Interview: Jessica Meats

Today we’re joined by Jessica Meats. Jessica is a phenomenal author from the UK who writes science fiction and fantasy. She writes about everything from superheroes smashing the fourth wall to werewolves fighting for their rights. With a new release on the horizon, Jessica is definitely an author to watch for. When she’s not writing original work, Jessica is curating an online database of books with strong LGBTQ+ representation and is always looking for more recommendations. It’s clear she’s a passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

adventures of technicality man cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer, mainly of science fiction and fantasy books of various lengths. The shortest is The Adventures of Technicality Man, a fun and silly superhero parody that doesn’t so much break the fourth wall as smash it into a million pieces. The longest is my soon-to-be-released fantasy novel Wolf Unleashed, a considerably more serious work which explores themes of oppression and prejudice in a world where werewolves are fighting for equal rights.

What inspires you?

I write the sort of stories I enjoy, so I would have to say that I’m inspired by other creators. I’m an avid reader and I love watching SF&F TV shows and films, so I like playing with these ideas and trying to find something new and different to say.

I also find inspiration in the real world. The SF&F genres have always been used to address real world issues by framing them so that people can look at them in a new light. That’s what I’m trying to do with Wolf Unleashed and there were some scenes that were inspired by acts of injustice that have been reported in the news (or frequently misreported and hushed over in cases of institutional racism). There’s a scene in which a Muslim character talks about some of the prejudice he’s faced that I rewrote after the travel ban fiasco in the United States.

It’s not all dark though. I wrote most of my first novel, Child of the Hive, while I was at university studying mathematics and computer science. In the computer science side of the course, we had various lectures and discussions about technology that was currently being worked on, and some of the technology in that book was directly inspired by those discussions of what was cutting edge at the time I was writing it.

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

I have written stories since I first learned how to pick up a pen. When I was little, I would fold sheets of paper together to make little books and write stories in them. I don’t remember ever making the decision to be a writer – I just always knew I would be. As I grew up, I had to temper that desire with realism about the odds of making a living as an author, but I never stopped 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?

If I do it’s hidden even from me. My writing style is heavily driven by plot, so I suppose you could say that’s a signature of my style, but It’s not symbolic.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep going. Gaining a skill takes time, so keep working on your art and you will keep getting better. Nothing teaches like practice.

For writers in particular, think about the things you read. If you read a book you love, stop and consider what it is about that book that appeals to you so much, Likewise, if you read something you hate, consider what it is about the work that’s putting you off so much so you can try and avoid those things in your own work.

Above all, create the art you enjoy. Focus first and foremost on creating works that you have fun creating and that you’re pleased with when you’re finished. Worry about how you’re going to sell them or find an audience second.

child of the hive cover

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am biromantic asexual. For a long time, I thought I was bisexual because I didn’t realise the concept of asexuality existed.

I’ve never been sexually attracted to anyone but I have had relationships and I’m open to romantic love with persons of any gender. To me, the match of personalities is more important than anything physical.

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

Not really. I’ve seen some ignorant comments on social media sites and the like, but nothing that has really impacted my writing. This may be because the discovery of the concept of asexuality and my revelation about how it applied to me came after I’d been writing for several years. Given the length of time it takes for a book to go from inspiration, to first draft, to complete, to publication… my past books haven’t really focused on asexuality. I have one book that is almost ready to go to the publisher which has an asexual protagonist, and another one about halfway through the first draft with an asexual love interest. I may find different reactions when those books come out.

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

The one I’ve seen most often is just a lack of knowledge – people don’t know that asexuality is a thing. I went through my teen years thinking that there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t getting crushes on pop stars and actors the way everyone around me seemed to be. I know I’m not the only person to go through this. I had a conversation with a woman in her late fifties, who told me, “I’d always just assumed I was broken,” because she didn’t feel any interest in sex.

I had a conversation with some colleagues from work where we got onto the subject of sexuality. I mentioned asexuality and one of my colleagues asked me to explain because it wasn’t a term she’d heard before. As I explained, her face just lit up with excitement and she went, “That’s me!”

