Interview: Kristen

Today we’re joined by Kristen. Kristen is a phenomenal author who self-publishes a series with her partner under the name Riley S. Keene. She enjoys writing speculative fiction: fantasy and horror mostly. In fact, the series they’re working on is LGBTQIA+ fantasy and it sounds fantastic from the summary. It’s clear that Kristen is a passionate and dedicated author, 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.

My art of choice is writing—specifically LGBTQA+ and POC positive speculative fiction, including Fantasy, LitRPG, and Horror. I have been writing speculative fiction for way more years than I’d like to admit (somewhere upwards of 25 by now), but I only got serious about it in the last five years. Before I got serious about writing, I was an artist who took way too much influence from anime and manga.

What inspires you?

My biggest inspiration for Fantasy and LitRPG are table top games, like Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire the Masquerade, and Savage Worlds. I also take a lot of inspiration from video games, including Horizon Zero Dawn, the Final Fantasy series, and MMOs like Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft. I’m also greatly inspired by books, including the Dragonlance series, the first Fantasy books that showed me people could enjoy accessible Fantasy that didn’t need to copy Tolkien’s style.

For Horror, my biggest inspiration is my own anxiety. Thanks, brain. Maybe also the 80s and 90s horror movies I grew up with (before jump scares became the norm) and the work of Ania Ahlborn and Richard Laymon.

Lately though, my biggest inspiration has been knowing that self-publishing gives me a platform to share my words with others, to influence and inspire them, just like others have influenced and inspired me.

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

I was always a creative child. As far back as I can remember, I read books, played with art supplies, and enjoyed the Steno notebooks and typewriters that my grandmother had in her attic from her time as a secretary.

When I graduated from college, I decided to pursue art as a source of income (how I got into Engineering Marketing from Graphic Design is anyone’s guess) so I focused on writing for the fun stuff. I studied and studied and, you guessed it, studied some more. I have nearly a hundred how-to writing self-help books that I’ve collected over the last ten years, and all of them have helped me hone my craft. Or, you know, gather dust. Whichever.

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?

Nearly all of my stories feature a broken religion and/or government. I was born and raised in a very strict religion (purposefully not named to avoid upsetting anyone) and when I grew into an adult, much to the anger of my family, I renounced my religion to focus on the one religion that spoke to me as a person—Wiccan. I’ve since transitioned to just general Agnosticism. But it was the flaws in that first religion, the leaders and the way the believes were applied only when convenient, that made me realize that organized religion is a perfect vehicle for everything terrible I could do on large scale in Fantasy worlds.

All of my stories also feature LGBTQA+ and POC characters in worlds that don’t discriminate against them.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My biggest advice to young, aspiring artists is to stop listening to anyone who tells you that you aren’t good enough. A lot of people in the world want to share negative thoughts, especially about the creation of art. With the internet—specifically crowdfunding and online marketplaces—there has never been a better time to become a creator. It doesn’t matter if you are writing, painting, filming, singing…you can share your art with the world. Be sure you are producing as professional of a product as possible, but nothing has to be perfect. And anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to crush your dreams just like someone else crushed theirs. Break the cycle. Make your art. Be happy.

Ancients - Resized

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a biromantic gray asexual cis woman. This is kind of new to me, as I always identified as bisexual and it wasn’t until the last year or so that I realized I am actually asexual. I am happily married to a wonderful, supportive cis straight man.

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

Absolutely. I’ve gotten feedback from readers that they don’t understand how a conventionally attractive character could be uninterested in sex. They always assume the character has suffered some sort of sexual assault or other trauma…which always elicits a sigh of exhaustion from me.

I haven’t yet had anyone come after ME specifically as an ace creator, but there is always a first for everything, right?

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

That the assault and trauma I’ve suffered has anything to do with my asexuality. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and questioning about my views on sex. I’ve come to realize is that sexual assault is a much smaller factor than people really realize. But it still becomes the first question out of anyone’s mouth when I explain to them my thoughts on sex and sexuality.

