Interview: Harmony

Today we’re joined by Harmony. Harmony is an awesome up and coming author who is currently working on the first novel in a series. She prefers to write science fiction and fantasy stories. When she’s not writing, Harmony enjoys singing and dancing. It’s clear she’s a 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’m primarily a fiction writer, although I do sing and dance. Most of my stories are fantasy, sci-fi, or have supernatural elements to them. Currently, I’m working on the first book in a series based on fairy tales. It’s been hard for me to find the time to write, but I’ve been making progress little by little.

What inspires you?

I like to ask myself a lot of “what if” questions, and see where my imagination takes me. I also use little bits and pieces that I like from other stories. Some ideas can come at random times, which is why I usually have my phone on hand to jot down ideas. One of my stories was inspired by a title that I randomly came up with while thinking about a cartoon character!

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

I’ve always been a reader, and since I was little, I’ve made up stories. When I was younger, my mom swore I would be a writer, and even though I insisted she was wrong, here I am now! I really started writing in elementary school, when we had to write short stories for class. I came up with a book about a girl who adopted a dog that turns out to be a cursed human girl. I won a small writing contest with that story, and that inspired me to keep writing.

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 have any common mark in my stories, but every writer has their own individual voice that you can sometimes identify. I like to be very descriptive in characters’ appearances and the background.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep practicing and developing your art, no matter what other people say. There’s no one else who knows your art like you do. It might seem hard, but if you take a few minutes every day, you can create something beautiful.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual, though I use it as the umbrella term, since I’m not sure where I fall on the spectrum.

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

There’s not really any prejudice so much as ignorance about asexuality. I’ve read a lot of books, and it’s been mentioned once or twice, at most. Most fiction books for anyone over thirteen have some sort of “oh, that person’s so hot” moment. I’ve heard of some books with a canon ace character, but I’ve never read any. Personally, I try to keep my characters diverse, but there’s barely any romance, and no sex in my stories, so their sexualities aren’t very important to the story.

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

I’ve only talked to a few close people about asexuality, and they’re accepting, but the most common misconception is that I’m too young to know. I live in a city, so more people do know a little about it, at least.

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

You know yourself better than anyone, and only you truly know what you’re feeling. Other people’s ignorance doesn’t change that. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re not broken, and you are not alone.

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

I don’t have anything published … yet. But I occasionally post parts of stories based on writing prompts on my Tumblr, at demonfairyprincess. You can also find me on Wattpad, sgeheart24. (I named my account a while ago, when I had just gotten into the School for Good and Evil series. I’m a fan, so sue me.) I only have part of an old fanfic there, but I plan to eventually post some original stories.

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

Interview: Georgia

Today we’re joined by Georgia. Georgia is a wonderful aspiring author who specializes in YA sci-fi/fantasy fiction. She’s currently in the process of writing a 5-book dystopian series that features an asexual main character. It’s clear she loves what she does, 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 an unpublished author and in the middle of creating my very own mermaid tail.

I write sci-fi/fantasy YA novels that only I have read. I just find such safety and confidence in creating worlds of my own or manipulating this world to fit my own design. I’m writing a five-book dystopian series under the pseudonym of Amber Whittaker, which has a main character (Aphrodite) that is actually asexual.

What inspires you?

Since I was little, my inspiration and best friend has been my mom. She supports me through almost anything and guides me when I’m sailing on stormy seas.

I draw inspiration for my writing from the world around me. I always write in public because I meet/see such interesting people and places. Several times, I’ve integrated random people into my stories simply because they brought something new to my characters!   For my mermaid, Gaia is the name of the goddess of life/Mother Earth. Once it’s finished, I’m going to be primarily using my mermaid persona to spread awareness about ocean conservation.

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

I actually always wanted to be a scientist; marine biologist, to be specific. That’s how I got into mermaiding. I love the ocean and always felt more at home under the water.

