Interview: Tanya Lisle

Today we’re joined by Tanya Lisle. Tanya is a phenomenal author who writes mainly supernatural YA fiction. She has a number of books available and is currently hard at work on a couple series. She loves the horror genre and there’s brushes of that in most of her work. It’s clear she’s an incredibly passionate artist who loves the written word, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

bio

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I tell stories, largely with a supernatural bent (Urban fantasy, superheroes, general supernatural elements) and with a horror edge to it, usually with some queer content as well.

Currently I’m working on two sequels to White Noise, which is an older YA series, and The Looking Glass Saga, which started as middle grade, but has gotten older as the characters age. I’m also looking at writing one more book for Tales from the Twisted Eden Sector, which is for an older audience, as well as the next book in Cloned Evil, which is more in the New Adult range.

citywithoutheroes

What inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me. I tend to get the majority of my ideas when my mind wanders during stressful periods of my life looking for that escape. Coming up with interesting concepts to explore always seems to happen when I’m neck-deep in the middle of another project, so I end up jotting the ideas down and come back to them later when I have more time to flesh them out.

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

I have been writing since I was little. Originally, it was asking teachers if I could write an essay or do a project as a story instead, or adding a narrative to the project in a way that still got the requirements across. When I got into high school, a friend of mine wanted to do a comic with a bunch of us in it and asked me for a backstory for my character, which she ended up really liking. After that, I just kept writing stories without needing the excuse of doing it for I have been writing since I was little. Originally, it was asking teachers if I could write an essay or do a project as a story instead, or adding a narrative to the project in a way that still got the requirements across. When I got into high school, a friend of mine wanted to do a comic with a bunch of us in it and asked me for a backstory for my character, which she ended up really liking. After that, I just kept writing stories without needing the excuse of doing it for homework!

ClonedEvil

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?

It doesn’t always make it into the final version, but every draft has a scene where a fridge is thrown. It’s a long standing joke and, if you know me, you know that I cannot let a joke die. And sometimes it ends up being necessary to the plot, so it’s not all bad! A little ridiculous, admittedly…

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s already been a lot of great advice, so I’ll stick with this one: Know why you’re doing it and what success means to you. Your success might look different from other people’s and you don’t need to compare yourself to other people in order to determine if you’re on the right track for your artistic journey.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual aromantic. It took me a very long time (Until I was 26!) to figure out that was even an option, but once I did I was so happy I found something that fit!

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

It’s less prejudiced than it is a lack of representation. Like in other places, some people don’t think of it as legitimate, but I’ve also heard that it’s boring to have a story without romance. I’ve seen more books with asexual characters, but less on the aromantic side. There’s a sense that without that romantic subplot, a book won’t sell and therefore you must include some romance.

I’ve admittedly fallen into this trap as well. More recently, now that I’m getting more comfortable talking about my own asexuality, I’m starting to make it more of a point to make various character’s sexualities more explicit and to not walk so carefully around it in fear of not gaining that larger audience. The Looking Glass Saga is a series with an aro/ace lead that I’m going to be making more explicit, and I’m working to include more characters on the spectrum in upcoming projects.

syndicate

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

It’s either that I just haven’t find the right man yet (Because really you’re straight dontcha know?) or that it’s just that I don’t like sex.

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

It’s okay to not know exactly what words fit you, and sometimes it takes a while to figure those out. It’s a spectrum and you might not fall neatly into one box or another. And, of course, you may find out later that one word doesn’t fit you as well as you thought it did, and that’s fine too!

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

You can check out this link, which has all my books and will redirect you to the store of your preference: https://www.books2read.com/ap/nlzBXx/Tanya-Lisle

And if you would like a sampler of books, you can check out the mailing list here: https://mailchi.mp/506eec46f344/get-your-free-book-now

And, of course, the blog and social media links:

http://tanyalisle.com/
https://twitter.com/TanyaLisle
https://www.facebook.com/ScrapPaperEntertainment
https://www.instagram.com/tanyalisle/
http://tanyalisle.tumblr.com/

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

Interview: Minerva Cerridwen

Today we’re joined by Minerva Cerridwen. Minerva is a phenomenal SFF author and visual artist. For writing, she has a story published in Unburied Fables and recently released her novella, The Dragon of Ynys (which features an aro-ace main character). Visual art is more of a hobby for her, though she does do commissions. Minerva does handlettering and draws, using traditional mediums such as pencils and ink. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

01 Bianca (own character) - pencil - 2017
Bianca (own character)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve always loved writing, and to my great joy I can call myself a published author these days. I mainly write fantasy and science fiction and sometimes dabble in poetry and horror. So far I’ve got a short story in the queer fairy tale anthology Unburied Fables and my debut novella, The Dragon of Ynys, came out in May 2018.