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

The biggest thing that helped me come to terms with my orientation was research. I read a lot of articles and thought pieces and a lot (a lot a lot) of ace-positive blogs. I spoke to other ace individuals about their experiences, and then also talked to a lot of my bisexual and pansexual friends about their experiences with sex and thoughts on sexuality. It was at that point, that I realized I was a lot more like my ace friends than I was my bi friends. And a loooot of stuff made a looooot of sense.

Main takeaway I got from all of my research though was this—no one’s sexuality is set in stone. It can change, adapt, and be fluid. Just like gender. So be you, ignore the naysayers, and as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or others, do you. Or not, if that’s your thing.

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

I publish my books under a pen name, since I work with my partner. That pen name is Riley S. Keene, and you can find our work on Amazon (only for right now, sorry, KU is just so good for authors starting out!) or you can just find out more about us on our website at www.rileyskeene.com. We’re also on Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook at RileySKeene. Our Tumblr just has a lot of aesthetic/character inspo stuff with some light self-promo mixed in, Twitter is where I get to be my queer little self, and Facebook is all business all the time.

I’d love it if we could hang out sometime!

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

Interview: Kit

Today we’re joined by Kit. Kit is a wonderful writer who writes a bit of everything. She writes a lot of speculative fiction with queer characters and aspires to be published one day. When she’s not writing, Kit enjoys fanart and dabbles in cosplay. She’s got an incredible love of her craft, as you’ll read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Well, I write speculative fiction of just about every kind you can think of — high fantasy, urban/contemporary fantasy, occasionally sci-fi or Twilight Zone-style horror — with plenty of queer characters. I have been known to write the occasional fanfiction, and I cosplay as well! I love making cheap/DIY and “closet” cosplays. In this picture I’m playing DC’s John Constantine, with an embarrassingly bad temporary dye job.

What inspires you?

Everything. I’ve gotten sparks of inspiration from everything from my own day-to-day life, to History Channel documentaries and Wikipedia rabbit holes, to binge-watching Shadowhunters. I believe in actively seeking inspiration from the world around me, because it really has so much to offer!

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

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I started reading, which was at the age of 3. It took a little longer before I learned how to write, but in the meantime I made stories with crayon drawings and Little People dolls. I’ve always been a storyteller.

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?

All of my main characters have some kind of physical scar or injury. I’m a self-harm survivor, so showing characters with scars that they don’t hide, that they consider part of their story, is really important to me.

Also, this is more of a recurring theme, but I love writing “roguish” characters — “outlaws with hearts of gold,” as the saying goes. Characters whose hearts and intentions (and hair) are good, even if sometimes they do bad things. I’m a sucker for guys/gals/NB pals like that.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just go for it. Seriously. You will think, “Oh, I’m not good enough,” “Oh, no one’s going to read this/like this,” “I’m just going to get rejected,” etc, but don’t listen to that. Yes, you’re going to write stuff that isn’t good, you’re going to write stuff that no one likes, you’re going to get rejected, but you’ll also write stories that people love. That will make it worth it, believe me, and you’ll never get there if you don’t JUST START.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as demisexual (I go back and forth between that and greysexual, I’m still questioning, but for now I think demisexual fits best) and bi-romantic.

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

I wouldn’t consider it prejudice, or even ignorance, but there is a very pervasive, and kinda frustrating, idea in modern publishing (especially YA) that a story isn’t ~interesting enough~ without romance, and the sexier the romance the better. I think it’s important for both ace and allo readers to see that, first, you can have a perfectly good story with no romance, and second, you can have a perfectly good romance with no sex!

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

A surprising number of people — including my parents! — don’t really “buy” that I don’t experience sexual feelings (or, more accurately, don’t experience them outside of people I already have romantic feelings for), because I’m a teenager and aren’t all teenagers always thinking about sex?? (Well…no, actually. I have to go with no on that.)