As for writing, I actually didn’t have any interest in it until 5th grade. It was a writing assignment that my teacher, Mr. Reisler, gave. “Imagine you were a scientist and you became famous for a discovery. What’s that discovery?” He emailed home and asked my mom not to help me on writing assignments. She hadn’t. The next day, he told me that I had a talent and I should pursue 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 always include myself in my books. It will never be obvious, but there’s always a background character that mirrors who I am.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Never give up! Every successful artist began as a starving artist, and every accomplishment began as a dream. I have nobody standing behind my mermaid dream because everyone thinks it’s stupid and a waste of money. I have nobody to read my writing or give me advice on how to get published because nobody I know likes the genre. As long as you stick with it and take criticism as advice, you’ll go somewhere with your dreams!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a hetero ace.

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

I have experienced ignorance, but not prejudice. I know many people have experienced the latter, but I am more than thankful that I’ve not had to deal with it.

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

“You just think that because you haven’t met the right person.”

No, I know that because my right person will accept me for who I am! Asexuality isn’t a disease that needs to be cured, nor is it a phase that someone can just snap out of. I’m asexual because I don’t feel a sexual attraction to anybody; man, woman, etc.

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

Be true to you. My mom is my best friend, but I haven’t told her because she doesn’t accept this kind of thing. I know who I am, and I know what’s important to me. Your sexual orientation doesn’t define you, unless you make it.

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

You can follow my progress in my writing life on my Facebook page: at authoramberwhittaker

You can follow my progress in my mermaid life on my Instagram account: mermaid_gaia_ravenshelm.

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

Interview: Brennan Stidham

Today we’re joined by Brennan Stidham. Brennan is a phenomenal author who has published two books so far. She writes YA fiction, mostly fantasy and scifi. Her second book features an asexual main character. Brennan is a wonderfully dedicated writer with a passion that suggests we’ll be seeing plenty more work from her in the future, which is always great. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Ace trainer
Ace Trainer

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am primarily an author. Thus far, I’ve published two books with my writing/platonic partner under the pseudonym Eden R Souther. So far, we’ve focused mainly on the Young Adult fantasy/fiction genres.

The first one we published is Angel Syndrome, an urban fantasy with sci-fi overtones. It’s part of a much larger universe that the two of us have been building for the past decade.

The other is Cruentus, which is my passion project, and was published at the beginning of the month. I wrote this one on my own, but he’s helping me with later entries.

I also do some digital art, but I have been woefully behind on that, though.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by other authors that I read when I was younger, and honestly also by my partner. He’s a very creative person and I push myself to do better with every project so that we can make a name for ourselves.

I just want one person to connect with the characters or the story and get inspired by it. The idea that I could inspire someone with my words, just like I was, is amazing motivation.

AS Brighter
Angel Syndrome

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

I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but not necessarily an author. My sophomore year of high school I was pursuing my passion for Marine Biology and taking AP Biology and realized … I’m not smart enough for this. I was towards the bottom of the class and hating every single moment. So I took the time to reevaluate what I was really good at.

It was then that I realized that I’ve been writing since 3rd grade, with varying levels of success. The year before I had written my “magnum opus” a 99 page hand written “novel” over the course of 3 months. And I had never been happier than when I was working on it. So I decided that I would focus more on my writing than on the high level academics.

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 are actually a couple.

In our work there are very few non-LGBTQ+ characters. In fact, Cassandra, the lead of Cruentus is also Asexual. I really have to push myself to find characters in Cruentus who aren’t LGBTQ+.

Another is that I absolutely love trying to mess with typical or expected tropes in Young Adult literature, and literature in general. One of my absolute least favorite is the “love triangle, how can the girl pick between her two hot boys?” We have fun with that in the sequels to Angel Syndrome, which aren’t out yet, but are currently being edited.

CassieHead
Cassie

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The advice I’d give to aspiring writers… honestly, just write. It doesn’t matter if it’s good, or if it’s bad. Because writing is both the most fun, and easiest part. Editing is a super long, and time consuming process.

The second piece of advice, don’t edit until you’ve finished the whole thing. You will spend DAYS fixing and adjusting a single paragraph, and it’ll kill the flow. Just let that book flow out, or push that book out if you have to. Just don’t edit til it’s done. I had to make that promise to my mentor years ago, and it’s honestly made the writing process so much more enjoyable.

Cruentus Cover Internet
Cruentus

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am an asexual/aromantic. It took a lot of years to get there, but once I found the asexual identity… I felt whole. It was like a missing piece of the puzzle and I just broke down crying. I’m not broken, I’m not wrong, I’m asexual.

