Interview: Juju

Today we’re joined by Juju. Juju is a wonderful writer who is mostly known for their fanfiction. Aside from fanfiction, they also write some original fiction and are currently working on a novel. Juju includes aspec characters in everything they write. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate writer who loves what they do, as you’ll soon read. 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 things! Most of my readers know me for fanfiction, but I also write short stories and I’m working on a novel! I also like to share stories through little video games made in RPG Maker, although I don’t often share them as much as I probably should.

What inspires you?

At the risk of sounding like an overenthusiastic alien, humanity itself is my greatest inspiration. Humans are utterly fascinating.

We have the power to wage war, and also help each other in times of need. We spend years learning each other’s languages just to communicate with people outside of our own circle. We all share the same range of emotions. We can communicate through looks without saying a word to each other; even a smile is something we can share, if we have nothing else in common.

Our experiences are diverse and universal at the same time. The relationships we have with each other—parents, lovers, siblings, friends, workmates, etc.—are varied, but when you put it all together you have the story of a life. It’s my privilege as an author to take a slice of a life, any character’s life, and portray it for the world.

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

I’ve been writing stories ever since I learned what letters were. I used to write little stories for my younger brother on notebook paper, lying on the floor in my bedroom. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t read them; I read them to him! In elementary school when they taught us the writing assessment, I used to pray that I’d get a narrative prompt (sadly, I never did).

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?

Unique feature? That’s a hard one… I have a terrible time recognizing themes in my work; usually other people point them out to me and I just accept that they must be right, haha.

I guess I can say I do enjoy writing about belonging; I like to do character analyses in my work in the form of introspection. I also really enjoy writing sibling relationships, especially if it’s found family and siblings. I love ships as much as the next fan, but there’s something about “they’re like a brother/sister to me”. That’s a deep platonic love that never gets as much recognition as it deserves.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Make the content you want to see in the world. Who cares if it’s entirely self-indulgent? If it makes you happy, do it! Do it, do it again, read it and enjoy it; the best part is that sometimes, other people will like it too!

Practice doesn’t have to be boring. How do I practice writing? I read books. I watch movies.. I look at screenplays. I go to the theatre, if I can. I play video games. I study the plot, the dialogue. Look at your favorite stories—why do you like them? What’s your favorite part? How do the character interact? Of course, grammar is important and the fundamentals are there for a reason, but no one said practice had to be all textbooks and essays.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual! I find men and women both aesthetically pleasing, but I don’t experience sexual attraction to them.

When I first learned the terminology I thought I might be gray-ace or demi, but I realized that I was only tying into some of the myths surrounding asexuality. I was letting people who didn’t know me tell me who I was, based on generalizations. It wasn’t until I asked myself who thought I was that I was able to come to terms with my own sexuality.

I also identify as heteroromantic, or at least gray-romantic to some extent.

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

Oh, for sure!

I think what I’ve heard the most is that I’m “faking” being an asexual because I write nsfw content. That’s also the most laughable, since I never realized you could only write about your own experience and nothing else! I’m openly sex-positive; sex is a beautiful, intimate thing… it’s just not for me.

I’ve also gotten anon hate on social media from people who don’t like my headcanons, especially if they’re on the ace spectrum. If it’s a LGBT ship it’s homophobic to have them as ace, if it’s a straight ship it’s too pandering. Can’t win for losing, right? Beyond that, it’s usually the same old “asexuality isn’t LGBT, you aren’t oppressed, make your own community” garbáge that exists all over social media (mostly Tumblr).

It always hurts the worst when it comes from mutuals that I trusted; sometimes people I considered my friends share or say aphobic things and I want to shout “Don’t reblog those lies! Ask me, I’m right here, I’m always willing to talk about my own experience with you!” But, if I said those things, 9/10 times I’m accused of stirring up discourse or being too defensive.

I learned long ago to keep my mouth shut, write what I want, and freely use the Block feature. Life’s too short to worry about what some faceless person on the internet thinks about me, and besides: probably they’d be too cowardly to say those hurtful comments if we were in the same room together.

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

“Asexuals hate sex and look down on people who don’t.”

I know aces who are sex-repulsed. I know aces who are married with kids. I know aces who are fine with giving, not receiving. I know aces who only dislike intercourse. I know aces who have sex because, for them, it’s a way to be close to their partner.

Sex positive, negative, neutral— we all share one important thing: we don’t experience sexual attraction. That is what makes us asexual… not our opinions.

