Interview: Anya

Today we’re joined by Anya. Anya is a phenomenal up and coming writer who is working on her first novel. She has written a variety of forms: short fiction, poetry, and fanfiction. Anya has also written a little non-fiction. She’s an incredibly passionate writer who has a great love for the written word, as you’ll read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an aspiring writer. Or, more accurately, I am a writer aspiring to get published. I used to mainly write short stories, but I am now working on my first novel! I sometimes write fanfiction, and I dabble in poetry and non-fiction occasionally, but my true love is – and probably always will be – fiction. I do various different types of fiction, but I do tend to lean towards the dramatic and fantastical.

What inspires you?

Honestly? A lot of things. I don’t even know what brings it on. The strangest things inspire me. I’ll be reading the newspaper and come across an article that sparks a story within me. Or I’ll be talking to a friend and it will fan an idea I had into a full blown flame. I think what really encourages me to write is the idea of putting myself into other people’s heads. I tend to write about characters that are very different from me (though a lot of them do tend to be acespec) because I like to use writing as a way to explore people, as well as situations I might not generally get to experience.

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

I’ve been a total bookworm since I was a little child, so the desire to be a writer happened very organically. I had to write a diary for school, and that diary turned into a book full of short stories, and I never stopped writing since then. I think I’ve always had that need to be a writer within me. I don’t think I’m a writer because I want to be one, I just think I never really had another choice. Throughout my life whenever I strayed from writing, there were always things that brought me right back to it.

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 really know if I do. I think my writing style has developed and now reflects my voice, in a sense, but I’m not sure if I do anything unique. I know I tend to be kind of indulgent, and so sometimes there are certain tropes that appear in a lot of my works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Writing sucks. It may seem easy, but you will spend hours hating yourself and hating your work, and thinking you’re never going to make it big. You’re going to be stuck on a word for hours, and even days sometimes. People are going to think what you do is a hobby and treat you like you don’t know anything about the real world. Knowing all of this, if you still want to be a writer, then my friend, I promise you have it within you to succeed.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m still figuring it out, in a sense. I go back and forth between demiromantic demisexual and grayromantic graysexual. Or some mix of the two… I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

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

All the damn time. I’ve always sort of fancied the idea of writing for TV, and I think part of it is because sex and romance are such a staple on TV. I want to prove that you can have characters that are openly proudly asexual and acespec and interesting in TV shows. I want to show that you don’t necessarily need sex for a story to be interesting. I don’t know if I will ever get into television, but I know I will write my book one day, and I currently have an asexual main character and a demisexual supporting character. I hope exposing people to characters like them will teach them about this sexuality. I don’t quite know how else to handle it. While aro-spec, I am heteroromantic and grew up in a culture where we were not exposed to the LGBT community as much. It was through TV shows that I learned I had a skewed view of the community. I want to use my books in order to do the same thing with asexuality.

That is another factor too, actually. I’m from India, and I remember once reading an advice column, and there was a boy who’d written in. He was describing how he wasn’t interested in girls so… maybe he was gay? But he also wasn’t interested in boys. He asked the person writing the advice column if there was a name for what he was. The man wrote back “The name is ‘cute’.”

That really pissed me off. I know asexual awareness isn’t going to happen anytime soon in India where the LGBT community is treated appallingly. So I think this is my way of sort of reaching out, helping people like that boy. I know he’s probably not going to pick up my book and see the ace protag and realise holy shit, I’m not broken, but I hope it will help people like him. Also, I sometimes like to believe he will too. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

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

That we just haven’t met the right one. People keep telling me that I’m wrong about myself, or that if I keep going on dates with whichever guy I’m seeing that I will develop feelings and want to have sex with him. That I’m just making up labels.

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

You’re not broken. Sometimes it’ll feel like it. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re all alone, but you’re not. There are tons of acespec people out there, and a lot of people just don’t talk about it, but we’re out there, and it’s normal, and it’s OK.

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

You can find my fanfiction here, but there isn’t much explicit ace representation in it unfortunately. A lot of my fanfiction actually has acespec characters, but since most of my longer pieces were written before I knew the terms and before I fully understood that what I was writing were demi characters, there’s some badly phrased explanations of sexual identities. My newer ones are all one-shots. Though if you want fluffy pieces where characters don’t have sex, and tend to fall in love only after knowing the other person for a while, then check it out!

