Interview: Imogen

Today we’re joined by Imogen. Imogen is a phenomenal performance artist from New Zealand. She does a bit of everything: acting, singing, dancing, and was even in orchestra for a bit. When she’s not performing, Imogen loves to write. She’s currently writing a novel and recently, a play that she wrote and directed was performed. It’s clear she’s a talented and dedicated artist who loves to create, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I suppose that my art is in storytelling, or presenting. I am a performer, in all areas. I did ballet for 12 years, did singing, was involved with the school choirs and orchestra and I am currently writing a novel.

I act whenever possible, and often say that ‘I am most myself when I am on the stage, pretending to be someone else.’

Recently I wrote and directed an original play called “Evil Con!” It was fun play about a bunch of villains hanging out, and a henchman (Bob) who ruined their time.

What inspires you?

Death.  Both the character (mainly the Discworld version) for his … belief in humanity for lack of a better description, and the act itself. We are all going to die eventually, and this life is all we have, so we should try and make it to our deaths alive.

It sounds contradictory, but that is what inspires me. The fact that we will one day die inspires me to live, and to do what I love – Reading, Writing, Shopping, Dancing, Singing, Acting.

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

… Everything I suppose.

I’ve always loved performing, and when I started dancing; I fell in love with the discipline it requires and the freedom and emotions it allows you to express. The same with writing. You have to be disciplined to keep writing, and writing allows you to explore and understand everything that there could possibly be.

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’m not sure if anything I do is unique or special, but I suppose that there are constants of my works. My writing is very character driven with simple plot-lines. My movements are infused naturally with the twelve years of ballet, I find it very challenging to NOT have perfect posture.

I also like to use and mock clichés. A friend once said “Clichés are cliché for a reason; it’s because they work.” She was right. I like using clichés because they do work, but I also like to mock clichés … because they are cliché. It makes for an interesting balance within my work.

I don’t want to mock too much to make my art into a parody, but nor do I wish o be too serious in my use of clichés as that could take away from the worlds I’m trying to create.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The same advice that any artist gives. “Don’t give up” and “Create the Art you want”. Write the stories that you want to read, draw the images you want to look at, make the music that you want to hear, produce the shows that you want to see. And whatever else you do; don’t give up. This is the advice given by any successful artist, and it is true.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Greysexual. I think of it as – on a scale of 1-10 (0 being absolutely Asexual and also Sex-Repulsed, and 11 being Nymphomaniac/Sex Addict) I am a 2; occasionally a 3.

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

I am quite lucky in that I haven’t personally had ace prejudice directed towards me. I actually believe that everyone should be involved with community theatre at some point in their lives; yes, there are a couple of divas, but most people are really awesome, open-minded and accepting of everyone else. It’s definitely a place where you can be free to be yourself.

I have felt prejudice in life though.

Whenever I see those arguments online about “Girls do actually only wear make-up and form-fitting clothes because they do actually want attention – even if it’s only subconsciously.”

Those arguments are completely frustrating. They infuriate me – not just as a girl who likes to wear makeup, but also as someone on the ace spectrum. It completely disregards the fact that some of us have no interest in finding a ‘sexual partner’ but like to look nice – I don’t wear makeup and formfitting clothes because I’m “trying to find a mate”, but because I’m Vain, and I like looking at myself in the mirror! I don’t need to be interested in sex to be pretty.

I usually deal with it by trying to ignore it, and by remembering that there are intelligent people in the world who don’t share the above opinion.

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

Possibly the whole ‘just need the right person’ thing.

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

The same advice I’ve seen on these awesome interviews. That you’re not alone and that you are definitely not broken. You are you, and as long as you are okay with that, then that is the only thing you need to be.

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

Unless in NZ people probably won’t be able to find my work, but I do have a couple of fanfictions written under the name ‘Aslansphoenix’.

Although if you give me a couple of years and hopefully my novel will get published and enjoyed.

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

Interview: Reggie Morrison

Today we’re joined by Reggie Morrison. Reggie is a wonderful writer who has just started working on her novel. She has dreams to publish one day and that’s always a great thing. The world needs more openly asexual authors. It’s clear Reggie is a driven and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I primarily consider myself a writer, but I am currently unpublished. I’m working on my first serious novel that I hope I can one day publish. I also do some redecorating type projects regarding mostly shelves at this point; meaning I clean, repaint, and then paint details and designs on them.