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

It’s okay to be asexual.

If you think you’re 1% ace today and 99% ace tomorrow, you can say you’re ace. If you’re not sure yet, you can say you’re ace. If you think you might change your mind, or you’re using this label until you figure yourself out, you can say you’re ace.

Sexuality is fluid and confusing, and it’s even more confusing if you don’t experience it at all. We’ve been there. We are there. We know. The people with the loudest voices and biggest hatred are often the minority. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Remember to love, and allow yourself to be loved. Love isn’t binary, it’s not limited to intimacy or romance. Love your friends, your family, your pets, and (most importantly) yourself. Love is so many shades, a thousand thousand nuances that we can experience together as humans. Don’t lose hope by focusing on one color when you’re surrounded by a rainbow.

Having sex doesn’t make you less ace. Being in a relationship doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting to be closer to your partner doesn’t make you less ace. Wanting children doesn’t make you less ace. You are allowed to ask for physical affection without it having to lead to sex. You are allowed to want to kiss, to cuddle, even to make out or pet your partner without it having to lead to sex. You do not have to do anything you are uncomfortable with. You don’t owe the world, or anyone in it, anything that will bring you harm.

You are not broken. You are valid. You are loved.

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

You can find my work at https://archiveofourown.org/users/Jubalii! Just look for the sheep, haha! I’m also on Tumblr at https://heyheyitsjuju.tumblr.com/. On Tumblr I post fanfiction as well as more about my original stories, OCs, etc.

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

Interview: Megan Hustmyer

Today we’re joined by Megan Hustmyer. Megan is a phenomenal visual artist and author who does a bit of everything. They paint, sculpt, and do illustrations. On the writing side, they write poetry and prose. Megan is currently working on a novel featuring an asexual succubus. It’s clear they’re a very dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. 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 am an artist and a writer. I draw, I sculpt, I paint, and I write prose and poetry. My work has undertones concerning self-love and acceptance, which is especially potent for me personally as a queer creator. I really love imagining queer creatures, aliens, monsters, realms and the like.

I’m working on my first magical realism novel, which focuses on an asexual, non-binary succubus living in contemporary America. So they’re pretty much screwed, but they make their best go at it.

What inspires you?

I’ve always loved fantasy, science-fiction, magic, mythology and folklore. More recently I’ve been attracted to queer theory, particularly the academic work of Ela Pryzbolo, an asexual scholar who writes theory on asexuality. I’m heavily inspired by her mission to expand and fuck with the limitations of asexuality/sexuality. I believe that a narrow definition of queerness isn’t queer at all. Which is why I want to write about an asexual succubus, it’s a great way for me personally to explore the identity of gray-sexuality and be able to look at sexuality through an asexual lens.

I also love ‘We Were Witches’ by Ariel Gore, trees, and affirming that nature is gay.

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

I didn’t actually start to think of myself as an artist until I was in my sophomore year of college, majoring in fine arts. I knew there wasn’t a way I could just not have art in my life. Before that, I considered it a hobby. I also daydreamed a lot, and for a long time I thought that it was unhealthy, but now I’ve come to terms with my imaginative sight-seeing and I use it as a processor for my art, my stories, emotions, and anything else I need it for.
Art itself is a fantastic processor. I’ll always be thinking about a lot of things at once and it can be overwhelming, so the artistic process is very helpful for me. I’ve always felt there was a link for me in particular between art and healing. Especially when drawing or painting, I’m able to think in ways on paper that would be too confusing in my brain. There’s a link to be made between art therapy and tarot readings… hmmm.

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?

An underlying fondness for grossness.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Fuck shit up.

They’re gonna tell you that it’s hopeless, that it’ll waste of time and you’ll just be a starving artist. Fuck that shit up. They’ll say that the art market won’t have you. Fuck it up. They’ll say there’s nothing to be done.
Fuck.
It.
Up.

01_MARSUPIALLOVEAFFAIR
Marsupial Love Affair

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Gray-asexual or as I’ve grown fond of, ‘grace’.

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

For the most part, I encounter ignorance. Whenever you’re open about being something ‘abnormal’, you kind of also become a spokesman for that identity, which has its positives and negatives. With asexuality, I’m still learning about it myself, similar to my gender identity.