The Dragon of Ynys is a light fantasy tale suitable for all ages, starring aro/ace main character Sir Violet, the knight of Ynys. He helps Holly, a trans woman, to find her missing wife, the baker. They suspect the ever-thieving dragon who lives near the village might have something to do with her disappearance…

02 Cover for 'The Dragon of Ynys' by Kirby Crow
Cover for ‘The Dragon of Ynys’ by Kirby Crow

I also love drawing and handlettering, using traditional materials—mainly because I haven’t had the time yet to learn more about digital art. I like to experiment with different techniques: I’ve been using pencils, watercolour, brushmarkers and ink, both for original works and fanart. I wouldn’t mind taking this to a professional level someday, but so far I’ve mainly been drawing for myself and my friends.

What inspires you?

I grew up with fairy tales, both the ones my mother read to me as a child and all the Disney movies I watched so many times. It’s no wonder that I love writing fairy tales myself. However, the big difference with the tales I consumed at a young age is that there will always be queer characters in my stories. It’s so important to be able to relate to characters when you’re trying to figure out your own identity, and I feel like it took too long before I finally experienced that moment myself. Once you’ve seen your identity validated in popular media, it’s so much easier to accept who you are, rather than to believe those who say you can’t feel the way you feel or be the way you are.

I hope that my writing will make it easier for future generations to find stories that tell them they’re not alone, not broken, and that teach them acceptance towards others as well. In that light, I write the stories that I would love to read myself, with all the dragons and magic and hopefully wittiness that I adore in the works of Pratchett, Rowling, Tolkien and other masters.

For more specific inspiration, my friend Fie and I started a project in 2013, inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-golden Tales. Every week, she took a picture for which I wrote a ten-sentence story. These days we’ve dialled it down to two photo-story combinations per month, but Paranatellonta is still going strong after five years! Getting random prompts from friends is a great way to stay inspired at all times.

When it comes to visual art, getting an Instagram account has definitely done wonders. There are a lot of awesome artists out there whose samples inspired me to try new techniques. Every month there are challenges going around in different themes, for any kind of art actually, but in my case those mainly influenced my handlettering. Practice really helps! I also finished Inktober last year. It once again proved that an inspiring prompt doesn’t need to be more than one word or one image. You can see my Inktober drawings if you scroll down a little on my Instagram.

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

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. As I said, my mother read fairy tales to me from a young age, and once I learned to read myself, my greatest joy was to discover more fun stories. There were never enough of them, so it only made sense that I wrote down my own as soon as I could. Surrounded by those fictional adventures, somewhere deep inside I knew what adventure I wanted to have myself, even when I was five years old: I wanted to be an author, like those wonderful people who’d given me all those beautiful tales to enjoy.

My drawing story is completely different. For a very long time I was convinced I couldn’t draw at all. I just didn’t have the talent. Looking back at art class in school, I feel like they never stressed the importance of studying references enough. I was always doodling in my school books for fun, but it never felt like that counted.

Fast-forward to when I’d finished university and my parents were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. I didn’t have much gift inspiration, and they joked about a “grown-up” child making a drawing for their parents—and the fact it was a joke tells you enough about how much the arts are respected unless you’re a Big Name. I often feel like our society expects people either to be a grand artist or talentless, and the fact that there must be a learning process in between is often completely neglected.

Anyway, I went through with it, and as I was drawing my parents from a reference photo, it turned out pretty okay (especially considering it was supposed to remind them of a child’s drawing). Most important of all, I had a lot of fun working on it. I’d been looking at a lot of art online since I’d last taken up a pencil, and combined with using a reference for the first time, I could see I’d massively improved since my last school drawing years earlier.

