Interview: CG Thomson

Today we’re joined by CG Thomson. CG is a wonderful fantasy author who is currently working on a seven-book fantasy series. She’s currently pursuing representation for the first novel of the series. CG is an imaginative 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’m a fantasy writer, currently working on the fourth book of my seven book series while seeking representation for the first book.

What inspires you?

Everything. 🙂 No, really. I have so much wonder for this world we live on. I find inspiration in nature, humanity, everyday life. I can spend twenty minutes marveling at sunlight dappling the ground, lose hours by the sea.

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

I’ve been writing since I was three. My mother chose storytelling as a way to focus her very ADHD toddler and whether I was simply telling her stories or learning how to write them down, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a writer of fantastic tales.

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 always an element of found family in my work, specifically a flawed heroic father figure, a man whose daughter is not his biologically but chosen by heart. This is an homage to my father who is (technically) my stepfather. We chose one another when I was very young and he has defined my life like no other.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s so much advice out there, and most of it is good, but no matter how good, no matter how successful the person giving that advice, that does not mean it will work for you. Figure out what you want from your art. Not everyone wants a career and not everyone can make a career of it (I’m certainly still waiting to see) and there’s nothing wrong with that. Figure out what you want and then figure out what works for you. Sadly, there isn’t a formula for success, but if you’re doing something you love and you’re improving regularly, you’re on the right path.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m demisexual.

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

Interestingly enough, I would have answered this with a no just a week ago, but when I tweeted a boost to this website’s call for interviewees, I lost followers. That said, as a cisgender female married to a cisgender male, I am heteronormative passing. There is some privilege there and I acknowledge that and try to use it to raise asexuality awareness.

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

That being on the asexuality spectrum means a person must be sex-repulsed. Of course a person can be, but frankly a person who is not asexual can be sex-repulsed. Likewise a person can be asexual and sex-ambivalent or even sex-positive.

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

Understand that you don’t have to “know” right now. You can be questioning. You can still be figuring things out. No matter what, you are perfect and lovable just as you are.

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

I’m currently seeking representation, so there’s nothing out yet, but anyone wishing to keep up with my process can find me at onaredhorse on Twitter.

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

Interview: Abby Grace

Today we’re joined by Abby Grace. Abby is a wonderful writer and musician. They have been playing the cello for over ten years and are even studying for a degree in it. They’re also going for a degree in English Literature and have written both fanfiction and original poetry. As if that’s not impressive enough, Abby has also recently taken up crochet. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and enthusiastic artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

cello

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer and musician – specifically, I write various fanfictions, and some original poetry, and have been playing music from the age of four. My main instrument is the cello, which I’ve played for almost 12 years now. I’m lucky enough to have been able to pursue both of these passions, and am currently at university studying English Literature and picking up a minor in cello. I also recently picked up crocheting.

I’ve had two original poems published in the past, in Skipping Stones (an international children’s magazine). Personally, though, I feel most accomplished about my work whenever I receive a heartfelt review on my fanfics. I’ve actually cried over a couple of emotional reviews on a specific story, “Firsts,” which is about a trans character trying on his first binder. I also recently started sharing some of the funnier stories from my life and my family, and am considering collecting them into a book of short stories.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere – from silly things overheard in public to major life events to watching a storm roll in. Inspiration for art, no matter what medium, is everywhere.

There are a few specific people who inspire me every day, though. My grandmother, who was known locally for her amazing quilts, didn’t learn how to sew until her late twenties. I crochet to feel closer to her. Janelle Monáe, who is so unapologetically herself at every turn. Yo-Yo Ma, the best-known cellist in the world, who is still so kind and friendly as to grin widely and give a fist bump to a shy fourteen year old who plays the cello, too.

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

I’ve always loved reading and writing, it’s been an important part of me for as long as I can remember. More than half of my family is musically-inclined in some way or another, too, so it was really less of an ‘if’ I would be a musician, and more of a ‘when.’ There’s definitely a few pictures in a family album somewhere of me sitting on my grandfather’s lap at the piano, looking absolutely delighted as he shows me that pressing the keys makes sound.

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?

