Interview: Martha J Allard

Today we’re joined by Martha J Allard. Martha is a phenomenal author who writes various kinds of fantasy. She writes both short stories and novels. Her work is mostly dark and contemporary fantasy. Her novel is entitled Black Light and it sounds fascinating. 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 write fiction, mostly dark and contemporary fantasy. I write both short stories and novels. My first one of those came out a two years ago called Black Light. It’s about rock and roll and finding yourself in what you want.

What inspires you?

I always try to look for the magic hidden in normal life. I believe it’s always there, but we can’t always see it. I try to put that in my writing.

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

Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I grew up with a book in my hand. I traded Laura Ingles Wilder for Anne of Green Gables, for the Nine Princes in Amber and on. I loved all those stories and more, but there were no characters that I could identify with.

I grew up in a small town in Michigan, in the late 70’s. It was miles and miles away from any queer culture. I didn’t know it existed, much less that I could be a part of it.

One night I waited until my parents were asleep and snuck back downstairs to the TV to watch videos. This was pre-MTV. They played a video by David Bowie called I Am A DJ. I was riveted, never having seen him before. In the video, a man comes up to Bowie on the street to kiss him. This opened my small-town brain up to the possibilities that lay beyond my tiny borders. Somehow those possibilities got my pen moving.

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?

Well, yes. Or I think of them as Easter eggs, really. Because of my connection to Bowie, I always put something of him in my work. Sometimes it’s small, something nobody but me will notice, and sometimes it’s bigger, for example the entire plot of Black Light started out with one of his songs.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t write what you know. Write what you want to discover. Write the things that scare you and let your words be wild.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I came to asexuality late in life. In the past I’ve also identified as Bi and Lesbian. I feel that I can only speak for right now, and right now I feel Panromantic.

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

I write queer fiction, and so I rub shoulders with other queer writers. When I first came out as Ace, some of them advised against it. I was surprised, because I had already identified as queer, and had for years. I’ve found that some people think of Asexual as “damaged,” and I didn’t want to be thought of like that, did I?

No. I didn’t. So when I came out to people, I armed myself with explanations, reasons for my sexuality. But finally, I stopped myself. Now I deal with push back by not apologizing, but it took a while.

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

As I mentioned above, it’s that somehow, I became asexual because of damaged I’ve suffered.  Also that I’m wasting myself? That one always makes me laugh. It feels just the opposite to me.

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

I would say, it’s a journey, not a destination. For me, each day is different, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, and as David Bowie famously said once, “All I can tell you is what I feel right now.”

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

My website: https://www.marthajallard.com/
My Facebook page: marthajallard
Amazon link to Black Light: http://a.co/d/bT1PCsp

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

Interview: Matthew Maione

Today we’re joined by Matthew Maione. Matthew is a phenomenal visual artist who also writes and creates fanart. He enjoys drawing faces and also does quite a lot of fanart. When he’s not creating visual art, Matthew enjoys writing and writes both fanfiction and original work. He’s particularly fond of historical fiction and crime suspense. It’s clear he’s an incredibly dedicated artist who loves to create as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a virtual artist and creative writer. I enjoy drawing faces and fanart.  I like playing with colour and texture a lot. I write almost entirely fanfiction and fiction. Historical fiction and Crime Suspense novels are some of my favourite to write.

What inspires you?

Music is a huge inspiration in my life, it can get me in certain moods that are perfect for writing. My fiancé often inspires me with the little things she does, dances around the house that make me want to write romance. Nature gives me a breath of life, revitalizes me and makes me want to draw.

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

It was actually my older sister, she is a cosplay and traditional artist. She is 5 years older than me and I, being a younger sibling, was jealous and decided I needed to be better than her. Now I do it because I love it, of course.