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

Honestly, I haven’t in my field because I am independently published. I’m a founding member of the publishing group, and when it boils down it’s me, my mentor, and my QPP.

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

“You just haven’t met the right person yet,” or, “don’t close yourself off for the chance at love.” Those two are seriously annoying. I came out to my boss because she was pestering me about not having a boyfriend and then spent half an hour trying to debate asexuality with me, and how I was wrong about my identity… even though given what she’s said about her marriage and her opinions on sex… she’s on the asexual spectrum.

Kazun Hockey
Kazun Hockey

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

There are always people who aren’t going to get it. And at some point, you have to realize that you can’t let their ignorance get to you. Every single person is unique, and has a different experience. Your experience is beautiful, enjoy every moment that you have, and love yourself. You are amazing.

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

You can find my work on our author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EdenRSouther/
Our author website: https://www.edenrsouther.com/
Our author Tumblr: http://eden-r-souther.tumblr.com/
My digital art is on DeviantArt: http://black0eternity.deviantart.com/

NyssaHead
Nyssa

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

Interview: Ursari

Today we’re joined by Ursari. Ursari is a phenomenal artist from Slovakia who does both visual art and writing. For visual art, she loves to draw and frequently draws original characters, animals, and concept art. She’s also interested in photography. Ursari enjoys writing fantasy and writes both original stories and fanfiction. She is an incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated artist, 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 focus mostly on visual art – which is a fancy way of saying I like to doodle. But I also (would) like to write and take photos. As for those doodles, I like to portray my, and others’ characters – also animals! – And I also do illustrations and concept art of sorts. I prefer a simple style and find backgrounds too challenging to try to get done despite me being lazy – which might or might not be the real reason why I don’t. And as for writing, both original and fanfiction focuses on fantasy, that is my genre of choice. And some sci-fi on the side.

What inspires you?

Other people’s art – I use stories and pictures to fuel my own muse, and music is also a huge help, it lets me imagine mostly action scenes. Feedback also provides a drive. Any artist would be happy to receive more than just a heart on their work, I think – but even that is great!

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

My family says my grandfather’s genes from my mother’s side and my father’s are responsible for my creative indulgences, but my interest started when I saw my mother drawing a baby for me. That was, I think, when I realized you can put whatever you want on paper. I was so happy when I managed to draw the baby, Kubo, myself, but also disappointed, because that meant I could not ask my mother to do it anymore 🙂

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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. And as for my style, well, that still needs polishing. In drawings, you might notice I am trying for realism and use softer tones, and in writings I have a lot of dialogue and no descriptions. I think. It is hard to judge my own work.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It is OK to never be satisfied with your work – or love it and then not get any likes or notes or positive reviews – it is ok if they say you are doing it wrong, because you are not. Embrace your passion, hear people out, but ultimately, your art is yours. You share the art with people, you are not creating it for them. Let your art show what you feel very passionately about, what you love and what you hate – and also what you just don’t know how to wrap your head around. Let it bring joy, hope and inspiration to you and the others. I mean, these are easy to say… but worth it. Also chill. I know you are pouring a lot of yourself into your work and words can hurt, but they mean nothing. Your art is yours, but the opinions of others are not worth being upset about.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual in general – and demisexual specifically. I am not sex repulsed, but I need to feel the emotional or romantic connection before sexual attraction. I am also biromantic and I just love how the flag colors go together 🙂

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

I have not, actually. Yet. I do think I have an issue with writing allosexual characters with average or higher sex drive, though, so it might turn out to be an issue. Or I’ll just have to only write aces 🙂

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

That asexuals are either freaks, jokes, or just sick. I mean, sure, have your hormones checked just to be sure (it’s true that lower sex drive with a cause is different than asexuality, but it can be a symptom and I think that fact should not be erased, as it might be difficult to tell) – but that is nobody’s business but yours. As for the freaks or jokes mentality, it just shows how people refuse to broaden their horizons and still think in the terms of – either you are like me and with me, or you are against me and a threat. That is why good representation is so important for the community. It’s showing people that different people exist, be it in their gender or orientation or sexuality preferences and experiences.