What inspires you?

I wish to be able to inspire and relate to an audience with my writing. So far, my novel has themes of over-turning societal expectations and figuring out who one is internally and externally. I had my own self-identity issues and faced some people who deemed my asexuality fake, so I want to write characters who are also ace and be able to portray other minority groups accurately as well to represent more people.

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

I’ve always been much more invested in my English and art classes throughout school. I started by writing fanfiction my freshman year of high-school which wound up being a large mash of pretty much any fantasy idea I’d ever seen or had. It’s safe to say it was not good, but it was my start. After that, I wanted to write something more cohesive and thought out. I am also tired of reading the type of books that typically wind up having straight white characters “find love” or finding love being a “correction” of a character.

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 necessarily have a trademark of sorts, but I hope to have unique, realistic characterization. Even in side characters, I want them to be just as complex as real people, not just a comedy relief.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make sure you do what you love for yourself and it’s never selfish to want to keep some of your talent and energy to create recreational pieces. Do what you enjoy for a job, but also make sure you don’t burn yourself out before you can create for yourself.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I ID as Asexual and Bi-Grey-Romantic.

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

It wasn’t in my field because I haven’t been in my field exactly, but I have come across people otherwise who didn’t understand asexuality.

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

Most tend to think that if I’m asexual then I’m a “pure innocent bean who knows nothing about sex” or it means I have zero sex drive.

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

Reach out to other asexual people and talk about how it makes you feel and how to correct others. Some may not want to be corrected so I would ignore them if you can. If you can’t, you may be able to take it up with an authorial figure.

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

My only social media is Tumblr at Generic-Ginger and Snapchat, but I’d like to keep that for personal friends.

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

Interview: Kat Lawson

Today we’re joined by Kat Lawson. Kat is a phenomenal writer and visual artist. She’s working on an urban fantasy novel that is filled with diverse and interesting character. When she’s not writing, Kat is a photographer who focuses on perspective and color. It’s clear she’s a very passionate artist who loves to create, 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’m primarily a fiction writer, specifically urban fantasy (though I’m not yet published, give me time). My books feature all kinds of sexualities and gender identities in the hopes that everyone who reads them can find someone like themselves, as well as a lot of vampires and other supernatural creatures. I also do a lot of photography on the side, where I focus on perspective and colour, and how changing your perspective can completely change what you see.

What inspires you?

I’m most inspired by the world around me. I go on a lot of nature walks to find inspiration for my photos, and I’ll take photos of anything that takes my fancy. Anything that holds beauty, even if it’s not traditional, will find itself my muse. I spend a lot of time down at the local gardens, the gardens there are themed and so no two photos are the same. I can often be seen in strange positions trying to get the perfect photo, especially when I’m playing with the perspective, trying to make a flower look like a tree or a puddle look like the sky.

My writing comes from the people around me and the stories they share with me, as well as a life-long fascination with the paranormal and fantastic. An English teacher I used to have in high school told me to write what you know and you can never go wrong, and I live by that. How I feel, experiences I’ve had, and research I have done all contribute to my stories.

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

My dad is a professional photographer, so he kind of passed on his love down to me. Right from the first camera I got at age ten I knew that I wanted to be able to share my photography with people and to share with them the memories that said photos hold.

I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I remember, I’ve always been a bookworm, and when I couldn’t find the sort of stories that featured people like me, I decided to write them 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 don’t really have a signature, that I know of anyway.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never give up doing what you love, and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t good enough. As long as you are doing what you love, then there will always be someone who will recognize it and love it in return.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m one of those people who has kind of jumped around the spectrum, trying on every label I could find until I eventually found one that fit me best. I grew up in a super religious household, where it was expected that I would marry a guy and have kids with him. It wasn’t until a friend told me (right at the end of high school) that I had other options that I even began to seriously consider that how I felt was okay and I didn’t have to pretend anymore. Realizing I was ace was easy once I found the word, I always felt like the whole sex thing was a joke, I never understood it or why it was so important in every story I felt. I always thought but why don’t they just not have sex? It was a total mystery to me. But now, after several years of experimenting with different labels, I’ve settled on asexual lesbian.

