Interview: Schi-Lee A. Smith

Today we’re joined by Schi-Lee A. Smith. Schi-Lee is a phenomenal artist who is incredibly versatile. She does a lot of visual art and even teaches painting classes. When she’s not doing visual art, Schi-Lee enjoys writing and writes both original work and fanfiction. Schi-Lee also has a passion for singing and even has some karaoke fans. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist with an impressive amount of passion, 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.

Well, I paint quite often, I actually teach painting classes sometimes.  I sing, a lot; I have some fans at karaoke.  I draw with pen or pencil, too, and I write, both fanfiction and original works.  My writing is usually like what I read, sci-fi ish, and I pride myself on making realistic dialogue.  I like to paint and draw realistically, haven’t quite gotten abstract down.  My singing can be just about anything, I can sing Creep by Postmodern Jukebox and Highway to Hell just as easily.

What inspires you?

When I was a child, it was my Dad.  I still have his drawings and poems around my house, and when I was very young, he would record us singing on a giant cassette tape recorder thing and let me do skits in between songs.  He was very artistic, and just about all my artistic tendencies stem from him.  Now, it’s still that in a way, but also I just want to see the beauty in the world, and add to it if I can.  Lots of people love hearing me sing, and love my writing, and love my artwork.  If I can make someone else happy, then I’ve succeeded.

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

Technically my field is Biology, that’s what I’m majoring in in University, but I’ll always consider myself a musician, artist, and writer.  My Dad never put me down for any art I did, so I was never afraid to get into something I wanted to do, and it’s always been with me since childhood so even if I never get any recognition for any of it, I’ll always be an artist. Therefore it’s not as much something I want to do, as something I’m doing, even if I stay obscure.

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 do, actually.  My Dad’s signature was a heart with ‘LAB’, his initials, in the center, all interconnected, it’s really neat.  I made one for myself when my initials were still SAB, but it looked really weird, so when I got married, I changed it to a kind of horns, or something, to match SAS.  It’s hard to draw with a mouse, but it’s basically this.

Signature

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t worry about what others say is art, art is what you want it to be.  I have friend who play metal that people say isn’t music, but it is to them, and it makes them happy.  Draw/sing/write/do whatever to make you happy, or to get it out of your head, don’t do it for others.

And don’t be put down if it sucks at first, most everyone’s first drawing of a person is a stick figure, just practice, and practice a lot.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic asexual.  I suppose if one goes for this part, I’m sex-positive.

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

I have encountered some people that didn’t really know what it was, but my friends were very supportive and defended me before I could.  I have awesome friends.  Thankfully I have yet to encounter any prejudice or ignorance that scared me like I know plenty have, so I thank God every day for where I am in life.

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

That we hate sex, or we never have sex.

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

You aren’t alone, that feeling that you don’t understand what all the fuss is about?  Other people feel it.  It’s not weird to think that a ‘hot’ person isn’t hot, according to your body. You don’t have to pretend.

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

Well, I have a YouTube channel, youtube.com/schihigh, where I’m attempting to post my singing and music videos I make on.  I also have a Tumblr and a specific tag with my art on it.  You can just search ‘schi’s art’ on schi-walker-locked.tumblr.com.  If someone were to want commissions, they could message me on Tumblr, or email me at schihigh@yahoo.com.  Just put commission in the subject.

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

Interview: Linz Vandermeer

Today we’re joined by Linz Vandermeer. Linz is a phenomenal writer who has recently gotten into cosplay. They mostly write fanfiction, but they started out writing poetry and stories. For the cosplay, they’ve only recently started dabbling in it and enjoys it. It’s clear they’re a 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.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, it’s almost a compulsion with me. I started with poetry, some bad, some even worse, and then branched out into stories. Eventually, through my love of comics and movies, I ended up in the realm of fanfiction, and that’s where I’ve focused most of my attention for the last 3 or 4 years. The other thing I have really started to get into is cosplay, and though my sewing skills are not the greatest, I have a great group of friends to turn to where my abilities are lacking.

What inspires you?

I get a lot of my inspiration from daily life. I take a situation that I’ve encountered, and wondered ‘what would such-and-such a character do in my place’, and ‘how could this have gone worse’? It’s like a little mental exercise, and then before I know it I have 1200 words on a page. When I am cosplaying, I try to find a character that really calls out to me, someone that I can see a bit of myself in.

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

Even from a very young age I wanted to be a writer. I used to write stories with my friends about the adventures we would go on if we didn’t have to be in school, or if our parents were actually super spies, and things like that. As I got older I realized that I didn’t want writing to be my job, it was my mental escape from life and to put pressure or deadlines killed my creativity. Cosplay naturally evolved from my love of roleplaying games like D&D. I took part in a LARP (live action role play) for almost a decade before health issues made it too difficult, and that’s where I really started to learn to build costumes.