From that point on I let my more artsy friend Fie convince me to take part in courses on Skillshare to improve my drawing techniques and handlettering. Now, almost five years after that anniversary drawing, I actually feel like I’ve made some pretty things!

03 Fiery Mushroom - brush markers - 2017
Fiery Mushroom (brush markers)

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 I mentioned above, you’ll find many fairy tale elements and queer characters in my writing. More specifically, you’ll encounter a lot of dragons and spiders. The dragons are a more conscious choice than the spiders, who just always happen to show up… Just like in real life, I suppose.

I don’t think I have any recurring elements in my visual art, but I’ve been using a signature since late 2016. It’s made up of the initials of both my pen name and legal name.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I think it’s an important message that you can always learn and improve. That’s something I only truly learned from starting to draw. I’d always been “born” a writer: I started at a very young age and people told me I was talented. But I had to work to become better at visual art, and that made me realise that the reason why I’d loved writing all my life was that I’d been exposed to so many stories to learn from. Having played with words from a very young age, stories had never been the big “mystery” that a beautiful piece of art was. So what I mean to say is: people aren’t born a Grand Artist. They become them. And going down into history means you’ve worked hard, but also that you were lucky (or, in some cases, unlucky) enough to have your name picked up and talked about. But that luck, too, is something you can influence by promoting your work. Like doing interviews on awesome websites. 😉

04 Space Ace 2 for Tanouska - watercolour - 2018
Space Ace 2 (watercolour)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but I usually go with “aro-spec” rather than a more specific label, because it’s difficult for me to figure that one out.

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

There’s certainly a lot of ignorance. Even in some queer organisations, it seems the A’s are often forgotten. I can only hope that my stories will spread more knowledge, while still being entertaining rather than feeling like a lecture.

05 Violet - ink - 2018
Violet (ink)

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

That asexuality would mean you never have sex. It can mean that, and I guess it does for me. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a life without sex. But for sex-positive aces it makes things all the more confusing to figure out their orientation when people keep asking: “But you’ve enjoyed having sex, how can you be ace?”

Aside from that, I think that asexuality and aromanticism are too often considered the same thing. This also makes it hard to find a label that fits you when you do experience romantic attraction but no sexual attraction, or the other way round. When different sources tell you that you need to feel things a certain, very specific way in order to identify as ace or aro, it can be a long search to find a label that fits. And of course not everyone needs to label their orientation, but in my own experience finding the names and other people who used them certainly helped to stop thinking I might be broken or wrong.

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

You’re not alone and you’re not broken. For me it was a massive help to enter queer spaces (in my case on Tumblr) and read experiences from other queer people. It made me discover terms (like asexual and aromantic) which I’d never heard of before I made a Tumblr account almost 10 years ago. It showed me that they weren’t some kind of theoretical concept, but a whole spectrum of people who experienced things in different ways—and some of their experiences were just like mine! Suddenly I was no longer “the weird one”. Which actually took me some time to adapt to, because I’d become quite used to being “just odd” and labelling myself that way 😛

However, in the long run, learning about all flavours of queer (be it through books, blogs, or directly talking to others) taught me to be more open-minded in general and made me more comfortable with myself.

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

My website is http://minervacerridwen.wordpress.com/. There you find everything about both my writing and drawings, with links to my social media. Feel free to follow me!

Paranatellonta, a flash fiction project inspired by my friend’s photography, can be found at http://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/. It updates twice a month and you can read all the stories and see all the pictures for free.

My visual art can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/minerva_cerridwen/. I’m posting pretty much everything I draw on Instagram, showing my learning process with both the pieces that worked out and the ones that didn’t. Mainly because I find it interesting to track my own evolution and learn from that in turn!

Other places you can find me:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/minerva_cerr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minervacerridwen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15904760.Minerva_Cerridwen

And places to buy my stories:

– The Dragon of Ynys (Publisher | List of other retailers)
– Unburied Fables (Amazon)

06 Cats Rule the World for Ether - watercolour - 2017
Cats Rule the World (watercolour)

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

Interview: Kristen

Today we’re joined by Kristen. Kristen is a phenomenal author who self-publishes a series with her partner under the name Riley S. Keene. She enjoys writing speculative fiction: fantasy and horror mostly. In fact, the series they’re working on is LGBTQIA+ fantasy and it sounds fantastic from the summary. It’s clear that Kristen is a passionate and dedicated author, 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.