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

Be patient with yourself and with others. Your experience might be different from the experiences of people who you were raised by and around and you might have little to no point of reference, but it’s OK. You can find information and talk to others and not label yourself – or do – and you can wonder. You owe nobody, but you can tell others or use your experience as an inspiration for your work. This is you we’re talking about and you are in charge. No pressure.

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

Well, other than Tumblr I am Ursari on DeviantArt and Ursar on Archive of our own. What can I say, I love bears.

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

Interview: Kat

Today we’re joined by Kat. Kat is a wonderful aspiring writer who enjoys a variety of different sorts of writing. She’s a passionate sci-fi writer, but also dabbles in poetry and persuasive writing. Her current project sounds fascinating and will undoubtedly be an interesting read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I’m a new writer (as well as a professional procrastinator). I really enjoy stories, poetry, and persuasive writing. My current project is a story about an alien race with a sixth sense of empathy. They literally feel one another’s emotions with them. The main character is a child, born without this sense, and in a society where emotional communication is taken for granted, emotions are rarely intentionally communicated, she grows up feeling lost, confused, and out of place. She fakes it until humans land on their planet, and, intrigued that these people actually tell one another how they’re feeling, she stows away on their spaceship, in the hope that they’ll take her to a society where she belongs. It’s still in the outlining phase. It actually wasn’t intended to be any kind of parallel; it was intended to explore the roles that empathy and emotional communication play in different types of relationships. But now I see that it might serve two purposes, because that description sounds kind of similar to an asexual in an over-sexualized culture! Maybe I’ll dig into that parallel a little more now. Who knows?

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was young, and I’ve just been doing it on my own. I’m always looking for advice and help. I’ve done a lot of research on the structure of the story, I’ve taken a lot of writing classes, and I do a lot of reading, all of which together have fueled my passion for writing.

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, every story I’ve written has explored ethics in one way or another. I wrote one that explored a girl’s experience with guilt after accidentally killing a family friend in a car crash. It didn’t only imply that it’s harmful to stay angry at yourself, but it also implied certain ethical responses to the guilt (how she could apologize to her family, how she shouldn’t approach the issue, how to gracefully accept the legal consequences without sacrificing her dignity). I did my best to personify her without making her weak.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For aspiring novelists, specifically, I would say don’t start with page 1! I’ve wasted days of my life that I can’t get back for that. If outlining is too rigid and doesn’t get your story flowing correctly (I totally understand! I’m the same way), try writing a short-story version of your proposed novel, and then use that short story as your outline. That way, when you hit writers’ block, you have somewhere to turn.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteroromantic ace.

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

Specifically in the field of writing? Nah. I’m not out of the closet, but I don’t talk about sex like sexual people do, and whenever the topic of sex comes up, it’s obvious that I’m missing some element that everyone else is in on. So I get some unintentionally inconsiderate comments from friends and acquaintances about that (they’re either oblivious or they’re teasing). It’s kind of hurtful, especially since I’m in a successful romantic relationship already; it can feel like they’re not granting my relationship validity. But those are often people who are really close to me, so I just have to remember that they don’t intend to be hurtful. They’re just really oblivious to the reality that not everyone experiences what they do. I’ve gotten pretty thick skinned, because honestly, relationships are worth more to me than the right to take offense.

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

I’m not out of the closet, so I don’t see any misconceptions about the term, but I see misconceptions about my disinterest in sex. If I actually express disinterest in sex, I almost always get one of the following: “You’ll get there eventually!” “That’s just because you haven’t been exposed yet.” (That one is far from true). “You’ll meet the right person eventually!” The problem is that I can’t really correct those misconceptions, because I’m not out. Without using the label, it’s hard to say “actually, there are people who grow up without ever experiencing sexual attraction. It’s a valid reality.” So I tend to just forgive and move on. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll come out.