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

No one gets to define asexuality for you except you, just like no one gets to define your romantic orientation, gender identity, etc. Whether you’re completely sex-repulsed or you still want to have sex one day, whether you consider asexuality a huge part of your identity or NBD, whether you experience romantic attraction or not, you are ace and aces totally rule, ergo you totally rule!

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

I write under the name K. Noel Moore at https://www.wattpad.com/user/K_Moore13, most stories there have also been published on inkitt.com, and I sometimes post flash fiction on my personal (well, my only) blog at http://gayamericanoutlaw.tumblr.com. I’m also working on selling my first short story (a ghost story set in the 1930s with a gay narrator), so if you follow any magazines in the vein of Apex or Nightmare (by which I mean fantasy/sci-fi/horror-centric stuff) keep an out for me!

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

Interview: Lib

Today we’re joined by Lib. Lib is a fantastic writer who is currently a hobbyist and incredibly passionate about the art. They have written a number of different things. They’re currently playing around with screenwriting and considering some historical fiction, though science fiction seems to be the genre Lib’s most enthusiastic about. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write speculative fiction as a hobby. For me the biggest part of writing is answering the question “what if”. I’ve written a couple of short fantasy stories, but my heart is set on science fiction and adaptive screenwriting. Lately, though, I’ve surprised myself and starting thinking about historical fiction. I wrote a short two and a half minute screenplay for a class and the piece was well received. I’m currently doing historical research to see if I can adapt the short piece into a full-length feature script. Part of the reason I’ve shied away from historical fiction is the amount of research involved. My dad’s a history teacher so if I do take the historical fiction route I want my pieces to be as historically accurate as possible and still be interesting. History shouldn’t be boring.

What inspires you?

I draw inspiration from music and folk songs. I like how short and to the point music lyrics have to be while at the same time maintaining beauty. I try to shape my stories the same way and say what needs to be said in as little words as possible and using as many perfect words as possible. I know a sentence is meant to be when there are no other words that are more suitable. I also draw inspiration from other art like TV shows, movies, and other books. One of my literature professors talked about “writing in the gaps” and it has become my favorite phrase for what I do. I don’t have to be truly original to be a good writer, I can add to the existing narrative by filling in the gaps. I had another professor say “it’s all fanfiction until you get paid”, but I like the filling in the gaps phrase better.

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

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in middle school. During summer break I would read at least one book a day powering through 200 pages or more. My dad made an offhand comment about me becoming the “next Anne McCaffery” because that’s what I was reading at the time. For me that’s when the light bulb went off in my head that I really could do that. That dream hasn’t gone away and the potential is still there, but I’m working really hard to perfect my own brand and style. I don’t just want to be a writer, or even just a published writer, I want to be proud of myself and my craft. Arthur Conan Doyle once said, “If in 100 years I am only known as the man who invented Sherlock Holmes then I will have considered my life a failure.” So, I’ve strived to create work that I can be proud of for myself.

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?

Even before I knew what asexuality was, I’ve had it in my writing. I have ten rules that I use for writing with the purpose that it will diversify my character set and storytelling. I know Harry Potter was really popular when its day, but I’m making a point to write about someone other than a young white male as my protagonist. This practice won’t make me a mainstream writer, but after discovering my asexual/aromantic identity I cannot in good conscious write mainstream characters. I also put a lot of thought into my antagonists and villains. Often the villains become my favorite characters because I can sympathize with them and see their point of view. Are they really villainous? Or is it just that they can’t find “true love” in a sexually/romantically charged society and are demonized for it?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The difference between an amateur and a professional is a professional is an amateur who never gave up. As my favorite writer/philosopher Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.”

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m an aromantic asexual. I can feel aesthetic and sensual attraction, but I’ve never felt sexual attraction. I’ve only felt romantic attraction once, but I still choose to identity as aromantic instead of demi-romantic because that’s the identity I’m most comfortable with and feel describes my experience best.