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 like to use British cuss words, they’ve always entertained me and I grew up watching shows like Monty Python and Red Dwarf, so that coloured my view of humour. More than that I like to take one scene and add more description than necessary, really make it the centerpiece of my work. I also rarely have sexual content in my fanfiction, which makes it a bit of an oddity.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

When you are writing, write for you. That way any person who likes what you have done, that’s just a bonus. Art should come from inside of us, and serve us, the rest of the world is a distant second. Do it to make yourself happy, that’s where the best art comes form.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a panromantic asexual and agender individual.

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

There’s a lot of pressure towards sexualization and romanticism in writing, and fanfiction in particular. I occasionally get pressure to add sex scenes, and I will the odd time concede and add them, but it always feels wrong to me. I have no interest in sexual actions, so I’m not certain that I can really build them appropriately or accurately.

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

I find that for the most part I encounter a lot of confusion over the fact that my partner and I have been together for almost six years. We’re both asexual, and though we live together we have separate bedrooms because I am an extremely restless sleeper. When people hear that we have never even kissed (I’m touch-averse), they assume we are more like friends that live together, but it’s not that at all. I love and adore my partner, and being with her is very different than being with even my best friend.

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

Struggle is natural. I grew up in a world where asexuality didn’t exist, and where even more standard queer identities like gay and lesbian were barely discussed. I tried on a lot of hats when I was trying to figure out who I was, but it wasn’t until I found asexuality that I felt comfortable and that it was ‘just right’. Don’t be afraid to change your identifiers when they don’t suit you anymore. Sexuality is not only a spectrum, but it flows and changes as your identity and personality develop.

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

I have some of my old poetry up on Deviantart at https://www.deviantart.com/cavannarose and my fanfiction is up on AO3 at https://archiveofourown.org/users/CavannaRose

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

Interview: Adrienne

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

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Sabrina

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

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Holmesienne

Today we’re joined by Holmesienne. Holmesienne is a wonderful writer who is currently focused on writing a novel but also writes fanfiction and for Role Playing. She is incredibly passionate about writing and loves talking about the subject. Holmesienne is clearly a dedicated and talented artist, 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.

Well, I like to do all sorts of art (even though I’m not so good at all of them) but the one I feel very connected to is writing. I have always been interested in this art, even though I didn’t considered it as such back then. It was just something I enjoyed doing and nothing more. Since I was a kid I kind of wrote every time I could, littles pieces of stories coming straight out of my mind. It was not exactly the same topics, themes, characters or writing style I used at the time, but this is how it works after all. It has helped me growing up, and improving my writing abilities as well.

Now, I write different kind of stuff. I’m focused on a novel for the time being, and I write a fanfiction on the side too. Plus, I’m part of the Role Play community, so I’m always torn between the three of them. Despite my inability to choose what I want to write on most days, I’m always attached to the same thing: the style. Well, I mean, I try to use the same style to write my RPs and fanfictions the same way I do when I’m typing for the novel. Even though one seems less “important” for some matter, I just can’t write something I haven’t put myself into it with my bare soul. I guess I put a part of me in everything I write and that’s why I’m so slow, cause I have some kind of self-sacrifice to make (I mean, my energy, not some other thing super gore-like).

Anyway, to describe my style it’s really difficult for me to explain cause I don’t think I could find the right words which fit my writing abilities. It’s not pretentious or some shit like that, I really can’t find THE word to summarize it all, but I could try to give a shot at some kind of explanation. I guess the best words I could use to describe the style is: detailed and kind of explicit descriptions of landscapes/situations/feelings, so that an impression can emerge and readers permeate themselves with the combination of the said impression and the atmosphere depicted, to guess the implicit meaning of the sentences and the story in general. Sorry if it doesn’t make sense in English, but it’s the best I can do to grasp the very substance of it all.

I also try to approach some difficult subjects to give some kind of depth to the story. What I mean by that is that I’m not familiar with light subject and little connection. I like it when I can find a deep bond between situations, a strong explanation as to how it connects and how it will affect the future of the story, and so on. The difficult subjects I talk about are somehow linked to the troubles we all experience at some point in life. It’s not always the case, sometimes I don’t address it at all. But I always try to show that nothing’s always black or white, that everything’s kind of grey, no matter the nuances.

I think I can cut it now. It will do.

What inspires you?

