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.

BVcoversmaller

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.

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: Kassia

Today we’re joined by Kassia. Kassia is an accomplished poet who specializes in free form and free verse poetry. They live in Florida with their husband and work as a freelance writer and editor. Kassia is a genderflux feminist and has a background in theology. They did their bachelor’s work on how Eastern Orthodox theology supports and advances ecology and environmentalism. It’s clear they’re an incredibly dedicated writer, as you’ll soon see. 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 write poetry, mostly free form and free verse, though in the past year I’ve gotten much more into prose poetry and ghazals, and am trying to train myself in some of the most common Western forms of poetry (sonnets, villanelles, etc.). In the last few weeks I’ve been funneling my poetic skills into composing Akathists, which are long hymns used in the Eastern Orthodox Church, comprised of thirteen odes. I’ve also been glossing some of my favorites from a collection of Akathists I have, because whoever translated them got a little carried away with the pseudo-Shakespearean language for my taste and it’s very distracting.

My big pet project, though, is a novel centered around two people in an asexual/aromantic relationship. I want to show that a relationship built purely on platonic attraction can be just as compelling and erotic (in the classical sense) as every tired and predictable YA franchise out there (not that I don’t love me some Hunger Games).

What inspires you?

That’s a hard question to answer, because my inspiration doesn’t usually come from anything external. Most of it comes from my experience of the numinous in the physical world and my interior response to it–though a small portion of my work is inspired by people close to me, and trying to articulate the experience of being asexually and aromantically, yet powerfully, in love with someone. My entire impetus for writing—from poetry to fiction to blog posts—is to translate my intense interior life into language. That’s my main inspiration: not really the outside world, but how the things I experience get internalized and translated into symbols, archetypes, and mythopoeia.

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

I’ve been writing since I was six or seven. It’s just always been a part of my life. When I was in middle and high school I got fixated on Charles Baudelaire and Oscar Wilde and the Decadence and had all these crazy plans involving blowing off college for being a bohemian poet in Paris. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed and I went to college, and got some wonderful exposure to academia and the publishing world while pursuing a degree in religion. For a semester or two I toyed with going into theology and trying to get published in journals, but when my advisor pushed me towards academia, something didn’t feel right and I knew I had to stick with the more artistic side of my work. So I pushed back, and here I am a few years later working on a solid poetry portfolio.

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’s a lot of cosmic, space imagery in my work. Moons, stars, black holes, galaxies, energy strings, gravity waves. Some particular constellations make repeated cameos, especially Cygnus and Orion for some reason. I didn’t really consciously make it that way, but I’ve always been fascinated by the weirder, more surreal aspects of physics, space, and how space-time behaves. It makes sense; huge structures like nebulas and black holes are excellent ways to communicate the vastness of inner, spiritual/mental space that I try to capture in my work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Stay weird. Never stop learning. Teach yourself about subjects you’d never think you’d be interested in, no matter how arcane or mundane or strange they may seem. Don’t be afraid to be experimental, or make mistakes, or produce things that no one else understands but you. Making art is like clearing a spring choked with mud. Sometimes you have to produce utter shit before you get to the good stuff underneath.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual and aromantic.

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

Not really. I haven’t published anything yet, so we’ll see. One of my goals is to publish a collection of platonic love poems; it’d be interesting to see what reactions such a work would get.

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

That as an asexual person, I do not like, understand, or engage in sex, and that “asexual” is synonymous with “sex-negative”. It’s an understandable enough misconception, and I’ve never personally encountered it in a malevolent way. Even my best friend, who is bisexual, heavily involved in the LGBT community, and very understanding, thought that was the case until I cleared it up. I like sex well enough (though, I think, it’s far less important to me than the average population; the thought of a life without sex doesn’t fill me with horror), I understand why it’s important to other people, and I am sexually active (married, even!). I simply don’t experience sexual attraction, which is much different than having a negative or ignorant attitude toward sex.

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

You are not broken. Your experiences are completely valid and absolutely no one gets a say in how you experience your orientation except you. Not your parents, not your boss, not your school, not the Internet, no one. Being asexual is not a curse or a reason to pitied. Always celebrate who you are, even if you have to do so fiercely, in the midst of people trying to tear you down.

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

Nowhere at the moment! I wish I did have somewhere to point people, but I’m very careful about publishing online—that is to say, I don’t. I am in the process of building an asexual blog, though, and will post regular links to it at my Tumblr, acequeen.