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

I’ve experienced general acephobia and prejudice like people saying asexuality isn’t a real orientation, it’s a Tumblr fad, etc… When I came out to my parents they said I just “haven’t met the right one”. I’ve found that the best way to deal with acephobia is advocacy and education. People have been told all their lives that true love is between a man and a woman. I get asked constantly if I have “another half”, but I find it empowering to think that as an aro-ace, I am perfectly whole. I don’t need another half because I’m not incomplete and I don’t need a soulmate because I’m not half a soul either. This is a really hard idea for people to understand though because they’re basically trained to think that it’s expected to grow up, get married, and have kids. Even LGBT individuals grow up now thinking marriage and kids by adoption or surrogacy. Saying I don’t want even a relationship is going against everything people have been ever taught.

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

That I’m missing something. Like being single is proof that I’m defective. Being asked if I have a boyfriend/girlfriend is usually one of the first questions people ever ask me. I usually choose to avoid the question saying I consider my relationships to be private. It is private. I know we’re so used to having everything about us out in the open for everyone to see on social media, but even social media has privacy settings. We can choose what we share with others.

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

I was 25 and living in a conservative state when I discovered I was asexual. My exact words were “Holy shit, I’m queer!” and I was absolutely terrified. Suddenly everyone I had ever known and complete strangers seemed to have a license to hate me just because of who I am. But then I called down and gave myself time to adjust to the idea and now I’m very happy with my labels. Slapping a label on me didn’t magically change who I was. I was always aromantic and asexual, but now I have the words to describe my experience and as a writer, words are everything to me.

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

I keep a Tumblr account [https://write4nom.tumblr.com/] and a blog [https://acubedblog.wordpress.com/]

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

Interview: Philomena

Today we’re joined by Philomena. Philomena is a wonderfully talented and versatile artist, who does both music and writing. For music, she performs solo on piano, flute, and vocal. She’s currently studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music. For writing, she is working on a queer-centric romance involving mer-people, which sounds fascinating. Philomena is definitely an enthusiastic and dedicated artist. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I do quite a bit artistically, but I generally fluctuate between music and writing. I’ve even bound my own books before, actually! What I currently do can be sort of condensed into those two main things, though. The big thing that I’m currently working on with my music is getting all of my Royal Conservatory of Music certificates for Grade 8 Piano and Voice, Grade 5 Flute, and my Advanced Theory. I’m doing my exams for everything except Piano in June. Instruments that I just play for fun are sort of just variations on the theme. Other strings I play include pixie harp and ukulele, and I also play piccolo and alto saxophone in woodwinds. I’ve got my sights set on learning violin and guitar in the future.

With regards to my writing, I’m working on a novel called A Tale of Tails, that I’ve entered in NaNoWriMo, which is a month-long writing challenge that involves setting a word-count goal, and hitting a certain amount of written words each day to achieve it. The novel is going to be a queer-centric romance involving a girl n amed Calliope, who gets dragged into a crisis amongst nations of merpeople. It’s actually been in the works for a little under three years at this point. Oops.

What inspires you?

I’ve been really inspired by mainstream writers, Neil Gaiman being a major player, but I also owe a lot of my inspiration to a friend of mine named Kathleen. She’s a marvel of talent and skill, and I definitely wouldn’t be writing without the constant barrage of well-meaning texts. I can say without a doubt that she is amazing, and deserves a world of success and good fortune.

In music, I was really inspired by my choir director, Dr. Heather Eyerly. She’s also amazing, and she was the first music teacher I had that actually made me love it. I just realized, while writing this, that 40% of my music teachers have been WLW. The universe works in mysterious ways, I guess! Anyway, back on track. Dr. Eyerly was a huge influence in the way my vocal music flourished, and I don’t think I would have kept up with Vocal if not for her.

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

As a child, I was very interested in learning useful skills. I took a pottery course, I learned how to knit and crochet, and I learned how to play piano. My brother was also learning how to play, but he quit after two lessons. I kept with it because of the sense of pride it gave me in my abilities as an artist, and because of how fun it was for me.

