Interview: Adrienne

Today we’re joined by Adrienne. Adrienne is a phenomenal young up-and-coming writer who is currently studying creative writing at college in Canada. She has been writing fanfiction for years and has just started getting into original work. She’s a wonderfully enthusiastic writer with an incredibly bright future ahead of her, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a creative writer. I currently specialize in fan-fiction and original short stories. I must admit – however, that much of the latter is still very new to me and is currently a work in progress. 😀

What inspires you?

There’s so much! I almost don’t know where to start! A lot of my inspiration for writing comes from the fantasy/fiction genre. A lot of my inspiration also comes from what I see in other people’s writing/art work, as well as what I see in my day to day activities.

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

The Lord of the Rings. I started writing self-insert fiction when I was 14, and it sort of spiraled upwards form there.

I have always wanted to be an artist, yes. It’s fun!

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

I’m not sure that I’ve got any special sort of writing style or anything. I guess it’s hard to figure out your own writing style when you’re constantly editing and re-reading it. ;D

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep writing! Keep drawing! Keep doing! It’s super hard, I know. But you must try!

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am pretty firm on the asexual part of the spectrum. There are other unrelated attractions there as well, but all in all – pretty firm on the asexual part.

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

I have been fortunate enough to not have experienced any sort of ace prejudice or ignorance in my field yet.

There have been a couple encounters where I’ve had to explain my sexuality with close friends, but otherwise no negative feedback yet.

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

I have been most fortunate in having friends and family who have accepted my sexuality and have made attempts to learn more about what it is to be asexual.

That’s not to say that there are no misconceptions about asexuality, only that I have been lucky in my personal experiences.

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

Your identity is real. What you experience is real. You are valid. You are not alone.

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

My work can mainly be found at diariesofawaywardwriter.wordpress.com.

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

Interview: Jacob

Today we’re joined by Jacob, who is known on social media as Jacob’s Jottings. Jacob is a phenomenal author who writes both original fiction, nonfiction, and fanfiction. For nonfiction, he writes about autism and mental health for the site “The Mighty.” For fiction, he has mostly written fanfiction and original short stories, but has recently taken on two large projects. One involves a detective in post-war Britain and the other is about an autistic wizard (which is something i would absolutely love to read because it sounds fantastic). It’s clear he’s a dedicated and passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

1. The Capitoline Academy (Sunset) (A4 cover logo)
The Capitoline Academy (Sunset)

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer, and I’ve really started to come out of my shell in the last few years. I’ve always written short stories and never shown them to anyone before, but that changed when my friends started writing fan-fiction, and my English teacher at college told me to attend a creative writing club.

Though I’m still very private about my larger projects, I started publishing articles for mental health site The Mighty, one of those articles received 32,000 hearts on the site, and got shared a lot on social media, so I started to say to myself ‘what if people would like my creative work too?’ and here I am now, writing two large scale projects, one about an autistic wizard, the other about a detective in post-war Britain. Not just that, but I published some fan-fiction of my own, and I found once that was out there, I found it a lot easier to write without much self-doubt.

I’ve recently finished college, and I’ve been accepted onto the Creative Writing BA course at a university I’ve dreamed about going to for years. I’m hoping this will really make my dream of being a full-time writer a reality, even if it takes years to take off.

As well as writing, I also do a bit of photography, and some digital design. I make all my own covers for my projects, as well as posters for events, and I love going out and taking pictures. I often use the pictures for reference for my writing, and it’s a great skill to have alongside.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in many things, mainly everyday life. But I often find myself looking into what I loved as a child, certainly what comforted me. Sometimes this is in the form of stories by other authors, such as J. K Rowling, or Terry Pratchett, but other times its films and music, or most importantly to me: knowledge. Plants, animals, and space particularly always have heavy presence in my stories, and that’s because I love to learn new things.

I’ve always written to escape the real world, so I suppose it is natural that my other methods of escape blend well with this, I often find that going to a museum or exhibition particularly fuels my writing, it often ends in me trying to fit a lot into one box- my wizarding story contains as much knowledge of the natural world as it does fictional magic for example.

