series of fairy tale retellings.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Take some time to figure out who you are. Your artwork will seem a lot more genuine and interesting when you take time to figure out what you like, what stories you have to tell, and who you are as a person. Think of it like going to an isolated mountain and meditating to become stronger like in kung-fu movies.

Always be open to experimenting. I found that experimenting is a sure way to get out of your comfort zone and discover art styles and work styles that you wouldn’t have discovered for yourself otherwise.

And lastly, do not be discouraged by other people. This ranges from societal expectations, to disapproving family members, to perhaps artists that you think are above and beyond where you are currently. It could be hard, that drawing in and of itself in those circumstances could feel like rebellion, but if you fight the good fight, I promise you will be satisfied with yourself in the long run.

5. Deficient Heaven
Deficient Heaven

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a cisgender woman (she/her), although sometimes I do question whether I really am cisgender as opposed to say, being genderfluid or genderless; I am also totally fine with they/them pronouns and allow people to use she/they interchangeably.

I am also biromantic asexual. I’d say I sit somewhere between sex-neutral to sex-negative asexuality, meaning I’d likely only volunteer to sexual activity under very narrow circumstances (with a significant other and after much deliberation and communication probably).

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

I have not experienced ace prejudice in my field yet —in law school and in art—, although I’ve seen quite a lot of people become confused about it. I am a part of the executive board in my law school’s OUTlaw group (LGBTQ+ lawyers group), and I’ve simply been doing what I can to accept any and all orientations that come in. As far as in the art field, I try to add more ace/aro representation with my characters. Many of them fall into the ace/aro spectrum, whether they are ace, aro, both, gray, or demi.

The one notable “prejudice” I’ve had was outside my field, in my personal life. After I’ve decided to come out as ace, I’ve had a conversation as to how my allosexual significant other (at the time) and I were going to “work something out” in light of me coming out as ace. Was it an attempt to “fix” my orientation, or was it trying to open up communication? I could not quite tell from the tone and facial expression. In the worst-case scenario, it was certainly prejudice of sorts. Other than that, I’ve been fortunate since my family and friends have been general accepting after I’ve explained how asexuality works.

6. Starkest Contrast
Starkest Contrast

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

There’s two in my case. The first is that asexual individuals are cold or antisocial. The second is that because we are ace, we are suddenly for some reason not allowed to enjoy certain aesthetics.

On the first count, asexual individuals are not abstaining because they haven’t found the right person or otherwise have committed to celibacy! They just simply don’t experience sexual attraction. Just because they don’t experience sexual attraction doesn’t mean that they don’t also want to avoid human interaction.

On the second count, aesthetic attraction/appreciation are very different from being sexual attraction. I’ve had a couple times in which I was looking at some risqué fashion (i.e. corsetry and lingerie) for designing and inspiration, and someone else asking me,

“Wait, aren’t you ace?”

“Yes but do you see the quality of that design?!”

7. Full Bloom
Full Bloom

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

Just remember that your identity is valid and you are not alone. It’s also worth remembering that a part of why a lot of asexuals are insecure of their own identity is because society really loves emphasizing sex and advertising it where they can. That is society’s inclination, and you can stand on your own against it to live out your own life. Better yet, you can find other asexual individuals, which can give you a sense of solidarity too!

8. Perfection Engine 2-3
Perfection Engine 2-3

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

You can find my current webcomic, Perfection Engine, on Tapas (https://tapas.io/series/Perfection-Engine). You can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, Artstation, Redbubble, and Instagram under “Alberloze.” Tumblr and Artstation are the best places to find my best works, although I post doodles and completed works first on Twitter.

9. Blood Oath - 5
Blood Oath – 5

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

Interview: Darcie Little Badger

Today we’re joined by Darcie Little Badger.  Darcie is a wonderfully talented Apache writer who writes short fiction in the the horror and dark fantasy genres.  Her work has recently appeared in Strange Horizons, Vignettes from the End of the World, and Dark Eclipse.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Profile

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write speculative fiction, stories from my daydreams and nightmares. Favorite genres include horror, dark fantasy, and fantasy. Though my published work is all short-form (< 10,000 words per story), I’ve been planning a humor/mystery/horror novel for several years; that project will begin in earnest after I complete my scientific dissertation. By day, I study phytoplankton genes.

What inspires you?

Besides those pesky daydreams and nightmares, my greatest inspirations are other authors. I read horror fiction nightly – haunting lullabies! When something really frightens me, my eyes sting and well up with tears. It’s an unconscious reaction, much like the tingly foot sensation some people experience on roller coasters. Anyway, teary-eye-resonant stories and the people who write them are definitely inspirational. My favorite horror is subtle, thoughtful, and beautiful. Diverse characters are a plus. Stuff containing stereotypes and/or edgy-to-be-edgy material won’t impress.

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer since the day I picked up a crayon and scrawled my first word, “love,” across a piece of construction paper. You can thank (or blame – your choice) my mother for that aspiration. Every night, when I was a toddler, she read nursery rhymes from thick, illustrated books, and when we ran out of rhymes, she invented new ones. Mom is also a Lipan Apache storyteller. During my childhood, she regaled school classes, scout troops, and library groups with the adventures of Trickster Coyote. While listening to my mother, I fell in love with language, especially its power to spread imagination.

My interest in dark fantasy/horror fiction emerged early, courtesy of two popular horror series. As a kid, I enjoyed R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, with the original illustrations by Stephen Gammell. If you haven’t seen Gammell’s work, be forewarned: it’s scary.

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

Most of my speculative fiction occurs in the same alternate reality world, an Earth that’s similar to ours but stranger. While reading my stories, look for references to a mysterious woman named Maria …

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Here’s my advice to aspiring writers: read and write voraciously, and remember that editing is an important part of writing. Very few people can create a nearly perfect piece before revisions. Above all, don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Abide by the old saying: if at first you don’t succeed, try and try (and try and try and try times infinity) again. You’re embarking on a difficult journey, but if you love to write, the trials are well worth the triumphs.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual

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

I have not experienced ace prejudice in my field. Hope I never do!

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

The “just a phase” misconception was common during my early twenties. I’ve also heard some people say that asexuality doesn’t really exist, and I’m not referring to “nothing exists” existential philosophers.

Well, my sexuality is not a phase, and I definitely exist inasmuch as anybody exists – whether or not we’re all figments of a really long dream is a discussion for another, stranger interview!

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

Polonius (from Hamlet) had a point when he said, “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”

You aren’t unnatural. You aren’t broken. You are part of a wonderfully diverse spectrum of people. And most importantly, you are not alone.

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

For an updated bibliography and sporadic posts, please visit my blog at https://darcielittlebadger.wordpress.com/ I have a new stories on the horizon, so stay tuned!

I’m also on Twitter @ShiningComic

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