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

I used to but since I lost most of my sight I’ve just been trying to re-explore what my art is. Playing with styles and shading to recreate it so I can still actually create, I used to sign my older works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t give up! Make your weaknesses your strengths! There is no reason why you can’t pursue art if it’s what you love. Always do what makes you happiest, not what others want you to do.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Grey-ace. I don’t really experience sexual attraction, but if I have a strong romantic connection with someone I am able to connect with them in that way as well. But it’s more of a, I do it because I love them and want to make them happy. Not to say that is the only way to do so, there are many ways to connect with your partners and sex is never a mandatory part of a relationship, but it can enhance your romantic connection. Simply put, while I don’t experience sexual attraction, for me, being intimate occasionally makes me feel emotionally closer.

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

I haven’t really in my field. It’s not something that just casually comes up in conversation but those I have told have all been very understanding. A few people I told were even comfortable enough with me after the fact that they were able to come out to me as well. In my daily life a few people have said that it’s because I hadn’t met the right person, or claimed they could fix me, very common things to run into. I mostly just ignore this and do my best to stay safe.

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

That I’ll never be able to have a permanent partner or that it’s a phase. I have a fiancé who has no problems with it, we have been together for two years. She is always very understanding if I’m having a repulsed day, because there are good and bad days. Some days I’m totally okay with the idea of sex and others I can’t stand to watch movies with implied scenes in them. But if you’re worried about finding someone who will love you, of course you will. There’s somebody for everyone.

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

Being asexual, while it is a way to identify, does not define you. If the thought of it is new or uncomfortable, it’s just another part of wat makes you, you. It’s not something to be ashamed of or hide, there are so many people out there who will accept you for exactly who you are.

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

My Tumblr is Naoki-arts, I have AO3, Ammarettu. I’m currently working on getting my first novel published so any news on that will be found there as well!

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

Interview: Megan

Today we’re joined by Megan. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist who is starting out in writing as well. They are an illustrator and comic artist from the Kansas City area, who focuses mainly on storytelling and narratives. They do a lot of narrative illustrations and comics. For writing, they’re interested in writing fantasy and prose. They’re clearly an incredibly dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

EmmalineTwist
Emmaline Twist

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an illustrator and writer, working full time as a production artist to pay the bills, and then working on comics and illustrations with narrative components on the side. I primarily work digitally, employing both a comic-y inking style, as well as a realistic sort of oil-painting style, all either on my computer and display tablet, or on programs on my iPad. As a writer I love to write fantasy and other prose fiction, and have started efforts to build a portfolio and work towards getting published, both short stories and future novels.

What inspires you?

The first place I usually look for some sort of inspiration is anything Neil Gaiman has said. He has given many speeches and written many essays on the importance of story and art in the world, and those- as well as his words on imposter syndrome- give me strength.

But I’m also fascinated by people. Humans are capable of amazing things like constructing massive skyscrapers and engineering microscopic movies; surviving under dangerous conditions, and getting together to hold festivals full of color and light. Traveling to different countries and being exposed to new cultures has been eye-opening for me and is a never-ending resource for inspiration and creativity.

As of late, Dungeons and Dragons has also been stimulating for me, from the components like dice and figurines to the stories people tell through the witty and clever characters they (and I) create. Who doesn’t love goblins and magic?

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

I always enjoyed drawing and painting, although I was never really good at it. I loved getting new paint kits and sitting down to paint a little teapot or planter, but what really got me into art was my obsession with a particular video game. I was a high school sophomore, just starting part-time in college with the intent of pursuing a medical degree, and bored. My dad worked at my school, so I would sit in his office after class and wait til he could take me home. I vividly remember one day sitting in his office, and instead of doing homework, I started writing a fanfiction, pen on paper, that I had started rolling around in my head. Art had also sprung out of this video game obsession, where I discovered the concept of fanart on DeviantART (I was a sheltered homeschooled child). It made me honestly, truly happy to write and draw and see the progress I was making, and to see other people enjoying what I had made. When I took a college drawing course a year later, I only became more passionate and ditched the medical school plans for art, and never looked back.