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

I’ve always been creative, and I was sure I wanted to utilise that in some way, but could never find an exact form that suited me. I tried art, and drama, and found myself not ever truly comfortable. I mainly thank books, films, and television, for getting me into writing. The idea of making my own stories was irresistible! I cannot pinpoint when it exactly started happening, probably about five years ago, but I finally found that writing (alongside reading and watching) was the most enjoyable thing to do. Then it all fell into place, and I find myself writing all the time, even if it never gets added to again- it’s fun.

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?

Oh definitely! The infinity symbol finds its way into most of the stuff I write, not just because of its use by the autistic rights movement, but because of my fascination with the concept behind the symbol. I also always incorporate types of birds as symbolism- usually owls, or penguins, as they’re my favourite, penguins especially.

Playing with colour is something I’ve recently moved into, I don’t have a single character that does not heavily associate themselves with colours and their meanings, even if it is just a subtle inclusion. Blue for my protagonists usually, a colour I use not only to create a cold atmosphere, but also to show the presence of intelligence, imagination, and peace. Reds and oranges meanwhile shows up my more passionate and instinctual characters, with purple showing a combination of the two.

I also love playing with imagery, with many of my characters having ‘hair the colour of fertile soil’ or the ‘great spurts of an ancient wine, hemorrhaging profusely’- it can feel a bit forced sometimes, but it often pays off, and I find it a great way of illustrating the worlds I’ve made.

I’m also told I tell stories in a unique way, my friend recently commented that when she reads my writing, I am clearly telling the story, rather than just creating it. I’ve never quite understood this evaluation, but I’ve heard it quite a few times in several forms.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

It sounds cliché- but I would say just do whatever you love! I spent far too long worrying about what others think, and though that matters if you want to make a career out of it, the initial starting of a new art is a solo-activity. If painting makes you happy- paint! Everyone I know who does something creative for a living started off doing it to just kill time, or to help them with another activity, and it grew from there.

2. Inherited Intuition A4 Cover
Inherited Intuition

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I use the label asexual as standard, to me, this means not feeling sexual attraction. I’m confident in identifying as a sex positive asexual, but I’m yet to 100% settle on my romantic orientation.

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

I think one of the strangest encounters in my life was when I first explained asexuality to someone, without attaching the label to myself. I was told its ‘unnatural’- for this reason, in my private life, I don’t talk about my sexuality until prompted.

I also find that some in my age group is often sex-obsessed, I’ve often been labelled prudish just for not wanting to talk about sex, and I find it very hard to try and express my frustration with that. I am not at all prudish, I just think about it completely differently to they do!

I incorporate it into my work- I actually find it harder to write allosexual characters, and therefore many of my characters are asexual by accident! And I do worry that some people won’t understand the representation if they haven’t experienced it first-hand, but I do my best to write characters that educate as well as represent now.

Outside of my field, I see prejudice and ignorance regularly, insults such as ‘frigid’ and so on, I also see the constant discourse present on sites such as Tumblr, and though I do my best to keep out, I sometimes worry for our community, I hate the idea that anyone who identifies as asexual will feel like it isn’t valid or can’t talk about it in case they’re verbally attacked.

As an autistic person, I also find that some people think my asexuality is part of that. I don’t think it is- and it’s quite insulting to assume that someone’s sexuality is part of their sensory issues for example. The two often overlap for me, and I also know autistics that do feel sexual attraction and have those sensory issues anyway. Some people in both communities would even say their sensory difficulties enhance their sexual experiences.

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

Personally, I find that the definition of asexual is often mis-identified. It means lacking sexual attraction. But I know people who are completely convinced it simply means ‘won’t have sex, or won’t masturbate’- it is often a pain to try and debate it with them, and I find myself bringing up articles from the community to back my side up.

I don’t like discussing the personal details of my own asexuality in too much depth with people who might not understand, and therefore I think the extra labels of ‘sex positive’ are really useful when discussing asexuality, as well as the other identities within the spectrum.

