Interview: Jacob

Today we’re joined by Jacob, who is known on social media as Jacob’s Jottings. Jacob is a phenomenal author who writes both original fiction, nonfiction, and fanfiction. For nonfiction, he writes about autism and mental health for the site “The Mighty.” For fiction, he has mostly written fanfiction and original short stories, but has recently taken on two large projects. One involves a detective in post-war Britain and the other is about an autistic wizard (which is something i would absolutely love to read because it sounds fantastic). It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. The Capitoline Academy (Sunset) (A4 cover logo)
The Capitoline Academy (Sunset)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer, and I’ve really started to come out of my shell in the last few years. I’ve always written short stories and never shown them to anyone before, but that changed when my friends started writing fan-fiction, and my English teacher at college told me to attend a creative writing club.

Though I’m still very private about my larger projects, I started publishing articles for mental health site The Mighty, one of those articles received 32,000 hearts on the site, and got shared a lot on social media, so I started to say to myself ‘what if people would like my creative work too?’ and here I am now, writing two large scale projects, one about an autistic wizard, the other about a detective in post-war Britain. Not just that, but I published some fan-fiction of my own, and I found once that was out there, I found it a lot easier to write without much self-doubt.

I’ve recently finished college, and I’ve been accepted onto the Creative Writing BA course at a university I’ve dreamed about going to for years. I’m hoping this will really make my dream of being a full-time writer a reality, even if it takes years to take off.

As well as writing, I also do a bit of photography, and some digital design. I make all my own covers for my projects, as well as posters for events, and I love going out and taking pictures. I often use the pictures for reference for my writing, and it’s a great skill to have alongside.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in many things, mainly everyday life. But I often find myself looking into what I loved as a child, certainly what comforted me. Sometimes this is in the form of stories by other authors, such as J. K Rowling, or Terry Pratchett, but other times its films and music, or most importantly to me: knowledge. Plants, animals, and space particularly always have heavy presence in my stories, and that’s because I love to learn new things.

I’ve always written to escape the real world, so I suppose it is natural that my other methods of escape blend well with this, I often find that going to a museum or exhibition particularly fuels my writing, it often ends in me trying to fit a lot into one box- my wizarding story contains as much knowledge of the natural world as it does fictional magic for example.

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

I’ve always been creative, and I was sure I wanted to utilise that in some way, but could never find an exact form that suited me. I tried art, and drama, and found myself not ever truly comfortable. I mainly thank books, films, and television, for getting me into writing. The idea of making my own stories was irresistible! I cannot pinpoint when it exactly started happening, probably about five years ago, but I finally found that writing (alongside reading and watching) was the most enjoyable thing to do. Then it all fell into place, and I find myself writing all the time, even if it never gets added to again- it’s fun.

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?

Oh definitely! The infinity symbol finds its way into most of the stuff I write, not just because of its use by the autistic rights movement, but because of my fascination with the concept behind the symbol. I also always incorporate types of birds as symbolism- usually owls, or penguins, as they’re my favourite, penguins especially.

Playing with colour is something I’ve recently moved into, I don’t have a single character that does not heavily associate themselves with colours and their meanings, even if it is just a subtle inclusion. Blue for my protagonists usually, a colour I use not only to create a cold atmosphere, but also to show the presence of intelligence, imagination, and peace. Reds and oranges meanwhile shows up my more passionate and instinctual characters, with purple showing a combination of the two.

I also love playing with imagery, with many of my characters having ‘hair the colour of fertile soil’ or the ‘great spurts of an ancient wine, hemorrhaging profusely’- it can feel a bit forced sometimes, but it often pays off, and I find it a great way of illustrating the worlds I’ve made.

I’m also told I tell stories in a unique way, my friend recently commented that when she reads my writing, I am clearly telling the story, rather than just creating it. I’ve never quite understood this evaluation, but I’ve heard it quite a few times in several forms.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It sounds cliché- but I would say just do whatever you love! I spent far too long worrying about what others think, and though that matters if you want to make a career out of it, the initial starting of a new art is a solo-activity. If painting makes you happy- paint! Everyone I know who does something creative for a living started off doing it to just kill time, or to help them with another activity, and it grew from there.

2. Inherited Intuition A4 Cover
Inherited Intuition

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I use the label asexual as standard, to me, this means not feeling sexual attraction. I’m confident in identifying as a sex positive asexual, but I’m yet to 100% settle on my romantic orientation.