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

The joys of being an independent artist is that I can pick and choose the people around me. I have come across a few people who haven’t been able to understand who I am, but I either do my best to either educate them, or simply ignore them. I’ve never really encountered true prejudice, more ignorance than anything else. All the jokes about sex and how I’d like it if I just tried it really grate after a while, but you learn to ignore it.

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

That sex-repulsed aces are the only aces out there. There’s this whole misconception that sexual attraction must be present for one to enjoy sex, which I totally disagree with. That, and that asexuality is a mental disorder, or just flat-out isn’t real.

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

It’s okay to question, and it’s okay to change your label. Asexuality is hard to figure out, especially when you have nothing to compare it to. But you’re not broken, and it does get easier. Sexuality is a spectrum, and you’re allowed to change where you fall on it.

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

As I’m unpublished, you can’t find my writing anywhere (yet, give me time), but my photography is on Instagram at Lady_Nyx and Tumblr at disaster-gay-beauregard.tumblr.com

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

Interview: Elowen

Today we’re joined by Elowen. Elowen is a phenomenal author who is currently hard at work on her first novel. She enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy. The novel she’s currently working on features an ace main character and it sounds like a fascinating story. It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a fantasy and science fiction writer, albeit still unpublished. At the moment I’m working on what I hope will be my debut novel, a fantasy novel set in a bronze age-world heavily inspired by Ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq). One of the main characters is an asexual priestess, the other is a cis-het single mother who fights against the religious establishment. This story is a complete overhaul of my very first novel, combined with some elements from my third, and it has taken me several months of research and false starts, but I finally have a completed first draft that I think I can work with.

What inspires you?

Everything, really. The world around me, other people’s lives and relationships, other fantasy and sci-fi stories, my own experiences of being “the odd one out”. There’s a quote from Ursula Le Guin’s Tales from Earthsea that I have stuck on my computer: “The great and mighty go their way unchecked. All the hope left in the world is in the people of no account.” It’s this quote that inspires me to continue working on my current novel. I want to try to tell the stories of people of no account. The ordinary people who are made to suffer because of the greed of those in power.

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

When I was six, I found out what a writer was and I decided I wanted to be one. I still have my old notebooks from that time, with stories that blatantly ripped off Care Bears and My Little Pony, though I’m glad to say that later on, my stories became a bit more original ,-). Unfortunately, although I definitely have creative family members, none of them are or were professional artists, so becoming a writer wasn’t considered a proper career choice, and my writing ambitions were reduced to keeping a diary when I was a teenager. I went to university to study science instead, and later theology. It was only when I moved to a different country that I came back to wanting to be a writer. One of my “problems” is that I’m multi-passionate. I play baroque violin, I was a fanatic badminton player in my teens, and in my early twenties I got heavily into Irish dancing, for example. Only when I moved away from all these “distractions” and started afresh in a different country was I able to come to terms with the fact that I’m just interested in many different things, and reasonably successful at pursuing those interests. My love for science got me into writing science fiction, and my fascination with religion, mythology and anything magical got me into fantasy. Fantasy, to me, isn’t ‘make-believe’, it’s a modern type of mythology meant to explore fundamental ideas about the world, and about life. Together with science fiction, I think fantasy is the perfect genre to explore alternatives to reality.

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 love inventing religions and write about made-up gods. I also love writing about mentors, and I think that’s because all my life I’ve been looking for one myself. I had teachers and mentors, of course, but none of them could really help me figure out where my real talents lie. They were all specialists in their field, while I have to see ‘the big picture’ and explore many things at once.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love doing, but play the game if you have to. I.e. if you need a steady day job to support your own artistic efforts and have stability in your life, it doesn’t make you any less of an artist. Keep learning and stay curious. You’re never too old to try something new.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m grey-ace leaning towards being demisexual, and I also identify as genderfluid between cis-female and non-binary. After having been a happy single for most of my life, I’m now in happy, stable relationship with a man, so to all intents and purposes I’m a cis-het woman, but I don’t feel that way. For me, sex is a form of intimacy that I can enjoy because it brings me closer to the man I love, but I’d have no problem going without it for the rest of my life. It’s something to enjoy like a cup of coffee or a piece of chocolate, nothing more. Sex has never played an important part in my life. I am however a very touchy-feely type of person with people I trust, and that kind of non-sexual contact is much more important to me.

