Interview: TC Doherty

Today we’re joined by TC Doherty. TC is a wonderful fantasy author who has just released her first novel (The Ghost, part of the Celestials series) with a sequel on the way. TC loves the fantasy genre and her books are all LGBTQ+ friendly. Like many ace authors, TC wants to write the diverse narratives she wishes she had access to when she was younger. Her book sounds fascinating and definitely one worth checking out. It’s clear she’s a talented 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.

I write fantasy novels, both middle-grade and young adult. My work is aggressively LGBT+ friendly. I’ve loved the fantasy genre my whole life, so I really try to take advantage of it to write the sort of diverse narratives I wish I had access to growing up.

What inspires you?

My roommates more than anything. I can’t tell you how many stories have been written just because of jokes they make. Other media too, especially fairy tales! Real life, and sometimes dreams.

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

Jack London’s Call of the Wild. No, really. The book had such an indescribably profound effect on me. Upon finishing it, I knew that I wanted to be an author too. And I’ve been writing ever since!

Of course, I loved reading from a very young age, so perhaps it was inevitable.

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

Well, I’m passionate about fairy tales, mythology, and legends. Many of my books have these types of story-telling elements and motifs in them. Other than that, I really love gryphons and I think they’re criminally under-used so I put them in as much of my work as I can get away with (so really…almost all of it).

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Forget about inspiration. If you want to be a hobbyist, then it’s your buddy, but if you want to go farther than that, inspiration does more harm than good. Learn how to work even when you don’t want to – later you won’t be able to tell the difference between work you did when “inspired” and work you did because it had to get done, and no one else will either.

There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft. Or a perfect second draft. Don’t let fear of imperfection stop you from creating, or from reworking as many times as you need to.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I refer to myself as a homoromantic asexual.

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

In my field not really, but in real life certainly. I’m very open about my orientation and so I run into a comparable amount of ignorance. For people who are curious and want to learn, I’m happy to share and answer questions. For those on the rude side, I ignore them. It’s not worth the fight trying to convince someone who doesn’t want to see you as human.

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

There are two I see with equal frequency. The first is that asexual people are broken, the second is that we’ll change our minds when we meet the right person. Both are harmful in different ways, but especially the narrative of “brokenness”.

I didn’t learn about asexuality until I was already eighteen or nineteen, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t know something was up. With no positive examples in media, and no one even admitting it existed, I couldn’t help but think of myself in terms of “what’s wrong with me”. That’s something I really want to change.

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

There’s nothing wrong with you. Don’t let people pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do. Surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are. There’s no shame in taking time to figure yourself out, or to find the perfect lifestyle for you. And you don’t have to be a “gold-star” asexual to be welcome among us.

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

You can follow updates about my work through my Tumblr: https://www.tc-doherty.tumblr.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tcdohertybooks/.

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

Interview: Sarah Pickard

Today we’re joined by Sarah Pickard. Sarah is a phenomenal writer who specializes in genre fiction. She writes a variety of genres and has a wide array of LGBTQ+ characters populating her work. Her passion and enthusiasm shines through in her interview, 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.

While I’ve been published for poetry, I mostly work writing LGBT+ genre fiction. In my experience as a reader, too much of LGBT+ media is focused on the coming out process, so I try to fill a niche of writing fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, etc. novels that has a full LGBT+ cast. There’s none of the angst that comes with the discovery or coming out process. Instead we have a cast with a full range of gender identities and sexualities who are out living their lives, commanding airships or working in underground street-racing teams. When you already had to live through the experience, sometimes you just want to see a lesbian punch a dragon.

(I also have a personal pledge to only ever write one straight character, which to this day I’ve maintained.)

What inspires you?

I think every comment about ‘pandering diversity’ or ‘if you want representation, go out and make it’ fuels me to take these genres that have been traditionally very heteronormative and queer the fuck out of them. For anyone who widely reads fanfiction, the transition back to reading traditional literature is always a jarring one as you remember how white/straight/cis everything really is. And there’s no reason it has to be! Diversity breathes life into plotlines – not stifles them. Why close yourself off to possibilities? I mean, when we add nonbinary people to high fantasy, think of all the curses/prophecies that get foiled. And why deprive yourself of all the puns? Yes, that’s it. I’m inspired by all the pun-possibilities.

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer…always. Honestly, my first written work was dictated to my grandmother at the age of four. And in some ways it’s terrifying to have no idea who I’d be without writing, but I count myself very lucky that I found my calling at such a young age. There was never any specific moment or event that triggered it. I probably came out of the womb this way.

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?

Yes! So, I basically write my own novel length AU fanfiction. That is, I have a set cast I work with in all my novels and genres, and the fun comes from exploring how they and their relationships grow and change and develop under different circumstances and settings. And most of my readers find comfort knowing that just because their favourite character died in one novel doesn’t mean they won’t survive the next. How many works can boast that?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you really love something, do it. Do it in every free moment you have. If you wait for inspiration, you’ll never be inspired. Writing is hard work (no matter how easy Stephen King makes it seem) and it never gets any easier. Most of the time it gets harder as the years go on! You start worrying about sentence structure repetition and never using the word ‘was’ and staying in the active voice and before you know it you’ve rewritten the same sentence ten times because something’s wrong with it and you can’t figure out what. Yeah, some days words will fly off the keyboard like little fairies with minds of their own, but most of them time you’re going to slog through it one word at a time.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual, and I have no idea what my romantic orientation is.

