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!

3. Nico

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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.

dogs-front-cover

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.

Interview: Jordan S. Brock

Today we’re joined by Jordan S. Brock, who also goes by Kryptaria. Jordan is a wonderful author who specializes in queer romance. She writes both original work and fanfiction. Jordan is currently working on a book she describes as “a kinky m/m asexual romance.” She is obviously an incredibly 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’ve been writing all my life, though I spent forty-plus years trying and failing to muster the courage to submit to a publishing slush pile. For years, I read and wrote sci-fi/fantasy. Then I found fanfiction and fell in love with romance in fanfic — which is strange. I was never able to connect to mainstream romance, to the point where I could reasonably say I hated romance novels.

But romance in fanfic is a different creature altogether. As at earlgreytea68 says here [http://anauthorandherservicedog.tumblr.com/post/159134116719/on-fanfic-emotional-continuity]:

“[F]anfiction has nothing to do with using other people’s characters, it’s just a character-driven *genre* that is so character-driven that it can be more effective to use other people’s characters because then we can really get the impact of the storyteller’s message but I feel like it could also be not using other people’s characters, just a more character-driven story. Like, I feel like my original stuff–the novellas I have up on AO3, the draft I just finished–are probably really fanfiction, even though they’re original, because they’re hitting fanfic beats.”

This is the original fic I write. It’s marketed as romance, and the focus is on a happily-ever-after ending, but the romance is organic. It grows step-by-step, as true to the characters’ motivation as I can get, without heavy-handed external machinations to cram the characters together.

My first published romance novel, The Longest Night, is actually a nearly word-for-word copy of my Sherlock (BBC) fanfic, Northwest Passage [http://archiveofourown.org/works/531662/chapters/943040]. After I posted NWP, a senior editor at Sourcebooks contacted me on Twitter and asked if I’d be willing to scrub the fic and change it from m/m to m/f. After forty years of wanting to see my name in print, I agreed and signed a two-book contract.

Never let anyone say that fanfic isn’t real writing!

These days, though, I’m much happier to be writing queer romance. In October 2016, at Riptide Publishing released Change of Address [http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/change-of-address], an #ownvoices story about PTSD, a service dog, and a Jewish character — who, unlike me, is a fantastic cook. The sequel, tentatively titled Building Bridges, will be written as soon as my brain cooperates.

COA Book cover from Riptide

For now, I’m very excited to be working on a kinky asexual m/m romance. It’s an awesome challenge, writing an asexual character who’s sex-neutral (bordering on sex-repulsed) but also has a mile-wide dominant streak. He’s learned to navigate kinky spaces in various ways, both healthy and unhealthy, but he’s never found his happily ever after — until now, though it doesn’t come without a whole lot of stumbling blocks in the way. I hope to have the first draft done before May 2017 so the book can be released this year, but no guarantees. Real life keeps getting in the way!

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

I’ve always needed to write, for my own mental health. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between periods when I don’t write and times when I’m depressed or unhealthy.

As for inspiration, these days I look to the unusual romances: ones that sneak up on people from unexpected connections, ones that are realistic, ones that don’t fix the world or cure a character’s problems but that make life a little happier for everyone involved.

That’s what I love about queer romance. I’m not shoehorning or stereotyping my characters into “male” or “female” roles as they’ve become traditionally defined in the romance genre. I can let my characters develop as they will, without fear that an editor will redline a character because of breaking those gender-based molds.

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?

Animals! I tend to sneak in animals, especially dogs or cats, wherever I can, because they’re so important in my own life. I have a service dog for PTSD — two, actually, since my senior service dog, Darian, has retired due to bad hips and I’m now working with Bucky, my service dog in training. Isn’t he gorgeous?

Bucky 39

In Change of Address, I gave Michael, who also has PTSD (from combat), a service dog named Kaylee. She’s a German Shepherd Dog who’s a mix, in temperament, of Bucky and Darian. She’s not perfect, but she’s the steady rock that Michael needs to anchor himself as he finds his way in the civilian world — and the reason that he and Josh eventually end up together.

COA tumblr header

In my next book, one of the characters has an adopted greyhound. She offers her human unconditional love in exchange for long naps on the sofa. Really, what more could a person want? And I have plans for a golden retriever puppy to take a starring role in Building Bridges.