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

I think one of the strangest encounters in my life was when I first explained asexuality to someone, without attaching the label to myself. I was told its ‘unnatural’- for this reason, in my private life, I don’t talk about my sexuality until prompted.

I also find that some in my age group is often sex-obsessed, I’ve often been labelled prudish just for not wanting to talk about sex, and I find it very hard to try and express my frustration with that. I am not at all prudish, I just think about it completely differently to they do!

I incorporate it into my work- I actually find it harder to write allosexual characters, and therefore many of my characters are asexual by accident! And I do worry that some people won’t understand the representation if they haven’t experienced it first-hand, but I do my best to write characters that educate as well as represent now.

Outside of my field, I see prejudice and ignorance regularly, insults such as ‘frigid’ and so on, I also see the constant discourse present on sites such as Tumblr, and though I do my best to keep out, I sometimes worry for our community, I hate the idea that anyone who identifies as asexual will feel like it isn’t valid or can’t talk about it in case they’re verbally attacked.

As an autistic person, I also find that some people think my asexuality is part of that. I don’t think it is- and it’s quite insulting to assume that someone’s sexuality is part of their sensory issues for example. The two often overlap for me, and I also know autistics that do feel sexual attraction and have those sensory issues anyway. Some people in both communities would even say their sensory difficulties enhance their sexual experiences.

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

Personally, I find that the definition of asexual is often mis-identified. It means lacking sexual attraction. But I know people who are completely convinced it simply means ‘won’t have sex, or won’t masturbate’- it is often a pain to try and debate it with them, and I find myself bringing up articles from the community to back my side up.

I don’t like discussing the personal details of my own asexuality in too much depth with people who might not understand, and therefore I think the extra labels of ‘sex positive’ are really useful when discussing asexuality, as well as the other identities within the spectrum.

At the end of the day though, the only person other than me who has a right to that deeper information is a partner, and I don’t think asexuals should ever feel pressured to dissect their identities for another person’s curiosity or because of an ignorant person’s misconceptions.

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

Firstly, it is okay to struggle! I found it incredibly hard to find the orientation that best described me. I still think sexual orientation is a fluid concept, and I think people who are struggling should remember that. If something doesn’t feel right, find the label that does feel right, and don’t feel guilty if that changes. Some asexuals might not find that identity for a long time.

I myself often find myself wondering if I might be aromantic as well as asexual, or demisexual instead of asexual, this is a natural part of development. Just as sexuality in all its forms is natural. A lot of people go through that internal debate. And nobody should ever be afraid of using the label that best suits them.

I would also repeat that the only person who needs to be happy is you. Come out at your own pace. Experience your sexuality at your own pace. Some people don’t find the identity they’re most comfortable with until they’re halfway through life, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s a thriving asexual and LGBT+ community waiting to help you through it all, and the right people within it are not going to judge you for struggling.

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

People can find my work in several places. For a more personal touch, there’s my own Tumblr blog which is at jacobs-jottings, or my AO3 under the same name (but without a hyphen).

As well as this there’s my new Facebook page, also called Jacob’s Jottings, and my user page on The Mighty, under my full name- Jacob Durn. If anyone is curious, my photography can be found easily on Instagram, where my username is identical to my AO3 one.

My blog has a bit of everything (including personal posts, and lots of reblogs), my AO3 some fanfiction, and soon some original works, whilst the last two focus on my non-creative work.

3. Murder On The Hogwarts Express
Murder On The Hogwarts Express

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

Interview: Amy

Today we’re joined by Amy. Amy is a wonderful writer who specializes in poetry and is currently working on a novel. She has also dabbled in short stories and nonfiction. She plays around with different forms and genres of poetry. Amy also enjoys writing in a variety of genres when it comes to prose. She’s clearly a dedicated and talented author, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Thanatos Hear Me
Thanatos Hear Me

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer. I write mostly poems, and I’m working on a novel, which will hopefully be finished in a few years, as well as short stories, and one-off pieces. I write in lots of genres, mainly fantasy, occasionally sci-fi, with some non-fiction thrown in every so often to mix it up. The poetry I write varies between rhyming and not rhyming, and basically wanders across all the poetry structures like iambic pentameter that we all learnt about in school.

What inspires you?

Whenever I read something really good, I sometimes have to stop and let my world shift for a few moments afterwards – I’m sure lots of people have felt the subtle shift in their thinking that happens after reading an amazing piece of work. The idea that that could someday be me – that I could change people just with my words, is mostly what keeps me going.