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

If you feel like you’re missing something when it comes to sexuality, like everyone else is sharing a common experience that you don’t have, then odds are, your gut is right. Trust it! I wondered for a while if everyone was just making sexual attraction seem bigger than it really is, and if I was experiencing it but not exaggerating it like they were. I was wrong! If you feel like you’re different, you probably are, and that’s a good thing, so don’t be afraid of it 🙂

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

I haven’t published anything yet, but I plan to write an asexual story, and when I do, I’ll put it on my blog acesareroyaltytoo. If I actually get some interest in that, I might post some unasexual related stories on a different blog! It’ll all just depend on whether people seem to want to read it.

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

Interview: Amy

Today we’re joined by Amy. Amy is a wonderful genderfluid writer from Australia. They sent me one of the nicest emails I’ve ever read. They’re currently studying creative writing and judging from their passion, they have an incredibly bright future ahead of them. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

So far, I’m only a student writer taking a writing course. Though, once I’ve got the time, I hope to publish novels, short stories, poetry, and so many other forms. I don’t have any particular genres I’m going to restrict myself to, but there is one genre I’m definitely avoiding as a stand-alone: romance. That genre is the bane of my existence, especially in young adult literature.

I would say my favourite genre has to be either sci-fi or detective fiction, so I definitely hoping to write under those categories in the future. The possibilities of world-building is breathtaking and terrifying at the same time, so having the chance to construct my own world excites and scares me. Normally, I hate feeling scared, but this is a good kind of scared… You know what I mean?

I try to give my stories good representation on all fronts, especially for the LGBTQIAP+ community — in fact, I manage to get a short story published about a girl moving into a haunted house, who met her girlfriend through the ghosts there. I do worry about a character falling into a stereotype, so I keep myself informed on what to avoid.

What inspires you?

I can get inspiration from anywhere, such as unusual moments — like strange dreams or listening to music or even reading other stories — the little what if… chimes in my mind and starts to sprout from there. It’s starts off with the basic plot, and as it grows out, I decorate it with details and organise key events for it to follow. It’s such a delight to wish for a story to exist, and then realise that there’s nothing stopping you from writing it yourself!

But to be specific, what drives me to write is this urge to tell stories. Naturally, I’m a very shy introverted person who has trouble expressing themself through everyday speech and often what I say isn’t heard because I talk too quietly. So writing is one of the ways to help me express myself — I would even say that it’s the most fluent method. My writing is the only skill of mine that I’m confident in.

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

From a young age, I’ve always wanted to be a storyteller. I had this forte whenever something along these lines would be set as classwork, and I found the written word much easier than my peers. My teachers and my family would praise me on my talent, and through that I became more confident and passionate. My Mum was my best supporter when it came to my writing — she would always be willing to read my stories, give me advice, and encourage me to keep at it. Though, I can’t really show her my work anymore considering that I now write less “innocent” works.

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?

In most of the stories I write, a red ribbon will appear at any point; it doesn’t matter how relevant it is, I like to add that one repetitive detail. Why I choose to include the red ribbon is a little inside joke with my younger self and me — for most of my childhood, I never had proper bookmarks (because I’d either lose them or they’d be accidentally ruined by my clumsiness) and instead, I would use a red ribbon. In a way, I’m honouring and thanking my younger self for being so interested in reading.

Another inside joke/detail would be owls. This is in a way a tribute to my favourite band, Owl City, who I would even go as far to say helped me figure out my identity. His music has a sweet innocent love to them, and it was refreshing to listen the beautiful imagery it produced. When everyone around me was “coming of age” and discovering the world of puberty and sexuality, I’d felt left behind and alienated on that front. Being already an unpopular kid as it was, I was so desperate to fit in that I pretended to have crushes (god forbid on the guys who hated me the most), and boy, was that a mistake! However amongst the flood of hormones and sexual desire, I remember being in class one day with the radio on, ignoring the music because they were about romance and/or sex. Then on comes a song, and it’s not about either — it’s about fireflies.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice, practice, practise! You can’t climb a tree by only imagining the canopy — you have to start somewhere. Trust me, this is advice from someone who doesn’t take their own advice and really should because it makes sense.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m not sure at this point. I believe that I’m sex-neutral and have some element of autochorissexuality, but apart from that I haven’t figure it out. I haven’t had any sexual or romantic experiences. I’ve had one crush in the past, but I couldn’t act on it and I haven’t had one since. It’s weird to think about, and I’ve run in circles trying to determine my identity.