Hm, I don’t believe I have anything that I work into every piece I do. A lot of my poetry involves stars in some way, but that’s just because I really like space.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be discouraged by only getting a couple of notes or kudos, or even nothing at all. You still have something valuable to share with the world – the world just takes a little while sometimes to notice it. I have one fanfic that has the most kudos of that specific ship on AO3… and I have 10 fanfics with less than 30. I have even more with less than 3 comments. Don’t worry about the numbers. Focus on doing your best.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual

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

Luckily, I have yet to see anything specific in the general writing and music communities. Within fandom itself, however, I have most certainly seen people attack others for being ace and/or aro and trying to identify with a character by suggesting that they are also ace and/or aro.

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

That we are frigid, unfeeling, or that asexuality isn’t ‘a thing’ and is just ‘attention-seeking.’ I hear this most often in regards to demisexuality.

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

Be confident in yourself. And if you’re not, ask questions! Talk to the community – most people are happy to chat and help where they can. It’s something that I wish I had done more when I was younger. It could have helped me avoid a seriously bad time.

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

I’m on AO3 (DarthAbby), and Tumblr (main – butim-justharry) (side – official-cello). Please feel free to send an ask or private message to either blog if you want to talk!

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

Interview: Embo

Today we’re joined by Embo. Embo is a phenomenal artist who specializes in cross stitch. She has recently cross stitched a number of Pride badges, which are absolutely beautiful. Embo also does some embroidery and she has recently started dabbling in drawing as well. It’s clear she’s a driven and passionate artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Ace
Ace

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I mostly cross stitch, sometimes embroider, and occasionally draw. Cross stitching is my main art though. I favour working on smaller pieces, and recently I’ve spent most of my time making small Pride pieces.

As for drawing, I’ve taken up doodling fan art of Mass Effect with the intention of writing fan fic in the future.

What inspires you?

I follow many talented people on Tumblr, and seeing their work inspires me greatly! If I see someone has created a wonderful piece of art, I find it spurs me into action and I will immediately start trying to create something of my own. Drawing is more accessible for me, but I can’t resist taking on new cross stitch projects, to the detriment of older forgotten WIPs!

Bookmark
Bookmark

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

Admittedly my reasons for getting interested into cross stitch aren’t very inspiring. I kept seeing subversive cross stitch popping up online and thought it was really funny and wanted to get into that. As soon as I started though, I realised that cross stitch is an amazing craft, really fun, and especially good for stress relief! And to this day, I’ve only produced one piece of subversive cross stitch haha.

I started as a fan artist when I was younger, but found that no matter how hard I tried, I was never satisfied with my drawings. Cross stitch, however, has always been really satisfying.

Butterfly
Butterfly

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?

To be honest, not really. I still haven’t gotten into the habit of signing my cross stitch pieces, which is something I really ought to get into doing. I used to sign my drawings, but I dropped the habit some years ago when I stopped being happy with what I was making.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t get bogged down in getting lots of Likes on social media. Be proud of what you’re making, and don’t stress about what other people think.

Hoop
Hoop

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Somewhere between ace and demisexual. Possibly panromantic and demiromantic too, but I’m still figuring that part out.

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

The worst I’ve encountered was coming out to a family member and being told that I just hadn’t met the right person yet. This was frustrating, as talking about my asexuality has always been hard in the first place, and I felt like I was being shut down. In response, I just never brought it up with them again. Nowadays I rarely come out, unless it’s necessary for the situation. This… is not a great way to be. I shouldn’t have to feel the need to hide this aspect of myself, but the fear of prejudice tends to take me over a lot. I’ve also had to quit visiting some “LGBT-friendly” websites outright, because the audience was completely acephobic. I realised that I just wasn’t welcome there, which was a shame because I otherwise enjoyed the site. I… was angry and sad for days afterwards. It’s not an easy thing to process.

Pride Badges
Pride Badges

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

That we’re all a bunch of prudes. Or that we’re just trying to make ourselves out to be special for something that isn’t even a thing. I also worry that, because I’m in a relationship, people think I’m not ace anymore which… is not how that works at all.

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

Don’t be afraid to embrace yourself! Labels can be greatly helpful, but use them carefully- don’t cling to them completely. You’re 100% valid in who are, and don’t let anyone take that from you. And don’t worry if you find your labels change over time. Mine did, and I had nobody to talk to about it at the time, but don’t worry if that happens to you, it does not make you any less valid!