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

The Nordic rune for M is something that I used as a signature back when I was really into Flipnote Studio, standing for the first letter of my nickname “Mena”, but I’ve yet to integrate it properly into any of my current artistic ventures. Nowadays I’ve taken up witchcraft, so it would be even more poignant, I guess–what with the Elder Futhark rune alphabet being used as a divination tool.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Practice! It doesn’t matter what you do, you just have to practice. You need to practice to get better, and you need to practice so you can commit your skills to memory. I still remember how to play songs I memorized years ago, because I practiced them! If you do traditional or digital art, look up references and practice drawing the poses or elements in them. If you sculpt, practice!!! Buy cheap clay and sculpt things with it. Knit? Thrift some wool and learn how to make socks! Dance? Learn the choreography to Single Ladies! Play an instrument? Learn all the songs from Ocarina of Time on your instrument! Have fun with your practice, but always practice your craft!!!! You won’t improve otherwise, and then you’ll be sad when you lose a skill you enjoyed. Like me when I forgot how to center pottery on a wheel. It’s devastating! PRACTICE AND YOU WILL NOT REPEAT MY FAILINGS.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a Panromantic Asexual. I’m currently in this sort of nebulous ‘gender-conscious’ place, where if someone asks, I’ll say I’m a cis girl, but I know that could change.

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

I’m from a fairly liberal part of eastern Ontario, so there’s not much more than the occasional ‘Oh, yeah, I heard about that. Can you explain further?’ There are the few times every once in a while where I have to explain that ace people exist, or I have to ask my mom not to constantly out me to people who don’t know me, but other than that I’ve had a pretty safe run of things.

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

A lot of people seem to assume that aces don’t understand attraction, or that we’re all prudish wallflowers who don’t want anything to do with any sort of relationship. Not to say that it’s a bad thing if that’s how one feels, I just don’t really enjoy when people around me say things along the lines of, “Not like you’d know” when they talk about pretty people.

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

Make an account on a social media platform that works for you. You can meet other people who identify in the same way you do, and who experience the same types of attraction as you, and this can really help you to make decisions about yourself. It can take a while to completely find where you fit in the mould, and you may decide that you don’t want to identify as anything. That’s perfectly fine too!

When I originally came out, I thought very much that I was heteromantic because I loved the boy I was dating. I still think very highly of him, even though we eventually stopped talking. What I needed to figure out, though, was that my romantic attraction to one person didn’t need to dictate my attraction to everyone else on this giant planet.

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

I’m on Wattpad and AO3 for my writing as TheMenasaur, and I’m on YouTube and Soundcloud for my music at the same username.

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

Interview: Cheryl Wollner

Today we’re joined by Cheryl Wollner. Cheryl attended my panel at C2E2 and it turns out she’s a phenomenal ace author. Cheryl is a fellow feminist author who specializes in speculative fiction. She also writes creative non-fiction and is an incredibly productive writer. I could not be more excited to feature her on Asexual Artists. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a feminist writer, which to me is very different than a writer who tells stories which happen to be about women. In my work, most of my characters are female or gender non-binary or disrupt gender norms in some way. Most of my characters are queer, even if they are not ace. Being a feminist writer means I have to be aware of intersections of race, class, gender, ability and so much more because I’m not just writing a story, I’m offering a critique and (sometimes) a solution. I’m a speculative fiction writer because spec fic is the best place to create such critiques.

In my creative nonfiction, I’m proactive in a different way. I’ve published a few essays on my coming out story, being an asexual feminist as well as how speculative fiction and queerness play into my Jewish identity.

What inspires you?

I am the writer who carries around a notebook and pen everywhere. I’ll see a street sign or catch the name of a restaurant and know I want to use that in some way, even if I have no idea how yet. Images inspire me and a lot of times an image will stick in my mind and it’s only when I pair it with another idea that I have a story. For instance, there’s a huge clock without hands by the train station where I live and I knew I wanted to write about that clock. But I only had a story when I paired it with an existing drabble about a world where all adults suddenly vanish at the age of eighteen. The image helped me bring out themes of time and adulthood that might not have otherwise existed.

