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: Minerva Cerridwen

Today we’re joined by Minerva Cerridwen. Minerva is a phenomenal SFF author and visual artist. For writing, she has a story published in Unburied Fables and recently released her novella, The Dragon of Ynys (which features an aro-ace main character). Visual art is more of a hobby for her, though she does do commissions. Minerva does handlettering and draws, using traditional mediums such as pencils and ink. It’s clear she’s a very passionate and dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

01 Bianca (own character) - pencil - 2017
Bianca (own character)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve always loved writing, and to my great joy I can call myself a published author these days. I mainly write fantasy and science fiction and sometimes dabble in poetry and horror. So far I’ve got a short story in the queer fairy tale anthology Unburied Fables and my debut novella, The Dragon of Ynys, came out in May 2018.

The Dragon of Ynys is a light fantasy tale suitable for all ages, starring aro/ace main character Sir Violet, the knight of Ynys. He helps Holly, a trans woman, to find her missing wife, the baker. They suspect the ever-thieving dragon who lives near the village might have something to do with her disappearance…

02 Cover for 'The Dragon of Ynys' by Kirby Crow
Cover for ‘The Dragon of Ynys’ by Kirby Crow

I also love drawing and handlettering, using traditional materials—mainly because I haven’t had the time yet to learn more about digital art. I like to experiment with different techniques: I’ve been using pencils, watercolour, brushmarkers and ink, both for original works and fanart. I wouldn’t mind taking this to a professional level someday, but so far I’ve mainly been drawing for myself and my friends.

What inspires you?

I grew up with fairy tales, both the ones my mother read to me as a child and all the Disney movies I watched so many times. It’s no wonder that I love writing fairy tales myself. However, the big difference with the tales I consumed at a young age is that there will always be queer characters in my stories. It’s so important to be able to relate to characters when you’re trying to figure out your own identity, and I feel like it took too long before I finally experienced that moment myself. Once you’ve seen your identity validated in popular media, it’s so much easier to accept who you are, rather than to believe those who say you can’t feel the way you feel or be the way you are.

I hope that my writing will make it easier for future generations to find stories that tell them they’re not alone, not broken, and that teach them acceptance towards others as well. In that light, I write the stories that I would love to read myself, with all the dragons and magic and hopefully wittiness that I adore in the works of Pratchett, Rowling, Tolkien and other masters.

For more specific inspiration, my friend Fie and I started a project in 2013, inspired by Erin Morgenstern’s Flax-golden Tales. Every week, she took a picture for which I wrote a ten-sentence story. These days we’ve dialled it down to two photo-story combinations per month, but Paranatellonta is still going strong after five years! Getting random prompts from friends is a great way to stay inspired at all times.

When it comes to visual art, getting an Instagram account has definitely done wonders. There are a lot of awesome artists out there whose samples inspired me to try new techniques. Every month there are challenges going around in different themes, for any kind of art actually, but in my case those mainly influenced my handlettering. Practice really helps! I also finished Inktober last year. It once again proved that an inspiring prompt doesn’t need to be more than one word or one image. You can see my Inktober drawings if you scroll down a little on my Instagram.

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

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember. As I said, my mother read fairy tales to me from a young age, and once I learned to read myself, my greatest joy was to discover more fun stories. There were never enough of them, so it only made sense that I wrote down my own as soon as I could. Surrounded by those fictional adventures, somewhere deep inside I knew what adventure I wanted to have myself, even when I was five years old: I wanted to be an author, like those wonderful people who’d given me all those beautiful tales to enjoy.

My drawing story is completely different. For a very long time I was convinced I couldn’t draw at all. I just didn’t have the talent. Looking back at art class in school, I feel like they never stressed the importance of studying references enough. I was always doodling in my school books for fun, but it never felt like that counted.