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

I post cross stitch and embroidery at http://stickyfigs.tumblr.com/ and doodlings at https://potatopotholeakastickyfigs.tumblr.com/.

Steven
Steven

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

Interview: Marzy Hart

Today we’re joined by Marzy Hart. Marzy is a phenomenal filmmaker who recently founded a production company with her best friend called Besties Make Movies. She’s currently working on a film that she describes as a “genre-bending ace film” that she wrote and is acting in. She’s currently building followers for the film, so I highly recommend clicking on their links and showing them some love. It’s clear Marzy is an incredibly bright and dedicated artist with a very 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.

I’m an actor and a filmmaker. I recently formed the production company Besties Make Movies with my bestie Stacey Maltin to have more say in the stories we tell and the cast/crew we bring on to bring them to life. We’re currently working on the genre bending short film called 2 Weeks, which is inspired by my experiences with asexuality. Our director describes it as “crazy dream logic about a woman who begins to wake up to who she really is and what she needs.” We successfully crowdfunded the project on Seed & Spark but we are building followers (free) which not only helps us unlock free tools provided by the platform’s partners but it helps buyers see that there is an audience for this content. You can follow the film by going to 2weeksmovie.com and hitting “follow” to the right of the video (desktop) or below the video (mobile).

What inspires you?

Both in acting and more behind the scenes filmmaking, I’m inspired by connecting people. I like to explore topics that are surrounded by shame like asexuality, sobriety, homelessness, mental health. I’m also inspired by thinking of what life could be like so fantasy and scifi are high on my list. I want to make the world a better place whether that’s through laughter or tears.

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

I have to say, I’ve always known, even before I understood what being an artist was. TV & films served as a way for me to travel through time and live lives that weren’t my own. It’s funny that what started as an escape has very much turned into using my experiences and my stories to excel in the industry.

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?

Ahh!! I don’t but now I totally want one!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be kind to yourself. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t let it stop you. Put yourself out there. There will always be haters but your art isn’t meant for everyone.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Grey Ace/Demi Sexual

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

I’m making 2 Weeks because my field has been very slow to give any representation to the ace community. Most people I’ve shared the project with have been very supportive and curious about it. We’ll see what happens once we film and play at festivals. 2 Weeks really is my coming out. I’ve told some close friends but most people find out when I tell them the film is based on my life. A few people have asked me if I just haven’t had sex with the right person yet.

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

That it’s temporary or that people that just haven’t had sex in a while understand what it feels like.

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

This is one of the most complex identities. You are not alone, you are not broken. It’s different for everyone. You can be ace and have sex. You can be ace and not have sex. You can still have meaningful romantic relationships with/without sex if you want that. The world is not as black and white as society would like us to think that it is. The “A” in the LGBTQIA is for asexual not for ally!

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

Follow me on social media!

Instagram/Twitter: at marzapproved (Twitter)
Facebook.com/marzygotyourhart
Instagram: at bestiesmakemovies
Twitter: at bestiesmovies
Facebook.com/bestiesmakemovies
bestiesmakemovies.tumblr.com.

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

Interview: Melissa Wilkinson

Today we’re joined by Melissa Wilkinson, who also goes by Art by Little Miss Luna. Melissa is a phenomenal visual artist who specializes in digital art. She frequently draws cutesy characters. For the most part, she has been drawing anime stuff for artist alleys but has recently branched out and done some drawings of plants. It’s clear she’s a talented and dedicated 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’m an unabashed anime fan, so I tend to draw cutesy stuff. I’m working on refining my style and branching out into other areas but I always come back to cute because, ultimately, it’s what I like. I’ve learned I don’t need to apologize for it. I’m a mostly digital artist but lately I’m trying to learn watercolors!

What inspires you?

I draw a lot of fan art so I love taking inspiration from cartoons, especially ones like “Steven Universe” that are mature beyond their core audience. Outside of fiction I take a lot of my inspiration from food. There’s so many colors and textures present in the edible!

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

I took a graphic design class in eighth grade and I’ve liked digital art ever since. I gave up on it to study hospitality when I went to college, but ultimately I came back to it and got a degree in graphic design, too. I didn’t always want to be an artist but I was always interested in creative things like cooking and writing.