I met someone who considered even acts of flirting or ‘feeling sexy’ to be sexual in nature, which is an arguable stance, and yet also admitted that the act of sex itself wasn’t always inherently sexual. By his definition of sexuality, which also included dancing and finding people attractive, I was sexual. By mine though, which is influenced by my conception of sexuality in contemporary America, I was gray-asexual. He had also been born in an earlier time in another culture. In that situation I was with someone I trusted and I valued his opinion, so it was a little hurtful to hear that he just didn’t understand my identity, but I’m glad we were able to talk about it openly.

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

That asking whether or not someone masturbates is an appropriate response to learning that someone is asexual.

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

Sexuality is confusing. It could be argued that asexuality confuses it even more. Is asexuality a lack of something? Or is it a presence? If it’s not a presence, then what is that feeling that completed me when I first identified as ace? Even if you’re unsure (I still am most days), if you know that feeling, you don’t have anything to prove. You’re not naive. You’re not broken. You have the courage to claim a name that fits you, and you wear it because you feel good when you do. That’s all you need.

And once again, fuck it up. Whatever that means for you. Maybe it means taking a rad bubble bath and reading manga. Maybe it means doing drag. Maybe it’s creating a loud sign and going to a protest. Maybe it’s singing as loud as you can. Maybe it’s listening to your favorite album. It’s whatever gives you strength. It’s doing what you need to do. It’s taking care of yourself.

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

The novel I’m working on is still under the radar for the most part, but I’ll be sure to post updates on it via social media and my main website.

My fine art, sculpture, social practice work, can be found here: meganhustmyer.carbonmade.com

My graphic design an illustration portfolio can be found here: meginetdesignsthings.myportfolio.com

My Instagram:  m.g.aoh or _meginet

my landscape
My Landscape

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

Interview: Kaylee Schuler

Today we’re joined by Kaylee Schuler. Kaylee is a phenomenal author and visual artist. She writes a number of different things, including short stories and poetry. She’s currently working on a novel with an aro-ace protagonist. When she’s not writing, Kaylee enjoys drawing. She frequently draws characters from her stories. It’s clear she’s a 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 am an author and an artist. I usually write short stories, but I’ve dabbled in poetry, spoken word, and am currently working on a novel that happens to feature an aro-ace protagonist. I’ve self-published a children’s book and plan to self-publish its companion once my edits are done. One of my short stories just won 10th place in a Reader’s Digest competition, so I’m very excited about that!

What I value most in writing is emotion, so I try to write things that make people feel. I try to tell stories that I think are important, that I know no one else can tell. I strive to write pieces that are powerful, influential, and cathartic. Even though it’s a lofty goal, I want to write something that will change the world.

As for art, I started out with sketches and drawings, but I currently work with a variety of mediums, some of my favorites being watercolor and digital. Good old graphite never fails me, though.

I create art about pretty much anything — I draw a lot of people, often characters within the stories that I write. Drawing for me is somewhere between a hobby and a potential career. I’m currently studying it in college, but I still draw mainly for myself and create things that I want to create.

What inspires you?

I get inspiration for my work in everything I experience. The villain in my novel is based on a character who showed up in just one episode of a TV show from the ‘90s that I used to watch reruns of. Another character is named after a friend who was super supportive of my writing. I write the books I want to read, so I often take inspiration from a lack of content. I don’t see enough diversity in the media I consume, so I want to add that to my work. My visual artwork is often inspired by my writing or other people’s work that I enjoy. The main thing that inspires me is the hope that someone out there will encounter my work and be inspired to create something of their own. Art is such an incredible force for change, and my desire to be a part of that drives me to create.

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

I’ve been writing for my entire life. It’s something that comes naturally to me, but even beyond that, I feel like a part of me is missing if I’m not writing something. It’s a huge part of who I am. I started writing my self-published book when I was 8 years old and haven’t stopped since.

I’ve also been creating visual art as far back as I can remember. Just like my writing, my artwork feels like an extension of my very being. Because art, be it written, visual, or otherwise, can be a catalyst for social change, and because I’ve always wanted to use my talents to better the world, I figure that the best way for me to make an impact is to combine those two things. My desire to improve this world and my desire to create go hand in hand.

