Interview: Erika

Today we’re joined by Erika, who also goes by one-true-houselight online. Erika is an awesomely versatile artist who dabbles in a few different fields. They do a lot of writing. Erika specializes in poetry, much of it focusing on mental health and their experiences. They’re currently working on an original story, which features three main characters who are ace and the fourth is a dragon. When they’re not writing, Erika dabbles in fanart and has written a few comics. They have also been in the theater too. It’s very clear they’re a dedicated artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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D&D Comic

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I have a couple of thing I do. For a while, the only thing I did was write poetry because when I tried to write other things, I never liked what I started and never finished. So I wrote poems on many things, gravitating towards my struggle and life with mental illness. It became a coping mechanism for me. I started drawing for the first time in a long while because again, I felt like I couldn’t. But I drew a comic of a moment in the D&D campaign I am a part of because I wanted to, and I recently sent in a comic as fan mail to Rhett and Link. I also have been getting into more narrative fiction! I’ve written two fanfics: a tiny one about Rhett and Link as children, and one Psych one where I explore Shawn being aro-spec. I’m also working on an original story with three ace main characters, one of whom is non-binary. So that’s fun. I’ve also been doing theatre for years, and I’d like to think I’ve created some art there as well.

What inspires you?

I love that I get to create things in ways I feel comfortable doing so, and I love that doing so can help me understand things better. Like, when I would write a poem about my anxiety, I could use interesting turns of phrase to define what before was just unintelligible screaming in my head. Drawing my and my friends D&D characters made the game feel more present. I explored my fear of heights and the demiromantic part of myself in my fics. I had just recently figured out I was non-binary when I started my original piece, so I got to write a character going through similar things. And my time in theatre has let me see the human condition in so many ways.

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

Most of the time, I started by just fooling around with the field until I realized I really liked 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 have a weird symbol I draw that combines my first and last initials. You can see it in the last panel of the comic attached. That’s just for the small amount of drawing I do, though. Beyond that… I don’t think so?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Hello young artist! I will repeat the advice you often get: keep practicing, you are good enough, don’t give up. All that. And also: do the art that makes you happy. Do the art that makes you feel things, that means something to you. Yes, if/when it becomes a career, that isn’t always possible. But understand what you want to do, what makes you feel whole. Then, even when you don’t have a ‘dream’ project, you know why you are where you are. If that makes sense.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and akoi-demi-bi romantic. I know. I don’t find it any easier to understand than you do.

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

Um. I mean, there is the ever-present ‘entertainment must have sex to be good/wanted by a lot of people’, but since I am a hobbyist at best, I don’t get too much problem with it? And obviously my coworkers sometimes don’t understand everything, but I have been so lucky to have people who do their best and listen to me.

Handling it for me is either just explaining or sarcasm. Again, I am in a position of privilege where I can do that without fear from most people I encounter.

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

Probably just ‘how’. A lot of people can’t wrap their heads around how it is possible. I also get people assuming it means someone just doesn’t like sex, but since I am sex repulsed I generally try to explain that while I might be like that, not everyone is.

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

Hello friends! Guess what? I love you in the least creepy way possible. And for real, you are fine. It’s hard. I felt so amazing when I figured out I was ace, and I still sometimes get crippling self-doubt and fear. We live in a world where our identities are erased, ignored, joked about, misinterpreted, and so many other things. But we are who we are, and we will be ok. If you want to find someone, you can. If you don’t want to, you will be fine. You deserve to be happy and loved in a way that you are OK with. Don’t let people tell you that you deserve less of anything.

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

You can find me on Tumblr and AO3 at one-true-houselight. I tagged everything about my RandL comic as ‘comic’ (I know), and some D&D stuff fell in there as well. My writing tag is ‘I write sometimes’. Ask me theatre stories if you want a fun time. Have a lovely day!