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?

One thing I like to do is that whenever I have to draw a crowd scene, I like to sneak in some of my characters from other places- Dungeons and Dragons, or old fanfiction characters- just subtly enough that not many would see anything different, but if you know the character, you could find them. I hope someday it becomes a bit of a ‘Where’s Waldo’ game.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Have fun, and take care of yourself.

These two tasks seem so arbitrary but they really mean the difference for physical and mental wellbeing. Drawing can seem like a chore sometimes, especially when you’re only drawing or writing something to pay bills, but when you have free time to draw whatever you want, you should draw what you want to draw. Write what you want to write. If you go in with the idea that whatever you make has to be ‘good enough’ to be printed or published, you’re going to hit a lot of brick walls in the process that only give you headaches. But if you have fun with it, you’re more likely to finish your project, and just finishing is half the battle.

But taking care of yourself is vital as well, and I wish it was emphasized more in educational settings. You NEED rest, you NEED food and water, and though I realize the idea of the ‘depressed artist working 16 hour days’ is fairly romanticized, it’s actually incredibly debilitating to work like that, if you can work at all. You can’t make your best work while you’re exhausted, and pushing yourself too hard will end up destroying your mind and body. Seriously. Take a break. Right now, go stretch and drink a glass of water.

Oasis copy
Oasis

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Asexual as a broad term, and I’ve definitely hovered over different labels and questioned myself several times, but I’m most comfortable for the time being with the umbrella term of ‘Ace’. I believe I may be demiromantic, but I’ve never had a relationship and don’t intend to explore that area just yet. Someday though.

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

I’m not really out about my identity, so I’ve avoided it. There aren’t many aces that I’m aware of in my field, so I haven’t seen anything. I’m sure there’s prejudice out there though, people are unfortunately afraid of things that are different.

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

That asexuals don’t like sex! I think that it could be more difficult for some to get into the mood, but Asexuality is defined as having a lack of sexual attraction to people, not the lack of desire for sex. An ace person could still be romanced for sure, or maybe they just really enjoy some self-love!

(Also, the A stands for Asexual, not Ally!!)

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

Nothing is set in stone, your identity is going to change as you explore and experiment. And that’s fine, most people try several different labels and have various experiences before they settle into something that ‘fits’. And sometimes, maybe you don’t find something that fits, and that’s okay, too. You’ll always be You.

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

You can find my artwork here, and my little baby blog is here!

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

Interview: Katherine

Today we’re joined by Katherine. Katherine is a wonderfully talented artist who does both writing and visual art. She specializes in comics and is currently making a supernatural drama webcomic entitled Soul to Call. She is an incredible storyteller and her work is brimming with an extraordinary amount of detail, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Self Portrait

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Comics are my specialty, and these days I’m applying those skills to Soul to Call, a supernatural drama webcomic about found family and demons, both inner and outer.

I love writing and drawing equally, so comics are a happy union of those things for me, but I also enjoy just writing or drawing on their own. I write all kinds of fiction, though none of it is currently public beyond my comics, and I enjoy illustrating standalone pieces too! Anything that tells a story, subtle or overt, is my bread and butter.

What inspires you?

Music is a major inspiration for me. It motivates and inspires me every step of the way, from planning, to writing, to drawing. It’s even there for me during artistic blocks. Exercising with some good tunes really gets my brain moving, so if I ever feel stuck or unenthusiastic, walking to music will usually fill my head with new ideas. When I sit back down, I’m rejuvenated and excited to work on my project again.

My friends are also a big source of inspiration to me. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by some wonderful and creative minds. Chats with them leave me inspired to improve myself, and create great work!

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

I’ve wanted to be an artist as long as I can remember, and a comic artist just as long. I’m pretty sure I was drawing and stapling together my own comics since I could hold a pencil. A cliché phrase I know, but I remember drawing comics before I even knew how to spell. I’d give my comics to my mum, then tell her what to write in the speech bubbles I’d left blank. I always made her write more dialogue than could possibly fit in the tiny speech bubble I’d drawn. I’ve gotten a little better at judging the text-to-bubble ratio since then.