At the end of the day though, the only person other than me who has a right to that deeper information is a partner, and I don’t think asexuals should ever feel pressured to dissect their identities for another person’s curiosity or because of an ignorant person’s misconceptions.

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

Firstly, it is okay to struggle! I found it incredibly hard to find the orientation that best described me. I still think sexual orientation is a fluid concept, and I think people who are struggling should remember that. If something doesn’t feel right, find the label that does feel right, and don’t feel guilty if that changes. Some asexuals might not find that identity for a long time.

I myself often find myself wondering if I might be aromantic as well as asexual, or demisexual instead of asexual, this is a natural part of development. Just as sexuality in all its forms is natural. A lot of people go through that internal debate. And nobody should ever be afraid of using the label that best suits them.

I would also repeat that the only person who needs to be happy is you. Come out at your own pace. Experience your sexuality at your own pace. Some people don’t find the identity they’re most comfortable with until they’re halfway through life, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

There’s a thriving asexual and LGBT+ community waiting to help you through it all, and the right people within it are not going to judge you for struggling.

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

People can find my work in several places. For a more personal touch, there’s my own Tumblr blog which is at jacobs-jottings, or my AO3 under the same name (but without a hyphen).

As well as this there’s my new Facebook page, also called Jacob’s Jottings, and my user page on The Mighty, under my full name- Jacob Durn. If anyone is curious, my photography can be found easily on Instagram, where my username is identical to my AO3 one.

My blog has a bit of everything (including personal posts, and lots of reblogs), my AO3 some fanfiction, and soon some original works, whilst the last two focus on my non-creative work.

3. Murder On The Hogwarts Express
Murder On The Hogwarts Express

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

Interview: Lucas Wilga

Today we’re joined by Lucas Wilga, who also goes by luci online. Lucas is a phenomenal game maker and writer. They create tabletop role-playing games and the first one is entitled Sundown, which sounds fascinating and I highly recommend checking it out. Lucas has recently branched out into writing short stories set in the Sundown universe. It’s clear they’re an incredibly passionate and driven artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

38151825_2178887545472697_7644768021369585664_n

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I make tabletop role-playing games, and I recently branched out into writing fiction as well. The first game I’m creating professionally, Sundown, is currently in an open playtest. It’ll have an official launch sometime next year. It’s light on rules, and it’s set in this cyberpunk, biotech inspired fantasy setting. It has transhumanism, politics, and sword cowboys. My work on it is mostly done, so I’ve started occupying my creative time writing a serial of short stories set in Sundown, starring a sarcastic young monster slayer.

What inspires you?

Other games and works of fiction. I’m always itching to design something new after I read a new game. Sundown itself came out of a modification of a different game I’d recently picked up at the time.

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

I’ve always been imaginative. I entered the hobby at eleven, and I started running games and designing adventures at fourteen. This eventually turned into creating my own games, but I didn’t know I wanted to make a career out of it until a year ago.

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?

My style is all about keeping people engaged, so my signature has become brevity. I keep things short and snappy. Whether teaching a game or weaving a narrative, it pays to avoid toiling too long on the nitty gritty.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Especially when designing a game, start small. Keep your scope limited. Know what you want to say and cut anything that isn’t in direct support of it. Don’t overthink it. Don’t spend too long thinking about one specific thing. Don’t try to create the perfect piece. You’ll burn yourself out chasing perfection.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I don’t know if there’s a word for this yet, but I’m okay with sexual things that take place entirely within my imagination. Things like smut. Sometimes images are okay, too. But I have no desire for, and am usually repulsed by, sex ‘in real life.’

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

I’ve had folk tell me to tone down the queerness in my work, but I haven’t really encountered any sort of acephobia. There is a strong queer independent tabletop role-playing game community, so I don’t really have to try to sell to, or interact with, non-LGBT+ spaces.

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

The most common misconception, I’d say, is the idea that asexual is synonymous with aromantic. Especially for ace folks in relationships, it can get tiring to explain the difference.