This complete lack of awareness when it comes to even the existence of asexuality is harmful for so many people who think there’s a problem with them. These people need to see asexuality discussed openly and represented in fiction so that they can recognise that they’re not alone.

Outside of LGBTQ+ circles, people aren’t aware of asexuality, and so that leads to people who fall somewhere on the spectrum themselves to develop the misconception that there’s something wrong with them.

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

You’re not alone.

There are a lot of different experiences across the breadth of the asexuality spectrum, so don’t worry if the way you feel isn’t a perfect match for the way someone else describes their feelings, just know that you aren’t the only one. There’s nothing wrong with you.

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

I have a blog at http://plot-twister.co.uk where I post book reviews, articles on writing advice, and news about my own books. I also have a queer reading list on that site, which is a list of reader-recommended sci-fi and fantasy books that contain strong LGBTQ+ representation. You can apply filters to find books that have specific representations. So if you want to find a book that has a demi-sexual protagonist, or an aromantic major character, you can apply the filters and see what people have recommended. I’m always keen to get new recommendations so if you know of good SF&F with asexual (or other queer) representation, please recommend them.

You can also follow me on Tumblr at http://jessicameats.tumblr.com or Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicameats or like my Facebook page.

Wolf Unleashed cover

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

Signal Boost: 10,000 Dawns Kickstarter

Hello all!

I’ve got a very exciting signal boost today. A while back, I interviewed an author named James Wylder for the site (Tumblr & WordPress). James is a science fiction author who is wildly creative and one of the kindest people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. I ran into him at a convention I was working in Indiana and greatly enjoyed conversing with him.

James recently contacted me about this incredible science fiction anthology he’s working on called 10,000 Dawns: Poor Man’s Iliad Vol. 1 (which currently has a Kickstarter campaign). The anthology has work by at least two a-spec authors and it just sounds amazing.

Here’s more information taken from the about section of their Kickstarter:

“Two friends from different worlds, brought together by one cause, and broken by another. But this isn’t just their story, this is the tale of the whole universe. Of scoundrels, monsters, villains, soldiers, and interlopers. This is the story of humanity’s future. Of the war on the moon of Titania, and a choice that will lead to the greatest conflict in our history. This is our future.”

I always loved reading the backstories of fictional universes, the big dramatic events that built a world into being what it was. Sometimes I thought those stories, so casually pushed into the background, sounded more interesting than the real stories. Dramas about people living through times of great turmoil that built the worlds we love to read. But there’s often a narrative reason those stories aren’t explored as novels: they’re often lots of small stories in a row. The perfect sort of thing for a short story anthology.

Over the last few years I’ve been putting together an amazing anthology, telling the history of the 10,000 Dawns sci-fi universe through short stories, featuring some amazing tales and fantastic voices. But I need a little more help to get the book to print, to pay for the cover art and book launch.

I’m James Wylder, author of nine books, including the Doctor Who poetry book “An Eloquence of Time and Space”, and creator of the Sci-Fi series 10,000 Dawns, whose first novel was the #1 Time Travel novel on Amazon last year. I hope you’ll join me on bringing these amazing tales to life!

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcbeatle/10000-dawns-poor-mans-iliad-vol1-a-sci-fi-antholog

James Wylder Kickstarter Picture

This project sounds absolutely amazing and James is such a phenomenal author that it’s guaranteed to be entertaining.

Please donate if you can and if not, signal boost the heck out of this project! It’s definitely worth it.

Thanks everyone!

Interview: Jojo

Today we’re joined by Jojo. Jojo is a phenomenal versatile writer and visual artist who describes herself as “a figure skating writer and artist who dabbles in cosplay props.” For writing and visual art, Jojo specializes in scifi and fantasy. She does both traditional and digital art and has a degree in animation. When she’s not writing, drawing, or animating, Jojo enjoys making various props for cosplays and even has a blog dedicated to cosplaying on a budget. She’s clearly a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

ArcReactor
Arc Reactor

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a sci-fi and fantasy enthusiast, and most of my art is themed around that. I do a lot of digital art and pencil drawing in an actual physical sketchbook, but have a degree in animation and like to play in Flash when I have time (RIP Flash). Most of the time though everything I draw stays in sketch form. Drawing helps me work out ideas and logistics, which translates into writing very elaborate Sci-Fi worlds. I have one that I’ve been writing for a literal decade that I’m finally only just starting to amass into something like a novel. So far it has a tone I didn’t expect but I’m actually liking it. Fingers crossed.