I can’t say there was ever a pivotal point in which I got interested in art or comics, it always felt natural to me, and I can’t imagine my life without it. But I guess if I had to credit something for my introduction to comics, it would be my brother reading The Adventures of Tintin, Asterix, and Calvin and Hobbes to me.

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?

Does texture vomit and tons of purple count? Heheh. I use a lot of textures to give my art a rougher look, and I incorporate my favourite colour purple in anything I can get away with, but otherwise I haven’t committed to a “signature” for my work at this point.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it! If you have a story or certain kind of art you want to create, don’t wait to be ‘good enough.’ That moment will never come, especially if you just wait around for it. The only way you can gain the skills necessary to make something great is to be making things and honing your craft in the first place! Start creating! You’re gonna make some crap, maybe a lot of crap, but don’t be discouraged, and don’t be afraid to fail! I made two failed webcomics before Soul to Call, but both those failures taught me extremely valuable lessons that lead to Soul to Call’s success.

Make what you want! Create without fear! Don’t be swayed by what you think people want to see. You have a unique vision, and your work will be that much more powerful if you stay faithful to it. And last, but not least, have fun with it. If you’re having fun, eventually people will see it and come have fun with you.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aroace.

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 find myself among fellow creative aces, and some wonderfully accepting people in the webcomic community.

Sometimes readers of my comic can be a different story. So far, I haven’t encountered malice, but ignorance over the fact that two of my main characters are on the ace spectrum. Despite some heavy hints in comic, and some blunt statements outside of the comic regarding their orientation, it just doesn’t seem to click for some readers. In most of these cases, I just ignore it, and hope that my writing will speak for itself as I carry on.

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

I usually encounter the misconception that asexuality is a fancy word for abstinence or celibacy.

I also find a lot of people have trouble wrapping their head around the idea that I can appreciate another person’s appearance, and think they’re exceptionally good looking, without finding them attractive in a sexual way at all. I can appreciate a pretty person the same way someone can appreciate pretty art, folks!

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

You’re not weird, or broken, or sick, and anyone who tells you differently doesn’t deserve your time. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that sex is a be all end all to anything in life. There are so many awesome experiences in the world, and so many ways to be close to other people.

And remember that asexuality is simply a lack of sexual attraction. Is sex something you’re indifferent about? Ace. Is sex is something that repulses you? Still ace. If sex still appeals to you, you just don’t look at people like ‘I wanna bang that,’ that doesn’t invalidate you! Still ace. Don’t let people police you one way or the other. Lack of interest in sexual things doesn’t make you a childish prude, and interest in sexual things doesn’t make you less ace.

Also keep in mind that sexuality is fluid. If you feel ace now, but didn’t before, or don’t in the future, that doesn’t invalidate how you feel now. All our journeys are different. Be kind to yourself, and know there are tons of people out there just like you. You’re not alone.

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

You can read my comic at soultocall.com

And also find me and my art on a handful of social media like…
Tumblr: http://rommie.tumblr.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rommierin
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rommiegram/

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Aurora Angel

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

Interview: Myr

Today we’re joined by Myr. Myr is a wonderful writer and visual artist from Germany who dabbles in a few different things. They mainly write as a hobby and are currently working on a novel. They’re a dedicated fanfiction writer who writes a lot of slash in a few different fandoms, which they post on a German website. When Myr isn’t writing, they also enjoy doing visual art and specialize in photography. It’s clear they’re very dedicated to their art, 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 am a genderqueer hobby author and fan fiction writer, I started writing in elementary school and lost passion multiple times on the way to where I am now. I don’t really publish and certainly don’t sell anything but I keep going. Occasionally I also photograph and I used to draw/sketch.

What inspires you?