My fanfics, whether solo- or co-written, also tend to have pets of various types, whether it’s a pair of ferrets, a basket of kittens, or an over-dramatic saluki.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Remind yourself that art isn’t a zero-sum game. Other artists aren’t your competition — they’re your colleagues. Cheer their successes, because every successful artist brings new consumers into the fold, whether it’s a Big Name Fan writing a breakaway hit fanfic and bringing in new readers who eventually discover your fics or a New York Times bestselling author bringing new readers into the sub-genre in which you write. Yes, sometimes success is a matter of luck, of connections, of timing, but mostly success is a matter of talent and hard work.

Consume other art in your chosen field. If you’re a writer, read all the books you can in your genre — and a few in related genres. For example, I’ve learned a whole lot about writing humor in romance by reading historical m/f romances, even though I don’t think I’ll ever write a historical.

Study the market if you want to turn your art into a career. Learn the formulas and what made the big names successful. Study the fundamentals. Learn all the rules, whether grammar or color theory or whatever applies to your art. You can’t know which rules to break until you have a deep understanding of those rules.

Then feel free to break the rules. Be true to the art you create. You’ll find a market somewhere.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

These days, I come closest to identifying as autochorissexual.

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

I’m fortunate that I haven’t, though I suspect that’s because I’m working with publishing professionals who are from all over the queer spectrum, including an ace senior editor.

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

Any sentence that includes the words “all aces” is bound to be 1) “commonly” believed or taken to be true and 2) actually flat-out wrong.

When it comes to my next book, I’m actually bracing for backlash from outside the ace community from people telling me I can’t write a kinky asexual character because “all aces” don’t like sex and therefore can’t be kinky.

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

A few things:

  1. “All aces” don’t exist. Every asexual person is different. Sex-positive, sex-neutral, sex-repulsed. Kinky, vanilla, or none of the above. Masturbates or doesn’t. Experiences arousal under whatever circumstances or none at all.
  2. If someone tells you “you can’t be ace because…” or “you’re not a real ace because…” walk away and don’t look back. Nobody elected these gatekeepers, and nobody has a lock on knowing everything about asexuality — not even other aces. We all live in a continuous state of self-discovery, from the day we’re born until the day we die.
  3. And that means sometimes you change, whether from biology or circumstance or because you simply learned a new word that comes closer to resonating with who you really are inside. There was a time I identified as het, then bi, then pan, then gray-ace, then demi-ace, then back to gray-ace/aro. It took me something like 43 years to get where I am now, and that doesn’t mean it won’t change again. That’s okay!

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

These days, I tend to be most active on my Twitter, https://twitter.com/jordansbrock/ for original work or pictures of Bucky. I’m terrible at keeping up my website, jordansbrock.com, even though it’s a Tumblr. You’d think it’d be easy!

My Riptide Publishing author page will also have a link to all books I’ve released through them. http://riptidepublishing.com/authors/jordan-s-brock

For fanfic, my work is all available on AO3 at http://archiveofourown.org/users/Kryptaria/works and my Tumblr, at kryptaria, is full of inspirational pictures. These days, it’s mostly Marvel Cinematic Universe. I keep my James Bond stuff at kryptaria00Q and post random writing/service dog bits at anauthorandherservicedog.

Thank you, Jordan, for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.

Interview: Savannah

Today we’re joined by Savannah. Savannah is a phenomenal writer from Jamaica. They writes a number of things, including short fiction and poetry. Savannah is incredibly enthusiastic about writing and it really shows. They create gorgeous pictures with their words, 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’m a writer, by hobby—I haven’t published anything yet (unless you count the two or so letters to the editor I’ve submitted to a local newspaper). I enjoy writing critical pieces, fiction, and occasionally poetry. I write about other people a lot, especially my poetry. My life isn’t that exciting (I think), so I use my writing to tell other people’s stories. I don’t think much about form and structure with my poetry. I usually start writing and I won’t stop until a poem is done. It’s somewhat similar with writing fiction: I’ll feel like I have something to write, start immediately, and then go until I feel tired or I have to stop. Sometimes when I stop I can get back into the groove after I’ve rested, but other times I’ll never be able to pick it up again. I always want to give my stories away to other people who would be willing to finish them (I think of unfinished stories as ghosts waiting to transcend), but I don’t always trust that they are well-written enough to pass on.

What inspires you?

Other people, mostly. I’ll be walking in town, or driving on the street, or standing in line somewhere, and I’ll see someone just going about their business and think ‘I wonder what that person’s life is like’ and then immediately I’ll want to write something about them. Sometimes I’ll even write something out at the same time on whatever loose paper I have available. Those are the most fulfilling times.

