Interview: Jenna Rose

Today we’re joined by Jenna Rose. Jenna is a phenomenal author who specializes in LGBTQ+ romances. She has currently released two novels in a planned 5-book series. It involves a mysterious supernatural society and a pair of PIs who try to solve the mysteries in their communities. It sounds like a fascinating read and Jenna obviously loves writing it, 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 LGBTQIA romances. My favorite genre is fantasy, and science-fiction, but I have some stories in the works that have a more contemporary setting.

The books I have published are written with co-author Katey Hawthorne. They take place in a world where a supernatural society exists in secret alongside our own, and follow Lowell Kanaan, a private investigator and wolf shifter, and John Tilney, an author and pyrokinetic, as they work together to solve mysteries in their community. Lowell’s a gruff kind of guy with a heart of gold underneath it all, and John (who’s demiromantic!) is a sweet and tenacious oddball.

There are currently two books out in a planned series of five. The first in the series is Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Arms Dealers, and the second is Kanaan & Tilney: The Case of the Man-Eater. I will mention that the books do contain sex scenes, so if those aren’t your jam, you can skip over them or they just might not be the books for you. Thanks to the publisher I’m currently with, sex scenes are no longer more or less required, so future books of mine will not always have them.  🙂

What inspires you?

Man, so many things! I save pictures of places all the time. Natural wonders, different kinds of houses, abandoned places… Anything that I think would make for a cool setting. Other books inspire me too. I might read something and realize hey, I’d love to see a steampunk story with queer characters, or, it might touch on a subject that I would have liked to seen explored more.

Also, I play Dungeons & Dragons and I find their character creation system in the current edition weirdly useful for coming up with character concepts.

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

The list of things I wanted to be when I grew up changed a lot when I was a kid. One day I’d want to be a Power Ranger, then the next I’d want to be an archeologist (because, you know, Lara Croft), annnnd then the next I’d want to be a zoologist. But, writer was the one thing that was always on the list. I loved how books contained whole worlds you could get lost in, and I always wanted to create my own and share them with people.

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?

Haha! I don’t, but now I feel like there should be.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be comfortable with things not going the way you expected them to. There will be times when a plot point won’t always work out the way you hoped, and now and again a character will surprise you and do something unexpected. Hell, sometimes you’ll end up writing something completely different than what you started with. And you just kinda gotta go with it.

When I was younger, when I dreamed of being a writer, I didn’t see myself writing romance. I wanted to write Young Adult novels. LGBTQIA romance is something I kinda stumbled into. Turns out, though? I love writing romance. I’m having fun and getting to tell stories I love. It’s totally not where I expected to end up, but now that I’m here, I’m glad that I did.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as biromantic demisexual.

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

I’m lucky to work at a publishing company that works hard to be inclusive, so I’ve never run into any issues with anyone at Less than Three Press, or with any other authors. However, I do unfortunately get the occasional review that’s acephobic or just uneducated about asexuality in general.

I think, like with anyone, I have my good days and bad days when it comes to dealing with prejudice or ignorance. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not so much. On the days it’s harder to brush off, I try to remind myself that part of why I write LGBTQIA fiction is because of how little representation there is out there. A lot of people don’t know or understand what asexuality is and, my hope, is by putting it out there in my writing that it will help educate people. And if not? Well, my writing isn’t for them. It’s for people, like me, who want to see themselves in stories. If even just one person out there feels a little bit less alone, or realizes that they are not broken and are fine just how they are, because of something I wrote, then that’s all that matters.

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

This is a tough one. There are a few things I hear all the time, even from my own family, but I guess the most common would be is that asexuality isn’t a real thing. I’ve seen arguments that aces just haven’t met the right person, that we need to experiment more with sex, or that we just have low sex drives and medication would fix things. I’ve even seen accusations that asexuals are making it up for attention, or so we’ll be included in queer community without actually being queer.

But the craziest thing I’ve heard? I’ve legit had my own family tell me that my lack of interest in sex is normal for women. Lots of women feel like I do, so clearly asexuality is a made-up thing and why do I need a special label for it anyway?