In more prosaic, day-to-day terms? Anything? Bits of books I’ve read, things I’ve heard or seen, random thoughts that get stuck in my head and won’t leave – all of this gets added to the mixing bowl, and sometimes art comes back out. I mostly draw from my own experiences with poetry, and my prose pieces tend to be more imaginative, drawing on things I’ve read or heard about.

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

I have honestly wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember. I’ve still got the first story I ever wrote, in shaky I’ve-just-learnt-how-to-write handwriting (it was about a girl that made friends with a spider, if you’re interested), and I’ve been writing ever since. It feels like something I was made to do – like I’ve always had that urge to tell stories, and I always will. The idea that this was something I could make money from (not that I am yet), and that this was something I could devote my life to, was an epiphany for 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?

Nothing in particular. My work tends to include a lot of me in it – a lot of what I think and feel gets included, so someone who knows me pretty well could probably pinpoint what was my work, but there’s nothing specific. Greek and Roman mythology sometimes gets a mention, just because I’m really interested in it, but nothing that I would say is consistent across all my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t let anyone tell you not to do it. If you want to create something, create it. It doesn’t matter if you never show it to anyone, or if everyone you show it to thinks it’s terrible – you’re still an artist. And also, you’ve got to love it. Even if my writing never gets any recognition – if I never get published – I won’t ever stop writing, because I couldn’t imagine not doing it. If you want your art to take you somewhere, if you want to make money, or a career, from it, you’ve got to put a lot of hours into it, and trust me, that is so much easier when you can enjoy it.

This
This

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as completely asexual, although not aromantic. Absolutely no sexual attraction to anyone, but I would like a romantic relationship.

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

I wouldn’t say I encounter a lot of prejudice. I do get a lot of ignorance from people around me, and I have a very sarcastic sense of humour, so a lot of people would probably think I was joking if I mentioned it. I haven’t talked to many other writers about it, as I’m a kind of private person, but it does seem to me that asexuality is not widely known at all, or represented in novels, which could be caused by ignorance or prejudice, really.

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

That it precludes a romantic relationship, and also that an asexual person would have to have been traumatized by something, or that they would be completely cold-hearted. People think it’s caused by something, not that it’s just part of who a person is.

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

I would say that you can choose what to label yourself. And that you don’t have to decide instantly. It took me ages to realise that I was asexual, and even longer to be comfortable using the term – and that was just in my head. I’m still cautious of telling people about it.

Also that it’s no one’s business how you identify yourself as. You’re not hurting anyone, you’re not doing something wrong – if they don’t like it, that’s their problem. Be okay with yourself as you are. You’ve discovered something new about yourself that is hard to discover (how do you figure out if you lack something? Took me ages). Be proud of yourself!

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

I do have a Tumblr blog – ifthisislifewheresthemanual – and an AO3 account Coruscant, but I do post infrequently, I’m afraid. Hopefully, in about a year, I’ll have a book published that you can all rush to read!

To Be Afraid
To be Afraid

Thank you, Amy, 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.

12417862_10153378249197183_3122474789850108087_n

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: cxxxxxxxx

Today we’re joined by cxxxxxxxx. cxxxxxxxx is an incredibly versatile artist who has dabbled in almost everything but has most recently focused on zines. She has a great love for art and it’s very apparent this love has transferred into making zines, which are fascinating. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-4-05-00-pm

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a lot of stuff it feels like—poetry, fiction stories, nonfiction and more personal writing, drawing and painting with different kinds of pens and paints and pastels, making collages—but this summer I got into making and putting together zines and I can put all those things inside of a zine on a given topic, so I’ve been having a lot of fun writing and drawing for zines on dancing, creativity, my gender identity, romance stuff. I get stuck a lot when it comes to my art and writing but I’ve made a lot of things this year especially that I like to look back at now.

What inspires you?

I don’t follow a lot of artists but this semester I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about Dada and the Beat Generation and learning about those movements and reading their writings/looking at their art/collages and I feel really inspired by these artists and writers that look at a given society and create art to oppose it and express their own views. I like to put on films about stuff like that or just political movements in general and spend the whole time sitting at my desk painting and drawing. Watching Stranger Things really inspired me to draw some cooler stuff, too.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-4-05-59-pm

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

I’ve been writing since I was a kid and started drawing my first year of high school because a lot of my friends were into it and I really kind of idolized them. I’ve always felt like I had a lot to say but I’m abysmal at talking to people, so I’ve always liked being able to express myself and my thoughts in writing; there’s something special about it, I think.