I’m also a hobby prop maker, I make small manageable props and things that won’t weigh too much for cosplay using items from the dollar store.  I’ve done a Squall cosplay, an arc reactor, the purgatory blade and Samulet from Supernatural, Mad Max: Fury Road’s Bloodbag equipment, fake skulls, phasers, and Wonder Woman Armor from the new movie!

What inspires you?

I love ice skating, space, human goodness, animals, the sky, large swaths of nature, dungeons & dragons, stars, anime, food, Star Trek, multiverse theories and FOOD.

I adore food, it’s one of those things everyone can agree is amazing, and it’s something that comes in so many forms and says so much about each culture. If I didn’t enjoy eating it more than making it I might be a chef instead of a writer today!

Star Trek and anime started me on a very interesting path when I was very young. Star Trek is about a positive future, and anime is all about a protagonist finding out what makes them tick and then using it to do a thing. In my case I spent more time trying to figure out the ‘whys’ of my life than the ‘hows’ but luckily the two seem to go hand-in-hand so I believe even more in the power of being the protagonist of my own story.

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Fury Road Fanzine

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

Well, Starship Captain isn’t a viable career path (yet) so I settled for doing what I love. I always knew I’d be an artist, my father is an artist, both grandmas on both sides of the family are artists, and my grandfather is a former NASA engineer. I had a lot of people saying ‘if this is what you want, do it’ my whole childhood, it never occurred to me to try and pursue anything else. If space became a viable option I’d go there, but honestly I’d never stop creating art.

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?

Goodness, I actually don’t think so. The only thing I can say for sure is I try to make really stylistic varied body types, but I don’t think that’s a symbol, just a preference. Every main character I’ve ever had (once I got out of my ‘every character is from CLAMP’ phase- and shut up, you know we all had that!) has had a different body type that affects how they do things. I do it for fun and also because it adds different lifestyle choices they have to make.

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Inktober Ikali

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice is always Go for whatever that thing you want is. Seriously, go for it. The world out there isn’t made for doing the bare minimum to get by and then dying. If you can do something to get yourself ready to do That Thing you want, then do it. Work that retail job, but put all that money (as much as you can) away so you can eventually tell the customer they’re wrong and try what you want to do. If you have something you love to do, there’s probably a way to live off it if you want. And if you don’t want your art to be your job be sure of this: Don’t live to work. Work to live. Your art, your passions are worth pursuing even if you’re the only one passionate about it now. Your art doesn’t have to ‘contribute.’ Support your friends, but if they don’t support you back get new friends. Be loyal to yourself.

But seriously; be who you are, even if society isn’t a fan. Because screw them, society elected Trump, what the hell do they know? You’re you and you’re stuck being you forever, so try to get along with yourself. Artists are often eccentric, and I know that’s hard, but listen up, bb artists, you’ll be alright. Everyone’s actually really weird, some just hide it better than others. There are weirdos just like you who want to be friends, but are too nervous to fly their own personal flag. Put yours up, they’ll come. It’ll be hard, but you’ll find your people because they’re out there, they’re just hiding.

To those of you not hiding: Kick ass, take names and don’t let anyone tell you that eccentric = bad. Do no harm, but take no shit. XOXO

Mugiwara_Puppies
Mugiwara Puppies

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m a sex neutral aromantic asexual and it annoys me! “Nothing, nope not even that” is a hard orientation to be and massively inconvenient to explain. Especially when “maybe your first experience with sex was bad?’ doesn’t apply to me. Sex was … fine. I would have rather gone for ice cream, but eh, okay, we had fun together and I loved the guy so okay. So there. Tell your parents THAT. I actually tried it! It’s fine! Not the best but whatever who cares.