I tell people that I’m demiromantic asexual to make it easier, but it doesn’t sit right without any experiences to refer to.

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

Mostly I’ve come across ignorance — like stereotyping ace characters or aces in general. If it’s a person I’m talking to, then I would try to inform them on their mistake. But other times, I’m not courageous enough to go out of my way to contact them, and I hope the ace community can forgive me for that.

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

That because someone is ace, it means they don’t have relationships and/or don’t have sex. From what little representation I’ve encountered, this is the most prominent misconception used by allosexuals. Also that aces can’t appreciate people’s beauty. This one is most irritating to me considering I hope to have a partner one day, albeit romantically not sexually.

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

You don’t have to fit under a label perfectly and you have plenty of time to figure it out. In fact, you don’t have to use labels altogether. I’m sorry, but I don’t have much else to say, since I’m still kind of struggling too.

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

At the moment I’ve only gotten one short story published to my name, however I’m not “out” to my family or beyond close friends, so I’m not ready to come out to a wide audience yet.

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

Interview: Sam

Today we’re joined by Sam. Sam is an amazingly talented up and coming author who has some truly fantastic stories in the works. She has an incredible enthusiasm and curiosity, both signs of a great writer. Sam has recently started identifying as ace, but has been writing for quite some time. She has had stories published in a literary college journal and online. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an author and all of my novels focus on four themes: how history is defined, identity, choice, and how victory can sometimes be a defeat. I am a huge history nerd and it’s always fascinated me that history actually changes the farther you are in from the historical event and that your understanding of that event is determined by your source of information. Obviously, if you’re reading about Nazi Germany’s invasion of Poland, you’re going to get a very different perspective if you learn about the invasion from a Polish historian as oppose to learning about it from a German historian. But it also depends on when the source was published. A book published in 2015 is going to have a very different opinion than a book published in 1950.

And this connects to the topic of identity. A lot of my work tries to explore identity-whether that be racial, sexual, national, whatever-and it’s deep connection to one’s own society and history. Can one have an identity without a history or cultural reference? How much of one’s identity is an internal mechanism and how much of it is an external mechanism.

I feel that choice is a pretty popular theme for a lot of writers, and I approach choice as if it followed Newton’s third law motion: for every action there is a reaction. I like to study choice as being something that will have the consequences you intend and are prepared for and unknown consequences that you weren’t prepared for or even intended as well as consequences you won’t ever know about either because they occurred in a location you didn’t know existed or because it took decades for it to have the full effect. And I like putting choice up against fate, although I add my own Heisenburgian twist to that relationship, haha.

The idea that victory can sometimes be a defeat was a very popular motif during the World Wars and it’s something that has always fascinated me. What do you do when you’re in a situation where they are no good options, where only half of the world is going to benefit and the other half won’t? And how do you deal with that decision on a spiritual/intellectual/moral level?

Right now I am working on four major projects.

The first project is the Nothing but Glory series and it is a fifteen book socio-political fantasy. It takes place after the Second Shadow War and is about Alexander Phillips, a veteran, who can’t let the war go. After interviewing the surviving participants, Alex publishes a fifteen book series that follows thirteen leaders as they rise to power, how they handle a world war that is catastrophic in scope, and watches as some are overtaken by their sins and some rise to lead a stronger, but dying world into an uncertain future.  I’ve finished the first book of this series and hope to have it published soon.

My second project is a sci-fi trilogy about the coming Singularity and how that is going to affect human development and identity. I’m currently writing the first book, Heroes which is about an off world colony where there is no history, no death, no war, no disease, and no crime. It is a perfect world as long as the citizens don’t mind following the rules and being observed by the four Guardians at all times. There is a small movement known as the Time Keepers who are desperately fighting to preserve their history and bring freedom back-even at the cost of peace and prosperity.

My third project is called Stairway to Heaven and it is about Greg Zook, a drug addicted billionaire who can turn into an anteater. His parents were superheroes during the Golden Age of superheroes, but, unfortunately, the apple has fallen very far from the tree. After receiving 300 community service hours for reckless driving, Greg decides to open a boarding school for other ‘gifted’ youngsters and quickly regrets it.