My art of choice is writing—specifically LGBTQA+ and POC positive speculative fiction, including Fantasy, LitRPG, and Horror. I have been writing speculative fiction for way more years than I’d like to admit (somewhere upwards of 25 by now), but I only got serious about it in the last five years. Before I got serious about writing, I was an artist who took way too much influence from anime and manga.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration for Fantasy and LitRPG are table top games, like Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire the Masquerade, and Savage Worlds. I also take a lot of inspiration from video games, including Horizon Zero Dawn, the Final Fantasy series, and MMOs like Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft. I’m also greatly inspired by books, including the Dragonlance series, the first Fantasy books that showed me people could enjoy accessible Fantasy that didn’t need to copy Tolkien’s style.

For Horror, my biggest inspiration is my own anxiety. Thanks, brain. Maybe also the 80s and 90s horror movies I grew up with (before jump scares became the norm) and the work of Ania Ahlborn and Richard Laymon.

Lately though, my biggest inspiration has been knowing that self-publishing gives me a platform to share my words with others, to influence and inspire them, just like others have influenced and inspired me.

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

I was always a creative child. As far back as I can remember, I read books, played with art supplies, and enjoyed the Steno notebooks and typewriters that my grandmother had in her attic from her time as a secretary.

When I graduated from college, I decided to pursue art as a source of income (how I got into Engineering Marketing from Graphic Design is anyone’s guess) so I focused on writing for the fun stuff. I studied and studied and, you guessed it, studied some more. I have nearly a hundred how-to writing self-help books that I’ve collected over the last ten years, and all of them have helped me hone my craft. Or, you know, gather dust. Whichever.

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?

Nearly all of my stories feature a broken religion and/or government. I was born and raised in a very strict religion (purposefully not named to avoid upsetting anyone) and when I grew into an adult, much to the anger of my family, I renounced my religion to focus on the one religion that spoke to me as a person—Wiccan. I’ve since transitioned to just general Agnosticism. But it was the flaws in that first religion, the leaders and the way the believes were applied only when convenient, that made me realize that organized religion is a perfect vehicle for everything terrible I could do on large scale in Fantasy worlds.

All of my stories also feature LGBTQA+ and POC characters in worlds that don’t discriminate against them.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My biggest advice to young, aspiring artists is to stop listening to anyone who tells you that you aren’t good enough. A lot of people in the world want to share negative thoughts, especially about the creation of art. With the internet—specifically crowdfunding and online marketplaces—there has never been a better time to become a creator. It doesn’t matter if you are writing, painting, filming, singing…you can share your art with the world. Be sure you are producing as professional of a product as possible, but nothing has to be perfect. And anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to crush your dreams just like someone else crushed theirs. Break the cycle. Make your art. Be happy.

Ancients - Resized

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic gray asexual cis woman. This is kind of new to me, as I always identified as bisexual and it wasn’t until the last year or so that I realized I am actually asexual. I am happily married to a wonderful, supportive cis straight man.

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

Absolutely. I’ve gotten feedback from readers that they don’t understand how a conventionally attractive character could be uninterested in sex. They always assume the character has suffered some sort of sexual assault or other trauma…which always elicits a sigh of exhaustion from me.

I haven’t yet had anyone come after ME specifically as an ace creator, but there is always a first for everything, right?

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

That the assault and trauma I’ve suffered has anything to do with my asexuality. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and questioning about my views on sex. I’ve come to realize is that sexual assault is a much smaller factor than people really realize. But it still becomes the first question out of anyone’s mouth when I explain to them my thoughts on sex and sexuality.

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

The biggest thing that helped me come to terms with my orientation was research. I read a lot of articles and thought pieces and a lot (a lot a lot) of ace-positive blogs. I spoke to other ace individuals about their experiences, and then also talked to a lot of my bisexual and pansexual friends about their experiences with sex and thoughts on sexuality. It was at that point, that I realized I was a lot more like my ace friends than I was my bi friends. And a loooot of stuff made a looooot of sense.