Fast-forward to when I’d finished university and my parents were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. I didn’t have much gift inspiration, and they joked about a “grown-up” child making a drawing for their parents—and the fact it was a joke tells you enough about how much the arts are respected unless you’re a Big Name. I often feel like our society expects people either to be a grand artist or talentless, and the fact that there must be a learning process in between is often completely neglected.

Anyway, I went through with it, and as I was drawing my parents from a reference photo, it turned out pretty okay (especially considering it was supposed to remind them of a child’s drawing). Most important of all, I had a lot of fun working on it. I’d been looking at a lot of art online since I’d last taken up a pencil, and combined with using a reference for the first time, I could see I’d massively improved since my last school drawing years earlier.

From that point on I let my more artsy friend Fie convince me to take part in courses on Skillshare to improve my drawing techniques and handlettering. Now, almost five years after that anniversary drawing, I actually feel like I’ve made some pretty things!

03 Fiery Mushroom - brush markers - 2017
Fiery Mushroom (brush markers)

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?

As I mentioned above, you’ll find many fairy tale elements and queer characters in my writing. More specifically, you’ll encounter a lot of dragons and spiders. The dragons are a more conscious choice than the spiders, who just always happen to show up… Just like in real life, I suppose.

I don’t think I have any recurring elements in my visual art, but I’ve been using a signature since late 2016. It’s made up of the initials of both my pen name and legal name.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I think it’s an important message that you can always learn and improve. That’s something I only truly learned from starting to draw. I’d always been “born” a writer: I started at a very young age and people told me I was talented. But I had to work to become better at visual art, and that made me realise that the reason why I’d loved writing all my life was that I’d been exposed to so many stories to learn from. Having played with words from a very young age, stories had never been the big “mystery” that a beautiful piece of art was. So what I mean to say is: people aren’t born a Grand Artist. They become them. And going down into history means you’ve worked hard, but also that you were lucky (or, in some cases, unlucky) enough to have your name picked up and talked about. But that luck, too, is something you can influence by promoting your work. Like doing interviews on awesome websites. 😉

04 Space Ace 2 for Tanouska - watercolour - 2018
Space Ace 2 (watercolour)

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, but I usually go with “aro-spec” rather than a more specific label, because it’s difficult for me to figure that one out.

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

There’s certainly a lot of ignorance. Even in some queer organisations, it seems the A’s are often forgotten. I can only hope that my stories will spread more knowledge, while still being entertaining rather than feeling like a lecture.

05 Violet - ink - 2018
Violet (ink)

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

That asexuality would mean you never have sex. It can mean that, and I guess it does for me. There’s certainly nothing wrong with a life without sex. But for sex-positive aces it makes things all the more confusing to figure out their orientation when people keep asking: “But you’ve enjoyed having sex, how can you be ace?”

Aside from that, I think that asexuality and aromanticism are too often considered the same thing. This also makes it hard to find a label that fits you when you do experience romantic attraction but no sexual attraction, or the other way round. When different sources tell you that you need to feel things a certain, very specific way in order to identify as ace or aro, it can be a long search to find a label that fits. And of course not everyone needs to label their orientation, but in my own experience finding the names and other people who used them certainly helped to stop thinking I might be broken or wrong.

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

You’re not alone and you’re not broken. For me it was a massive help to enter queer spaces (in my case on Tumblr) and read experiences from other queer people. It made me discover terms (like asexual and aromantic) which I’d never heard of before I made a Tumblr account almost 10 years ago. It showed me that they weren’t some kind of theoretical concept, but a whole spectrum of people who experienced things in different ways—and some of their experiences were just like mine! Suddenly I was no longer “the weird one”. Which actually took me some time to adapt to, because I’d become quite used to being “just odd” and labelling myself that way 😛

However, in the long run, learning about all flavours of queer (be it through books, blogs, or directly talking to others) taught me to be more open-minded in general and made me more comfortable with myself.

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

My website is http://minervacerridwen.wordpress.com/. There you find everything about both my writing and drawings, with links to my social media. Feel free to follow me!