I mostly write fan fiction and some of my favourite own characters started off as side characters in fan fictions as well as autobiographical characters, so yea. I take inspiration from the original canon as well as my own experiences. I did so even before I grew confidence to talk about myself and my personal history with bullying and depression.

For photography I try capturing simple things in another perspective or engage mostly in documentary photography.

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Carnations

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

Funny enough, I didn’t like reading when I was a child until when my mom bought the Harry Potter audiobooks and I was like a sponge, I even could recite big parts of my favourite (book 3 – Prisoner of Azkaban).

I always was a little artistic, trying to express myself with drawings and a little bit painting but I was told way too often how good I am with words, so I started writing.

My father and uncle and godfather and cousin are all interested in photography and I was drawn to it from young age, always having cameras focused on me when on family gatherings or on holiday.

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?

As afore mentioned I tend to include autobiographic own characters partly resembling myself and partly expressing my goal regarding life choices, character traits and so on.

So it’s likely my newer OCs (since end 2016) are somewhere on the asexual spectrum and every autobiographic OC is gender non-conforming if not genderqueer, when it comes to character traits the characters don’t have that much in common if you don’t look closely, but getting to the characterisation they are very much alike.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

This might seem stupid but: just do it! Honestly I started out with a fairytale in elementary school which I didn’t even research for and it was so… I was 8 at the time and a huge anime-fan, so looking back it was horrible! I wrote something about a Japanese Wadden sea /mudflat and a girl having wings as arms, I think…?

And my next phase… I am not that proud about it but when I started writing again at age 11 or 12 I was writing PWP – “plot what plot?“ – which is… it’s erotica basically.

At age 15 (2014) I created a small Facebook page which is deleted since 2014 and published bits and pieces of romantic and adventurous one-shots.

I was used to writing erotica, I didn’t know how to do action or crime… and I didn’t start reading regularly until 2014 when I first discovered the German website fanfiktion.de

By now my longest work online is 52 pages and 29,900 words long (fan fiction to BBCs Sherlock).

So yea, keep going, no matter where you start off, no matter where you pause and pick up again, keep doing what you enjoy!

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Nico

 

 

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am aegosexual (I feel not connected with what arouses me and prefer consuming erotica over actually engaging in sexual acts) and grey-biromantic

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

I was told I couldn’t write smut and border on very explicit erotica since I am ace and shouldn’t care about such things otherwise I would invalidate myself.

I mostly laugh it off despite being able to get very vocal when I am upset, frustrated or angered.

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

That no asexual is sexually active, I personally needed a sexual relationship to realise I am asexual. Attraction doesn’t equal action, sweethearts.

And we are no innocent little honey buns, not in general.

Never generalise about any group, okay?

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

Reach out, get to know the community. I was uncomfortable, too.

I was certain “I must be greysexual, I mean… I can not not feel attraction, I am enough of a freak, I can’t be this strange!“

Reaching out and getting to know people on Tumblr and Facebook helped, we are all perfectly normal (as far as anything ever is normal at all) people and we are diverse like every other group.

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

I suppose my profile in fanfiktion.de is the way to go. It’s fanfiktion.de/u/Kayli+Talis

With a good translator-plug-in for your web browser you will be able to read my works without knowledge of German.

I am also working on translations (as you can see in the attached photos) and will publish at least my 52-page-work in an English version once I completely translated it.

Thank you for having me.

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

Interview: Shalyse

Today we’re joined by Shalyse. Shalyse is a phenomenal author who is currently working on a novel that features a main character who is an asexual POC and also polyamorous. That novel will be published under the name Zephyrrine. Aside from writing, Shalyse is also the founder of DFW Asexual Meetup and has a couple other blogs. Aside from fiction, Shalyse also writes poetry and nonfiction. She’s quite a dedicated writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The primary piece I want to discuss is a book I am writing that features an asexual polyamorous character in a queer polycule. The primary character is a cis-woman of color who is asexual and some of the secondary main characters are multiple men of varying sexualities. This book will also feature aspects of the kink community as well to show the various ways asexual and kink relationships can play out. It is also based in a fictional timeline and with the characters begin from a fictitious civilization that integrates into our modern world. This is a fantasy style novel.