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

This might be hard advice to follow, but just don’t give it so much weight. It’s okay for your sexuality to shift or change as you grow as a person and learn more about yourself.

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

Grasswatch Games is the company my two creative partners and I created to work on Sundown. Its website, grasswatchgames.com is the hub for our current work. You can find Sundown itself there, as well as my first short story. You can also find our Twitter, Facebook, and the Discord server we’re running Sundown’s playtest on.

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

Interview: Minerva Cerridwen

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

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

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

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

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

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

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

What inspires you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

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

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

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

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

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

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

05 Violet - ink - 2018
Violet (ink)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other places you can find me:

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

And places to buy my stories:

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

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

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

Interview: Sophie A Katz

Today we’re joined by Sophie A. Katz. Sophie is a phenomenal and versatile writer. She writes in a number of different forms and styles. She’s a fellow writer who enjoys writing hopeful stories (we need more of them! 🙂 ). It’s clear she’s a dedicated and passionate artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Sophie Katz headshot

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

It’s all about stories for me – I LOVE stories, and storytelling. So far, my best skill to bring stories to life has been writing. I’ll write in pretty much any form; different stories need different mediums, after all. Some stories are short, some are novels. Some are screenplays or stage plays. I dabble in poetry. I have a few stories that sit in my head and insist upon being graphic novels – I’ll have to find someone who’s better with visual art to collaborate with for those.

What inspires you?

Life inspires me. That’s a vague answer. I have a “story ideas” tag on my Tumblr with hundreds of pictures and prompts in it, and I didn’t think that that was out of the ordinary until someone said to me, “Wow, you get story ideas from EVERYTHING!” But everything DOES have a story to it. You know that word “sonder”? About realizing that every other person in the world is living a life just as complex and interesting as your own? I can’t help but see that in everyone and everything around me. I don’t see things as just the way they are – I want to know why, and what might happen next. And that’s what a story is, at its base: why are things the way they are, and what could happen next?

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

There was this dollhouse in my parents’ house – I think it’s still in the basement – and incidentally we didn’t call it a “dollhouse” because Mom did NOT want her daughters playing with dolls; we called it a “people house,” like that Dr. Seuss book. I’d sit at the People House with all of our toys, all the animals and action figures and Disney characters, and narrate their adventures, for hours and hours. It was just what I did. Before I could write or read, I told the stories of my toys. And then one day, Dad took notes on the story I was telling, and typed it up for me. That’s where it really started. After that, I learned to read and write, and started writing little books, and Mom became my editor. But it took me until junior high to really start identifying as a writer. Before that, I honestly thought I was going to be an actress, even though I wasn’t very good at it, and didn’t really enjoy it. I think because the storytelling thing was just something I’d always done, I didn’t recognize it as special, or even as “art” at all – but it was always there, and eventually I recognized it as such, and now it’s what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Things REALLY took off once I realized that Disney World had a writing internship…but if I start talking about THAT, then we’ll be here all day.

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?

That’s a really interesting question. When my big sister was looking at colleges, I started picking up literary journals from the schools we visited, and I started noticing a troubling pattern in the works published there: they were overwhelmingly sad. I concluded then that sadness must be the easiest emotion to evoke in a story, and the true challenge was to create something that made people happy.

Bad things do happen in the stories I write, but they very rarely end that way. Books and movies that end in hopelessness bother me. By all means, kill your darlings and send me to bed crying, but give me a reason to get up in the morning! This is a very roundabout way of answering that a feature I include in my work is hope. My stories are most often about people looking at the world and seeing not only the bad that is, but the good that could be, and working to make that good come to be. I think a lot of people perceive hope and optimism as naïve, and sadness and despair as true art. It’s fine to have that opinion, but I don’t subscribe to it. I see art in joy, and in the challenge of creating joy, and in taking on that challenge. I see art in hope.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

You are not completely unique, and that is a good thing. It’s a good thing because it means that you have something to offer that will resonate with other people. You are not so different from the rest of the world that nobody will ever understand; rather, you have something to create that other people need. Create what is true to you, what is so true to you that it feels like no one else in the world may have ever felt the way that you feel about it. Create it and share it with the world. And someday, someone will walk up to you, and nervously shake your hand, and say, “That’s exactly how I feel. Thank you for turning it into art.”