Paranatellonta, a flash fiction project inspired by my friend’s photography, can be found at http://paranatellonta.tumblr.com/. It updates twice a month and you can read all the stories and see all the pictures for free.

My visual art can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/minerva_cerridwen/. I’m posting pretty much everything I draw on Instagram, showing my learning process with both the pieces that worked out and the ones that didn’t. Mainly because I find it interesting to track my own evolution and learn from that in turn!

Other places you can find me:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/minerva_cerr
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/minervacerridwen/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15904760.Minerva_Cerridwen

And places to buy my stories:

– The Dragon of Ynys (Publisher | List of other retailers)
– Unburied Fables (Amazon)

06 Cats Rule the World for Ether - watercolour - 2017
Cats Rule the World (watercolour)

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

Interview: Jessica

Today we’re joined by Jessica, who also goes by stormleviosa online. Jessica is a wonderful up and coming writer who recently had a short story published in an anthology. She’s currently a student studying English and writes in her free time. Jessica hopes to write longer narrative forms, such as novels and novellas, in the future. She’s clearly a dedicated artist with an incredibly bright future ahead of her 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 writer when I have time but mostly I’m a student because education is important. I’ve written a few short stories and I’m currently working on longer pieces (novellas or eventually a full-length novel). I also write a lot for my college newspaper which I am also an editor of.

What inspires you?

I don’t really have a specific inspiration for my work. Some of what I write is heavily based on current affairs, particularly those I have an invested interest in such as the refugee crisis. I also write from prompts or based on other author’s works which includes dabbling in fanfiction. For my most recent piece of coursework, I wrote a short story based on 1984 with heavily implied connections to the Brexit situation in the UK.

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

It sounds cliché but I’ve been writing since I was a young child. I read a lot of books (and still do) which helped develop my skills and it escalated from there. I’m also useless at art so being able to express myself with words rather than images was important.

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 like to write about things I am passionate about and problems that need to be resolved. Often, I try to include characters that are marginalized or misrepresented by the media to spread the issue to a wider range of people. It is something that challenges my writing but is very rewarding for me.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t stop writing! If you truly feel passionate about it, write about it and don’t let anyone convince you it’s worthless. If you hit a writer’s block, work around it by writing something else. But at the same time, it’s OK to take a break if you need to. Your writing will only suffer if you work yourself into the ground.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual.

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

I haven’t encountered any yet although this may be because I’m not out to many people. My sexuality does make it difficult to write romantic subplots between characters because I don’t experience those kinds of feelings.

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

Mainly that asexuality is something you will grow out of. My parents don’t know I’m asexual but whenever I mention that I don’t want a relationship they tell me I’ll change my mind. It’s not a phase to grow out of and that’s perfectly alright.

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

Don’t worry about figuring it all out right this second. You have all the time in the world to sort out what you feel and if you never find a label that fits that fine too. Any feeling you have is valid so don’t worry about categorizing them all right away.

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

I don’t have much published work but my most recent is in the DoveTales anthology (published later this year) which is compiled by Writing for Peace. There is more information on their website or you can ask me questions directly via my blog (stormleviosa.tumblr.com). I sometimes write fan fiction on AO3 under an account with the same name (StormLeviosa).

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

Interview: Jessica Suphan

Today we’re joined by Jessica Suphan. Jessica is a phenomenal author who has recently published her debut novel, a psychological thriller entitled Perfect World. Jessica hasn’t met a genre she doesn’t like and writes in a variety of them. She’s an incredibly passionate and dedicated 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.

Gladly! I’m an author, I write psychologically based stories, romance, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, any genre that pops into my mind. I write novellas and novels and short stories; just like I write whatever genre is needed for the story, I write whatever length is needed for the story I’m telling. Though most of them tend to be really long. It was very recent that I became a published author instead of an unpublished writer; my psychological thriller Perfect World came out in June. In a sentence, it’s about a young government agent who shoulders the burden of his utopia’s secret origins and has to struggle against psychosis because of those secrets. Just like all my other work, it’s extremely diverse. Perfect World features LGBT+ and ethnic as well as racial diversity. But I give all forms of diversity to my stories; it’s something that’s very important to me, and something I’ll never stop.