And my final project is currently called the Undesirables. It is about a world where Heaven, Earth, and Hell have merged into one and are under threat from an ancient Lovecraftian like evil. The angel’s solution is to create a team of the damned and despised to go where angels cannot and demons won’t dare in order to defeat this great evil. If they succeed, they’ll be guaranteed salvation.

What inspires you?

Well, I think it’s kind of obvious, but my biggest inspiration is history. My favorite period of history is the Victorian Era and the 20th century It’s really fascinating to read about the Victorian Era and see all this hope for the future, but underneath that hope there is also this anxiety about where they were going and what it meant to be human. A lot of fears we have nowadays such as immigration, globalization (which it can be argued is a modern form of colonization), identity, machine vs man, and total destruction of all life on the planet were things that were being discussed during the Victorian Era as well as the 20th century. I also find the American Civil War and World War I to be the most fascinating wars in human history. I think they’re fascinating, not only in the terms of the destruction they inflicted, but because of the ideological, political, moral, and social elements that were in the balance.

Another major source of inspiration are the old science fiction writers such as Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick. I am definitely more of a sci-fi/speculative writer than a fantasy writer, although I play with both genres, and that’s because of those men. Reading their books really teaches the mind how to look at things and ask not only why, but why not, which I think is very important for writers. When their characters make decisions, I think why they don’t do a certain thing is just as important as why they did a certain thing and those kind of questions can lead in interesting directions. And they also taught their readers how to look at their society, their government, and their technology as something that could be used for good, but also how they could be used for evil. They were not very trusting guys, haha, and they were very good at subverting expectations.

And finally, music is a huge inspiration for me, particularly music by David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Flogging Molly, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty. I’ve created whole books simply by listening to a David Bowie album, haha.

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

I don’t think there’s a specific moment when I thought to myself, I want to be a writer. Writing for me is as vital as breathing. However, I think it’s only recently that I’ve really come to believe that my stories could actually be turned into novels and maybe, just maybe, I might make some money off of them, haha.

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 my favorite symbol to throw into almost all of my novels is the white tulip and you can guarantee that at least 90% of my character’s names are historical references in some shape or form.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Damn the torpedoes, haha. If you have an idea, go for it. It doesn’t matter how crazy or big or insane it may seem, if you believe in it, fight for it. Don’t let anyone tell you it won’t work or you’ll never be able to sell it, because that’s simply not true. Also, realize that creating art is a long, miserable, lonely process with no guarantee of any lasting success, but at the end of the day you’re going to come the closest you can to having a piece of your soul in your hands. So don’t listen to the doubters, especially if it’s that small voice in the back of your head, and keep creating.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am asexual and aromantic.

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

I’ve occasionally encountered disbelief. For some reason, people find it hard to imagine that being ace is a real thing. The best way to handle it, is to just explain that yes, it’s a real thing and no it doesn’t mean you need mental help or that you’re in denial about your own feelings, but also realizing that at the end of the day, they don’t have to get it.

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

The two misconceptions I run into the most are a. you are doomed to a long, lonely, and miserable existence and b. something is broken inside of you or you must have suffered some extreme, sexual trauma when you were a kid to be ace. Neither of which are true.

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

First, I would say that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you and that you’re not broken or a freak. I know it can be hard, especially when people don’t realize or don’t believe in being ace, and they try to press you into being like them, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you.

Second, having the occasional sexual/romantic thought/desire doesn’t negate your identity. Occasionally I will look at a guy and think damn. Doesn’t mean I’m not ace, just means there is something I find appealing about the guy. Usually it ends there with me and then I look at the guy again and ask myself what I was thinking. But even, if it doesn’t end there for you, it doesn’t negate your identity. It just makes it richer.

Third, you don’t owe your identity or an explanation to anyone. You only tell people when you’re ready and when you want to and if they don’t get it, you don’t have to explain it. And if they get upset, that’s not your problem. Your orientation belongs to you and you alone and you get to deal with it the way you think is best, not the way your friend, father, or boyfriend/girlfriend thinks is best.

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

You can find a lot of my work on Deviantart, my username is Delta-13 and I occasionally post things on my Tumblr accounts: pepperthephoenix and withnothingbutglory.

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