It’s a lot of bullshit arguments with nothing to back them up other than ignorance, sexism, and acephobia.

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

You’re not alone. I know that there are times when it feels like you are, and that you might always will be, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are people out there, both asexuals and allosexuals, who love you and accept you for who you are. There’s an entire community eager to embrace you. You belong, you’re valid, and you are loved. And, if you ever need anyone to talk to, I’m here for you.

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

They can check me out at my website (http://www.jennarosewrites.com) which has links to my Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media accounts as well as information on where to find my books.

They can also head on over to the official Kanaan & Tilney website (http://kanaanandtilneyinvestigations.com).

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

Interview: Eva I.

Today we’re joined by Eva I. Eva is a phenomenal South Asian visual artist and author. She draws portraits and character concepts, using a variety of mediums. As far as writing, Eva is currently working on two fantasy novels, both of which feature asexual protagonists. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Character Concept
Character Concept

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m one of those artists who likes to dabble in, well, everything. Over the years, I’ve tried out typography and hand lettering, crafts, music (I still play the ukulele occasionally), writing, and drawing. Out of all those things, I suppose the ones that have stuck with me would be the latter two.

Even with drawing, I can’t make up my mind. My style fluctuates with my mood, the weather, every time I sneeze… This is evident if you scroll through my Instagram feed; it’s like one of those repost accounts featuring different artists. However, I am consistent in the sense that I mainly draw portraits and character concepts, and my preferred medium is digital art – although I do work traditionally, using ink and sometimes watercolours, whenever the fancy strikes me. I’m hoping to branch out and try illustrating more environments in the future.

As for my writing… I’m currently working on two fantasy novels, both of them featuring ace protagonists, because I want to see more ace characters (particularly those of colour) in SFF. I’m a slow writer, especially as my mental and physical health are never that great, but I think I’ve made good progress with both novels. I’m almost done with a passable draft for one of them, which I hope to send out to trusted readers soon. I’m not sure if I want to publish these stories or not – at least, not at this point in my life.

What inspires you?

I draw inspiration (haha) by consuming all kinds of art by all kinds of artists. In fact, I’ve found it pretty inspiring to go through some of the interviews on this blog! Whenever I need to recharge my creative battery, I just read a book, study the works of my favourite artists, watch a movie/show, read/watch interviews, and listen to some music. In addition to that, I also like sleeping? I’m a permanently exhausted pigeon (aka I have a chronic illness) so I tend to sleep a lot; I end up having a ton of cool dreams, which I sometimes weave into my writing.

fish
Fish

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

Creativity runs in the family, so I picked up art as a matter of course when I was very young. I have vague memories of throwing tantrums at the age of five when I couldn’t draw things the way I wanted; thankfully, I’ve since managed to improve my skills (and my temper). I opened my first art account on Facebook when I was fifteen-ish. I deleted that one a few years ago, and started my current accounts on Twitter and Instagram under a pseudonym so I can be more out about myself.

More recently, I started accepting freelance commissions via social media, which has helped expand my reach (and my wallet). I wouldn’t consider this as a career, yet, though. I don’t receive enough commissions to depend upon it as a main source of income, so I have a day job of sorts, and I’m trying to figure out how to get myself yeeted into college.

Writing has also been a huge interest for me since I was a toddler; my earliest memories are of my father telling me stories. I was quick to develop my reading skills, and you would rarely find me without a book to read. From there, it felt natural to me that I would eventually write my own stories. I’m a big fan of fantasy, so I read and write those for the most part. I used to post my writing on Wattpad, but I’m a little more private about my writing at the moment.

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 almost always sign my art, either with ‘EVA’ or ‘evadrawssometimes’. I don’t really hide anything special in my artwork, but there is one thing about them that I can confess to: I sometimes forget to draw eyelashes. I’m not very good at drawing them either. I’m working on it.

In contrast, I think my writing contains many elements that I feel are personal to me; I include puns (multilingual ones, too) and references to real-life events that I’ve experienced personally, or have taken place in my hometown. Those who know, will know.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Your art is a luxury, so if you’re offering commissions, price them as such! You deserve to be compensated for your time and efforts. (Still working on this one myself).