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

No, because so far I’m only out on Twitter, where I use an alias.

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

I think that having no interest in sex is often “infantilized”, as if being ace means you’re not developed enough yet to join in with the adults. At one point I was convinced that the only difference between YA and adult fantasy is that in adult fantasy the characters explicitly talk about sex and genitals, and have sex. I thought that my own writing was not adult fantasy because I didn’t want to write about those things.

Another thing is that I can have platonic crushes, meaning that I am attracted to certain people (or even fictional characters) for their intellectual insights or artistry or their personality. One example is the actor Alexander Siddig. I’d love to be able to have a deep conversation with him one day, but there is no way on earth I’d ever be interested in any kind of sexual contact. And yet many people confuse these things. I can also admire physical beauty in certain people, but even then there’s no sexual attraction involved, and many people find that hard to grasp. That always puzzled me, until I discovered I was ace.

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

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Sex is overrated. There, I said it.

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

Well, there’s nothing to find yet, but you can follow me on Twitter if you like (at scriobhann_si). I love connecting with other artists!

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

Interview: Holmesienne

Today we’re joined by Holmesienne. Holmesienne is a wonderful writer who is currently focused on writing a novel but also writes fanfiction and for Role Playing. She is incredibly passionate about writing and loves talking about the subject. Holmesienne is clearly a dedicated and talented artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I like to do all sorts of art (even though I’m not so good at all of them) but the one I feel very connected to is writing. I have always been interested in this art, even though I didn’t considered it as such back then. It was just something I enjoyed doing and nothing more. Since I was a kid I kind of wrote every time I could, littles pieces of stories coming straight out of my mind. It was not exactly the same topics, themes, characters or writing style I used at the time, but this is how it works after all. It has helped me growing up, and improving my writing abilities as well.

Now, I write different kind of stuff. I’m focused on a novel for the time being, and I write a fanfiction on the side too. Plus, I’m part of the Role Play community, so I’m always torn between the three of them. Despite my inability to choose what I want to write on most days, I’m always attached to the same thing: the style. Well, I mean, I try to use the same style to write my RPs and fanfictions the same way I do when I’m typing for the novel. Even though one seems less “important” for some matter, I just can’t write something I haven’t put myself into it with my bare soul. I guess I put a part of me in everything I write and that’s why I’m so slow, cause I have some kind of self-sacrifice to make (I mean, my energy, not some other thing super gore-like).

Anyway, to describe my style it’s really difficult for me to explain cause I don’t think I could find the right words which fit my writing abilities. It’s not pretentious or some shit like that, I really can’t find THE word to summarize it all, but I could try to give a shot at some kind of explanation. I guess the best words I could use to describe the style is: detailed and kind of explicit descriptions of landscapes/situations/feelings, so that an impression can emerge and readers permeate themselves with the combination of the said impression and the atmosphere depicted, to guess the implicit meaning of the sentences and the story in general. Sorry if it doesn’t make sense in English, but it’s the best I can do to grasp the very substance of it all.

I also try to approach some difficult subjects to give some kind of depth to the story. What I mean by that is that I’m not familiar with light subject and little connection. I like it when I can find a deep bond between situations, a strong explanation as to how it connects and how it will affect the future of the story, and so on. The difficult subjects I talk about are somehow linked to the troubles we all experience at some point in life. It’s not always the case, sometimes I don’t address it at all. But I always try to show that nothing’s always black or white, that everything’s kind of grey, no matter the nuances.

I think I can cut it now. It will do.

What inspires you?

Honestly, everything. The situations I see/read about everyday kind of inspire me at some point, some structures too I guess, like buildings or shops and even landscapes. Songs or videos I watch on TV or on the Internet. But the thing that inspires me the most is the weather. The grey or night kind of weather. The rainy and stormy kind too. Every time I go outside, I look at the grey sky, the thick clouds, the bright stars, the pale moon, the ragging storm, the sparkling lightning, the rain pouring down. That’s what inspires me. Because I just stay there, inhale and permeate myself with the atmosphere emanating from this kind of weather. I imagine my characters or some situations linked to this aura, and it just strikes me. Every time I feel like I don’t know how to start a sentence, I just get out and it’s there, hanging in the air. Just for my imagination to reach out for.