Also, I highly recommend learning the skill of biting your tongue and saying “thank you, I’ll consider it” to critique. It’s not an easy skill to develop. Feedback is key to growth, and while you don’t have to TAKE all the feedback anyone ever gives you (you won’t take most of it, and that’s the way it should be!), it’s good to hear feedback. Feedback is how you learn what people are getting out of your art, whether your art is doing what you want it to do to the people you want it to do stuff to. I hope that sentence makes sense. I’d appreciate feedback on that sentence.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual, usually. Recently I’ve been feeling a bit more solidly ace; my body on occasion will send me a surprise bout of “nonononono” even when I’m with someone I am very much emotionally connected to.

I don’t even know what’s up with my romantic orientation. It’s like it plays “duck duck goose,” where it’ll go “duck duck duck…” over everyone around me for ages and then suddenly “GOOSE! YOU HAVE A CRUSH!!!”

I like things to make sense, so it’s all a bit frustrating for me, but I’m training myself to make peace with the uncertainty. Having words like “demisexual” and “asexual” and “sex-positive” and “sex-repulsed” to throw around helps some. I like having words for things.

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

Nothing’s been explicitly directed towards me, but romance is such a prevalent part of the stories we tell that I can’t help but be nervous. I’m nervous that I won’t be able to write a love story that someone will want to read, because I can’t know what it’s like to be the allosexual people that mainstream romances are about. I’m nervous that putting ace people in my stories, or being frank about demisexuality, will bring more trouble down on me than good. But this is my life, this is my truth, and these are the stories that I wish, oh god do I wish, that I had had when I thought that I was broken. How could I not write that? But I’m nervous, so how CAN I write that?

Fortunately, I found an incredibly supportive feminist arts community at my university, and I felt safe enough there to read a piece about figuring out my sexuality at an open mic. After the show, an audience member came up to me and thanked me, because what I had read was exactly how it was for them figuring out their sexuality. That’s when it hit me that however nervous I was, I couldn’t let that get in the way of creating my art. People need to know that they’re not alone. And coming up against ninety-nine readers who think I’m some faker special snowflake is worth it if I can get to the hundredth reader who needs to hear that they’re not alone.

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

That it doesn’t exist.

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

…Honestly, I wish someone had advice to give ME, because I struggle with it plenty. What I do know to remind myself of as much as I can is this: your sexuality does NOT make you a burden, and anyone who makes you feel like it is can walk the plank.

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

I have an electronic portfolio at https://sophieakatz.wordpress.com/, and I’ve just begun a writing Tumblr in an attempt to self-promote – you can find that at https://sophieakatz.tumblr.com/. Go ahead and send me a message there if you want to chat about anything! Or you could contact me at http://ohthewhomanity.tumblr.com/; that’s the blog where I use the “story ideas” tag. You can also find my Odyssey articles every week at https://www.theodysseyonline.com/user/@sophiekatz.

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

Interview: Sweety Aurore Mutant

Today we’re joined by Sweety ‘Aurore’ Mutant. Aurore is a visual artist who does a bit of everything. They draw and paint, both digital and traditional. When they’re not drawing or painting, Aurore is writing and while they haven’t had anything published yet, they’re working on a number of stories. Aside from that, Aurore is also into crafting and writing fanfiction. It’s clear they’re a dedicated and passionate artist, as  you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is quite diverse. I would say that my “main” medium, as in the one I spend the most time on, is writing. I am working on two novels and a short stories series right now (none are ready to be published yet because I am a perfectionist) and in the meantime I work on a lot of fanfictions (I have been writing a fanfiction about a 60s movie since July 2016, it’s about 75k words long now and not yet finished. Not yet published either, because it needs to be perfect, by that I mean good enough). I am also writing on a few Larp and video game projects right now. Yes, I multi-task. When I write, I am mostly obsessed with the concepts of subjectivity and points of view. How reality can change depending on who you are. (This must be why I love Larping so much)

I also draw/paint, both digitally and traditionally. Fanart and original art alike -plants, people, original characters, commissions…-  I like pencil drawings and watercolour the most, even though I try my best to draw with ink, because it looks so gorgeous! Also Photoshop is my best friend, I spend several hours in a row often to paint on photoshop the details of something.