Thank you, Erika, 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: Jade

Today we’re joined by Jade. Jade is a phenomenal writer who has one of the most adorable dogs ever. She writes mostly poetry and fantasy. When she’s not working on original work, Jade writes fanfiction as well. It’s very apparent that she’s incredibly dedicated to the art of writing, 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 a writer who works mostly with poetry and fantasy works. I’m only just starting out publishing my work to my blog but it makes me really happy to share something that means so much to me with others. The last few years I have been big into writing fanfiction for Supernatural but recently I’ve wanted to start working on original works more so I’ve started doing daily couplets and taking poetry requests from my followers. I also did a little challenge for a few days where I would have one of my friends pick out a dialog prompt and I would write a few paragraphs of a story based on it. Writing is one of my favorite things and it has always been a very empowering and relaxing process for me so I’m happy to be expanding on things and doing more of it.

What inspires you?

My dog Duke is a huge inspiration to me since he survived going to the pound twice and having to be there so long but has come out a super loving and amazing dog despite it. Besides that, I’m mostly inspired by the progress I see every time I post something new and can see how much I’m improving and getting better and the knowledge that if I keep going then that trend will continue. My religion also is a big inspiration for me as I’m encouraged to create new works to honor my deities all the time and knowing they appreciate my art helps me want to make more.

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

When I was little I actually wanted to be a scientist and get to study rocks. However I soon realized that doing things that required set steps that were always the same bored me. However since the moment I could read books have always been my escape and eventually I realized that I could write stories too and my heart was set. I’ve dabbled in all sorts of prose but the freedom offered by poetry has brought me back there time and time again.

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?

Well all of my works are their own thing so there’s not really anything I purposely add into them to connect them, however many things that I personally like do get carried over to some of my characters (Like a love of cheesecake or the color blue). I also work a lot with mythology and exploring diversity. Another thing that’s often featured in my works is mental illness and having the characters learn to accept and work with their limits to reach their goal since it’s something that’s important to me since I have had major depression and anxiety since I was really young.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love and love what you do. No matter what you do there will be people who put you down or don’t like your work but when you create you should do it for yourself because its something YOU love, not for them. That and try to hold onto old works. Looking back and seeing how much you’ve grown can be such a rewarding and empowering feeling.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a non-binary poly panromantic sex repulsed asexual. Try saying that ten times fast XD

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

Most of the prejudice I’ve encountered has actually been from family and people outside of my online fanbase. My father and brother both believed my identity was just because of my time on Tumblr and I was just being a “Special snowflake” However after wasting my breath in many arguments I realized they’d never change their minds and I instead just moved on with my life. I know my body and my life better than them and I wasn’t going to waste more time or energy fighting with them just to be seen as something I already knew was a real part of me. In the few works I’ve written that has Ace characters I’ve mostly gotten support from others who were happy for the representation. I have no tolerance for people who want to insult or mock others so they get deleted, banned, and ignored. I don’t give them the time of day.

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

That it’s just a phase or it’s for attention. It’s not natural. People can’t be sure about it unless they’ve had sex and even then they probably just had bad sex and it’d change if they were with someone who “knew the ropes”. No one seems to take asexuality seriously and it can be really frustrating at times because defending yourself is like talking to a wall but if we don’t stand up for ourselves then we’ll never be able to earn the respect we deserve.

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

You are valid. You don’t have to feel like any label you choose is cemented in stone. You don’t have to have sex to know what you are and your sexuality is as natural as any of the others. It’s okay to not know for certain at the moment and it’s okay to take as long as you need deciding even if you change later. Asexuals exist and are just as important as anyone else.

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

My work is being posted on InkStainedWings.tumblr.com currently. I take poem requests there and post story shards as well as reblogging writing tips and tricks. I hope to see you there 😀

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

Interview: Alyssa

Today we’re joined by Alyssa. Alyssa is a wonderful writer who writes both fanfiction and original poetry. She’s currently working on a fic based on the US version of The Office. When she’s not writing, Alyssa enjoys knitting and knits plenty of things for friends and family. Alyssa is an enthusiastic and dedicated 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 am a fan fiction writer, poet, and knitter. I am currently writing fan fiction for The Office (US). My poetry has been published in a few books by the American Library of Poetry. Knitting is more of a Hobby, I make almost anything mostly for friends and family.