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

Strap in folks, you ain’t gonna BELIEVE this one! I’ve been holding onto this story for a special occasion and I guess this is it:

I used to work at a big corporate company, and our department took us out for a Christmas Dinner every year. Nice! This particular year I get sat between two men I know, across from a woman I don’t and she’s MILITANTLY lesbian. I’m talking about the type who won’t go five minutes without being like “So because I’m a lesbian” and we’re all sitting there like “we get that you’re a lesbian, Carol, go on…”

So Carol (she’s Carol now) is drinking because it’s a Christmas Dinner/Party and we’re all happy and buzzed and chilling and ALL OF A SUDDEN out of nowhere she says “I’m a lesbian so you won’t get it-‘ a pause then she turns to me and says ‘you’re not a lesbian right?” FINALLY. Thanks for finally asking, Carol! But no, I’m not a lesbian and I say so. “I’m Ace,’ I say, assuming her militant sense means she’s active in the LGBTQA+ space and she’ll know what I’m talking about. I was young and foolish.

She has no clue what I’m talking about. I now have to explain to her and my two straight male friend/coworkers what being asexual means. I do so, because why the hell not, I’m already in deep. Straight male friends go ‘oh okay, so you’re not attracted to anyone’ and go on with their meal. GOOD JOB STRAIGHT MALE FRIENDS YOU’RE ACTUALLY THE HEROES FOR ONCE!

Carol says “Oh. So… what happened to you? To make you like that?”

A pause. A horrified pause. A horrified pause where my two straight male friends and everyone within hearing radius at the table realizes Carol just asked if I was assaulted or molested or abused to make me asexual. I see straight male friends glance at me in horror.

But I am two drinks in, and I am transcendent. Instead of getting embarrassed and answering honestly straight out, I ask, as loudly as I want because FUCK YOU CAROL “Did you just ask me at the company Christmas dinner if I was sexually assaulted?” A horrified silence falls. I stare at her as she realizes she has come to the WRONG HOUSE. She starts stammering and backpedaling but OH NO, not today, Carol. “Not that it’s your business,’ I say loudly, ‘but I was born this way.”

She correctly decides to excuse herself to powder her nose. Run Carol, run.

This is when straight male friends, and actually the entire department, show some goddamn solidarity, kids. The boss (who I don’t actually think heard the convo) has already paid the bill, and as one, while Carol is in the bathroom, the whole department decides dinner is over. Everyone is talking and acting like it’s normal, but the whole table- myself included- gets up and leaves while Carol is in the bathroom at this restaurant.

It was ignorant, and it could have been very embarrassing, but I was able to realize I wasn’t the one who should be embarrassed, and if you can remember that next time someone tries to shame your asexuality, you can ditch Carol at a restaurant on Christmas too. The End.

Phaser_original
Phaser

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

People seem to think three very incorrect things. They think something had to happen to make you asexual. Like it’s their damn business to know if it did. Two: that their opinion on you being ace matters (pro tip: hell no) and three: that being ace means you don’t care about being cute and flirty. You get to be as damn cute and flirty as you want, cuz it’s fun! They still ain’t gettin’ none of this, so they better step off.

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

I am struggling too. I get you. It’s hard to be ‘nothing’ when you’re conditioned to think everyone gets ‘something’. Some people don’t and that’s okay. Again, society is dumb, so find something that works for you, whether it’s a Poly tribe, a best friend, a cat, two best friends and a cat, or an online community of people who get you better than the physical ones. Whatever works for you is the right orientation for you. If you wake up tomorrow super attracted to someone, fair enough. You’re a changing person and regardless of how you wake up tomorrow, today you’re ace and that’s your choice to identify- or not! Ace is just a better word for ‘nah nothing really works for me’ and gives you a bunch of other people who get it. Aro’s also a hard one, because you have been told your whole life you want something, but then when you have it, it’s… fine. I had a great relationship for a while, but I felt like we were friends who slept in the same bed. I was later informed that’s not how most people feel (?) Doesn’t de-legitimize my relationship, just means what I’m looking for and what others are looking for might be different. Which is fair, and valid. Labels exist for you, not for the world. You do you, as the saying goes. That’s my advice. I won’t tell you it’s not hard, it is, but it’s also worth fighting for yourself and what you want, not what society or parents or friends want for you.