I also like to take pictures -mainly of plants and people, but sadly my old camera is dead and I haven’t yet found the money to buy a good one again. I have a few filming ideas too (mainly co-ops) but again, lack of material.

I also knit, crochet and sew, mainly costumes but also a few clothing items for myself or friends. I did cosplay long ago, but decided to leave the community,

Lastly, I also do happenings, of which there are rarely any picture. My next one with involve old domestic objects and plants, I will try to record its process.

What inspires you?

So many things! The people I see in the street, the world around me, my friends and their awesome ideas (I remember painting Henry David Thoreau as a hispter because of a university friend…), the Larps I play, the video games I play, the books I read, the shows and movies I watch… I have no shame about doing fanart and fanfiction, it is as worthy and honourable for me than any other form of “original” art. (Yes, I am a proud believer in the monomyth and the fact that there is no real “original” idea, and that the re-telling and the ways of representing is the only thing that matters, hence the important place of fan-work in my conception of art). Another source of inspiration for me is also the social and environmental context (I am working right now on an environmentalist happening).

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

What got me interested? Oh what a difficult question! I began drawing and painting as soon as I could hold a pen, and writing once I knew how to. I was a very curious child/teen, so I learnt to knit, crochet, sew, embroider, and I soon made my own costumes and cosplays. Taking pictures and filming came later, when I was in High School because I studied cinema and arts then, and had access to good quality material. Writing for larps came also later, when I was more inside the community but I remember writing roleplaying games in middle school already.

I have always wanted to be an artist, yes. I tried to convince myself that I wanted to do other things as jobs to earn money, but yes, even studying for a Linguistics Masters like I do now, I know that in the end, I am meant for art.

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K Family

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

I have a signature I have been using since I was 13 or so, and writing this I realise how long ago that was, oh my! It’s a “R” in the right corner of the drawing/painting/picture, and at first I decided to use it for three reasons: it is the only consonant of my first name, it is a homophone of “air” which is my element, and it is the first letter of the pseudo I was using back then. As time went on, I also realised it was the initial of the first name of my idol and the rébus of the fictional character I relate to the most (Grantaire in Les Misérables)… two things I had not thought about at all when I chose that signature, and because of that I like it even more!

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Work, work, work. Fail, hate your work. Work again, be proud for a day or two, hate it a week after. It’s normal to be proud of something and then to hate it, it’s normal to be envious of other people’s work, it’s normal to be discouraged, and it does not mean that you are not good. There will always be people who are better than you, and people who will be worse and jealous of you. Just keep working, and work for yourself. Do it for the fun, for the art. No one will be mad at you if you can’t finish something, if you abandon a drawing or a draft. If they are, they did not deserve you in the first place. Your art should be made for your own enjoyment first. Be selfish.

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Marika

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as panromantic grey-asexual, or as I like to say it, I love everybody too bad I don’t like them. I really need to be in a very “special” relationship with the person to consider having sex with them, and I noticed that is had a lot to do with how much I find them interesting on the intellectual side of things.

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

I have, mainly ignorance, incomprehension and the same old clichés than everywhere else. When I face an ignorant person in my field that is open-minded, I handle it by helping hem understand what asexuality is. If the person is, forgive my vocabulary, an imbecile that just want to cling to clichés and not learn, I handle it with a raised middle finger,

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Silver

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

The old “you haven’t found the right person yet/it’s a phase” bullshit. What hurts the most for me is that I see such misconceptions about aces in communities like feminists or LGBT+ that, I hoped, should have been more open-minded than your usual human. I most of the time get this feeling that people just don’t try to understand aces.