Breaks are good! Don’t burn yourself out just for the sake of updating your social media. Your most dedicated fans will still stick around even if you miss a post or ten. Maintaining a social media presence is not worth the risk of burnout, injury, or even losing passion for your art.

If you’re offering commissions, try to include your contact information on your profiles. Make it easier, not harder, for potential clients to reach you.

Don’t feel obligated to post all your art on social media.

Don’t forget to make art just for yourself sometimes! Even if capitalism says otherwise, you don’t have to monetise all your work/hobbies, particularly when it comes to art.

It is acceptable – and good, even – to use references. It’ll save time, and ultimately it will help you improve.

ilyas
Ilyas

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m ace, I guess. I’m still figuring it out, though I’ve gotten more comfortable with my identity over time. I experience little to no sexual attraction, aesthetic attraction to people of all genders, and romantic attraction mainly towards people who are not of the same gender as myself (I think??).

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

In my field? Not directly, I would say. I choose my audience very carefully, and so far people have been largely accepting. I have come across some misconceptions from others, but thankfully, most people have been receptive to being corrected. I block those who are not interested in changing their minds, and honestly? Best decision I ever made.

I’m not out in other circles except for a select few family members, friends, and my current partner. I only come out to and explain my identity to those who I think will be understanding. I don’t really mind explaining, but it can get exhausting, especially when you’re dealing with people who don’t listen in good faith.

Lake of Voices
Lake of Voices

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

One of the major ones I’ve come across is the conflation of asexuality with aromanticisim, and asexuality with lack of desire for sex; the Venn diagram of those experiences is often seen as a circle, when in reality there are an intersection of various experiences, some of which may or may not overlap depending on the individual.

In addition to that, there are people who believe that the ‘A’ in LGBTQIAP+ stands for ally and not asexual, aromantic, and agender. I’ve also had someone suggest that asexuality was a phase I would outgrow, or that I was simply nervous or afraid. There have been other extremely harmful hot takes I’ve come across on Twitter by trolls, but they’re too numerous and unpleasant to recount.

All of these misconceptions seem to multiply during Pride month, which is disappointing but not surprising.

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

I would say… be open to the possibilities, and don’t be too worried about taking your time figuring yourself out. It’s also okay to decide on another label in the future; it does not negate the label itself nor your experience while using it. Ultimately, it’s your identity and you are in control of deciding who you are. Even if you’re not comfortable with/able to come out to certain people, I hope you get to feel confident about your own sense of self.

I’ve also managed to connect with a lot of aces during my time on Twitter, which has been a big help in affirming and discovering more about my identity – and, incidentally, picking up on quality ace puns (and pins. Gotta love well-designed merch by ace/LGBTQIAP+ artists).

Finally, I highly recommend checking out The Asexual (http://theasexual.com), an online journal about asexuality run by Michael Paramo. The site includes content like essays, artwork, and personal pieces, contributed by ace people of various backgrounds. The Asexual has helped me pick apart many of my own misconceptions and find joy in being who I am. You can find The Asexual on Twitter as asexualjournal (https://twitter.com/asexualjournal).

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

You can find me on Twitter as isthispigeon (https://twitter.com/isthispigeon), where I sometimes post my art and accept art commissions, but mostly tweet about art-related shenanigans. If you want to get to know me, or commission me in a more informal setting, that’s the place to go!

I’m also on Instagram as evadrawssometimes (http://instagram.com/evadrawssometimes), if you want to see all my art in one place without getting distracted by random thoughts and terrible puns (though they sometimes work their way into the captions). I accept commissions there as well.

I have a few phone wallpapers available on my Buy Me A Coffee account (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/isthispigeon), if that’s something you might be interested in.

Finally, if social media is not for you or if you wish to contact/commission me in a more professional setting, you can reach me via email: eva (dot) isq4 (at) gmail (dot) com. Currently, my writing is not available anywhere.