Like the story with the handless clock, I’m inspired by the bizarre aspects of the everyday. It gives me license to create worlds and characters similar to what we know, but alter them to be slightly off putting or unrecognizable.

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

Growing up I wanted to be a visual artist, actually. My grandmother taught art in NYC schools and her house is filled with her paintings. For the first ten years of my life, I wanted to be a visual artist and paint like she did. In middle school I became more interested in theatre and for the next several years I dreamed of being on Broadway and attended a part-time Arts Magnet Program in high school to take theatre classes. It was only when I got scared out of a dance class that I took creative writing. It still makes me laugh because this was the last option available to me, and I sat with the program director and thought, “I already know how to write. I do this enough in school. Why would I ever want to write on my own time?” But I took creative writing all four years of high school and by junior year I knew it was what I wanted to major in in college.

So, yes I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but what that looks like has taken so many different forms. And I still love visual art. I draw on occasion and want to write for animation or comic books, so I’ll definitely be doing more with visual art in the future.

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

Well, I write about terrorism a lot. I write about political terrorism and view the systemic oppression surrounding queer people, people of color (or any other minority) as a form of terrorism. I’m fascinated in picking apart how one group controls another and what resistance looks like. A driving question in my work is: what is terrorism and who is a terrorist?

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Feel out your art because you’re far more talented than you give yourself credit for. There’s no need to pigeon hole yourself into just one art form or just one style. I went into college believing I’d write only fiction, but came out of college having written numerous scripts and creative nonfiction essays before I ever returned to fiction. I didn’t take a fiction class until my last semester in college. I didn’t start writing poetry seriously until this past October. There are never too many avenues to express yourself because you are an incredible talent.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual and homo-romantic.

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

I just posted a blog on this actually, but I haven’t encountered much ace prejudice and I think that’s because I’ve been identifying as a queer author and not an ace author. Letting myself fall under the queer umbrella means I don’t have to explain my sexuality to anyone. They can assume I’m probably a lesbian and I don’t have to correct them unless they ask. However, I’m making an effort now to identify as an asexual writer and make people recognize my identity.

The only interaction I’ve had with publishers about my sexuality was with <Wilde Magazine> (and I think one other queer publication) and I had a great experience. They said they wanted LGBTQ authors and I emailed the editor and said something about being ace and wondering if they would still accept my work. They said yes so I submitted. And while it sucks to have to ask if I count as queer enough, the editor didn’t make it a big deal.

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

Especially in college, I would get a lot of people who censored themselves around me, thinking I was too innocent to hear others talk about sex and sexuality. I encountered heavy infantilization, as if my sexuality made me less of an adult. But thankfully, I usually had incredible people like my roommate to stand with me. Having even a few people who you know are your allies can make all the difference. My mother, for instance, has become my greatest ally and I am thankful every day that I can be open with her and that she will always stand up for me.

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

There are people like you. You’re not an anomaly. You’re not broken. There’s nothing wrong with you.

Also, your identity can change. I considered myself aromantic for about six years. Definitely trust yourself and be willing to change. Being ace does not make you a robot or incapable of love or any other emotion.

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

You can check out my asexual feminist blog: https://asexualfeminist.wordpress.com/

I am the blog managing editor for Luna Station Quarterly, where you can find my blogs on feminism in speculative fiction authors and favorite female characters. http://lunastationquarterly.com/magical-girl-rising/

I write literary magazine review for New Pages. http://www.newpages.com/magazine-reviews/a-cappella-zoo-fall-2015

Links to published work available to read free online:

“From the Sister of Superman” (creative nonfiction)
“Try to Forget” (creative nonfiction)
“The Resurrectionist University” (micro-drama)

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

Interview: Mary

Today we’re joined by Mary. Mary is one of the awesome aces I met at C2E2. We had a really great chat about writing and her projects, which sound absolutely incredible. I’m always thrilled to meet a fellow ace who is as passionate about writing as I am. Mary is a very versatile writer, who does both original work and fanfiction. She has worked with different forms of writing as well. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

IMG_0167

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write a lot of speculative fiction, both fanfic and original works. I’m bad at finishing however, but the attempt is what counts right? I prefer writing Fantasy and steampunk to sci-fi, and I write both poetry and prose. On my blog I’ve lately been doing media reviews “I did the thing so you don’t have to,” meta talk, and random snippets of work.