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Teach

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

I would say… labels don’t matter, as long as you feel good. You don’t have to fit into a category, what you feel and how you live it -alone or with how many partners you wish- is the only thing that matters in the end. Sexuality is fluid, don’t be afraid to change, as long as you feel right about yourself. Also, you’re the only one who know yourself, don’t let toxic people influence you towards anything you don’t feel comfortable with.

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

Mainly my Tumblr for my drawings/paintings: The Artful DodgeR’s Tea Rooms (http://sweetymutant.tumblr.com/) because my DeviantArt has been dead for too long. I will probably create a YouTube and Twitch channel soon, but have not yet found the time to! To read me, there is my AO3, Sweety_Mutant: (https://archiveofourown.org/users/Sweety_Mutant/pseuds/Sweety_Mutant)

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

Interview: Sachin Babu

Today we’re joined by Sachin Babu. Sachin is a phenomenal author from Southern India. He writes a variety of things including poems, short stories, anecdotes, and quotes. Sachin is also a fellow fan of Edgar Allan Poe (YAY!) as well as a number of other authors. He has a site where he posts a lot of his poetry. It’s clear that Sachin is a dedicated and talented writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer. I write poems, short stories, quotes, anecdotes and many more. Writing has always been my passion; it inspires me to be a better human being than I was yesterday. I usually write stuff I feel at that particular point of time, for example, if I am feeling happy, I write a happy poem, if I am feeling sad, I write a sad one. I also love to read stuff that others have written; it helps me gain a new perspective on that particular aspect. To be honest I feel my day is incomplete if I don’t write anything at the end of the day. For me writing is like a drug ecstasy and I am addicted to it.

What inspires you?

Basically, my feelings inspire me the most. I am an introvert and writing is just a way to express what I actually am. In fact, the randomness of life is what inspires me the most. We all have highs and lows in the life, happy moments and sad moments, we have days where we are full of energy and positive aura and few days we just feel tired, what I believe is we should embrace all of that because that is what makes life adventurous. Finally I have only one thing to say, embrace your feelings, they will inspire you to achieve miracles.

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

Before writing poetry I used to read a lot of books. Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, Edgar Allan Poe were one of my favorites, they got me interested in writing poetry. J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King etc got me interested in writing stories. As a kid I had a very good imagination, and once I was into my teens I decided to write and since then I never looked back. I also feel my family and my teachers had a great influence on me. My family appreciated art since the beginning and my teachers guided me in the right path.

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 usually follow a strict rhyme pattern in my poems unlike the modern poetry where people love free-styling. I also add my name ‘Sachin B’ at the end of poems and stories I write.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice is very simple, ‘go with your gut.’ Nothing and no one should stop you to do the things you’ve always wanted to do, just believe yourself, work hard, love what you do and most importantly do not think of the outcome, everything will fall in its place eventually. Try to live an adventurous life.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify myself as a demisexual.

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

I don’t consider it as a prejudice but people are definitely ignorant about aces in every field. They just don’t seem to accept what we are for some reason. In my field whenever I have written something about asexuality, people just take offence, as if it’s some sort of sin but that didn’t stop me from doing so, I have written a poem on asexuality recently and I’ll keep writing, no matter what people have to say, I just don’t care, I ignore them.

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

Asexuality is no stranger to misconceptions; I’ve encountered many misconceptions about it. The most common ones are that asexuality is just a phase or is a sin. People even think that person who identify as asexual can’t be in relationships. Asexual are prudes and are afraid of sex is one misconception. The funniest one by far is asexual can reproduce themselves.

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

I only say our orientation is valid. Asexuality is not a phase, not a sin, and you are definitely not confused. Stay true to what you are, they are many people like you, there’s nothing wrong with it. And most importantly do not afraid to fall in love, have a relationship, if sex without love is valid then love without sex is too. Be proud to be an asexual.

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

You can find out more about my work on Tumblr, I have a blog where is post almost everything I write. The blog is called at iam-pentastic.

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