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

I was always a bookish child (I used to get books instead of toys), and I developed a love for literature. I wanted to be a writer from an early age, and remember choosing high school subjects based on what I could use to get into a writing school. I studied Literature when I went to university, but I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t have — I feel bogged down a lot with the business of poetic structure and other literary terminologies. When I ignore all that and write for the sake of writing, I feel more satisfied.

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 prefer to write in parts; usually three parts. Most of my poetry gets written this way. Each poem can stand alone, but trios make me feel like it’s a more complete work: Beginning, middle, end. I incorporate this into my fiction too, but much more loosely.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be too concerned about people liking your work. Your work is worthwhile because it’s your work, not because other people like it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual.

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

Not so much prejudice, but there has been a lot of ignorance. When I was in university I wrote a prose fiction piece for a creative writing peer review class and a few of my classmates marked me down for the lack of romantic elements in the story. I have also been criticized by a few friends for not writing about romance or sex. They’ve meant well, but it’s discouraging to hear. In the past I’ve incorporated romance and sex into my writing to please people, but I found that it made me dislike my own work, and so I decided to stop. Generally, I feel like there is too much focus on sexuality as a source of passion in literature, rather than other things like joy and pain and growth. It’s hard to find asexual, aromantic, or non love-centric YA and adult literature, and that’s deeply disappointing.

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

“You just haven’t found the right person yet.” Every time I hear this I mentally unfriend the person who says it to me because it’s just downright rude to assume you know someone better than they know themself. I used to try to convince people like that that someone’s asexuality is not in/validated by that person’s relationship with others, but these days I just sigh loudly and roll one eye like in the memes I’ve seen on Tumblr.

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

There’s a whole world of other asexual people out there that you haven’t met yet who are rooting for you while you discover yourself. Really. We’re out here thinking about you and we want you to know that you’re accepted and you’re cared for. Even if you aren’t yet sure about yourself. Take your time, invent yourself, and keep on keeping on, you awesome ace being!

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

Presently, I run a Tumblog where I’ve been uploading my literature every now and again: http://acomplexmachine.tumblr.com/ and an Instagram account dedicated strictly to my poems: https://www.instagram.com/acomplexmachine/

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

Interview: Alena Matuch

Today we’re joined by Alena Matuch. Alena is a phenomenal writer and visual artist who enjoys writing fantasy, often taking inspiration from mythology. Aside from writing fiction, Alena also writes fanfiction and personal essays. She’s also an incredibly talented visual artist and considers illustration to be part of her writing process. She very obviously has a great amount of passion, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

hel
Hel

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m both a writer and an artist. I’m hugely interested in Fantasy and Mythology and how those forces are woven into how we see the world. Most of my work is fantastic or has some bizarre element that doesn’t fit in with how the world typically works. You can see some of my stuff on Tumblr and I also love to play around in fanfiction. I’m currently working on a novel about Norse Mythology from the point of view of a canonically genderfluid god.

As for my art, I work primarily in watercolors and ink. Arthur Rackham, Edward Gorey and Chris Riddell are huge influences on my illustrative style. I see my drawings as an extension of my writing. There’s something so special about seeing your characters standing before you with your own eyes, seeing how exactly it is that they move about their respective stories. Painting them helps me to see them more clearly as people and (hopefully) write them into better stories.

What inspires you?

Small things that very few people notice. A misplaced line of text, never explained, but important. I like the stories of people that were written out of history, whom the Arbiters of Good Taste decided were not worth the ink or time. I look for places, feelings, states of being that are largely unexplored and considered terrifying, until you know the lay of the land.

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Lady Lucine Woolsey

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

Most definitely! I was writing stories about my classmates in grade school and had a multi-chapter saga about an alien invasion from Mars by fifth grade. In kindergarten I convinced a friend that I had 100 kittens living in my home. He was extremely disappointed when he came over for my birthday party and could only find one.

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 do a small doodle of the Cauldron of Inspiration next to my signature on works of art. It’s a common motif in Germanic and Celtic mythology representing fertility, birth and raw creative power. Maybe I should bring it back.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Listen to what your body is telling you. For the love of God, get up and take a walk once in a while. Don’t punish yourself for taking breaks. You need time to be a human being as well as an artist, to let your mind drift into things that aren’t related to what you’re working on. It is okay. And you’ll come back to work so much stronger than you were before.