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

While I haven’t personally encountered any writers who are against asexuality, I have run into the old rhetoric of asexual characters being boring to write about. But honestly, if you need sex to move your plot along, you have a pretty terrible plot?

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

That we’re all either Childish, Sociopaths, or Geniuses instead of actual people.

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

Right now, Tumblr is probably the worst place to be if you’re struggling with your asexual identity. Nearly every LGBT+ space I’ve encountered in person has been warm and welcoming and accepting. So just forget all the bullshit about whether or not you’re a part of the community – because you absolutely are – and figure everything out on your own terms. Also aromantic heterosexuals and heteromantic asexuals are 100% queer (no take backs) and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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

I’m afraid I don’t post any of my work online. I’m soliciting my first novel right now and it can’t be previously published – and some publishing companies consider posting online as ‘previously published’. But if anyone wants to Beta any of my work, they can contact me at reallifeisfiction@gmail.com. I’m always happy to get feedback and constructive criticism!

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

Interview: Melinda Gillispie

Today we’re joined by Melinda Gillispie. Melinda is a phenomenally talented young writer who has been writing for quite some time. She specializes in original fiction and writes a lot of LGBTQIA+ characters, which is always great to see. She has a wonderful enthusiasm and love for the art of writing, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve been writing in general for a long time. In elementary school, when we’d have to write a creative story, I’d always be the one with the best story. It was the same in middle school, and now high school. All of my stories have been original fiction or fan fiction, except for whenever we’re required to write autobiographies for class. My most popular story right now is one that I came up with at random several years ago and have been writing online since. It’s a fan fiction, but that’s not relevant. I have so many more stories planned out and characters being developed in my head at all times, so I make sure to write down ideas somewhere so I can remember it for when I have time to write it. I’m wanting to become a published author in the future, but on the off chance I don’t make much money in that field, I’m looking into majoring in something else in college when I get there.

What inspires you?

I’m honestly not sure. I get inspiration and ideas for stories at random; for example, I recently binge-read a book series about dragons and started creating my own fictional dragon world a few hours after. When I get inspired to write more for my current stories, it’s when I’ve been reading something similar or with the same general aspects (time travel, revolution, etc.) So I guess my inspiration would be other authors’ books and stories!

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

When I first started writing for something other than school assignments, it was when I had finished reading what was published of the Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter at the time. I was so excited, since cats have always been a part of my life. Erin Hunter’s writing was so similar to my own thought process that I based my own writing style off of hers. I started thinking of my own characters that I would personally place into the story, and it all kind of went from there. Actually I stopped being interested in it for a few years, surprisingly. During that time I decided I wanted to be an artist who painted and drew, but I’ve never been good at painting in general. I’ve always been better at painting mental pictures with words.

In 6th or 7th grade I started talking to people that I now consider some of my closest online friends, and they actually encouraged me to start writing (without knowing it, of course!) My first story was a complete disaster, to tell the truth. Nobody read it, the grammar was the worst, the storyline wasn’t well thought out… it was just horrible. The second was a bit better; I had about 200 readers, 15 of which had decided to follow the story and get notifications when I updated, and I got good feedback. Reading back on it now as a sophomore in high school… that story is cringe-worthy. I’m tempted to rewrite it completely.

I haven’t always wanted to write, but lately it’s been one of my biggest passions and one of my proudest accomplishments. Living with all of my insecurities, it’s nice being able to see how many people care for me and like my writing. It’s boosted my self-esteem a lot. I’d love to live my life as an author. Maybe not the #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR, but I’d like to sell some of my books, you know?

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?

The main characters in my stories are always LGBT in some way. In Golden Blood, the main character (based off of me) is super gay for her girlfriend (based off my own girlfriend.) In Stolen Time, the main character is openly aro/ace. I guess that’s kind of a feature I like to include in my stories.

In my stories I tend to focus more on the plot than the setting, which might just be bad writing on my part. I find myself neglecting to include how the environment (like the weather) would affect the storyline. The vocabulary doesn’t include hugely fancy words; I prefer to write using words I incorporate into everyday life so as not to confuse my readers.

I guess my writing style in general is unique in its own way. Everyone writes differently and has their own style, just like how everyone sees color slightly differently. We all see the world in our own special ways, so we interpret and portray our personal worlds in our own ways, as well.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be “do what you love best.” If you love writing but aren’t good at spelling, go ahead, write anyway! If you want to get better with spelling, just look up how to spell certain words online. Also, I’m sure if you write online, your readers would gladly help you out. Nobody can do what you can do except yourself. So do what you want, in your own way! If you want to write fan fiction, go for it. If you want to draw silly comics, have fun! It’s your life. Make the best of it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as panromantic asexual. I do lean more towards females but that’s just a personal preference.