Honestly, everything. The situations I see/read about everyday kind of inspire me at some point, some structures too I guess, like buildings or shops and even landscapes. Songs or videos I watch on TV or on the Internet. But the thing that inspires me the most is the weather. The grey or night kind of weather. The rainy and stormy kind too. Every time I go outside, I look at the grey sky, the thick clouds, the bright stars, the pale moon, the ragging storm, the sparkling lightning, the rain pouring down. That’s what inspires me. Because I just stay there, inhale and permeate myself with the atmosphere emanating from this kind of weather. I imagine my characters or some situations linked to this aura, and it just strikes me. Every time I feel like I don’t know how to start a sentence, I just get out and it’s there, hanging in the air. Just for my imagination to reach out for.

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

I can’t remember, really. I guess everything I had to do in my life had put me in this place right now. Had made me fond of the art of the literature, even though I hated these classes back then when I was still at school. I was not super interested in this field at first, I was just happy to wrote things when I had an idea at the time. With nothing to bother me and no strings attached.

Now, I still don’t consider myself like an author or a writer, but I would find it amazing if I could become a professional artist in my field. I’m just an amateur for the time being, but I guess I’ll see what’s next to come for me. Whatever will happen in the future, I would just be glad if I could still write on my spare time. No matter what.

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

I think I do yeah. When I write, I like to include some words corresponding to a certain domain. A unique category of words, linked to a specific setting. It’s a cluster of themes I’m more aspiring to write about. The category is: the dark. I always write words linked to the dark, to describe different things, like a situation, a landscape, a feeling. I mostly use those words: obscure, shadow, dusk, opaque, oblivion, naught, and so on. And I also use terms that are contrasting to them, to impose some kind of duality (cluster words about light for example).

It’s my signature and certainly the strongest feature of the things I write.

Sometimes, I like to add some symbols here and there, to cut the story at one point and show that the following sentences belong to another section of work. This is how I write the most, because I always write one situation at a time, and to just mix it up or rush the story is really not my cup of tea.

(It’s probably how you will recognize me if you ever read my stuff.)

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The more important thing you have to remember when you do your art is that it’s for you FIRST. You do what you want for you. You make things you like for you. When you get to become or consider yourself as an artist, please, remember this. Do what’s best for you. Do what you enjoy. Do what you like.

If there’s something you want so badly to see in art and no one has ever done it before, just do it! Do not hold back for anything in your life, especially for art because it’s directly linked to you. To your very being and your soul, to your beautiful spirit.

And please, another thing you absolutely have to remember and to know: do not wait for others to criticize (or worst, evaluate) your stuff without them knowing what you intend to do. Do not lay your work in other hands (unless it’s collective art) because it will not feel like it’s your work anymore.

Last thing you have to understand it that it’s okay when you have no motivation or don’t have time at all. Don’t feel bad and don’t put yourself down over your work because of this. You will get through it and you will get back to your stuff.

Little trick for you all, if you don’t feel confident enough : I always tell everyone that, if you do something you like, it’s because you know you’re good at it. Otherwise you would have ended it sooner than later or stopped it a long time ago.

Believe in you ♥

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual. But mostly I tell people I’m just asexual so that I don’t have to explain all the time the specificity of my real identity. It’s sometimes exhausting to describe what it means to those who don’t know or understand what it is. But, every chance I get and when I have time, I correct myself and tell them who I am and how I identify. It’s important for everyone to grasp the signification and for us to expand the representation.

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

Personally, I haven’t met ace prejudice in my field, but I do have encountered some ignorance in real life. Some people are not informed or show some misconceptions about what it means to be asexual.

When it happens IRL, I always stand my ground and explain to them the aspects of being ace, what it means, what it really is. Because it’s my identity and I will not let anyone disregard myself for it just because they know shit about this and won’t take the effort to inform themselves over it.

On the other hand, when I see some posts on the internet about our community, I reblog them, I retweet them. I’m not fluent enough in English to explain out of the blue everything about asexuality to people on the internet. However, when it’s in my native language, I can tell almost everything there is to know about the community and the spectrum.

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

I have two misconceptions in mind but they are somehow linked.

The first is that people that are ignorant on the matter think that asexuality means we don’t like or practice sex at all. It’s infuriating because there are asexual that love sex. It’s not about the act itself (in general I mean, but I understand if the repulsion of the act is a part of why someone identify as ace) but more about sexual desire and sexual attraction. They are “lacking” or “low” most of the time for asexual but it doesn’t mean that it’s unnatural. How can someone believe it’s unnatural? It’s just normal.