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 one of those artists who’s never been able to pin down a style. I suppose that’s a blessing because it gives me greater freedom and versatility in the content I create, but it’s also a curse because most of my pieces aren’t recognizable as belonging to the same artist. One thing I aim to do is include as much diversity in my work as I can. I think everyone deserves to see someone in media who they can relate to. I’m still learning how to improve my art and my representation, but I feel like making an effort to be inclusive and diverse is crucial to being a good artist and a good person.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Art is something so incredibly personal to each individual. My advice is, first, to not be afraid to pour your soul into your work, and only share it when it’s ready. Share it first with people you trust. This especially applies to writing, though also to visual art you’ve worked particularly hard on. Find people who will build you up, not tear you down. And a note on criticism—at the end of the day, this is your work. Create for you. When people tell you what to do with your craft, that’s what they want. I’m not saying to never listen to criticism. Feedback can be very useful and it will help you grow as an artist. But make sure you put what you want first and remember that, at the end of the day, what you do with your work is up to you. And try to remember that critiques are about the work itself, not the part of you that you put into it. On a different note, something I want to stress is that artists have to support each other! We all face challenges in art and in life and I believe that we can never spread too much compassion and positivity. And finally, never give up on your dreams. One of my creative writing professors once shared something with us that his friend told him—the reason successful artists become successful is that they’re the ones who don’t give up. If you want to create, create. Keep at it, you’ve got this!

3. Mental Illness 2017 12 18
Mental Illness

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic and asexual. I always knew there was something different about me, and finding labels for my feelings was an incredible relief. I’ve never felt romantic or sexual attraction, and I’m also sex-and romance-repulsed. This definitely affects my work, especially my written work, because you create what you know. It’s hard for me to imagine being anyone other than myself, holding any identity other than aroace. As a result, much of my work features characters who are asexual and/or aromantic.

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

Specifically related to my art, I haven’t come across much negativity. I think this is largely because most of my work concerning asexuality hasn’t made it very far out into the world yet. I worry that readers won’t understand the way my characters feel and interact with the world, and I worry that artwork about my asexuality will result in negativity directed at me. I think it’s likely that I will encounter prejudice or ignorance when my work spreads around a little more, and when faced with it, I think I’ll have to remember that all of us are ignorant to something and that the only way to educate is through understanding. I’ve been uninformed and misinformed about countless topics, and I was able to learn more about them when people treated me with respect and open-mindedness. I will strive to do the same. If that fails, though, if I run into someone who can’t see my point of view and won’t make an effort to do so (as I have frequently encountered outside the art world), I’ll need to remember a mantra my therapist once gave me: “They’re doing the best they can.” Sometimes, other people’s “best” isn’t enough for us. But we have to remember that we all have our limits and that, sometimes, our knowledge is beyond the limits of someone else. At that point, I’ll have to take a step back from my stubbornness and abandon the argument. It’s not always worth it.

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

I commonly see this both outside and within the LGBTQ community, and the latter can be particularly frustrating. Many people think that asexuality is synonymous or similar to abstinence, which isn’t true. They believe that asexuality is simply a lack of desire for sex, and that’s not quite true. Asexuality is a lack of attraction (and even beyond that, it comes on a spectrum). Not all asexuals are sex-repulsed or sex-averse, and some asexuals engage in sexual acts for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, many people seem to think that being asexual is the same as being aromantic. I often find it difficult to explain that there’s a difference between romantic and sexual attraction and that some asexuals do, in fact, feel romantic attraction.

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

The main thing that’s often said but can never be said enough is never be said enough is you are NOT broken. I spent years of my life thinking I was and became resigned to the idea that one day I would have to have a relationship, even though I didn’t want one. Here’s what I have to say about that: you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You don’t have to try to force yourself to feel something you don’t. Wherever you lie on the spectrum, you are valid, you are seen, you are whole, and you are not alone. You may feel guilty sometimes for not reciprocating someone’s feelings. You may feel empty sometimes, or alone, or angry. And all of that is valid—your feelings are always valid—but you don’t have to feel any of that. Teach yourself that you don’t need to be ashamed of your orientation. It’s a part of you, you can’t get rid of it, so you might as well learn to love it. And you can. I have.

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

I don’t yet have a proper website, but you can find me on social media. My art Tumblr is https://www.deepspaceart.tumblr.com and my main Tumblr is https://www.deepspaceace.tumblr.com. I’m also on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/deep.space.ace. You can find my art on Redbubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/deepspaceace. You can read some of my written work at https://www.wattpad.com/user/CelestialFalcon. You can buy my children’s book at https://app.thebookpatch.com/BookStore/midnight-a-wolfs-tale/ce878c14-8bd6-44ad-bb38-93b585c582e9?isbn=9780984719808 .

Have a great day! 🙂

4. enamorarse
Enamorarse

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

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.