ALSO ADVICE: Find a doctor who’s cool with you not having sex. My doctor doesn’t care, doesn’t ask why I don’t have sex, doesn’t ask why I laugh if he asks if I’m in danger of becoming pregnant. He just nods and says ‘okay’ and moves on. Find one of those. You not having sex is not a problem and if your doctor says it is: time for a new doctor.

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

My main blog is http://starshipcaptainjojo.tumblr.com/
Art is posted to http://hipster-safari.tumblr.com/ (though also to my main blog most of the time)
And my cosplay/craft blog is http://dollarstorecosplay.tumblr.com/.

Siano_Debut
Siano Debut

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

Interview: Fiona

Today we’re joined by Fiona. Fiona is a wonderful visual artist and writer. For writing, Fiona is working on a number of stories at the moment and enjoys writing a variety of genres. She’s no less versatile when it comes to visual art, doing both traditional and digital art. Her work demonstrates a keen eye and an amazing attention to detail, as you’ll soon see. 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 both write and do visual art. Both vary quite a bit as I am currently working on 3 extended stories/novels and all three are vastly different genres. As for visual art, I used to do a lot of traditional art in varying media (acrylics, graphite, pen, etc.) and most of it was as realistic as I could get it. Now I do mainly digital art mainly because it’s hard to get materials for other forms and Photoshop has an undo button… My style in digital art is still fairly realistic but more comic book like with lines and kind of soft cell shading.

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What inspires you?

I have never been able to give this question a good answer. I guess I’ll do ‘who’ inspires me because I’m honestly coming up with a blank for ‘what’ inspires me. Currently I am working on a Sci Fi story/novel and that was really inspired by The Martian by Andy Weir because I really like the more realistic type of Sci Fi where it could conceivably happen. In my digital art, my style was inspired a lot by Fiona Staples’ art (Fionas are generally gr8) though my style has evolved a bit and is far from just copying what she does. (Hopefully.)

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

When I was a little kid I drew so much it was ridiculous. Whales mainly for some reason. I kind of lived in the middle of nowhere and the only thing to do was draw or read so I did that 24/7. I blame that for why I like to write, read, and draw to this day. I never really wanted to do art as a job, I’m more science minded, but since I could remember I’ve loved to draw and I started writing extended stories in probably 6th grade.

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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?

Not particularly… my stuff is way too all over the place to have a connected symbol of some sort.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I know young artists have heard this time and time again but Practice. When I was younger I always was told I was good at art and it was just because that’s all I did. I never really took any formal art classes that would teach me how to draw (I did take some classes but they were more ‘studio time’ kind of things where the teacher didn’t actually teach anything.) I only started digital art the summer before last and already my stuff has vastly improved as I’ve gotten used to the media and practiced with it. Scrolling through my art blog you can see my improvement in digital stuff from my early posts to my more recent ones. Other than that I would just have advice for people who want to improve with anatomy which is take a life drawing class. If you can’t do that, watch a dance video or something and pause at different times to do drawings of different lengths. (10 seconds, 30 seconds, 5 minutes etc.) it really helped me a lot.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am sex repulsed and bi romantic (if you really want to get into it, demi romantic as well) basically I’m a massive amalgam of ‘hard to explain’ so I usually don’t go into it lol.

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

Well, as far as my art goes, I just work in my room and post stuff online so I haven’t experienced much in that regards. I’ve encountered it a bit with just people I tell I’m ace (which honestly, hasn’t been that many people) but mainly it’s just along the lines of ‘wait that’s a thing?’. Ignorance as opposed to being outright mean basically.

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

Mitosis? Lol. No seriously I’d say the most common is that ace people are just people who ‘can’t get any’. Like, honey no. I just don’t want any.

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

I’m really bad at giving advice like this lol but maybe just that a lot of people feel the same way you do and those who say it’s fake are just as ignorant as someone who looks at some characters in a language they don’t speak and insist that therefor, it isn’t a language. (Basically, those people are just ignorant and you should ignore them). Don’t ask me advice about coming out because I am just as lost about that.