Main takeaway I got from all of my research though was this—no one’s sexuality is set in stone. It can change, adapt, and be fluid. Just like gender. So be you, ignore the naysayers, and as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others, do you. Or not, if that’s your thing.

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

I publish my books under a pen name, since I work with my partner. That pen name is Riley S. Keene, and you can find our work on Amazon (only for right now, sorry, KU is just so good for authors starting out!) or you can just find out more about us on our website at www.rileyskeene.com. We’re also on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook at RileySKeene. Our Tumblr just has a lot of aesthetic/character inspo stuff with some light self-promo mixed in, Twitter is where I get to be my queer little self, and Facebook is all business all the time.

I’d love it if we could hang out sometime!

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

Interview: Li

Today we’re joined by Li. Li is a wonderful and talented aspiring author who has published a couple things in his school’s literary magazine. He writes mostly comedic poetry and short stories that fall under the horror genre. He’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read, and undoubtedly has a bright future ahead of him. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an aspiring writer and enjoy writing comedic poems and short horror stories. My writing style can be very hyperbolic when writing poetry, while with my horror it can be very uncomfortable. My writing style as a whole still hasn’t fully developed, as I began writing only two years ago (Infrequently, though I’ve been trying to write more as of late), and my writing reflects that, though it’s slowly becoming its own thing.

What inspires you?

A mixture of pop-culture, music, my hometown, and my friendships/acquaintanceships. A lot of my comedy is inspired from my town specifically, where I’ve met a lot of interesting folk alongside a lot of strange ones. I wrote a poem recently about a PTA mother writing to another one named Barbra; Barbra was an actual mother I knew, but I did use a different name for her.

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

I’ve been interested in writing since I was very young, though I became more intensely interested in it about two years ago. I only recently decided I would like to write, as before this I wanted to be an astrophysicist (Admittedly, I’m not that much good at math) but decided that wasn’t quite the right career for me. What got me interested in horror was a mixture of things; artists like Junji Ito and movies like Perfect Blue are what got me interested in writing horror, as I wanted to provide the same intense feelings that they are able to produce. I only just became interested in writing comedy, and no one in particular has inspired me- I write to make myself laugh, not others, though I want to be able to write well enough to write things that others will enjoy besides myself.

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 actually don’t have any sort of thing like that, though as I develop my writing skills, I would like to make one.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There’s always that cliché of working hard, but it’s a cliché for a reason- work on your craft, and try to really make it your own. For writers specifically, there’re a lot of skills you’ll need to learn to help you further your writing and help get yourself out there (A video titled Skills You Never Thought You’d Need as a Writer by Jenna Moreci is a very good in-depth video that I would recommend checking out, as she explains things far better than I could.). It’s important to remember that, in general, to try to not compare your work to others. Where you are with your skills are different from others, and though it’s good to strive to continually better yourself, it’s important that you don’t drag yourself down as “not as good” or “not good enough.” Keep your passion for your art burning, and make sure you have other things you’re interested in to go to when you need a break from your art.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic and asexual. I’m sex-repulsed, and am open for a queer-platonic relationship, but will be perfectly happy if I never end up in one.

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

I haven’t experienced any sort of prejudice, but there’s definitely been a lot of ignorance my way. Most of it has been confusion as to what asexuality is, while some of it has been more vitriolic. Everyone who finds out I’m asexual asks what it is, and the more pleasant reactions included asking a lot of questions about it and what it means and so on, which I am always happy to oblige in. The more negative ones include being offered massages to see if that will “awaken” anything in me, getting sexual advances, butt/boob grabs to see if it will help me “get excited”, and being told I need to go see a psychiatrist to get medication to help “fix” me. For those who physically touch me, I cut off all contact with those people and warn others about them. For those who are just unaware of what asexuality is, I try to answer everything to the best of my ability.

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

One of the most common that I’ve personally received about being asexual is that I’m “a late bloomer” and that eventually I’ll begin to feel sexual feelings, and that I should try to get laid. For being aromantic, a lot of people think I’m just cynical about love and shouldn’t “give up on it” even if I express that I genuinely have no interest in it. In general, for both, people say that I’ll end up “alone and sad” because I don’t want a sexual/romantic relationship, alongside not wanting children. Just because I don’t want none of these, it doesn’t mean I’ll be alone and that I won’t have people who care about me- I’ll have friends and family (Plus my lovely pets), and that’s all I could ever ask for.