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

I can’t remember, really. I guess everything I had to do in my life had put me in this place right now. Had made me fond of the art of the literature, even though I hated these classes back then when I was still at school. I was not super interested in this field at first, I was just happy to wrote things when I had an idea at the time. With nothing to bother me and no strings attached.

Now, I still don’t consider myself like an author or a writer, but I would find it amazing if I could become a professional artist in my field. I’m just an amateur for the time being, but I guess I’ll see what’s next to come for me. Whatever will happen in the future, I would just be glad if I could still write on my spare time. No matter what.

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 I do yeah. When I write, I like to include some words corresponding to a certain domain. A unique category of words, linked to a specific setting. It’s a cluster of themes I’m more aspiring to write about. The category is: the dark. I always write words linked to the dark, to describe different things, like a situation, a landscape, a feeling. I mostly use those words: obscure, shadow, dusk, opaque, oblivion, naught, and so on. And I also use terms that are contrasting to them, to impose some kind of duality (cluster words about light for example).

It’s my signature and certainly the strongest feature of the things I write.

Sometimes, I like to add some symbols here and there, to cut the story at one point and show that the following sentences belong to another section of work. This is how I write the most, because I always write one situation at a time, and to just mix it up or rush the story is really not my cup of tea.

(It’s probably how you will recognize me if you ever read my stuff.)

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The more important thing you have to remember when you do your art is that it’s for you FIRST. You do what you want for you. You make things you like for you. When you get to become or consider yourself as an artist, please, remember this. Do what’s best for you. Do what you enjoy. Do what you like.

If there’s something you want so badly to see in art and no one has ever done it before, just do it! Do not hold back for anything in your life, especially for art because it’s directly linked to you. To your very being and your soul, to your beautiful spirit.

And please, another thing you absolutely have to remember and to know: do not wait for others to criticize (or worst, evaluate) your stuff without them knowing what you intend to do. Do not lay your work in other hands (unless it’s collective art) because it will not feel like it’s your work anymore.

Last thing you have to understand it that it’s okay when you have no motivation or don’t have time at all. Don’t feel bad and don’t put yourself down over your work because of this. You will get through it and you will get back to your stuff.

Little trick for you all, if you don’t feel confident enough : I always tell everyone that, if you do something you like, it’s because you know you’re good at it. Otherwise you would have ended it sooner than later or stopped it a long time ago.

Believe in you ♥

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual. But mostly I tell people I’m just asexual so that I don’t have to explain all the time the specificity of my real identity. It’s sometimes exhausting to describe what it means to those who don’t know or understand what it is. But, every chance I get and when I have time, I correct myself and tell them who I am and how I identify. It’s important for everyone to grasp the signification and for us to expand the representation.

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

Personally, I haven’t met ace prejudice in my field, but I do have encountered some ignorance in real life. Some people are not informed or show some misconceptions about what it means to be asexual.

When it happens IRL, I always stand my ground and explain to them the aspects of being ace, what it means, what it really is. Because it’s my identity and I will not let anyone disregard myself for it just because they know shit about this and won’t take the effort to inform themselves over it.

On the other hand, when I see some posts on the internet about our community, I reblog them, I retweet them. I’m not fluent enough in English to explain out of the blue everything about asexuality to people on the internet. However, when it’s in my native language, I can tell almost everything there is to know about the community and the spectrum.

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

I have two misconceptions in mind but they are somehow linked.

The first is that people that are ignorant on the matter think that asexuality means we don’t like or practice sex at all. It’s infuriating because there are asexual that love sex. It’s not about the act itself (in general I mean, but I understand if the repulsion of the act is a part of why someone identify as ace) but more about sexual desire and sexual attraction. They are “lacking” or “low” most of the time for asexual but it doesn’t mean that it’s unnatural. How can someone believe it’s unnatural? It’s just normal.

The second is the fact that everyone always have to give the “It’s because you haven’t met the right person, yet!” card. And for that, I’m kind of biased since I’m demi, because I get why it’s the matter sometimes. Even though it’s more about the connection between one ace person and their partner (romantic or not)  that is important for this aspect. You trust some people with this, and there are people you just don’t. But it’s not the matter altogether. The reason this pretense is also false is that you can met whoever you like, it will not change anything about your asexuality. You are and always will be a part of the community, no matter what.