Shampoo ad Alucard
Shampoo ad Alucard

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

Interview: Casey Wolfe

Today we’re joined by Casey Wolfe. Casey is a wonderful author who writes in a number of genres with romance being a main feature in all their work. The author bio from their website: “History nerd, film buff, avid gamer, and full-time geek; all of these things describe Casey Wolfe. They prefer being lost in the world of fiction—wandering through fantasy realms, traveling the outer reaches of space, or delving into historical time periods.  Casey is non-binary and ace, living with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, all of which informs their writing in various ways. Happily married, Casey and their partner live in the middle-of-nowhere, Ohio with their furry, four-legged children.” My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Author Photo

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an author.  I write everything from contemporary to fantasy and everything in between, with romance as a main element.  My favorite genre to write has always been paranormal.

What inspires you?

Really, it can be anything and everything.  I find inspiration in music, photography, artwork…  I can find it while people-watching or in a random piece of conversation.  I’ve even gotten my fair share of inspiration from dreams.  I literally never know when something will strike.

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

I started writing in the sixth grade.  We had to write a short story for an English assignment and from then on, I was hooked. I began writing more short stories. I didn’t start thinking it could be a career until high school.  That was when I started to write my first novels – nothing that has seen the light of day, but it helped me shape my style and grow in my craft.

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 star imagery in my work.  I’m also a geek and tend to include quotes from movies/shows/video games.  I’m always interested to see if people can spot the lines I’ve used.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Write, write, write. You’ll never get better if you don’t practice.  You don’t even have to show anyone your work – I know how hard that can be.  Just as long as you’re writing, you’re getting better. You’re working on developing your voice and practicing technique.  If you have a writing group in your area, or can find a trusted group online, then getting feedback is also a helpful step, but only when you’re ready for it.

Inquisition Trilogy

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Grey ace and demi

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

I’ve been very lucky to work exclusively with an LGBTQ publisher.  Everyone involved in the publishing house, including other authors, are queer as well, so we don’t have any issues on that front.  We’ve had people ask questions, wanting to know more. It’s a wonderfully open environment and we can all help educate as the need arises.

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

We don’t have sex at all. Some aces certainly don’t.  But we are a large spectrum with a wide array of comfort levels with sex.  Don’t just assume because I’m ace that I’m sex repulsed or that my partner must “suffer from a lack of sex.”  Trust me, he’s fine, and it’s really none of your business anyway.  It’s pretty rude to try to assert yourself into someone else’s bedroom.

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

You don’t have to “get it right” the first time.  You’re allowed to change your mind about how you identify later in life.  Never feel like you are being “fake” or you were “lying” because you identify differently now.  And definitely don’t let anyone else make you feel that way.  Give yourself time and space to explore who you are.

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

Website: https://authorcaseywolfe.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorcaseywolfe
Tumblr: https://authorcaseywolfe.tumblr.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/authorcaseywolfe

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

Interview: Kedreeva

Today we’re joined by Kedreeva. Kedreeva is a phenomenal author who specializes in the speculative genres. She has recently found that she enjoys writing abstract horror. Kedreeva enjoys exploring the different aspects of magic and immortal creatures. It’s clear she’s an incredibly imaginative and creative author who enjoys what she does. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

ART
Art

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer, mainly in the fantasy/sci-fi/supernatural genre, though I have to say I’ve recently found gently abstract horror to be alluring. I thoroughly enjoy writing very long, involved stories that hurt a lot along the way but ultimately end happily. I also do a lot of shorter, off-the-cuff bits as warm-ups or on days when I just need to get something done. I LOVE writing about immortal creatures and the technical side of magic systems and twisting already known lore in interesting ways to make something new.

Some of my more recent works involve a collection of shorts advising one how to survive in The Void (a horror landscape), a story about a person lost in interconnected liminal spaces looking for a way home, a “road trip” type fic traveling through an apocalypse, and a story about a world where Roman-style coliseum fighting of supernatural creatures against one another is the mainstay of the world’s culture that must be brought down by the hands of the main characters.

I used to do a lot of artwork, but I mostly set that aside in favor of writing. Recently, I have started to explore doing artwork with one of my pets, a peahen named Artemis (who also “helps” me write sometimes). It’s never too late to start learning something new!

What inspires you?