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

I used to have a silly little symbol I’d stamp in the corner of all my drawings of a heart with bat wings. Now I just have a logo I use on my business cards.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The best advice I can give is when you’re working on something and you’re starting to get frustrated, walk away. Take a break, take a nap, breathe. You won’t produce any good work if you’re angry so come back to it when you’re calm again. You can look at it with fresh eyes and try to figure out what’s going wrong.

hamham
Hamham

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I used to identify as alloromantic but currently I’m going by demisexual.

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

Not from other artists, no, but from my family, certainly. Most of what I hear is that I’m confused or I just haven’t figured myself out yet. Ultimately, I just have to accept that not everyone in my life is going to understand me and that’s ok. It doesn’t really matter if they don’t get it so long as I feel comfortable with who I am.

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

That it’s just a phase and that the internet has poisoned my mind and made me think I’m a “special snowflake.”

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

Once, during Thanksgiving break from college, I was hanging out with my friends from high school. They all started talking about their sexual experience from their first semester in college and I felt so utterly uncomfortable that I kept sneaking off into the bathroom, hoping that when I got back they would have moved on to something else. Eventually I left and went home and cried in my mother’s lap. I had no idea why I felt such a disconnect, why I felt so lost. A year later I read about asexuality on Tumblr and I realized that there was a word for why I was the way I was, and that there were other people like me. The internet is your friend. You are not alone. Arm yourself with knowledge and know that you are perfectly normal and there are people who will support you. I’m one of them. Shoot me a message on any of my social media accounts and I’ll be happy to talk things over! Ace artists have to look out for one another.

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

Lately I’ve been mostly using my Instagram (at artbylittlemissluna) but I also upload things to my DeviantArt (Little-Miss-Luna) and my Facebook (at artbylittlemissluna) and Twitter (at art_by_LML). I also have an Etsy store (at artbylittlemissluna) if you want to see the products I make and sell with my art!

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Yuri on Ice Cream

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

Interview: Sophie A Katz

Today we’re joined by Sophie A. Katz. Sophie is a phenomenal and versatile writer. She writes in a number of different forms and styles. She’s a fellow writer who enjoys writing hopeful stories (we need more of them! 🙂 ). 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.

Sophie Katz headshot

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

It’s all about stories for me – I LOVE stories, and storytelling. So far, my best skill to bring stories to life has been writing. I’ll write in pretty much any form; different stories need different mediums, after all. Some stories are short, some are novels. Some are screenplays or stage plays. I dabble in poetry. I have a few stories that sit in my head and insist upon being graphic novels – I’ll have to find someone who’s better with visual art to collaborate with for those.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me. That’s a vague answer. I have a “story ideas” tag on my Tumblr with hundreds of pictures and prompts in it, and I didn’t think that that was out of the ordinary until someone said to me, “Wow, you get story ideas from EVERYTHING!” But everything DOES have a story to it. You know that word “sonder”? About realizing that every other person in the world is living a life just as complex and interesting as your own? I can’t help but see that in everyone and everything around me. I don’t see things as just the way they are – I want to know why, and what might happen next. And that’s what a story is, at its base: why are things the way they are, and what could happen next?

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

There was this dollhouse in my parents’ house – I think it’s still in the basement – and incidentally we didn’t call it a “dollhouse” because Mom did NOT want her daughters playing with dolls; we called it a “people house,” like that Dr. Seuss book. I’d sit at the People House with all of our toys, all the animals and action figures and Disney characters, and narrate their adventures, for hours and hours. It was just what I did. Before I could write or read, I told the stories of my toys. And then one day, Dad took notes on the story I was telling, and typed it up for me. That’s where it really started. After that, I learned to read and write, and started writing little books, and Mom became my editor. But it took me until junior high to really start identifying as a writer. Before that, I honestly thought I was going to be an actress, even though I wasn’t very good at it, and didn’t really enjoy it. I think because the storytelling thing was just something I’d always done, I didn’t recognize it as special, or even as “art” at all – but it was always there, and eventually I recognized it as such, and now it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Things REALLY took off once I realized that Disney World had a writing internship…but if I start talking about THAT, then we’ll be here all day.