There are so many more misconceptions I could talk about but I never encountered anything else, so I will stop here.

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

It’s probably not what you would want to read but making your own researches help a lot at first. That way you can focus on what’s important for you, and get to know how to better identify yourself.  (However I understand that if you are completely lost on the beginning it will not be the better point to get across, especially if you don’t know the word asexuality).

You can also talk with ace people on the internet after logging on some forums or read through ace positivity blogs. Asks those who are willing to help you, they will be happy to do it. Search for associations or clubs or documents or even interviews, and so on. On the internet or in real life too.

The most important thing is that once you get to identify yourself, everything else will not be so hard anymore. You are scared to do your ace coming-out? Don’t. You want to do it? Do it. Just remember to not push yourself to fit into society while you’re here with something so special that it makes you unique. But, so long as you are happy and in terms with yourself, it’s all that will matter.

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

You can find my fanfic(s) on AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/users/Holmesienne/works

Also I have short “poems” on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kt_Chup

I would absolutely adore to share the stories of the characters I write about (not for the novel, but for the RP on forums) and I think I will post them soon on Tumblr (in my native language): http://coloraldreamx.tumblr.com/

Hopefully I will probably finish the novel one day too and post it on the internet, who knows. There’s also a chance I will post facts about the story’s characters on Tumblr, and maybe some one shots if I ever made other ones too.

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

Interview: Eli Alaimo

Today we’re joined by Eli Alaimo. Eli is a phenomenal author and former animator. They have written a full-length novel as well as two cyberpunk novellas. When they’re not working on creative writing, they write for a podcast entitled “The Gimmick Room,” which sounds hilarious. It’s clear they’re a passionate artist who loves what they do. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have to be upfront about it: I’m a failed animator. That sounds grim, I know, but I don’t take it as a bad thing. I have a degree in animation, and spent the better part of a decade trying to find animation work. That’s not meant to be discouraging; I had a lot of other factors going on that I had to sort through. But I did my best for a long enough time that nobody can say I didn’t try. In the end, it wasn’t for me.

Nowadays, I’m a writer. In one way or another I’ve been writing for almost 20 years. I’ve written a full-length novel called Bonneville, and two cyberpunk novellas titled MLAW.EXE and Crystal!. I also do writing for a podcast I’m on called The Gimmick Room, where I and a friend of mine come up with wrestling characters for the fictional company we work for.

Honestly it’s been kind of a big shift for me in the past year switching from animation to writing, but I’ve also been more productive writing than I ever have when animating so while I’m still early in it, it’s a positive career change for me. I don’t feel like my time spent working on animation was wasted, though. At the very least it means that I can design and draw my own covers for my books.

What inspires you?

An important part of my work is whatever project I’m working on, there’s this emotional core to it. Whether it be based upon an event in my life, or a way I felt, or someone I knew, that core is what gives me the inspiration to work on something. It ties into the old saying of “write what you know.” You don’t have to write a 1:1 account of something that happened to you. But you can draw upon the feelings of abandonment you felt during high school and apply it to a medieval story.

Oh, and also cyberpunk. Cyberpunk is rad as hell and a big inspiration for me. Same for any 80’s-90’s anime with two girls teaming up and kicking ass. (See: Dirty Pair or Gunsmith Cats)

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

I picked up drawing in high school, and originally I wanted to get into animation to work on video games. (Jet Set Radio helped with that.) Then I wanted to make my own animated TV show or movie. Through everything though, I would work on writing as a hobby. My reasoning was that I’d get into the animation industry as an animator, and work my way into writing from there. (I know now that it absolutely does not work that way and I strongly advise against anybody else doing 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 decided a while back that nobody in my books would be straight unless it’s explicitly pointed out. At first it was to be kinda cheeky and spiteful, but now it’s more of a “oh, these are the kinds of people I’m interested in writing, and relate to the most.” Plus I want queer people to be normalized. You should never have to explain why a character is queer or not cis. They just are. And I want that to be normal.