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

Remember that there isn’t anything wrong with you. Granted, there aren’t as many of us as there are gay, straight, or bi people, but that doesn’t mean your sexuality isn’t as real as anyone else’s and that you’re in any way dysfunctional because of it. Just because you don’t feel sexual/romantic attraction doesn’t mean you aren’t perfectly capable of being a whole human being, and as worthy being treated as well as everyone else.

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

I suppose the easiest place to find it would be my DeviantArt, Hid3AndS33k, as that’s the only place where a lot of my writing can be found.

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

Interview: Lee

Today we’re joined by Lee. Lee is a wonderful artist who does a bit of everything. They love cooking the most, but they also do some writing and crafts. They also enjoy music and play a number of instruments as well as sing. It’s very obvious they love creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I like to cook, knit, cross-stitch, write and play music. I love cooking the most, as it provides a lovely meal for you to eat when you are done! My specialties include mushroom risotto, spaghetti carbonara and chicken chow mein. My knitting and cross-stitching is really good for relaxing in my spare time with some music and a cat on my lap.

Writing is also one of my favourite things to do, but unfortunately writer’s block stands in my way like a stubborn boulder more often than not. I like to write romance (because asexuals can still have lovely romantic relationships!) and horror. Sadly for my characters, they are sometimes combined.

As for music, I can play bass, keyboard and ukulele, and I love to sing. My friend gives me the nickname Tyler Joseph because I can rap as well. I mostly do covers, but recently I composed an original song.

What inspires you?

My inspiration for cooking and writing almost always starts with a ‘what if?’.

I love to take tropes and recipes that people are used to and flip them on their heads. Adding a certain new ingredient can make meals really tasty, especially if you switch out a vegetable you don’t like for one you do. What if instead of beansprouts and lettuce, you had mushrooms and sweetcorn in your stir-fry? What if you added cinnamon to your muffins? (I add cinnamon to everything and anything I bake. Someone needs to stop me.)

In writing I love challenging tropes, and mostly I use it as an opportunity to make my characters diverse and three-dimensional. For example, what if the superhero is ace & aro and never gets a love interest, but the villain is so busy trying to find out who they’re dating that they don’t realise the hero has found their lair? If I’m writing fanfiction, my question may become “what if this scene went differently?” Or “What if these characters had a happy ending?”

Inspiration also comes from things I read; books, I like to believe, are not just paper. They reproduce, as plots and characters and settings from all different books inspire more plots and characters and settings in other writers. It’s like a whole new species.

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

I’d have to say the thing that got me interested in writing was reading. I was the epitome of a bookworm when I was little, and all those books made me want to write some of my own. I thought, if these characters can have these adventures, what adventures can my characters have?

I’ve also always loved music and singing, but I was never very good at anything but keyboard until my music teacher introduced me to the bass guitar. It’s my favorite instrument as it’s simple yet really effective, and can serve as both melody and percussion. Plus, I can play the bassline to Dance Dance, which is one of my favourite basslines ever.

My interest in knitting and cross-stitching came from, as with many others, my grandmother teaching me how. Since she got arthritis and can’t do it anymore, I feel like I should carry on her legacy, so to speak. Plus, it comes back again to challenging stereotypes. Whoever hears of a teenager knitting?

And cooking, of course, comes from loving food.

I always loved writing and wanted to be an author, but I never thought the other three would become so important in my life.

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

I think everyone who has read my writing knows that I use ‘though’ in every other sentence.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make some art. And then make some more. And if you have art block in one area, try another. Things like drawing, painting and writing can take up a lot of mental energy because your creativity is being pushed to its limits. If you’re struggling with a particular piece, find something new to create that has a set of instructions to follow, like my personal favourite, knitting. Once you get into the hang of whatever you’re making, your mind wanders and maybe you can have an idea that can help you! Remember that all art is good art and you don’t have to be amazing at everything straight away. Be patient with yourselves.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am currently questioning my position on the spectrum, but I believe I am most likely to be completely asexual. I’m not rushing to get to an answer, though. I’m also questioning my position on the romantic spectrum, though as I am currently in a lovely relationship I think it’s safe to say I’m not aromantic.