What inspires you?

I honestly don’t know what inspired me to start writing fan fiction, maybe out of boredom, but I am really enjoying it. In poetry it is nature and my life experience.

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

These 3 things are not my ultimate goal, which is to be a costume designer, which I have wanted since I was 12, and I consider that a type of artist so in short, yes.

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?

No.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t think that working in some other field will not help you reach your ultimate goal, other experience may come in handy.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual Panromantic

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

I haven’t really, and I hope not to in the future.

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

That Asexuals can’t have a dirty mind/make sexual jokes. (This may not be the most common one I hear, but I don’t see it mentioned a lot.)

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

Find someone to help you talk through it, find an ace chat etc.

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

You can read my fan fiction on AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/users/Pan_Cake_Cats/works

My poetry is here: https://poetryonpancakes.blogspot.com/

My knitting isn’t really anywhere, but if you would like to order a custom handknit hat or handwarmers visit my Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KnitknacksByAlyssa?ref=seller-platform-mcnav

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

Interview: Mia

Today we’re joined by Mia. Mia is a fantastic up and coming writer who also dabbles in music. She writes fanfiction but also has a number of original stories she’s working on. When she’s not writing stories, Mia composes pieces for the piano. It’s very clear that she’s an incredibly dedicated 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’m a mostly unpublished writer who also happens to dabble in composing pieces on the piano. I write anything from short stories to poetry, I have too many novels in the works to count, and most of my composing is inspired by my writing. The vast majority of my writing is YA fantasy, but I’ve recently gotten back into writing fan fiction again, too. My two biggest current projects are a fairy tale rewrite (featuring gay kings!) and a novel for National Novel Writing Month that features (among others) a female, Ace protagonist.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in a lot of different things. The people around me tend to inspire me most. I’m constantly borrowing little things like names, traits, quirks, etc. from people I encounter in real life.

If we’re talking people, I drew a lot of inspiration from my favorite authors as a kid, especially Brian Jacques, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Christopher Paolini.
My writing inspires my music, to an extent.

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

I started writing and taking piano lessons both around the age of six. My mom even has a poem I wrote around that age still saved somewhere. It’s just always been a part of 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?

Not officially, but, and this is something I don’t tell a lot of people: Any time you see a goddess called Thelbriza in any of my stories, that’s actually me, keeping an eye on my characters from their own world, instead of from my own.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice makes perfect, but never feel bad for not Doing The Thing. Art takes time, and art takes effort, and nobody got to where they are without constant work, practice, and, yes, really awful art. But it’s okay to take a break from practicing. Art isn’t about being the best, it’s about putting something that no one else could make into the world, whether or not someone else sees it. If it’s not fun, what’s the point?

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as Demisexual (and have since I found the term about four years ago).

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’ve experienced it in my field specifically. I’m not sure if it could be considered “prejudice or ignorance” but the almost total lack of any sort of representation in written media is really jarring sometimes.

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

That we’re all prudes who don’t like sex. I’m a sex-positive ace who has a long-term partner and an active sex life, and honestly, seeing how many people think that aces don’t like or don’t have sex, I occasionally feel Not Ace Enough.

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 absolutely okay to change your labels or how you identify. I’ve personally gone from Straight, to Bi, to Demisexual, to Demisexual/bi-romantic, to Demisexual/pan-romantic, to Demisexual/pan-alterous to Demisexual, Demi/pan-alterous! Questioning just means that you’re still learning about yourself and growing, and personal growth is never a bad thing.

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

I (used to) post a lot of my work on my personal Tumblr: http://once-upon-a-lyfetime.tumblr.com/
This is also where you’ll find one of the pieces I’m most proud of (any fans of mermaids? It’s under the short story tag!)

I’ve started posting somewhat frequently on AO3 under the name Mistress Dandelion, too! This is where you’ll find my fairy tale rewrite.