What inspires you?

It’s a dumb answer, but I’d have to say everything. I adore worldbuilding so cool tidbits from various cultures get tucked away into my mind along with science facts (mostly space) and psychological phenomenons. I’m a counseling psychology student so I learn a lot in the latter most’s area. Tumblr’s a great place too. I’ve gotten ideas of things to add to stories, ideas for characters, phrases that leap out. Perfect World actually has a scene inspired by a Tumblr post that asked why we never learn about other cultures in dystopian stories, and a character inspired by another post about how we never see a man sleep his way to the top. My friends do too, along with nature. Have you ever walked outside when it’s raining? Not a downpour, just raining. If you look at flowers and leaves then, it feels like the world is a fuzzier and gentler place. That’s a feeling that really sticks with me. And injustice.

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

I’ve been a writer as far back as I can remember. My first finished story happened when I was in fourth grade. It’s the first story I recall writing, but my parents assure me that it went on beforehand, and I’m not surprised. Like many writers I was a voracious reader; how could I not want to add to the number of worlds in the universe, even as a young child?

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?

Hm. I’m not sure if it falls under it, but I do love putting exact onomatopoeia in. Exact though. It’s such a delightful yet challenging thing to write if you want to get the true sound of what just happened. A metal fan’s blades don’t go rrrrrr, they go brrirrrr, a rock doesn’t grind sssssss against another rock, it grinds ssszzzzzt!, but you have to stop and listen and focus only on the sound in order to get it. I’ll spend easily an hour trying to figure out the spelling of something that isn’t even a word.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just write. A lot of advice will tell you to copy how great authors write, and you totally can if you want. But I’ve never seen the point of it. Write like you. That’s how you find your voice, something else writing advice frets about, because your voice is how you naturally tell a story. Not only that, but write what you know doesn’t mean you’re stuck writing high school stories until you graduate. Good heavens, can you imagine how awful that’d be? You can write anything you want because, for me at least, that phrase is about emotion. I will hopefully never experience what it’s like to have my child go missing. But I’ve experienced the emotions of panic and dread and frustration at my own helplessness. I haven’t gone to another planet (yet). Still, I know the thrill of exploring, that tight stomach and fizzy head that comes from embarking out into something I couldn’t possibly know. And don’t write for word counts. I’ve found that sitting down to write a scene gives you a lot more success than sitting down to write ______ words. In the latter you’re pausing to count words, focused on those instead of the story. When you sit down with the intent to write a scene you’re honed in on the story and moving it forward, and we all know scenes can be very long. So if you write one you can look back on pages instead of a paragraph that leaves you wanting more.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m homoromantic asexual! A girl who has romantic interest in other girls but no sexual attraction or urges whatsoever.

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

Everything I’ve experienced has been ignorance. Since I hang out with other writers who also know the importance of diversity that’s slightly less common than it otherwise might be, but it’s still very much present. I personally really enjoy teaching people things. So if something comes up, I take pleasure in patiently but (if needed) firm explanations. The vast majority of the time, people just need to be treated with respect and not attacked for their ignorance, and they’re happy to learn and respect. Of course you have to be more aggressive with some people though, it can’t be helped. I do experience compassion fatigue though with all the activism I do (where your brain is so overloaded and so tired from caring so much about everything you could read the most heinous article title and be unable to feel anything about it), so sometimes I let a comment pass. With those though, they have to be both ignorant and not harmful in a large way.

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

That asexuality = aromantic pops up, but the most common one is absolutely that asexuals don’t have sex ever. Some don’t. But some, myself included, have. Asexuals might like it on an intellectual level, because they crave physical contact that much, because they enjoy the emotional intimacy that comes from it, or any number of other reasons. It’s very common for me to get nothing but crickets when someone says that I just need to try sex and I tell them I’ve had it several times and am still asexual. That’s my truth, it’s the truth of many people, and there’s nothing wrong or “lying” about it.