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

Luckily I am quite sheltered from a lot of prejudice and ignorance as most of my friends are very well educated and/or on the asexual spectrum themselves. I haven’t experienced any as of yet.

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

Again, most of my friends are well educated on asexuality, but I do find that people tend to go straight down the path of ‘not finding the right person yet’. It’s a bit like telling someone with a nut allergy that they haven’t found the right nut yet.

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

If I’m honest I’d say I’m one of those people who are struggling with their orientation, but I think that being patient with yourself is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to identity. There’s nothing wrong with identifying as anything as long as you’re not harming anyone.

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

I have posted one of my covers on my YouTube channel anomalee, and more will probably be up there soon.

My AO3 account is heyitslee, though I would advise you stay away from the old stuff.

I have a blog that occasionally posts tips for brit-picking, called its-not-block-its-street, that you can check out.

I also recently started a writing blog called thescientificterm. I am yet to post on it, but I will be posting some pieces I have already done on there soon, and any new pieces will be going up there. I am currently working on a horror piece for my creative writing coursework, so keep your eyes out for that! I might make it into a crafty blog and post some other stuff up there too.

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

Interview: Kit

Today we’re joined by Kit. Kit is a wonderful writer who writes a bit of everything. She writes a lot of speculative fiction with queer characters and aspires to be published one day. When she’s not writing, Kit enjoys fanart and dabbles in cosplay. She’s got an incredible love of her craft, as you’ll read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I write speculative fiction of just about every kind you can think of — high fantasy, urban/contemporary fantasy, occasionally sci-fi or Twilight Zone-style horror — with plenty of queer characters. I have been known to write the occasional fanfiction, and I cosplay as well! I love making cheap/DIY and “closet” cosplays. In this picture I’m playing DC’s John Constantine, with an embarrassingly bad temporary dye job.

What inspires you?

Everything. I’ve gotten sparks of inspiration from everything from my own day-to-day life, to History Channel documentaries and Wikipedia rabbit holes, to binge-watching Shadowhunters. I believe in actively seeking inspiration from the world around me, because it really has so much to offer!

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

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I started reading, which was at the age of 3. It took a little longer before I learned how to write, but in the meantime I made stories with crayon drawings and Little People dolls. I’ve always been a storyteller.

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?

All of my main characters have some kind of physical scar or injury. I’m a self-harm survivor, so showing characters with scars that they don’t hide, that they consider part of their story, is really important to me.

Also, this is more of a recurring theme, but I love writing “roguish” characters — “outlaws with hearts of gold,” as the saying goes. Characters whose hearts and intentions (and hair) are good, even if sometimes they do bad things. I’m a sucker for guys/gals/NB pals like that.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it. Seriously. You will think, “Oh, I’m not good enough,” “Oh, no one’s going to read this/like this,” “I’m just going to get rejected,” etc, but don’t listen to that. Yes, you’re going to write stuff that isn’t good, you’re going to write stuff that no one likes, you’re going to get rejected, but you’ll also write stories that people love. That will make it worth it, believe me, and you’ll never get there if you don’t JUST START.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual (I go back and forth between that and greysexual, I’m still questioning, but for now I think demisexual fits best) and bi-romantic.

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

I wouldn’t consider it prejudice, or even ignorance, but there is a very pervasive, and kinda frustrating, idea in modern publishing (especially YA) that a story isn’t ~interesting enough~ without romance, and the sexier the romance the better. I think it’s important for both ace and allo readers to see that, first, you can have a perfectly good story with no romance, and second, you can have a perfectly good romance with no sex!

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

A surprising number of people — including my parents! — don’t really “buy” that I don’t experience sexual feelings (or, more accurately, don’t experience them outside of people I already have romantic feelings for), because I’m a teenager and aren’t all teenagers always thinking about sex?? (Well…no, actually. I have to go with no on that.)

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

No one gets to define asexuality for you except you, just like no one gets to define your romantic orientation, gender identity, etc. Whether you’re completely sex-repulsed or you still want to have sex one day, whether you consider asexuality a huge part of your identity or NBD, whether you experience romantic attraction or not, you are ace and aces totally rule, ergo you totally rule!