Anyone who wants to watch my progress in November as I write my Ace Representation NaNo novel can find my profile on the NaNoWriMo website here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/lady_eemia

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

Interview: Kate Adams

Today we’re joined by Kate Adams. Kate is a wonderful young songwriter from Northern Ireland who has recently begun writing poetry as well. She posts singing videos to her Facebook page. Kate has such an admirable enthusiasm and is incredibly engaging, 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’ve recently started writing poems and songs. I’ve always loved music so eventually I just started putting piano accompaniments with the words, the first poem I ever tried putting music to wasn’t my one, it was “Solar” by Philip Larkin.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by Philip Larkin, I really admire how honest his work is and how he was always true to his beliefs. I am also very inspired by my friends. They are also creatives who are LGBT+ and they encourage me so much. We always share work with each other and give feedback, they are very important to me and I write a lot about them.

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

I took English at a higher level at school and really fell in love with the poetry section. I went to a few poetry readings in local bookstores and it really inspired me to start writing. I have been singing from a very early age with my granda, my dad is also very musical and it kind of rubbed off on me. My brother and I took piano lessons for a few years and he really succeeded at it, but I stuck more to singing.

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, I haven’t really thought about a sign off or signature to be honest. I just tend to write my initials.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To any young aspiring artist reading this interview I would say: Even if you don’t like what you have created, it’s probably good you made it because it furthered your talent and ability. Everything you do is part of a creative journey you are on. Be proud of what you and always keep true to who you are and what you believe. Be respectful of others and their work and be you 😊

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a HetAce as of right now, but I might be BiAce.

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

I have had a few people who are part of the LGBT+ community tell me that I don’t belong in “their” community. I have dealt with it by saying stuff like “I mean, here is some material you could read that may sway you…” and then linking them to posts and articles on the topic. It’s infuriating to be oppressed by being excluded and demonised by a group of people who aim to fight oppression.

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

I had a conversation very recently with somebody who thought that all asexuals were repulsed and opposed to kissing, masturbation and sex, I explained that that isn’t always the case and that it varies from person to person.

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

I am still figuring out my own orientation, some people don’t figure it for a very long time, orientation and sexuality are very fluid things and labels can change as you grow as a person. Don’t feel that you should fall under one label either! It’s totally okay to just be you and like what you like. As long you are mindful and respectful of others you’ll go far.

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

I’ve recently started posting videos of me singing on my Facebook page, no original songs yet but you never know what the future holds! Most of the people who like it don’t know about my being asexual, I’m still trying to tell a few people aha.

The link to my page is: https://www.facebook.com/KateAdamsMusic

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

Interview: Elliott Dunstan

Today we’re joined by Elliott Dunstan. Elliott is an awesome grey-ace trans writer who works in a couple different styles. He’s currently working on an online webnovel (found at Ghosts in Quicksilver), which features an ace main character. When he’s not working on his webnovel, Elliott also writes quite a lot of poetry and he has also published two zines. It’s very obvious that he’s incredibly passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Deep in the Bone
Deep in the Bone

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer of poetry, mythic fiction and queer literature, and I’m happiest when I find those three things intermingling with each other. My primary project right now is Ghosts in Quicksilver, a web-novel about a 17-year-old wannabe private investigator who can speak to the dead. The book features characters from all over the queer spectrum, and the main character is an ace butch lesbian.

I’m also the author of two self-published zines, Deep in the Bone and Home Is Where The Ghosts Are, available in both print and digital formats on my Etsy store. They’re collections of poetry and a short story each, the first centered around mythology and the second telling the story of my semi-haunted apartment.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. Music is a big one – certain songs inspire visuals which in turn become stories. I’m also inspired by the reflection of mythology onto modern day issues and vice versa; the story of Icarus projected onto somebody’s manic phase, the tale of the Golem in a world where AI is becoming a certainty, or the story of the forbidden love of Eros and Psyche recontextualized as a queer love story.

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

Always, always, always. I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a writer; I learned to read when I was two and how to write a few years later, and even from very early on I was scrawling poetry in margins. Not very good poetry, but poetry nonetheless.