My favorite original projects are a poetry chapbook on Camp Douglas, a Union prisoner of war camp from the American Civil War that was built in Chicago; and a historical fiction/magical realism chapter book about a spy in the American Revolutionary War.

My current Fanfiction projects are “The Salt in the Ashes” an AU of the video game Dragon Age: Inquisition, and a series of one-shots dealing with Madelyne Pryor and Bucky Barnes from Marvel Comics.

What inspires you?

History inspires me a lot for my original stuff, you can make great stories out of little historical facts just by expanding on them. Then blend fact with fantasy and you can come up with something new, or at least something potentially interesting.

With my fanfiction it’s a lot of fun asking “what if?” and then applying that to a setting. Also I end up working though extremely salty feelings concerning how some of my favorite characters are treated by the male writers who have used them.

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

I’ve always had been a reader. The story about me learning to read is that, to all appearances, I was told “you should be reading on your own by now” and so I did. That evolved into an interest in writing, but my brain works weird, so it’s hard for me to write because my brain moves a lot faster than my fingers can. In fifth grade we were given these typing things that could print what we wrote, and that opened up me actually being able to write more consistently.

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

I don’t think I do. Maybe it’s that I have a habit of using run-on sentences a bit too much. I could be wrong though, or if I do have a unique feature it’s been so normalized to me that I don’t notice it as unique.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Writing is as hard as it is easy, but you shouldn’t give up on yourself, even when you feel like you’re writing shit that no one will read.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Bi-romantic asexual. Bi over Pan, because I internalize a definition of being bi as “mine and other genders, and “Pan” as attraction regardless of gender. When I like someone in a romantic sense, their gender is part of that make up that is part of why I like them in a romantic sense.

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

Not so much in my field, but I have been dismissed by family and some people close to me. Not that they deny that asexuality exists, but in that they deny that I could be asexual because it is “rare.” Or they just get confused enough that I don’t see a point in continuing the track of conversation.

I end up handling it by not handling it, and finding folks, like my glorious set of internet friends, who understand and help me validate my own feelings about myself.

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

A sort of continuation of the above question, the misconception I’ve seen most is that because asexuality is “statistically rare” then it’s impossible for someone to know another person who is asexual.

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

Surround yourself with a safe space of friends who love you and accept you for who you are. And to remember that you are not broken, and you are not wrong, even, and especially, on the days where everything seems to tell you that you are.

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

I have a Tumblr, (at) mwritesink and I also post work on AO3 under the handle InkSplatterM

Tumblr link: www.mwritesink.tumblr.com

AO3 profile link: http://archiveofourown.org/users/InkSplatterM

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

Where are the Asexual Voices C2E2 Presentation

As promised, here’s my presentation from C2E2 (all the thanks goes to Michi Trota of “Uncanny Magazine,” who was kind enough to record this for those of you who couldn’t be there. Thanks, Michi!).

This was one the scariest things I’ve done and I was so close to chickening out a couple times. But then I thought about how many ace artists there are out there, how many were in a situation to the one I was in just a few short years ago.

I have often written about my years in the closet, the number of toxic friendships I experienced, how I was made to believe I could never be an author because of my asexuality. This presentation was all about asexual artists and getting them the recognition they deserve, about showing that we do exist and we deserve to have control of our own narratives. A small part of it was also about myself, being the proud aro-ace feminist I have become. It was my way of saying “I love who I am, I’m proud of who I am, and I’m never going to let anyone take that from me ever again.”

Because asexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. Being asexual doesn’t mean you lack something, it’s just part of who you are. If anyone tells you differently tell them to fuck right off.

As I say in the description for this blog: “Asexuals deserve to be seen and heard.” And that is something I will always, always fight for 🙂