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Laenke

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a demi lesbian. I also identify as Butch.

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

No. Of course, I’m not out about it at all.

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

The biggest misconception I’ve ever run into was for the longest time my own. For almost my entire life I had no idea that there was a spectrum at all, that there was any such thing as demisexuality. I knew that I could and was getting along just fine without a partner. My sex drive was never something that had any bearing on my life. And yet, every once in a long while, I did feel something for someone else. So I couldn’t actually be ace, right? I stumbled over the definition of demisexuality by sheer accident in an offhand comment on the YouTube channel of my favorite sex educator and learned something about myself that day.

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Taniale Prosthetic Leg

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

The single thing that helped me the absolute most in coming to grips with my orientation was this little comic that drifted across my feed one day. I have no idea who drew it or where it came from. I didn’t think to save it at the time, but the idea of it stuck in my mind, giving me peace and hope as I struggled to figure out who exactly I was.

In it, the protagonist is deeply questioning their orientation and visits an “Orientation Shelter” to figure it out. The proprietor kindly shows them around, gently easing their confusion. She unlocks the first door.

“Maybe you like men?” she asks, gesturing inside.

The room is filled with men of all shapes and sizes, kissing, embracing, gazing lovingly into each others’ eyes. The protagonist shakes their head, getting more irked by the minute by a question which they thought should have an easy answer.

The proprietor pats them on the back and says it’s okay. She unlocks the second door.

A room full of beautiful women. Romantic picnics, holding hands, lips locking.

The protagonist turns away in despair. They think there’s something wrong with them, that they’ll never find what they’re looking for. But there is one more door left to try.

The key turns in the lock and they step through the portal into a vast, open field, the sun gleaming on the swaying blades of grass. The land is filled with all kinds of people – artists, dreamers, athletes kicking a ball across the green, an astronomer gazing through a telescope. In that room there is represented every faucet of creativity that can be imagined, every color of sheer joy that has ever been painted.

I keep that image in my head when the thoughts that I am lacking in something come back to haunt me. I hold it in my heart and remember that this is who I am, that these are the things I love.

I am lacking in nothing and the entire world waits for me to bend it to my will.

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

Check me out on Tumblr at Neriad13.Tumblr.com. The “My Art and “My Writing” tags are a very good place to start.

I also post fanfiction on Ao3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/Neriad13/pseuds/Neriad13) and Fanfiction.net (https://www.fanfiction.net/u/4296233/Neriad13) under the same handle.

I post art on Deviantart (http://neriad13.deviantart.com/), though I am falling a bit behind on that one.

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Angrboða

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

Interview: Jenn Ocana

Today we’re joined by Jenn Ocana. Jenn is a phenomenal artist who dabbles in a couple different fields. She’s currently majoring in Communications, but has been doing quite a lot of writing. Jenn loves the written word and writes in quite a few different forms. She has recently had her first poem published in her school’s literary magazine. She has also recently gotten into cinematography and enjoys that as well. 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 don’t think I’m at any level to where I could possibly be able to call myself an artist. However, I am trying to work towards making my hobbies writing, and content creating available for others to read/watch/listen. For the most part I write things journal entries on Wattpad (as well as previously writing some fanfiction), as well as fiction stories, poems and even speeches. Also at my college I am considered an audio and video engineer. I help record and produce podcast, PSAs, radio shows, as well as, do camera work and editing for music and promotional videos.

What inspires you?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what inspires me. I would say I often find inspiration from other people and poets that I have much respect for and wish to emulate. I would also say a lot of my work inspired by my own life and past experiences whether that be family, health, or school related, or really anything I find that I could possibly share my own thoughts on.

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

I never really had the best life, some may say I was just given an awful hand of cards at birth. When I was younger, I became blind in one eye and since then, it always seemed like it was just one bad thing after another. When I started going to a small public school at around the age of 7, I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to fit in being the only child with skin darker than the color of notebook paper in my whole town. That was one of my first experiences with being excluded. Over the years, I’ve also had to deal with physical, mental, and emotional abuse whether that be at home or at school and because of it I’ve always felt alone and lost. That is when I’ve found myself beginning to be more drawn to writing, drawing and music. I don’t know if always wanted to be an artist, but I remember as a kid, one of the only teachers that I felt believed in me strongly encouraged me to continue with art, I disagreed because I’ve never thought I was good at it, or with anything for that matter. However, as I grew older, I noticed that I could never find interest in any other subject that we were required to take high school and somehow, I’ve always ended up coming back to writing.

