Interview: Alex L.

Today we’re joined by Alex L.  Alex is an amazingly talented and versatile writer.  They have dabbled in a number of other arts, but writing is where their true passion lies.  Judging from their enthusiasm, Alex is a writer with a very bright future ahead of them.  That’s an incredibly exciting prospect as the world will always need more ace writers.  My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Wolf Vase
Wolf Vase

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m primarily a writer of science fiction, fantasy, and fanfiction. Although I’ve dabbled in drawing, acting, photo manipulation, and even pottery, I always come back to writing. It’s what I do best and what I’m most comfortable with.

What inspires you?

That’s always the question, isn’t it? I can’t pin down what exactly inspires me with 100% certainty. An idea can crop up from something large like another artist’s work or even something as trivial as a random question from a friend. I suppose, if I’m being entirely honest, the people I see and the struggles they face often crop up in my stories through analogy and symbolism.

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

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was what got me into fiction to begin with. Much of what started my interest in writing grew from my love of reading stories. What really pushed me to actually open up a notebook and start working was actually finding out that Christopher Paolini (author of The Inheritance Cycle and one of my favorite authors at the time) was a teenager when he wrote his first novel. It got me thinking and if he could do it, why couldn’t I?

As to whether or not I’ve always wanted to be an artist, I’m not entirely sure. I’ve always been drawn to art of all forms, but my memory is unreliable when it comes to when I was little.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Nothing really comes to mind as far as signatures or symbols. I do tend to write a lot of stories revolving around strong, well-developed (at least, I try to develop them to the best of my abilities) women/feminine-presenting people, but I think that’s more because so little media actually has characters along those lines. Grey morality and the idea of fate (whether or not our actions can change it/if it even exists) pop up a lot, too.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

In general: don’t let yourself discouraged when your art turns out lower than your expectations. Everyone starts out with mediocre work and gradually grow from there, some slower than others. Take a step back and don’t worry yourself over losing inspiration or not having very much feedback. It will come to you eventually.

To other authors: it’s okay not to plan everything out entirely. It’s okay to plan everything out entirely and end up throwing out half of it anyway. It’s okay to let some stories get away from you and write themselves, but also to leave some stories unfinished in your files forever. Those little ideas that remain unwritten everywhere but in your head are just as important as those that you finish entirely.

Alchemist Excerpt
Alchemist Excerpt

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a panromantic, non-binary asexual who lies somewhere between sex-neutral and sex-repulsed. I don’t like to be touched unless I’m completely comfortable around you, but I’m also a helpless romantic at heart.

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

I’ve had a few people ask me how I can write romance when I’m missing “the most important part of a relationship” in real life, which lies in the vein of “write what you know”. I usually reply with a) that if we all wrote what we knew, science fiction and fantasy would not exist and b) if your relationship relies mostly on sex to function properly, and you’re not an aromantic who isn’t romance-positive, you really need to reevaluate your relationship because that’s kind of depressing.

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

Much of the misconceptions I’ve faced about asexuality go hand-in-hand with my race. But the one unrelated misconception I’ve found most annoying is that asexuals are automatically considered the same as aromantics. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to explain the difference. The runner up would be that people inherently want sex. I can’t even begin to explain everything that is wrong with that idea.

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

Never let anyone’s opinion invalidate what you believe about yourself. I know it’s difficult, particularly if you’re surrounded by acephobia, but please try. You will feel ten times better about yourself with the mindset that the people around you can’t say what you are/aren’t because they aren’t you. And always be comfortable with yourself. You are beautiful and deserve to be happy, and sometimes you have to be the one to bring yourself happiness. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise just because they’re uncomfortable with your orientation. You were never broken.

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

All of my fanfictions can be found on Fanfiction.net and Wattpad. I’m slowly moving to Archive of Our Own, as well, but it’s slow going. Sometimes I post excerpts from both my original and fan works on my Tumblr page (http://sevenshadesofa.tumblr.com/). All four are under the same username (Seven Shades of A, often with underscores or dashes instead of spaces).