Also: one of my favorite things to put into books is scenes with food. I believe that cooking and sharing meals with other people is one of the best ways to get to know someone or help them in bad times. So I always go into detail with scenes where people are eating or prepping food.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You know that idea you have? The one that you’re like “Oh this is my dream project. I’ve been thinking about it for years! I’ll get to it someday when I’m good enough!” Make it now. Just go ahead and make it now. If it’s a book, a comic, a cartoon, a script, album, whatever it is just work on it and finish it to the best of your ability. Because when you finish that first project, the others will come a lot easier. It took me three years to finish my first book. Honestly if you trace the lineage of it that book existed in some form for the better part of nine years. My second book took me 11 months. Then my third took less than a month. Granted, the second two were novellas, so they were shorter, but I knew I was working faster on them, and I knew the quality of my writing was getting better as I did.

The point is: you’re not going to get anywhere waiting for your ‘perfect idea’ to be executed. Just make it. I promise your next idea will be even better, because you will be better.

crystal!coverart

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual. I was undecided on whether I was aromantic or not, and I don’t think I am. But I haven’t really thought about it in years. But even realizing that asexuality was A Thing helped put a lot of things into perspective from when I was younger.

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

Ignorance definitely. An astounding number of people don’t know what asexuality is, and those who do have next to no correct understanding of it. I try to be courteous when I correct people’s misconceptions, or even tell them about asexuality.

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

That asexual people don’t have a sex drive at all. In reality, sometimes the truth is even more hellish because you can have a libido, but also be asexual which means now you have this energy but don’t feel attraction to anybody. This also helped put a lot of my earlier life into perspective.

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

Don’t let anybody tell you it’s not real, or that you’re invalid, or that it’s a phase, you’re not “queer enough” or any other hot trash take. Ace people are part of the queer community, and never feel like you’re not. It can be tough because a lot of times the community can feel “sex positive” in a way that can make a lot of people uncomfortable. But remember; it’s not a failing on your part.

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

Currently you can find my books on my Gumroad and my itch.io pages. They’re pay what you want! If you wanna download them for free, go ahead!

https://gumroad.com/ealaimo
https://ealaimo.itch.io/

The podcast I work on is the Gimmick Room and we update every two weeks: https://thegimmickroom.simplecast.fm/

I also use Twitter more than any other social platform: https://twitter.com/ealaimo

Be warned I say a lot more cuss words on there than this interview would lead you to believe. But I’m also really funny. We all make sacrifices.

mlawcovernew

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

Interview: Sophie A Katz

Today we’re joined by Sophie A. Katz. Sophie is a phenomenal and versatile writer. She writes in a number of different forms and styles. She’s a fellow writer who enjoys writing hopeful stories (we need more of them! 🙂 ). It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Sophie Katz headshot

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

It’s all about stories for me – I LOVE stories, and storytelling. So far, my best skill to bring stories to life has been writing. I’ll write in pretty much any form; different stories need different mediums, after all. Some stories are short, some are novels. Some are screenplays or stage plays. I dabble in poetry. I have a few stories that sit in my head and insist upon being graphic novels – I’ll have to find someone who’s better with visual art to collaborate with for those.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me. That’s a vague answer. I have a “story ideas” tag on my Tumblr with hundreds of pictures and prompts in it, and I didn’t think that that was out of the ordinary until someone said to me, “Wow, you get story ideas from EVERYTHING!” But everything DOES have a story to it. You know that word “sonder”? About realizing that every other person in the world is living a life just as complex and interesting as your own? I can’t help but see that in everyone and everything around me. I don’t see things as just the way they are – I want to know why, and what might happen next. And that’s what a story is, at its base: why are things the way they are, and what could happen next?

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

There was this dollhouse in my parents’ house – I think it’s still in the basement – and incidentally we didn’t call it a “dollhouse” because Mom did NOT want her daughters playing with dolls; we called it a “people house,” like that Dr. Seuss book. I’d sit at the People House with all of our toys, all the animals and action figures and Disney characters, and narrate their adventures, for hours and hours. It was just what I did. Before I could write or read, I told the stories of my toys. And then one day, Dad took notes on the story I was telling, and typed it up for me. That’s where it really started. After that, I learned to read and write, and started writing little books, and Mom became my editor. But it took me until junior high to really start identifying as a writer. Before that, I honestly thought I was going to be an actress, even though I wasn’t very good at it, and didn’t really enjoy it. I think because the storytelling thing was just something I’d always done, I didn’t recognize it as special, or even as “art” at all – but it was always there, and eventually I recognized it as such, and now it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Things REALLY took off once I realized that Disney World had a writing internship…but if I start talking about THAT, then we’ll be here all day.