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, to be honest. I’ve never been really consistent with that sort of thing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I spent years drawing not because I enjoyed it but largely out of a desire to improve so that I could enjoy, and I don’t think that’s the right way to go about creating things. Make what you like, and if it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it to, find things about it that you like anyway. Draw because you like to draw, not for the sake of other people. Something like that.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-4-06-42-pm

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic and asexual, although technically slightly gray-asexual is probably most accurate.

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

Not really? In everyday life a majority of people I knew up until college didn’t even know it existed (me being one of them for a long time, too). I’ve seen people make prejudiced comments online and expressed some of my anger about such comments in poems I’ve written about being ace.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-4-06-52-pm

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

Mainly the one that I can’t be happy in the future without a partner, but I don’t think that’s true. I experience depression and anxiety frequently but dating someone/etc. wouldn’t change that, and I do feel happy and excited about enough things (poetry, history, playing guitar) that I don’t feel I’ll be missing something when I’m older. There are a lot of things I want to do someday and I don’t need another person to do them or in order to feel happy and fulfilled, I think.

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

I have a tendency to over-think things of that nature and make myself anxious wondering how I’m supposed to look and be and identify, but my best friend advised me to try not to worry like that and just accept myself even without labels and I think she was right about that. For me, anyway, it’s easy to get caught up in anxiety when I don’t identify with any known labels for gender identity or sexual/romantic orientation, but lately I’ve just been trying to be the person I like being and feel comfortable being and I think maybe that’s helping. So I think I’d recommend trying that, just going with the flow of things and how you might feel.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-4-07-38-pm

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

My zines are online to read here.

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-4-08-18-pm

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

Interview: Hayley Thorpe

Today we’re joined by Hayley Thorpe. Hayley is a phenomenal young up and coming writer who has dabbled in many forms of writing. She is incredibly passionate about poetry and has recently embarked on writing a novel. Aside from that, she has written quite a few other things. It’s very apparent that Hayley has the soul of a writer and has a very bright future ahead of her. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer! For the longest time, I favored poetry, although I did dabble in fiction, creative nonfiction, and script writing in high school. However, this summer, I embarked on the great journey of writing a novel, which has been interesting to say the least. I took a four-year magnet program in high school in Literary Arts. I have won three Honorable Mentions and one Silver Key from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards and have self-published a collection of poetry entitled Heart Sounds.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by my favorite writers (such as Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, and Billy Collins). I am also inspired by writers with whom I attended school, many of whom are now self-published. I am hugely inspired by music, and the playlist for my current novel includes bands such as The Strokes, Wilco, and The Maine.

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

I like to say that it’s in my blood. I always loved to read, as did my mother and my maternal grandmother before me, and my paternal great-grandmother loved to memorize and recite poetry. But for me, I met a lot of authors through school events growing up, and I wanted to be the one signing books at a table one day. I wanted to see my books in stores. I did a lot of creative writing in elementary school, but didn’t start enjoying what I produced until middle school. But once I realized how rewarding it was, I never looked back.

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

I always try to include artists and writers in my works of fiction. Lately, there’s also been a restaurant that is a figment of my own imagination that often pops up in various projects.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Specifically for writers, I would say read everything. Read fiction and poetry and plays, even if those aren’t what you typically write. Read “good” writing and “bad” writing and figure out what makes it “good” and “bad.” Try to do something writing-related every day, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Realize that publication isn’t everything.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual with romantic feelings towards women.

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

Not as of yet, since I very recently came out as asexual, but I’m hoping for the best!

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

As I said, since I only recently came out, I haven’t encountered many things directed at me, but I think it’s bizarre when people think we can’t feel romantic feelings or that we can never feel sexual attraction. Asexuality, like many orientations, is a spectrum, and each asexual has their own unique feelings and experiences.

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

Talk to someone. I was really lucky that I had friends who were willing to let me talk through it, and I also had a friend who was experiencing the same confusion I was and asking the same questions. But also realize that at the end of the day, you know yourself the best. Don’t let people put a label on you that you’re not comfortable with, and try to remember that they won’t necessarily have all the answers.

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

The purchase link for my book is here: https://amzn.com/0615964389 and you can also preview it there. I’m trying to get a website up, so stay tuned!