You know that feeling when you’re out in the middle of a field in the middle of nowhere and you can look up and see all the stars brighter than in the city and there’s that pale, cloudy, white stripe through the night sky that’s actually an arm of our Milky Way galaxy stretching out into the mind-boggling vastness of outer space and for just a moment everything has a sort of eternal presence, and the void of space is looking back at you and you are comfortingly insignificant? Yeah, that. Also spite. I’ve done a lot of work out of spite for people telling me I can’t do something.

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

I don’t know that anything got me interested, I think it never really occurred to me not to be what I am. I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil, and telling them for longer than that. If I had to pick something, I guess I would say that the way I felt listening to other people’s stories made me want to tell my own.

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 know if this counts as a signature, but my friends tease me about using the word “sluice” whenever I find an opportunity. It’s a good word. Maybe my favorite one ever.

I think that in seriousness, and it’s something a lot of folks have talked to me about or thanked me for so I guess it’s noticeable or different, I write my stories as though differing sexual and romantic alignments are just… normal.  I’ve almost exclusively written about queer characters through my life and despite writing dozens of different relationships and first times, the problems are never about those characters’ sexual or romantic alignments. Nothing in any of their worlds forces them to see themselves as abnormal or a problem in that respect- because they’re not. That’s the kind of world I want to live in – one where I get to be a person, not a problem – so that is what I write.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what makes you happy, and do it as much as you can stand to, and then let yourself rest. I would also say, like, take care of yourself such that you can continue your craft. Sometimes that means eating enough, sometimes that means sleeping occasionally, sometimes that means you have to find a different job for a while to pay the rent or whatever. The world needs you and your creations.

ArtemisEditing
Artemis Editing

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Probably the most common species, Asexual asexual. I don’t experience sexual attraction but I also don’t experience sex repulsion. You know, the sort of asexual that finds dragons more interesting than sex.

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

I’ve never had any prejudice directed at me, specifically, that I can recall. I’ve seen a little of it here and there not related to my field, but that’s usually when I go looking for it or someone drags it into the spotlight. There’s a little bit of ignorance floating about, and a little bit of curiosity (though usually that’s been polite in my corners of the net), but I tend to ignore it. Humans are ignorant of all manner of things; asexuality is just one number on that very long list and I have better things to do with my time that fight about that.

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

There’s two I normally see a lot of- the first is that asexuality can somehow be, like, “cured” if someone finds the right person who is patient and sexy enough. I’ve seen a lot of new writers trying to write stories with asexual (and I don’t mean Demisexual, that would be different) characters “making exceptions” so to speak for another character- ie: sex repulsed asexuals suddenly becoming Into It with enough coaxing and patience from their partner. Which, you know. Not great. The other is that I’ve seen folks speaking like asexuality is a lack of sex drive rather than a lack of sexual attraction, which usually leads to them thinking ace folks are all sex repulsed (or the opposite, tying into the first point, that we are all capable of sexual arousal just for the Right Person or whatever).

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

Honestly, life is short and there are better things to do than worry about sex and attraction. That seems a little harsh written down, but it’s so true on the other side of the struggle. I had never really had a struggle to begin with, until someone else made me struggle. I knew I was ace, I told people “I’m equally unattracted to everyone” right up until someone, a good friend at that, told me “that’s bisexuality, because that means you’re equally attracted to everyone” and I let that cause me a problem for years before I realized I was struggling for no reason. I knew who I was. There were better things for me to spend my time worrying about than whether I was right or wrong about knowing who I was. If I was wrong, I’d find out eventually. If I was right, then there was no sense in worrying about it further. I know how Devastatingly Important it can seem, and it IS important to examine, but my friend, there are stories to write, art to make, creations to create.

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

I use the same name, Kedreeva, everywhere- Tumblr, Twitter, Archive of our Own, etc., but AO3 is where folks can actually find my writing for now.

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

Interview: Sarah Neila Elkins

Today we’re joined by Sarah Neila Elkins. Sarah is a phenomenal writer and visual artist who specializes in novels and comics. She enjoys writing the speculative genres and her work features asexual protagonists. It’s clear she’s a talented artist who loves what she does, 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 make fantasy, horror, and sci-fi novels and comics featuring asexual protagonists. Since 2015 I have been more active writing novels than creating comics due to having angio fibro dysplasia, a type of chronic ossifying tennis elbow that kept me from using my right hand for almost a year. I had to relearn how to draw as a result.