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?

That’s a really interesting question. When my big sister was looking at colleges, I started picking up literary journals from the schools we visited, and I started noticing a troubling pattern in the works published there: they were overwhelmingly sad. I concluded then that sadness must be the easiest emotion to evoke in a story, and the true challenge was to create something that made people happy.

Bad things do happen in the stories I write, but they very rarely end that way. Books and movies that end in hopelessness bother me. By all means, kill your darlings and send me to bed crying, but give me a reason to get up in the morning! This is a very roundabout way of answering that a feature I include in my work is hope. My stories are most often about people looking at the world and seeing not only the bad that is, but the good that could be, and working to make that good come to be. I think a lot of people perceive hope and optimism as naïve, and sadness and despair as true art. It’s fine to have that opinion, but I don’t subscribe to it. I see art in joy, and in the challenge of creating joy, and in taking on that challenge. I see art in hope.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You are not completely unique, and that is a good thing. It’s a good thing because it means that you have something to offer that will resonate with other people. You are not so different from the rest of the world that nobody will ever understand; rather, you have something to create that other people need. Create what is true to you, what is so true to you that it feels like no one else in the world may have ever felt the way that you feel about it. Create it and share it with the world. And someday, someone will walk up to you, and nervously shake your hand, and say, “That’s exactly how I feel. Thank you for turning it into art.”

Also, I highly recommend learning the skill of biting your tongue and saying “thank you, I’ll consider it” to critique. It’s not an easy skill to develop. Feedback is key to growth, and while you don’t have to TAKE all the feedback anyone ever gives you (you won’t take most of it, and that’s the way it should be!), it’s good to hear feedback. Feedback is how you learn what people are getting out of your art, whether your art is doing what you want it to do to the people you want it to do stuff to. I hope that sentence makes sense. I’d appreciate feedback on that sentence.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual, usually. Recently I’ve been feeling a bit more solidly ace; my body on occasion will send me a surprise bout of “nonononono” even when I’m with someone I am very much emotionally connected to.

I don’t even know what’s up with my romantic orientation. It’s like it plays “duck duck goose,” where it’ll go “duck duck duck…” over everyone around me for ages and then suddenly “GOOSE! YOU HAVE A CRUSH!!!”

I like things to make sense, so it’s all a bit frustrating for me, but I’m training myself to make peace with the uncertainty. Having words like “demisexual” and “asexual” and “sex-positive” and “sex-repulsed” to throw around helps some. I like having words for things.

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

Nothing’s been explicitly directed towards me, but romance is such a prevalent part of the stories we tell that I can’t help but be nervous. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to write a love story that someone will want to read, because I can’t know what it’s like to be the allosexual people that mainstream romances are about. I’m nervous that putting ace people in my stories, or being frank about demisexuality, will bring more trouble down on me than good. But this is my life, this is my truth, and these are the stories that I wish, oh god do I wish, that I had had when I thought that I was broken. How could I not write that? But I’m nervous, so how CAN I write that?

Fortunately, I found an incredibly supportive feminist arts community at my university, and I felt safe enough there to read a piece about figuring out my sexuality at an open mic. After the show, an audience member came up to me and thanked me, because what I had read was exactly how it was for them figuring out their sexuality. That’s when it hit me that however nervous I was, I couldn’t let that get in the way of creating my art. People need to know that they’re not alone. And coming up against ninety-nine readers who think I’m some faker special snowflake is worth it if I can get to the hundredth reader who needs to hear that they’re not alone.

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

That it doesn’t exist.

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

…Honestly, I wish someone had advice to give ME, because I struggle with it plenty. What I do know to remind myself of as much as I can is this: your sexuality does NOT make you a burden, and anyone who makes you feel like it is can walk the plank.

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

I have an electronic portfolio at https://sophieakatz.wordpress.com/, and I’ve just begun a writing Tumblr in an attempt to self-promote – you can find that at https://sophieakatz.tumblr.com/. Go ahead and send me a message there if you want to chat about anything! Or you could contact me at http://ohthewhomanity.tumblr.com/; that’s the blog where I use the “story ideas” tag. You can also find my Odyssey articles every week at https://www.theodysseyonline.com/user/@sophiekatz.

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