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

Well, I’ve definitely encountered lots of rude people who made fun of me, said I wasn’t valid, said “hey if we stuff her in a room with romantic music and candles, will she emerge with a clone?” and other degrading things. But with writing, not so much. I’m a digital writer, so all of my works are online, and people have yet to shove their ignorance on me when it comes to asexuality. Of course, someone once said I’d go to hell for writing a story with gay characters but that’s not ace prejudice, it’s just LGBT prejudice.

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

Definitely the misconception that we are all plants and reproduce on our own. In biology class sometimes people point to pictures of cells going through mitosis and say “hey, look! It’s Melinda,” which hurts but I’ve learned to roll with it. I used to get more easily offended but now I joke about it too. Yes, I reproduce on my own and my clone army is coming for you. Beware.

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

Do what you feel is best for you. If you think coming out would put you in danger, stay closeted until you feel safe to come out. If you’re not sure, that’s fine! Questioning things about yourself isn’t a sin. If you feel you desperately need a label, just look up the different sexualities and genders and figure it out. If you think you’re ace, identify as ace! Your identity can change over time, there’s no harm in that. I used to think I was straight. Then bisexual. Then pansexual. Then panromantic asexual. I feel most at home with this label, but I could figure out more about sexualities and change it in time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you!! You’re valid no matter what.

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

You can go to my Quotev, where I write most often. I also have a story up full of photos of art I made in art class with other fun mediums. Most of my stories aren’t even published or made yet, so you don’t have many to read, but that’s fine. I’m getting better at updating often and not completely abandoning stories. My Quotev URL is at MellyMelon, and the username is Goldenflight. If you want to follow my Tumblr too, it’s at golden-melon. I usually spam post memes on Tumblr but I also post writing prompts and other stuff that has to do with art. My girlfriend is also an asexual artist. She’ll be submitting her interview sooner or later. We’re gay and it’s cute and she’s cute and I love her. She’s Haylee Scribner, so if you see hers, you should follow her accounts too! ❤

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

Interview: Eileen Gonzalez

Today we’re joined by Eileen Gonzalez. Eileen is a phenomenal author who hasn’t met a genre she doesn’t like. She has had stories published in magazines and also does self-publishing. While she specializes in fiction, Eileen has a great passion for diverse characters and LGBTQ+ characters. It’s apparent from her interview that she has a great love of the written word. 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 write all kinds of fiction.  I haven’t been able to settle on a genre.  It’s like my version of Pokémon—gotta try ‘em all.  For me, diversity is more important than the specific genre.  I like writing about LGBT characters and characters of color.

At the moment my pet projects include Proper Ladies, a comedic novel about a group of proto-superheroines in 1914, and the Spring Break Sleuths series, about a group of college friends who solve mysteries together over spring break.

What inspires you?

Everything.  It’s a little annoying sometimes.  Every time I watch or read or play something, my brain goes, “I wanna do something like this!”  Not all of those ideas are any good, of course, but at least I never run out of stuff to work on!

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

Not quite always. Just since second grade.  I seem to remember we were given a creative writing assignment, and then all of a sudden the proverbial light switch went off and I realized I loved to write.

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’s a very rare day indeed when I’m not writing about LGBT characters.  The most recent exception I can think of is Alice Jung from my short story “Like Knights of Old” (soon to be appearing in the first issue of Wizards in Space magazine!), and even then, Alice is also one of the main characters of “Proper Ladies,” which features a lesbian couple.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

There is so much advice out there about how to write, what to write, when to write, etc. that a lot of it ends up contradicting itself.  Feel free to pick and choose the bits of advice that work for you.  As long as you’re having fun and are satisfied with your work (or at least as satisfied as any creative person can be with their work), you’re doing it right.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Aromantic asexual

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

Nothing directed specifically at me, but just being on the internet and being exposed to various media means that I inevitably run into the usual stuff about how asexuals don’t belong in the queer/LGBT community, or how romantic and sexual feelings are what “make us human.”  I try not to let it get to me, but it’s hard sometimes.  Writing helps—I get to create bunches and bunches of diverse and open-minded characters.

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

Probably what I mentioned earlier about how sex “makes us human” or is “something we all share,” which basically negates our very existence.  The fact that the pursuit of romance and/or sex seems to be the cornerstone for 90% of all the books and movies ever made doesn’t help.

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

There are jerks and idiots out there.  Each time you meet one, you may be struck by the urge to punch them.  Do not do this.  Instead, go find something that isn’t so punchable and spend some time with it.  A pet.  A friend, online or in person.  A video game. A fanfiction.  Whatever makes you happy.  You’re a nice, normal person who deserves to be happy.

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

I post about it on Tumblr sometimes, but my website — gonzalezwithaz.com — is the most reliable place.  There’s links to all my work (the short stories are free!) as well as regular updates about upcoming writing projects.

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