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

Interview: Fran

Today we’re joined by Fran. Fran is a phenomenal musician who plays a variety of instruments and also participates in her school’s marching band. When she’s not playing music, Fran enjoys doodling and is currently writing a novel, which sounds like a fun adventure (a superhero rom-com, how can you not love that). She has also written some poetry and short stories. It’s very clear that Fran is a dedicated and versatile artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Ace Flute

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I just graduated high school and plan to attend university as a double major in music education and music performance. My primary instrument is flute, but I also play saxophone and a little bit of piano, ukulele, and clarinet. I really enjoy playing classical music, but a lot of my passion lies in jazz, and I am a member of my high school marching band and a future member of my college marching band. I also doodle a little bit, and I am writing a rom com superhero novel about a meteorite that wishes that she can become human and the stars grant her wish. It is a wlw romance, but mostly it consists of humor and superhero action. I also write poetry and short stories.

What inspires you?

My hero is Michael Giacchino and other movie soundtrack writers like him. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved getting inspiration for my music from soundtracks. Because of this wonderful music guiding my life, I plan on inspiring others to pursue music by teaching, and maybe even continue my talents into the professional field. For my visual art, I mostly get inspiration from my friends. We all draw together as a hobby so we get inspired by each other often. For my writing I am inspired by my favorite authors, J.K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, David Leviathan, and Rick Riordan. I love writing books with positive outlooks and messages about love and peace.

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

I have loved music and art ever since I was a child. I started playing flute in 4th grade and I have been obsessed with band ever since. I loved watching movies and playing games almost solely for the excellent musical track. It was only a matter of time until I decided it would be my career. I’ve drawn and written for just as long. I wrote many short stories when I was young, and drew in that stereotypical 6th grade anime style that all artists cringe at later in life. My writing and drawing styles are a little bit better now, though I look back at my childhood doodles and stories with fondness.

Ace artwork 3

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. My signature is just my name in cursive.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you want to be a musician, do it! Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a “phony career” and that you won’t be able to make a living with it. With hard work and a little thinking outside of the box, you can make a good career out of any art form. Follow your dream and don’t let the downers destroy your passion!

Ace artwork 2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an Asexual Lesbian. I experience no sexual attraction, but I am romantically attracted to girls exclusively.

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

I’ve had people tell me that you can’t have a romantic relationship without sex and that I’ll “change my mind”. It used to bother me, but now I just let the words wash over me. I know that I’ll find someone who will understand and love that part about me. I can’t help it that their concept of relationships is so small-minded. I don’t experience that often, though. Most people in my field are very accepting.

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

That I can’t experience a romantic relationship. Many people lump asexual and aromantic together without realizing that they are both different. You can be both, or just one or the other. There are also people who think I’m just innocent. It’s true that I’m a bit innocent in some areas, I don’t like to cuss, I don’t have a dirty mind, I would rather watch Disney movies than anything with too much sex or violence, but that has nothing to do with my orientation. I know how sex works. I just don’t want to have it.

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

Don’t feel like you have to rush into a label. And your label can be fluid and change over time. I know that I may change my label in the future. Just like your favorite color changes over time, so can your label. Also, I know it’s hard living in a world where sex can be prioritized over a healthy and understanding relationship. Be who you are. Because “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter won’t mind”. Your identity is a beautiful thing!

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

I don’t really have a website or anything. Most of my work is just in my ensembles or in my community.

Ace art 1

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

Interview: Brandon

Today we’re joined by Brandon. Brandon is a fantastic author who is a prolific writer who has written a novel and is currently working on the sequel. Aside from writing novels, he’s also working on short stories. When he’s not writing, Brandon enjoys singing and has begun to dabble in visual artist. It’s very apparent he’s an incredibly passionate artist. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My main artistic interest is in writing, specifically narrative work. At the moment I’ve got a 250,000 word novel waiting in the wings, I’m starting up on the sequel and I’m bouncing around ideas for a new (shorter) story which I’d like to get published as my debut to help get my foot in the door of the novel-writing world. I’ve dedicated the past three years to two writing-related major goals – completing my novel and earning my Bachelor’s degree in English and Writing. Like I said, I’ve completed the former (sort of, bar the publishing thing) and I completed the latter last year – I’ll be graduating in May and hopefully moving on to do a Master’s degree in 2018, focusing on narrative features of video games.

Besides that, I also love to sing. One of my major projects for a paper in my final year of my degree allowed me to write a creative non-fiction piece on a topic of my choice, so I decided to write a piece on barbershop after reminiscing about the several years I spent singing bass in a chorus during high school. I also recently joined the internationally ranking chorus, Vocal FX, which has rekindled my love of performance.

I’ve found that I enjoy visual art but I’m not particularly good at it since I only recently got into it. My favourite part is always coming up with the ideas for a scene rather than drawing it. I suppose given my writing habits that wouldn’t be surprising.

What inspires you?

A friend of mine has been with me every step of the way since I started working on my novel and she’s been the one who encouraged me at all times. She’s one of the few people in the world who’s read my novel (I sent it to her chapter by chapter or sometimes scene by scene whenever I finished a draft I was satisfied with) and she’s the only person other than me who knows the upcoming plot as well as I do. I can never thank her enough for her help and for putting up with me constantly needling her with sad plot points, and for her willingness to bounce ideas back and forth which often gives me better ideas than I started with. She is without a doubt one of my biggest inspirations simply because her genuine enthusiasm helps spark that creative flow that I need to get going better than anything else.