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?

That’s a really interesting question. When my big sister was looking at colleges, I started picking up literary journals from the schools we visited, and I started noticing a troubling pattern in the works published there: they were overwhelmingly sad. I concluded then that sadness must be the easiest emotion to evoke in a story, and the true challenge was to create something that made people happy.

Bad things do happen in the stories I write, but they very rarely end that way. Books and movies that end in hopelessness bother me. By all means, kill your darlings and send me to bed crying, but give me a reason to get up in the morning! This is a very roundabout way of answering that a feature I include in my work is hope. My stories are most often about people looking at the world and seeing not only the bad that is, but the good that could be, and working to make that good come to be. I think a lot of people perceive hope and optimism as naïve, and sadness and despair as true art. It’s fine to have that opinion, but I don’t subscribe to it. I see art in joy, and in the challenge of creating joy, and in taking on that challenge. I see art in hope.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You are not completely unique, and that is a good thing. It’s a good thing because it means that you have something to offer that will resonate with other people. You are not so different from the rest of the world that nobody will ever understand; rather, you have something to create that other people need. Create what is true to you, what is so true to you that it feels like no one else in the world may have ever felt the way that you feel about it. Create it and share it with the world. And someday, someone will walk up to you, and nervously shake your hand, and say, “That’s exactly how I feel. Thank you for turning it into art.”

Also, I highly recommend learning the skill of biting your tongue and saying “thank you, I’ll consider it” to critique. It’s not an easy skill to develop. Feedback is key to growth, and while you don’t have to TAKE all the feedback anyone ever gives you (you won’t take most of it, and that’s the way it should be!), it’s good to hear feedback. Feedback is how you learn what people are getting out of your art, whether your art is doing what you want it to do to the people you want it to do stuff to. I hope that sentence makes sense. I’d appreciate feedback on that sentence.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual, usually. Recently I’ve been feeling a bit more solidly ace; my body on occasion will send me a surprise bout of “nonononono” even when I’m with someone I am very much emotionally connected to.

I don’t even know what’s up with my romantic orientation. It’s like it plays “duck duck goose,” where it’ll go “duck duck duck…” over everyone around me for ages and then suddenly “GOOSE! YOU HAVE A CRUSH!!!”

I like things to make sense, so it’s all a bit frustrating for me, but I’m training myself to make peace with the uncertainty. Having words like “demisexual” and “asexual” and “sex-positive” and “sex-repulsed” to throw around helps some. I like having words for things.

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

Nothing’s been explicitly directed towards me, but romance is such a prevalent part of the stories we tell that I can’t help but be nervous. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to write a love story that someone will want to read, because I can’t know what it’s like to be the allosexual people that mainstream romances are about. I’m nervous that putting ace people in my stories, or being frank about demisexuality, will bring more trouble down on me than good. But this is my life, this is my truth, and these are the stories that I wish, oh god do I wish, that I had had when I thought that I was broken. How could I not write that? But I’m nervous, so how CAN I write that?

Fortunately, I found an incredibly supportive feminist arts community at my university, and I felt safe enough there to read a piece about figuring out my sexuality at an open mic. After the show, an audience member came up to me and thanked me, because what I had read was exactly how it was for them figuring out their sexuality. That’s when it hit me that however nervous I was, I couldn’t let that get in the way of creating my art. People need to know that they’re not alone. And coming up against ninety-nine readers who think I’m some faker special snowflake is worth it if I can get to the hundredth reader who needs to hear that they’re not alone.

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

That it doesn’t exist.

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

…Honestly, I wish someone had advice to give ME, because I struggle with it plenty. What I do know to remind myself of as much as I can is this: your sexuality does NOT make you a burden, and anyone who makes you feel like it is can walk the plank.

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

I have an electronic portfolio at https://sophieakatz.wordpress.com/, and I’ve just begun a writing Tumblr in an attempt to self-promote – you can find that at https://sophieakatz.tumblr.com/. Go ahead and send me a message there if you want to chat about anything! Or you could contact me at http://ohthewhomanity.tumblr.com/; that’s the blog where I use the “story ideas” tag. You can also find my Odyssey articles every week at https://www.theodysseyonline.com/user/@sophiekatz.

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