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 think I have anything that is unique to my own work, for the most part, most of my work is done on a computer, but when it does come to my own signature I have a very specific way of signing things. Some people say it just looks like two likes and some squiggles but, I like it. As far as specific features, I guess that it would be that you can tell that I almost never write about things that tend to be happy. This does not mean that I don’t write about happy things, because I do. The reason to this is because I feel like not everyone knows what it’s like to be happy about something, or to express appreciation, or even have the feeling of being in love with someone. This could make it harder for a reader or listener to connect with my work on a personal and emotional level. However, everybody has been sad at some point in their life about something. So, by default, everyone knows that gut-wrenching feeling that I’m trying to express in my work and therefore can be able to relate and or sympathize with my characters as they can connect their own emotions with my work.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you want and don’t let anyone stop you. Scared about what others may think? Go by a pen name. You are the only person that create make your thoughts into a reality, whether that be a story, a poem, a video game, a melody, anything you can possible want to create. You are the only one that can create it, so don’t let anything get in your way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I wouldn’t know how to identify myself exactly but if I had to choose a term to go by, I would consider myself to be lithromantic (or akioromantic) asexual. I can have literally the absolute biggest crush on someone but if I find that they like e back the feelings immediately go away… its quite frustrating sometimes. However, I would say that I’m quite sex repulsed. If you touched me anywhere else besides to rub my back and maybe, just maybe, hold hand, the odds of me slapping the medulla out of your head be highly likely. Ha-ha, I’m just kdding but yeah, you get the idea lol.

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

Directed towards me? No. The people who I work with whether that be in my major in college, or when I work with the people in my school’s radio station/club are very open to others and diversity. This is probably due to the reputation my major and club has at our college, we welcome all with open arms.  However, the environment in the dorms is quite different. Some people think it’s just crazy thinking that it’s impossible to think that way. However, others some just seem to not be able to comprehend the idea. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, I was once involved in a conversation when my friends were discussing how someone’s girlfriend was asexual. They just didn’t know what that was supposed to mean and didn’t really know that it was a thing. They never really understood I, but they were overall respectful for that person.

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

I really haven’t encountered much since I’m only open about my sexuality with two people. However, I have tried to tell my mother who is convinced it is only a phase and I’ll think differently when I’m older. Also, one thing that seems to be a misconception is that when I first told one of my friends, he thought I was lying because I had crushes on guys and always told him about them. He thought that because I was asexual, I was incapable of liking someone. Nevertheless, after explaining that it is possible he’s become more understanding, which is good. J

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

This is a hard one because I’m still not fully accepting of my own sexuality however, I’m becoming more self-aware of it every day. My biggest advice would be to not force yourself into doing anything you are not comfortable will doing. It could just make you feel more uncomfortable and even worse than you felt before. Writing is what works the best for me, I often would write about my experiences with trying to figure out why I don’t have that “butterfly feeling” when I kiss a guy and try writing may ways to find a solution to what I’m feeling. If you’re stressing yourself out about it step back and take a breath. Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, do anything you feel that can take you mind away from the stressor. A big part for me in to trying to come to term with my orientation is trying to say it out loud. I know it could be hard and scary for some people. The first time I told someone I was asexual, I said it in a text message. Honestly, by doing that I felt like I was still trying to hide it from myself. If I were to be complete honest it wasn’t until just a week ago, that I said that I was asexual for the first time out-loud and it was in front of my school counselor. I may or may not have cried in the process. Even though doing this was probably the hardest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, the act of finally saying this out-loud has almost, in a way been a catalyst with my process of accepting myself. So, if you think you are ready you can do what I did and go to a school counselor, look at yourself in a mirror, or even just lay down on your bed and tell that to yourself, it can really be the push you need to accepting your orientation.

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

I’m going to start posting a lot of my poetry on my Tumblr but if you want, you can find any of my work on almost all my social media accounts (Wattpad, Instagram, Twitter). The username is CupcakeJiley and it is spelled the same way on every site. I you are interested in checking out any of the podcast/interviews and music videos I help produce and create you can go to my colleges radio Sound Cloud (https://soundcloud.com/wkcv-lp-908850132) and YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp2mJoWoVZnNJ6Q3I3bCBdg). I’ve also considered making my own YouTube Page in which I talk about my work, interest, as well as sexuality. I haven’t decided quite yet but I’ll keep you posted.

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