What inspires you?

I want to make stories that I want to read. I’m asexual but didn’t know that was a thing until I was an adult and I have tons of queer friends but, although it is more common to see LGBTQIA+ characters in stories it’s less common to see them in fantasy and horror. I want to write the kinds of tense, action-filled books and comics I like to read but with queer characters.

I also really like Nikola Tesla, so working him or things related to him in stories is fun. I guess it’s like writing fanfiction though I’ve never been good about sticking with anything else for that. Every time I tried writing proper fanfiction whatever I wrote turned into something original without any characters or worlds from whatever the fanfic was supposed to be based on.

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

I’ve been writing and drawing since I was a kid. I daydreamed, a lot. Probably more than was healthy to be honest. Eventually I started writing those daydreams down as a film script because I wanted to make movies. Then I did research on the screenwriter’s guild and realized that would never happen. Granted, that was before indie films got bigger. I decided that I could just draw whatever story I wanted to make so I got into making comics. When my elbow tendons essentially turned to bone I had to give up my comic flatting job, my comic inking job, and comics altogether for a while. It broke my heart but I was able to use a keyboard with my left hand and wrote a novel to deal with the stress and depression I was feeling from losing my only source of income and the only real job I had ever known. That book, Psychic Underground: The Facility is available now from Ninestar Press. Thankfully, I have recovered enough to draw again and even want to make a graphic novel. I’m still writing prose novels and the second book in the Psychic Underground series should come out later this year (2019.)

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?

Nikola Tesla. If he’s not mentioned out-right he or something related to him is in there be it a street name or invention. It’s like ‘Where’s Waldo’ except sometimes I make it very obvious. I also like to put my favorite number in things, 8, as well as Tesla’s favorite numbers 3, 6, and 9.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Be mindful of your body and health. If your arms or hands start hurting try to skip ahead and see an orthopedic surgeon instead of a general doctor. If I had done that I would have skipped about six months of terrible pain and one ER visit. Also, remember that just because someone gets a job or opportunity you wanted that comics and prose writing isn’t Highlander. There’s plenty of room. If you get knocked down, get back up.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am alloromantic asexual.

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

In my field? Years ago a friend who helped me get a big flatting job said something to the effect of “asexuals aren’t queer” but then she worked with another friend of mine who is asexual on a queer anthology that the ace friend told me was welcoming to aces, so maybe her view changed. To be honest she kinda hasn’t talked to me much since the whole incident where she said she thought ace’s weren’t queer and that bothers me. I don’t like not having closure if a friendship is over, you know?

Otherwise I dated an artist for years and when I tried to explain to them I’m asexual and sex-repulsed/genophobic they didn’t take it well. I thought they’d take it better since the main character of their then pretty popular webcomic was aromantic asexual. We wound up breaking up and tried to stay friends but the friendship imploded when my arm trouble got bad. They said some things to me during the relationship that made me doubt myself and they continued to do that when my arm was causing me excruciating pain. I know I wish they would apologize someday but I’ll never get that closure either. I’m not sure if that counts but they were a colleague I looked up to a lot.

Beyond those two instances I have been out of the creative game for a few years due to my arm so I’m just now getting back where I can pursue jobs in both writing and comics. I have little doubt I’ll run across more pronounced cases of ace prejudice and ignorance in the future.

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

The most common misconception about asexuality I’ve encountered is that all asexuals are aromantic, celibate, and sex repulsed or that they want to prevent someone else from having sex. I am celibate but not aromantic. I am sex repulsed and genophobic but I don’t want to prevent others from having sex. I just can’t talk about or see sex for long without having an anxiety attack.