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

Interview: Luke Moy

Today we’re joined by Luke Moy. Luke is a wonderful writer who specializes in essays and non-fiction, though he’s currently working on his first novel. He’s working towards a degree in Creative Writing, and also studies Women and Genders studies. Luke is definitely a passionate writer and has a very 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 a writer, mostly essays and non-fiction material, but I love to write short stories, and I’m currently working on a book, so that’s exciting! I’m working towards a degree in Creative Writing too.

What inspires you?

There are many people and things that inspire me. My close friends are supportive of me and I always draw inspiration from them. A lot of the author community on Twitter of late has given me drive to continue working on my writing. The shows and books I love leave significant personal impressions on me too.

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

I’ve loved writing, or storytelling before I knew how to write. The ability to craft worlds and especially characters and themes around them has always fascinated me, and the authors who are able to do that well click with me almost instantly, so I guess that’s what got me interested in it informally. My parents are both academics (Dad’s a professor, Mom’s a historian), so I’ve always had the academic side of writing and English (and gender studies too) in me.

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

Not really. I do enjoy crafting characters around specific ideologies and setting them against each other, though. Working out different points of view and having them in discussion, I find that extremely satisfying.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep at it if you’re struggling, give it a try if you’ve never done it before. I think also it’s important to put as much of yourself into a project as possible, because if you find that you’re doing that automatically, chances are you love it and will stick with it.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m kinda still figuring that out honestly.

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

I did in my Feminist Theory class this past semester. The professor was recounting a conversation between her and her daughter about sex (the two were having the “birds and the bees” discussion as you do), and her daughter asked her why people would want to have sex in the first place. It crystallized for me (and for the professor) how conversations about sex especially from an early age are not only heteronormative but also extremely presumptive that this is an action that we will all do and want to do as some point. So, I approached the professor after class and thanked her for that insight but was also a bit sad that she didn’t delve further into the topic of asexuality (not even bothering to name the orientation in her discussion with us) or talk about the history of the orientation or anything. To my delight, she actually went back to the syllabus and added an entire reading on asexuality to our next days’ reading assignment (Kristen Scherrer’s “Coming to an Asexual Identity” in Sexualities, if you wanna check it out). This was great, because she could’ve just acknowledged me and went about her day, but she didn’t; she took my insights to heart and made the class learn more about it. Not exactly a story of prejudice, per se; I just think it’s nice that people are sometimes willing to listen to others and take their experiences into account.

Socially, I tend to find people, through no fault of their own, still operating under the impression that sexual attraction is universal, so I sometimes find myself wanting to object to that assumption. Conversations can get pretty stalled since people seem to not be interested in talking about different experiences, so sometimes it feels like I’m being dismissed out of hand.

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

Probably people equating a lack of sexual attraction as meaning a lack of sexual action, which are two very different things. Sexual action is still possible without sexual attraction, and vice versa. So that’s something people don’t really get; I myself still have to remind myself of the difference from time to time.

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

I’d say talk to people. Find a community you’re comfortable with and talk about your orientation or experiences or ideologies. I cannot stress the “comfortable with” part of that; a lot of people tend to dismiss asexuality out of hand, so it’s important to find people who really listen to you and want to talk about this stuff. Also, what worked for me in terms of getting comfortable with my orientation was learning about it, online, in the ace community, and so on. As a WGS major, I also find the different ideologies surrounding the orientation and its history interesting (even if most of them are highly problematic), and am able to learn more about myself that way too, so that’s an option for you. I would remind you all that there is more to love than sex; in our sex-dominated culture (with innuendoes, taboos, porn, etc), it can be really hard to feel like sex isn’t everywhere, because society would love for you to believe that it is. But it’s not. For example, there’s a lot more that you do in a day than have sex, obviously, so looking at the world in that respect might help some of you, recognizing that there’s so much more to do in the world.

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

I have a blog… it’s a kinda sparse thing now ‘cause I don’t post a lot on there, but some of my writing can be viewed there.

I also have a Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter (I rant about asexuality mainly on Twitter because no one views me there haha).

This was a fun interview to do! I always love finding more people in the ace community to talk to and to interact with! Stay strong!

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