As far as my genres and medium of choice, I prefer to have a certain amount of control over my work, and the business practices of Cory Doctorow is probably what inspired me the most directly to do a webnovel. It’s also a testament to old Dickens novels and Stephen King’s slightly more recent The Green Mile; serial novels have always been around in one form or another. My poetry zines are a little bit more directly inspired by ‘zine culture’ in indie writer/musician circles.  

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 really sure! I suppose there is symbolism I return to, but in general I think my ‘trademark’ would be the clash between darkness and humour. I have a very morbid sense of humour, so I manage to find something funny in almost everything I write. A girl seeing the ghost of her dead sister is scary. A girl arguing with her dead sister and hoping nobody else catches on is hilarious. Dionysus going to the Underworld is a myth. Dionysus catching a cab and striking up a casual conversation with the cabbie while terrorizing them into driving to the Styx is bizarrely entertaining.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

A couple things, I suppose. One, that the whole ‘keep writing no matter what’ phrase is true. It really is. But having a few bad days isn’t going to ruin everything. Two, your writing is never going to be perfect. But you have the right to talk it up like it is, to have pride in your own work, and to have the courage to open up to criticism and filter out the good from the bad. There’s a lot of culture around how you’re ‘supposed’ to talk about something you’re proud of, and I hate it. Be proud of what you’ve made, even if you know you’ll do better next time.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Oof. Uh, all over the place? Somewhere between gray-ace and demisexual, or both at once. Or maybe completely asexual – I haven’t been able to divide up how I feel about things accurately enough to really know. But I know I’m definitely somewhere in there. The actual label I think is less important than being in the right general area.

I’m also somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, although that one’s even harder to pin down. I just know I have a very different way and intensity of feeling those emotions, so

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

I actually haven’t dealt with any direct ace prejudice in my artistic field, but I do see it a lot on the platforms where I try to market with social media. I generally deal with it by blocking and moving on – sometimes it means I’m cutting myself out of a potential audience but I consider it worth it.

Offline, it’s mostly the pressure to put romance in my books and stories even when it doesn’t fit, or sexual commentary on my characters when it really, really isn’t appropriate. I have no interest in explaining to people whether my asexual character is a ‘top’ or a ‘bottom’. I count that as ignorance because it’s the running assumption that I’m writing a YA book, it must have something to do with sex. Otherwise teenagers won’t pay attention. Whereas what I’ve discovered is that teenagers and young adults are actually thirsting for a book that doesn’t treat these topics as the be-all, end-all of human existence.

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

You can’t be asexual and attractive. You can’t be asexual and still have sex. You can’t be asexual and gay. You can’t be ace from trauma. You can only be ace from trauma. If you’re aromantic, you don’t have a heart. You can’t be aro and ace, that’s just boring.

Basically, there’s too many to count. Asexuality is critically, functionally misunderstood in both mainstream straight communities and queer/LGBT+ circles. I think if I had to pick one, though, it’s the idea that asexuality is just ‘straight lite’ or ‘gay lite’. Being on the ace spectrum doesn’t make my attraction to men or women any less potent – it’s just a different way of feeling and expressing that attraction. And the ‘gay lite’ in particular upsets me because, if two guys are walking down the street holding hands, no homophobe is going to stop and ask if they’re having sex.

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

That it’s okay to identify as ace and/or aro. Whether it ends up being temporary, whether it’s a reaction to trauma, whether it’s something you’ve known for years, whether it poked up its head yesterday – it’s okay to identify this way. A lot of people are going to try tell you that it’s not, or that it’s a phase (and what’s so wrong with phases?) and honestly? Ignore them. Your identity is yours to negotiate, nobody else’s.

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

You can find me at moonlitwaterwriting.tumblr.com or at elliottmoonlit on Twitter. My Etsy is AnachronistPanic and linked on my Tumblr page, and if you want to read Ghosts in Quicksilver, it’s up to read for free at ghosts-in-quicksilver.tumblr.com.

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