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

I think the first piece of creative writing I can remember doing was when I was only six or seven years old. I remember it quite vividly because it was basically a butchered plagiarized fanfic that smashed together Lilo and Stitch and a video game called Impossible Creatures, where the protagonist was one of Jumba’s experiments which was basically this horrific monstrosity of numerous combined animals. It landed on earth and ended up being worshipped as a god and had to defend its people from other creatures that came to harm them. I’m surprised my parents didn’t put me into therapy for that. I also labeled it as ‘a true story’ because I had no fear of being sued for false advertising. I also remember having a dragon phase (didn’t everyone?) and writing a series of short stories about dragons which I think I still have lying around, as well as a phase after buying the game Spore in which I wrote a lot about aliens.

So, long story short (hah) I’ve always loved to write, but when I got older I started worrying that it wouldn’t be a viable career. I initially planned to study my second love (zoology) at university, but not long after I finished high school, I started my novel, and I decided to hell with practicality, I wanted to pursue my dream. Now I’m here with a completed novel, a bunch of ideas, and my fingers crossed that I strike lucky with publishing.

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 the biggest feature of my work is more in the background, in the worldbuilding, particularly when it comes to fantasy wildlife. I spent a very, very long time on the worldbuilding of my novel before I started writing on it and by far enjoyed coming up with creatures, their habitats, and their behaviours the most (I once had an hours-long chat with a couple of my friends about the territorial and communal habits of trolls in my novel despite them never having read it). I think this translated well to the plot, given that one of my main characters has a troll for a companion and their interactions with each other and those around them added a significant and special dynamic to the story.

Can you tell trolls are a major thing in this book?

brandon-troll-art
Troll Art Commission by padalickingood

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Inspiration won’t always be there for you. Honestly, in my experience, it’ll barely be there for you at all. But that shouldn’t stop you. If you have it, seize it with both hands at every possible opportunity. If you don’t, push forward regardless. Write something that you know you’ll just rewrite later. Draw that sketch you don’t feel confident about. Practice that song you hate. You never know when inspiration will rear its head, and if you’re lucky, all the hard yards you put in without it will force it out of hiding and allow you to make something incredible.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify most closely with demisexual but I’ve come to feel pretty lax with the specifics. I’m not sex-repulsed but I definitely don’t have any particular urge for it, and god knows where I am when it comes to gender identities I’m attracted to. Throw a dart at the Kinsey triangle and I might be somewhere near that.

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

I’ve never dealt with any prejudice directed towards me for being an ace writer specifically. I mean, every ace person has probably had to put up with an acephobe at some point, but when it comes to writing I’ve never had an issue. As a viewer/reader, though, I’ve noticed ace-spec characters aren’t really that common – even just implied asexuality doesn’t show up often. And even in the event that it does, a lot of the time it’s full of misconceptions or just poor writing, including the good old ‘but sex is so great / sex brought you into the world why don’t you like it’ talk that I’ve come to hate with a burning passion.

As for how I deal with it, I just think the best thing to do when confronted with lack of representation is to fix the problem. Be the change you want to be and write your own ace characters. Headcanon characters as ace. Nobody can stop you from seeing yourself in a character that already exists, and remember that no matter what people may say, headcanoning a character as ace is not ‘stealing’ them from another community – gender attraction and level of sexual attraction are two different things, and you aren’t harming anyone by headcanoning a character as ace or aro regardless of their gender leanings. Just be considerate to others if they express concern and keep their points in mind so long as they treat you with a similar respect.

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

This is honestly hard to pick from because I’ve heard a lot (nothing malicious but people have a habit of really not getting how asexuality can work) but I think the biggest thing is people think I don’t like physical intimacy or that I would never have sex. They could not be more wrong about the first point and I’d probably say they’re wrong about the second.

I love physical intimacy. I’m a human teddy bear, I crave contact from certain people. I love hugs, I love kisses, with the right people I could be down for anything. All I ask from people is that they respect my boundaries for each individual person, because they vary. This isn’t even a uniquely ace thing – everyone has certain levels of comfort with physical affection – but I’ve heard people cite my asexuality a lot when they express uncertainty about it.

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

Finding a label or a category can be satisfying, but it’s not a necessity. It’s fine to not know where exactly you fit in the spectrum, and in fact sometimes it’s easier to be flexible with it. That being said, if you do find something you identify closely with and it means a lot to you, take pride in it. You are who you are and nobody has the right to question that or take it away from you.

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

I do have a sideblog dedicated to stuff from my novel series – the username is chroniclesofandrasfar – but I haven’t used that very much lately. If any big news comes up, you’re sure to find me raving about it on my main blog, mythicfictionist.

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