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

Interview: James Wylder

Today we’re joined by James Wylder.  James is an incredibly talented and versatile writer who I met at this year’s Indy PopCon (it’s always wonderful to run into a fellow ace at conventions).  He has written in a variety of genres including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays.  He’s definitely a writer we’ll be seeing more of in the future.  My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

379901_10150427666894434_1534738315_n

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write, and I write in a ton of different mediums. I’ve had published fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and plays, as well as several produced plays such as “Cryptos” and “Rex Stout Rings Again!” and a free RPG module from Shotgun Angel Games. I’m always open to trying new things, experimenting, and pushing my writing into areas I’ve never explored before. Some of my best works have come from the act of pushing myself into emotional areas I was uncomfortable exploring, as well as formats and styles I wasn’t sure about. That willingness to try anything thrown at me has characterized me as a writer more than anything. I’ve produced extremely serious works, such as my play “Paper Gods”, but also very lighthearted books like my book of poetry about the TV show Doctor Who “An Eloquence of Time and Space.”

Right now I’m working on a giant project called 10,000 Dawns, which is a serialized story that releases a chapter every week furthering the adventure, and also features an audio book version of the chapter and unique art to accompany it by Annie Zhu. It’s been crazy trying to co-ordinate and balance everything, but the response has been great so far!

What inspires you?

I’ve always found this question difficult, because the answer changes so often. My fluttering between genres, styles, and tones has benefited from my many inspirations, but it does mean I’m often at a loss on how to inspire myself when I find myself hitting a road block in my work.

I suppose variety itself inspires me, the vastness of the world and the many differences between people and places large and small fascinate me!

Music is a constant inspiration and motivator for me. I always am listening to something while I write, usually a playlist with a David Bowie song on it.

51St8jgy2yL

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. My dad used to read me Michael Stackpole and Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars novels by my bedside, and I wanted to grow up to tell stories like that! I made books as a kid before I could even write, asking other people to write the worlds I wanted written down on the page and doing the (messy) illustrations myself. I’ve wanted to tell stories my whole life, it’s my honor to have that chance 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?

I didn’t realize it till it was pointed out to me, but every single major work I’ve written contains at least one Doctor Who reference. It was my favorite TV show since I was, oh, three years old or so and its had a deep impact on me.

On a more personal level, I love having a symbol within a work that contains half of one thing, and half of another. Sometimes it’s literally, like the half-sun/half-moon symbol that crops up in 10,000 Dawns, but sometimes it’s more subtle. Things in our lives are never so simple as one thing, and I like seeing the shades between them.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’d give three fold advice: 1. Don’t give up. 2. Don’t reject your own vision for being too “out there”. 3. Be realistic about your own work.

Perseverance is key, as is having a unique way of seeing the world and expressing it, but also you have to recognize that some things might not have a market worth selling to, and that an editor wanting to help improve your work isn’t ‘corrupting’ your vision.

1062516_587283344625317_854549267_n

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m hetero-demisexual, heteroromantic cisgender male. In a lot of ways this made me feel very uncomfortable coming out to my friends in the LGBTQIA+/MOGAI community because I didn’t feel like I was “not-straight enough”. I still struggle with being open about my identity with people. I have choked up more than once and just said I’m straight, or that “my friend is on the ace spectrum…” I’m not proud of that, but not everyone has always been accepting.

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

I’ve had a few instances of ignorance from fellow creators, namely a person who told me that I wasn’t really on the ace-spectrum because I should have known I was already, and shouldn’t have had to discover it, as well as some other minor bits and bobbles.

I have to work with a lot of ignorant people in my field, so I’ve developed a polite distance from many. I’ve learned to separate people I can work with on a business level from people I can trust on a personal level. Those people who overlap are truly special to me!

Cover2

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

That it’s not real, and that I just want fancy words for myself so I can feel “special”.

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

That it’s okay to be who you are, even when other people don’t get it, and that it’s okay to struggle with it and feel uncomfortable. You have so much baggage from how society has told you to think about sex, and your own sexuality to unpack, and there is no shame in not being okay while you work through it. Just don’t be alone in it, and don’t do anything you’ll regret. There are people who will love and support you, even if you haven’t found them yet!

cryptos_poster

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

The best place is my website, jameswylder.com where I post up all sorts of fantastic things!
I’m also on twitter as @arcbeatle,
On Facebook as: James Wylder, Writer
And you can find me on Tumblr at tardistogongen.tumblr.com, but fair warning that its mostly just things I really like that I find and reblog.

God_Save_the_Pres.!_Cover_for_Kindle

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