My secondary piece is my poly blog, lettalkaboutpoly.wordpress.com, that seeks to explore polyamory and the intersection that individuals bring to the relationship style. Similar to the way the book will, but with real life experiences.

My other blog is my xoxshalyse.wordpress.com, which host some of my poetry and think pieces.

What inspires you?

The need of visibility and education for alternative lifestyles. I know what it’s like to feel so completely broken because I didn’t know that it was OK to go against the societal norms, especially when my norms seem to contradict watch other.

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

I have always written stories and poetry, as well as I used to paint and draw. Creativity and art were my main outlets for dealing with being suicidal and having trouble understanding the illogical world around me. I recently however decided to use my love of writing to promote alternative lifestyles to give us the visibility we need.

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

There is a running theme of finding and addressing the dark parts of yourself and embracing it to become whole person that loves and respects yourself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just do it. Even if you think it will suck, because it will probably turn out better than you thought.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a sex repulsed asexual. I am also aromantic and polyamorous, though I engage in relationships as bi/pan – romantic.

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

Not professionally.

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

That we are celibate and abusive to our partners for disliking or refusing to force ourselves to participate in sexual encounters.

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

It’s OK to be confused. Asexuality means you don’t experience sexual attraction. There are a hundred plus ways we can present. There is no rush to figure it all out even in a relationship. Just be honest with yourself and your partners.

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

You can find me on Twitter at xoxshalyse.

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

Interview: Dominique Cyprès

Today we’re joined by Dominique Cyprès. Dominique is a phenomenal writer who has dabbled with various forms including fiction and nonfiction. Their first love is poetry and they have written plenty of different kinds of poetry. They have a story in Unburied Fables, an anthology from Creative Aces. It’s obvious they’re a passionate and dedicated writer, 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’ve dabbled in a lot of different sorts of writing – from fiction to creative non-fiction, poetry in both verse and prose. As someone with an overlapping interest in tech, I’ve also experimented a little with interactive fiction. I’m really interested in what new ground can still be broken with Infocom-style text adventures.

I’ve also forayed a little into video editing and stereographic photography. I’m pretty much the prototypical “jack of all trades” in that I keep trying new media and I don’t often stick with one and try to master it. In the end, though, everything seems to come back to poetry. I often find that when I’m working on fiction, or text adventures, or visual media, I’m compelled to find a way to inject poetry into that medium.

What inspires you?

My primary motivation in making art is a sort of practical mysticism; my goal is to give voice to the enormous wonder and bewilderment I feel trying to make sense of both the natural world and interpersonal interaction. As an autistic person, I often find myself in the sort of situation that Temple Grandin refers to as being “an anthropologist on Mars.” The world often seems an altogether foreign place to me, and my art (when I have the time to make it) acts essentially as fields notes on this inscrutable country.

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

The artistic role models who have most informed the direction I take in poetry are probably Emily Dickinson, Miyazawa Kenji (whose work I have read only in English translation), and Charles Simic. Dickinson and Miyazawa together really pulled me toward poetry as a medium in the first place, and their biographies and work share certain themes in common. Both were disabled and regarded as odd by their communities. Both expressed in their work an immense love of humanity and of nature, but wrote from a perspective of looking upon these subjects from the outside, and both wrote largely for themselves and did not manage to sell much of their work to professional publications during their lifetimes.

Simic’s influence on me comes through his seminal Pulitzer-prize winning volume The World Doesn’t End, and largely has to do with his pioneering work on the form of prose poetry, and his use of ambiguous and discordant sensory images to cultivate what poets refer to as “negative capability,” the ability to draw art out of questions that have no answers, out of confusion and non-rational thought.