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

I write under the name K. Noel Moore at https://www.wattpad.com/user/K_Moore13, most stories there have also been published on inkitt.com, and I sometimes post flash fiction on my personal (well, my only) blog at http://gayamericanoutlaw.tumblr.com. I’m also working on selling my first short story (a ghost story set in the 1930s with a gay narrator), so if you follow any magazines in the vein of Apex or Nightmare (by which I mean fantasy/sci-fi/horror-centric stuff) keep an out for me!

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

Interview: Amber

Today we’re joined by Amber. Amber is a fantastic visual artist and a writer. She mostly does fanart and fanfiction though she also does original work. Amber loves what she does and it shows in her work. She has a phenomenal attention to detail and color. It’s very clear she has a very creative spirit. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

amber5
Amber 5

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve only been drawing for a couple of years, so I haven’t really developed a certain style yet. A lot of what I draw is fanart, from books or TV shows, but, especially recently, I’ve been drawing more and more OCs and original things. I do most of my sketching on paper with pencil (and a massive, heavy duty eraser) but I do most my Nice Good Pieces digitally!

I write as well, I’ve been writing for a longer time, and I mostly do queer romance or zombie/horror stories, and fanfiction.

What inspires you?

Other artists, mainly. I love looking at other people’s styles and techniques and try to expand my skills that way. A lot of inspiration also comes from art books, like ‘The Art of the Legend of Korra’, movie concept art, things like that. I have an active imagination (blame my ADHD) and am constantly coming up with scenes and images in my head and I try to draw them a lot.

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

I’ve always loved to draw, but when I was younger there was never the ‘I want to get really good at art and make a career out of it!!’ mindset. It was just fun and games, a way to pass the time when I was bored. It wasn’t until my older sibling went to university and I started paying attention to the details, like the behind-the-scenes of movies and shows and games, that I decided that’s what I wanted to aim for. I’ve been seriously drawing for two years now.

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?

Uhh, not really. Most of the time I’ll sign with my Tumblr URL just so people know it’s mine, but I don’t have a special mark. Yet. I’m working on it.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I am a young aspiring artist, so I’ll say what I keep telling myself – don’t compare your art to others’ work. Compare yourself to your old art, sure, but never to artists with more experience than you. It won’t help. And, tutorials. Tutorials are life, tutorials are great. Always look out for tutorials, especially in the form of speedpaints! It really helps to actually see how things are done.

dreadlocks_by_chelberno1-daid8qz
Dreadlocks

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Just plain ol’ ace! Not quite sex repulsed, but almost.

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

Uh, yeah. My family knew nothing about it before I started to talk about, and I live in a small country town where everyone is very old fashioned, so yeah, I’ve encountered a lot of that. I used to try and correct people and explain why they were wrong about whatever, sometimes I still try if I’m in the right mood, but then people started to say that I was too defensive and that I should stop taking everything so seriously and stop trying to upset people. So now I mostly just grumble under my breath and rant to internet friends, and wait for the day when I’ll finally be an Adult and can have my say without getting into trouble.

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

My dad used to always assume that because I was ace, I wasn’t interested in dating and people at all. When I came out as pan shortly after I came out as ace he kept asking how it was possible if I didn’t like people like that, and what would be the point of dating anyone. It took a while to actually get him to understand that ‘asexual’ does only mean ‘no sexual attraction’ and that yes, I am still able to date, and yes, it’s possible to date without having sex. Even at school and everywhere else I go – where I’m not out – everyone automatically thinks that and given up trying to correct them without giving myself away.

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

I’m not the best person for this type of advice, since I’m still struggling with it, but what helps me a lot is just finding and making friends that understand how I feel and friends that know a lot about asexuality and other queer identities. I follow a lot of blogs that have a lot of handy information and a lot of positive posts: (at) rainbow-hotline is a good one, as is (at) ace-big-sis!

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

I have an art blog on Tumblr, over at cheldraws! I also have a Devinatart (ChelberNo1) and an Instagram (at cheldraws)!

I also write, both fanfiction and my own original works, you should be able to google ‘ChelberNo1’ and find where I post things.

you_know_that_you_re_beautiful_when_you_work__by_chelberno1-dam5zel
You Know that You’re Beautiful when You Work

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