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

You exist. You’re okay. I promise you are, you’re not broken and you’re not wrong. There hasn’t been a term for us until now because there wasn’t a safe space for us to be heard, talking about sex was taboo, and the expectation was that it was a necessity not a pleasure. That’s why it’s “new”, not because it’s made up. We’re real.

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

Right here on Tumblr! My blog is scripturient-manipulator, and you can find Perfect World as a print book, as an ebook, or for your kindle. Feel free to message me to talk as well!

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

Interview: Ari

Today we’re joined by Ari. Ari is a phenomenal writer who has been working on her craft since she was young. Most of her writing appears online and she’s incredibly dedicated to her craft, as you’ll soon read. Ari is a wonderfully talented and passionate writer, one who has a great amount of love for storytelling. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My main art form is writing. Though it is only published online it is how I express my emotions and thoughts. I have written novellas since I was a child and full sized novels since I was eleven. I finished my first novel when I was twelve. I always say I dislike how badly I wrote back then but in truth I am proud of my art. It is mostly about great warriors and romance. I dislike clichés but I do love a tragic romance; no matter how much of a contradiction that makes me. A few are about overcoming various troubles. That’s my way of making a political statement. My everlasting open mindedness is shown in the diversity of my characters.

What inspires you?

A few years ago I went to an event called Wattpad LondonCon. It was a panel of authors who spoke about various things. After the panel I spoke to a poet who told me something interesting. He said that you have to remember that inspiration is all around you. That you could look outside, see a tree and think that it is an ancient being that watches over humanity. That trees have their own way of communicating. I had a different source of inspiration before that day but that became how I gain the inspiration to create my art. Now I see little things all around me and make a subplot to a story or the basis of a character’s personality. My inspiration is our world and the people in it.

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

I have always had a love of books. It is what my grandmother instilled in me as a child. It started as just reading but it changed when I found Wattpad. I never thought I could write as a profession; but to post my work online and let people happily immerse themselves in another world for a while is enough for me. Beth Reekles is who specifically gave me the courage to share my stories. She has overcome a lot in her journey to becoming a published author and it inspired 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?

Unfortunately I don’t specifically put anything in my novels. I create a synopsis and the basis of a few characters and let it write itself. As lot of authors do, I say that we are simply conduits. That the characters direct the stories.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would tell them to be brave, creative and to never give up. Even J.K. Rowling was turned down by publishers many times before she could get her work out into the world. I would also say that there are many ways of getting published. A lot of Wattpad authors for example are approached by publishing companies, whereas others have to go out and search for a publishing company. You never know where your success will come from. It might not be from somewhere you’d expect.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an aromantic asexual.

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

I haven’t encountered any prejudice or ignorance in my field but that is because nobody knows I’m asexual. It’s not a secret but nobody there ever asked about it. People usually assume I’m heterosexual despite the fact that I act “like a lesbian”. Some have forgotten I’m asexual a few times and said that it was because I behave so much like a lesbian. If someone can tell me what that means I’d love to hear it.

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

The most common misconception that I’ve heard of is that there is something physically different about us. People can’t seem to grasp the concept of asexuality and so think up things like that. Needless to say, most of the misconceptios are just as ridiculous.

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

I would tell them that they aren’t alone. Also that if they don’t want to come out of the metaphorical closet they don’t have to. It isn’t a necessity. It is perfectly okay to stay closeted while you are figuring yourself out and even after that. I would tell them to remember that nobody comes to terms with who they are in a day. Finding and accepting yourself is a long process.

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

I am in the process of finding a new Wattpad username so I won’t put a link to my profile here as it will be useless soon. My personal Tumblr is so-t-i-r-e-d for anyone who wants to come see my randomness. I’d love to meet more authors so send me a message anytime.

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