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

My main blog is kvothe-kingkiller, my art blog is cork-run and I’m uploading one of my stories chapter by chapter as I finish them, both on my fictionpress account (cork-run) and AO3 (cork_run)

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

Interview: Diane Ramic

Today we’re joined by Diane Ramic. Diane is a phenomenal freelance illustrator who specializes in prehistory, science, fantasy, and science fiction. She does a ton of paleoart and dinosaurs are frequently in her work. Diane has also written a couple children’s books, including a coloring book of scientifically accurate dinosaurs. She has a passion for science and it shows, 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 freelance illustrator and graphic designer, and my work tends to focus on prehistory, fantasy, and sci-fi. So, you’ll find plenty of dinosaurs, dragons and aliens in my art. I also illustrate children’s books, and have written a few of my own as well! I love combining art and science into a work, as those two fields have both captured my imagination since I was very young. Educational media is something I try to work on whenever I can.

What inspires you?

Nature for sure. Thinking about life that existed in the past, and life that may exist in the future, it just makes me want to design or re-create them through art. Astronomy is a huge inspiration for when I need to do alien designs, and just thinking of the cosmos gets me in the creating mode of thought.

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

Well, when I was seven, I wanted to be a Velociraptor. I even started walking on my toes, all hunched over and with my arms mimicking their folded up arms. When I found out being a Velociraptor was physically impossible (for now), my next goal was to be a paleontologist, and that turned into wanting to be a science-minded illustrator. Fossils are a fantastic base for knowing as much as we can about these extinct animals, but the only way we can really know what they looked like in life is through artists reconstructing them in their work. For most of the public, their first impressions on prehistoric animals comes from the media, be it in movie, toy, or book form. That’s why it’s important, when you’re working with paleoart, to incorporate the updated science in your work. It brings me great satisfaction to help contribute my work to the paleoart community, and help educate the public about the lives these wonderful animals lived.

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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?

Beyond designing aliens and their environments, I really, really enjoy doing the math for figuring out the planet’s mass and composition, atmospheric pressure, its place in the solar system, the mass and age of its star(s), how many other planets it shares the star(s) with, etc. Even if no one ever sees these things, it’s just very satisfying to have it all work out in your head and on paper.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I’m a visual artist, so this will be in that category of art. Study from life as often as you can. Once you’ve got a good grasp on the basics of how objects interact with one another and understand color theory, you can experiment with distorting and exaggerating figures, and play with color choice. A lot of online resources are free, and try to share what you’ve learned with others. There’s a lot of gatekeeping in the artist community, even though that doesn’t help anyone. You will most likely have to go through plenty of rejections, and that’s OK, too. Just pick yourself back up and keep going as best as you can. And whatever you do, don’t make fun of younger or less experienced artists’ work.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am definitely both ace and aro, and have felt this way as long as I can remember. I’m actually pretty relieved to not have developed any romantic or sexual feelings; I feel they would get in the way of me doing my work.

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

I think the most common thing is being told again and again that what I am doing is unnatural, and going against nature, the person’s gods, or “how it should be.” The “late bloomer” stuff can get kind of annoying, too. I’m about to be 23 as of this writing, I’m pretty sure if I was going to develop any other orientations, it would have been a thing by now. And if nothing else, I’m pretty sure there are plenty enough humans on this planet, the global population isn’t in danger of going extinct anytime soon, haha.

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

Probably that we are seen as cold, unfeeling robots. I understand a lot of ace people out there definitely have the same range of emotion as anyone else, and being compared to a robot is very dehumanizing. But as someone that also has a lack of emotion/empathy/etc. in general, I actually kind of like the description.

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

You are a valid and real person, and you know yourself better than anyone else can. You might be confused at first, thinking “Is something wrong with me?” or “Am I really like this?” and that’s ok. Sometimes feelings can shift over time and you may find yourself having a different experience than you do now, and this is normal. Part of what makes living things special is their ability to grow and change over time. You’re not alone. Do what makes you comfortable.

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

I have a website at http://dramic.wixsite.com/home, but more frequently post on my Tumblr at  http://dianeramic.tumblr.com. I’m always working on new projects, so I hope you stop by to see what’s new! I’ve also got an Amazon author page; feel free to check out what new books I have available!

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Thank you, Diane, 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: 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.