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

You are not alone. You are not broken. Asexuality is a vast spectrum within the queer spectrum. You don’t have to be anything but ace to be queer, either. There’s no real rule that says “you must be asexual AND anything else also queer to qualify as queer.” You can just be asexual and qualify as queer. Anyone who’s not cis heterosexual qualifies as queer. If you’re asexual then by definition you’re not heterosexual. Don’t listen to anyone who claims you’re faking your identity. You are the only person who gets to define who you are.

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

I just launched a personal website: https://www.sarahneilaelkins.com/
I still haunt the hell out of Twitter: https://twitter.com/NeilaK20
I mirror posts on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahNeilaElkins/
And on Mastodon: https://mastodon.social/@NeilaK20
And I’m trying to use Instagram more: https://www.instagram.com/neilak20/

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

Interview: Elowen

Today we’re joined by Elowen. Elowen is a phenomenal author who is currently hard at work on her first novel. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy. The novel she’s currently working on features an ace main character and it sounds like a fascinating story. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a fantasy and science fiction writer, albeit still unpublished. At the moment I’m working on what I hope will be my debut novel, a fantasy novel set in a bronze age-world heavily inspired by Ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq). One of the main characters is an asexual priestess, the other is a cis-het single mother who fights against the religious establishment. This story is a complete overhaul of my very first novel, combined with some elements from my third, and it has taken me several months of research and false starts, but I finally have a completed first draft that I think I can work with.

What inspires you?

Everything, really. The world around me, other people’s lives and relationships, other fantasy and sci-fi stories, my own experiences of being “the odd one out”. There’s a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s Tales from Earthsea that I have stuck on my computer: “The great and mighty go their way unchecked. All the hope left in the world is in the people of no account.” It’s this quote that inspires me to continue working on my current novel. I want to try to tell the stories of people of no account. The ordinary people who are made to suffer because of the greed of those in power.

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

When I was six, I found out what a writer was and I decided I wanted to be one. I still have my old notebooks from that time, with stories that blatantly ripped off Care Bears and My Little Pony, though I’m glad to say that later on, my stories became a bit more original ,-). Unfortunately, although I definitely have creative family members, none of them are or were professional artists, so becoming a writer wasn’t considered a proper career choice, and my writing ambitions were reduced to keeping a diary when I was a teenager. I went to university to study science instead, and later theology. It was only when I moved to a different country that I came back to wanting to be a writer. One of my “problems” is that I’m multi-passionate. I play baroque violin, I was a fanatic badminton player in my teens, and in my early twenties I got heavily into Irish dancing, for example. Only when I moved away from all these “distractions” and started afresh in a different country was I able to come to terms with the fact that I’m just interested in many different things, and reasonably successful at pursuing those interests. My love for science got me into writing science fiction, and my fascination with religion, mythology and anything magical got me into fantasy. Fantasy, to me, isn’t ‘make-believe’, it’s a modern type of mythology meant to explore fundamental ideas about the world, and about life. Together with science fiction, I think fantasy is the perfect genre to explore alternatives to reality.

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 love inventing religions and write about made-up gods. I also love writing about mentors, and I think that’s because all my life I’ve been looking for one myself. I had teachers and mentors, of course, but none of them could really help me figure out where my real talents lie. They were all specialists in their field, while I have to see ‘the big picture’ and explore many things at once.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love doing, but play the game if you have to. I.e. if you need a steady day job to support your own artistic efforts and have stability in your life, it doesn’t make you any less of an artist. Keep learning and stay curious. You’re never too old to try something new.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m grey-ace leaning towards being demisexual, and I also identify as genderfluid between cis-female and non-binary. After having been a happy single for most of my life, I’m now in happy, stable relationship with a man, so to all intents and purposes I’m a cis-het woman, but I don’t feel that way. For me, sex is a form of intimacy that I can enjoy because it brings me closer to the man I love, but I’d have no problem going without it for the rest of my life. It’s something to enjoy like a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate, nothing more. Sex has never played an important part in my life. I am however a very touchy-feely type of person with people I trust, and that kind of non-sexual contact is much more important to me.

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

No, because so far I’m only out on Twitter, where I use an alias.

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

I think that having no interest in sex is often “infantilized”, as if being ace means you’re not developed enough yet to join in with the adults. At one point I was convinced that the only difference between YA and adult fantasy is that in adult fantasy the characters explicitly talk about sex and genitals, and have sex. I thought that my own writing was not adult fantasy because I didn’t want to write about those things.