I tend to think of art as something I am inclined to do, and not as a feature of who I am, perhaps because I’ve long had it drilled into my head that writing poetry alone is not a viable professional path for someone who needs to support themself and their family financially. I’ve heard this even from former U.S. Poet Laureate Mark Strand, who derives much of his personal income from his work as a college professor.

As a young person I wanted to devote my life to art in some way professionally. As I neared the end of high school I told my parents I wanted to study acting full-time in college and choose that as my field. They asked where I would find the money to feed myself and I didn’t really have an answer, so I studied psychology instead, and wound up dropping out of college after three years when I reached a point where my undiagnosed learning disabilities had started to make it impossible to complete my coursework.

At that point, in 2012, my self-esteem just bottomed out entirely, and one thing to I did in an effort to pull it back up was to take a bunch of poetry I had been working on while I was at school (where I was pursuing a creative writing minor) and build on that work, flesh out its themes a little bit, and compile it into a book I could have printed through a major self-publishing-platform. That was Dogs from your childhood & other unrealities. I had neither the money nor the energy to engage in any serious promotion for it at the time, but being able to share my work with some appreciative friends in that manner was the kind of encouragement I needed.

Now I’m working on a new volume of poems. It’s necessarily very different from my last book, because I’ve changed a lot since 2012. It’s in verse, whereas my last book was entirely in prose. It’s much more concerned with overtly political questions, with the relationships between the wage worker and their work, with the struggles of a young and growing family. I hardly find time to work on it, as a full-time retail worker, part-time student, and parent, but I’m excited to share the personal growth I’ve experienced in this form.

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 often feel that I’m walking a metaphorical tightrope in my work, attempting to balance impulses toward self-deprecation, disillusionment, and cynicism on one hand and an irrepressible sense of naïve wonder on the other. That’s a feature of my everyday life, too, but I expect it comes out a lot in what I make.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be to try to hold on to your art, to what you do that moves you on a deep level, even when it doesn’t pay the bills. And if you have to step aside from making art because you’re depressed or just too busy struggling to survive for a while, you need not be ashamed. Go back to your art when you’re ready and let it accept you with open arms.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual, and I’ve identified myself as such since age 20 when I first heard about other asexual people. I’m quoiromantic. I’m married now; I have two spouses and a child, and the fact that I’m asexual doesn’t come up very often in my day-to-day life. But if I had never identified myself as asexual in the first place, I probably wouldn’t be married now, because it was identifying as asexual that allowed me first to accept myself for who I am, and then to find people who understood and accepted me enough to start a family with me.

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

There’s a strong push for writers of creative non-fiction and poetry today to candidly confess intimate details of their personal lives, and that very often includes one’s sex life and sexuality. That can be an uncomfortable demand for an asexual writer and I encourage other writers to share only what they can share confidently. As it happens, though, I have made very few connections “in my field”, so I don’t yet have any direct experience with ignorance around ace issues directed at me as a writer.

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

As much as you can insist to people that asexuality is your sexual orientation, some people will be determined to see it as a medical symptom that you should somehow be treating, or as an ideological position. There’s only so much myth-dispelling educational material you can provide to someone before it becomes a waste of time.

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

The decision to reclassify Pluto as a dwarf planet, and not as a proper planet, was an arbitrary taxonomic exercise, motivated by mounting discoveries of Pluto-sized objects in our solar system. Essentially, if we continued to count Pluto as a planet, there would be so many newly-found planets of similar size that we could never hope to make elementary school children memorize all their names. But Pluto is still out there in the Kuiper belt, and it’s still an important target for scientific research.

Similarly, your experiences as an asexual person are real and an important part of your life even when other people find it inconvenient to acknowledge them.

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

Dogs from your childhood & other unrealities is still available in print and as a free e-book via my blog. My next book, tentatively titled dead monochrome doggerel, is still in the works and I’ll be sure to announce it on my blog when it’s ready.

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