The second is the fact that everyone always have to give the “It’s because you haven’t met the right person, yet!” card. And for that, I’m kind of biased since I’m demi, because I get why it’s the matter sometimes. Even though it’s more about the connection between one ace person and their partner (romantic or not)  that is important for this aspect. You trust some people with this, and there are people you just don’t. But it’s not the matter altogether. The reason this pretense is also false is that you can met whoever you like, it will not change anything about your asexuality. You are and always will be a part of the community, no matter what.

There are so many more misconceptions I could talk about but I never encountered anything else, so I will stop here.

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

It’s probably not what you would want to read but making your own researches help a lot at first. That way you can focus on what’s important for you, and get to know how to better identify yourself.  (However I understand that if you are completely lost on the beginning it will not be the better point to get across, especially if you don’t know the word asexuality).

You can also talk with ace people on the internet after logging on some forums or read through ace positivity blogs. Asks those who are willing to help you, they will be happy to do it. Search for associations or clubs or documents or even interviews, and so on. On the internet or in real life too.

The most important thing is that once you get to identify yourself, everything else will not be so hard anymore. You are scared to do your ace coming-out? Don’t. You want to do it? Do it. Just remember to not push yourself to fit into society while you’re here with something so special that it makes you unique. But, so long as you are happy and in terms with yourself, it’s all that will matter.

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

You can find my fanfic(s) on AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/Holmesienne/works

Also I have short “poems” on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kt_Chup

I would absolutely adore to share the stories of the characters I write about (not for the novel, but for the RP on forums) and I think I will post them soon on Tumblr (in my native language): http://coloraldreamx.tumblr.com/

Hopefully I will probably finish the novel one day too and post it on the internet, who knows. There’s also a chance I will post facts about the story’s characters on Tumblr, and maybe some one shots if I ever made other ones too.

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

Interview: Jacob

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

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

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

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

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

2. Inherited Intuition A4 Cover
Inherited Intuition

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Caw

Today we’re joined by Caw. Caw is a wonderful young fanartist who writes fanfiction for a number of different fandoms. She enjoys writing for people with similar interests to enjoy and enjoys writing as a hobby. It’s clear she’s a dedicated artist who really enjoys writing, as  you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write fanfiction for communities such as Sander Sides, The Phandom (Dan & Phil), and Sekaiichi Hatsukoi but I have been planning a very own original story of my own for the last year, I’m happy to say I’ll be publishing the first chapter on October 1st!

What inspires you?

I’d have to say my best friends and quotes from my idols! Dan or danerkuu as many know her is such an inspiration to me, she’s always been there when I needed her and I cherish every waking moment we share together. When it comes to a single quote that still gets me is by Daniel Howell, “You are an independent mind in this universe that can do anything and everything you have ever dreamed of.”

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

Well, at first I was intrigued after reading fanfictions about Inuyasha couples so I decided to give it a try and subconsciously it was really to cope with some past trauma of mine through characters I cherished and stories I put them in.

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?

Crutches. It comes from a catchphrase of mine, “When the entire world breaks your legs, I’ll be your crutches always.”

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fail. Fail over and over and over and over again because then you learn, you become wise and you adapt to the constructive criticism you get. Don’t give up, keep practicing, keeping making your art whatever it may be because if you keep trying that means you’re making progress. It took me three years to get here and I’m still learning. There’s no perfection but progress is so much better than perfection because guess what? That means there’s always something new to learn, some mistake to make, and something to improve which makes you an even better artist.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Apothisexual, I identify as asexual and I’m sex-repulsed by the idea of sex. I really just prefer cuddles and kisses honestly! I prefer to just say asexual but if you want the detail answer, that’s the closest hit home!

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

Not necessarily in my field since I’ve only discovered it recently and I haven’t been attacked either but I am scared for that prejudice. I know Tumblr is split on what to think about asexuality and one of my family members isn’t keen on believing my sexual identity. He’s said I couldn’t possibly know what I am because apparently my hormones haven’t hit yet although I know that’s not true.

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

To be honest, I didn’t hear about it much before 2018 Pride Month but looking through forum discussions and the like, people think we just can’t find the one suddenly spark that sexual attraction.

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

You don’t have to know what you are exactly, I was very hesitant to say I’m apothisexual because that might be wrong but I’m pretty comfortable with it and I think that’s the best thing to go with. If you feel comfortable with your label, then that’s your label! I’m happy just being labeled as asexual and I prefer it actually. Don’t feel a rush to place label on yourself either, you don’t have to place yourself in a box because no one is a perfect size for any box society tries to force upon us!

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

Well, you can always ask on my Tumblr about it and you can read my stories on a few sites; Tumblr, Wattpad, Archive of Our Own, and Amino under the same name I am now – cawerkuu. I talk about when I’m writing on my Instagram, the same username, as well if they’d like to follow that, I’m much more active on it!

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