Another thing is that I can have platonic crushes, meaning that I am attracted to certain people (or even fictional characters) for their intellectual insights or artistry or their personality. One example is the actor Alexander Siddig. I’d love to be able to have a deep conversation with him one day, but there is no way on earth I’d ever be interested in any kind of sexual contact. And yet many people confuse these things. I can also admire physical beauty in certain people, but even then there’s no sexual attraction involved, and many people find that hard to grasp. That always puzzled me, until I discovered I was ace.

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

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Sex is overrated. There, I said it.

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

Well, there’s nothing to find yet, but you can follow me on Twitter if you like (at scriobhann_si). I love connecting with other artists!

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

Interview: Wolfie

Today we’re joined by Wolfie. Wolfie is a phenomenal makeup artist who uses makeup to create extraordinary looks. She has done a number of different things with makeup, from standard beauty to more fantasy and horror related looks. She has also done special FX makeup. Aside from makeup, Wolfie also dabbles in a couple other mediums as well. She’s a passionate 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.

One of the things I do is makeup and special FX. Be it beauty, fantasy or horror. I mostly do whatever has caught my fancy that day or week. I have done photoshoots, short films and even a wedding or two with my makeup.

Which plays into my other mediums, such as drawing and painting. I have a ton of sketch books filled with art, some I give away and the same with my paintings.

Along with costuming which has been trial and error. As for my leather working I am still a beginner, which I was learning from my aunt and now my dad. Also have been dabbling into jewelry making.

What inspires you?

When I was a kid, fantasy (books, art etc.) and music played in a big part in my creativity.

Along with a rich family heritage that led to being a Pagan Witch, lets me see the beauty in magic and life that goes into my art.

My Aunt also who is deceased now, was also a big inspiration to me.

Being a writer and creative person herself, part of the LGBTQ+ community and Pagan, she always encouraged me to not give up and to pursue what I love.

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

Ever since I was little girl, I was always drawing and then moving onto other things as I got older. Heck, I even wanted to be a manga artist at some point!

As for my makeup and special FX, I give that one to my family. We have always been big on Halloween and doing creative costumes, which led to me eventually finding conventions in my late teens. It would also be my early 20’s to mid-20’s that I would go to makeup school for it.

Which I am always learning new and creative ways to improve.

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?

Mostly just my name and other account names I would hid in it, or just smack dab where you can see it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it. Self-doubt will happen where you think you art, or you’re not good enough.

But it will be, maybe not in your eyes.

But others will love your art even if you think they don’t.

Never compare yourself to another, each of us is unique and different. We go at our own pace and our artistic journey happen sometimes now or a little bit later.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a proud Asexual Pan romantic 29 year old.

In my early 20’s I thought I was just Pansexual, but that didn’t seem right to me.

It wasn’t until my mid 20’s that talking with a friend, that they said “Uh Wolf, I think you may be Ace.”

So I looked it up and it started making more sense to me. While giving me a feeling of relief that I wasn’t “broken”.

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

Oh boy, in my makeup field I have, since it slipped out one time during class.

And mostly I just educated them, while being calm about it and maybe a ‘wee’ bit of Sass when they asked a personal/ignorant question. But mostly, I just refuse to apologize anymore for being who I am.

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

“Well, how can you be in a relationship if you don’t have sex?” Is probably the most common thing I get.

Again I just calmly answers/educate, or (at times) Sass back with a witty clap back that makes them go “Oh! I see! Sorry about that.”

But it is also just standing my ground and not letting other tell me “oh but you just haven’t met-”

“Or have you seen a doctor?” etc.

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

It may seem you’re alone and others tell you that you are broken, but you are not.

Don’t let anyone tell you differently, this is your journey of discovery and your identity is real.

For your community sees you and you are loved, valid in your right to not be silenced or harmed as you keep learning who you are.

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

My Instagram which I welcome anyone to join me! wolfie_shieldmaidenswitch

Deviantart: Moonlightwolfos

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