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

Interview: Johanna

Today we’re joined by Johanna.  Johanna is an incredibly talented and versatile artist from Sweden.  She enjoys artistic pursuits judging from the variety of mediums she works in.  She definitely has a creative spirit and it shows in her work.  My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

There is some mature content in this interview (and in some of her work on DeviantArt)

Bilbo
Bilbo

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m very diverse when it comes to the mediums work with. I write, draw, paint, knit, photograph, crochet, embroider, quilt, tat, and do pottery. My style is admittedly a bit naive, but that is mostly because I don’t just focus on one thing long enough to perfect it. I often feel like a need to do many different things at the same time and can’t contain myself before starting something new.

What inspires you?

At the moment it’s mostly fandom stuff. I enjoy most of the Marvel movies, Sherlock, and of course Harry Potter that was my major gateway drug in to fandom. I’m a huge slash-fan so often it’s the relationship between two male characters that inspire me. What fascinates me about slash is probably because it is about two men and as a cis woman I don’t have any way to identify with them sexually, only emotionally.

Outside fandom I mostly look to nature or music for inspiration, or just my own imagination.

My dream is to write an original fiction and then illustrate it, working towards that goal is very inspiring.

IMG_6296

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

Ever since I learned to read at about age four or five I wanted to be a writer. I guess it comes from there, being able to create worlds and images not only with words but with drawings as well.

My mother taught me how to knit, embroider, and quilt, otherwise I’m self-taught through books and inspired experiments.

For fandom and slash it was Harry Potter that got me sucked in (I came for the Harry/Severus and stayed for the Harry/Draco). Though I must confess that I was seventeen when I read the first book and I didn’t know about fanfiction, or even the possibility of pairing characters -let alone male ones-, until I was about twenty-six. I have made up for lost time though.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Not as such, but I do have a special flower that I often return to in my drawings. The style and shape of my initials JLB are also quite fun to play around with.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t ever think as you get older that you are too old to enjoy something because you think you should grow out of it. I once met a woman of almost eighty who was the biggest and proudest Dr Who-fan you’d ever see. I want to be her when I’m that old.

It’s also okay to change things up and move from the things you love to try new things. The best thing about art is that leaving one thing behind is that it’s still there when you want to return to it.

IMG_6981

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I just identify myself as asexual. I can sometimes get momentarily aroused at the fantasy or imagery of sex, but any attempt to do something IRL have either disgusted me or left me feeling nothing.

I’m not sure where I identify on the romantic spectrum. I have never been ‘in love’ in the sense that love is usually described, but I have had several crushes, mostly on males but some on some female and trans-people as well.

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

Not per se. Since I’m diagnosed with depression and anxiety, most people I associate with have some kind of psychological disorder or have experience with disorders. Not that I see asexually as a disorder in any way, but I think that people who have met with prejudice are less inclined to give prejudice. The biggest ‘shock’ about me to other people is that I’m 35 years old and never had sex.

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

I have met some guys that think that they can ‘cure me’ or ‘be my exception,’ they have a hard time to accept that asexually doesn’t work that way. People are also confused by me making sexual jokes, having crushes on celebrities, or me being so interested in sexual male/male relationships.

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

Just go with it. Being asexual doesn’t mean that you are broken. On good or bad, asexually isn’t as openly stigmatised as homosexuality and more often easier to ‘hide’ in public.

I think the biggest problem with being asexual is the more likely prospect of being alone in older age. Don’t sacrifice your comfort for a partner. Sitting around feeling sorry because you can’t find a comparable partner doesn’t help you one bit. Try to find good substitutes, like friends, pets, hobbies, or classes.

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

My art can be found as Naturegirlrocks on both Tumblr and Deviant Art. (My main Tumblr is multiplefangasms were I mostly reblog fan things. I also have asexualstripclub on Tumblr were I reblog asexy things.)

My newer fanfiction can be found on http://archiveofourown.org/users/naturegirlrocks, (the older ones are on fanfiction.com)

IMG_6983

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