For our first interview, we’re joined by Joel Cornah. Joel is a writer from the UK who has published a few things, including the novel “The Sea-Stone Sword” and the novella “The Spire of Frozen Fire.” His work has also appeared in the anthology “Felinity” and the upcoming anthology “Night Eyes.” He has recently started writing for the site WhatCulture.com, specifically for the Doctor Who section. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’m an author, writer, person who puts words together on a page in a vaguely legible manner. I’ve always been telling stories and wanted to create imaginary worlds, so writing was always the best option for me. I grew up with four siblings and we would always be making stories about dinosaurs, dragons, penguins and whatever else we had lying around the toy box. Eventually these stories became a whole world.
Writing in novel form has been my favorite way of connecting to these tales. It really gets you to try and look inside the characters heads, work out what they’re thinking and why they think it.
What inspires you?
Well told stories always inspire me to write. A frustrating paradox exists in that a really good book will make me want to put it down and start writing, but also want to keep reading it at the same time.
It’s not just books, any well told story works. I have a major love for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, which are superbly well crafted in my opinion.
Not only is watching the show or reading a book an inspiration, but hearing the writers talk about their characters and their world always gives me that spark of need to write.
Music also works for this. I think of a lot of major scenarios for my characters while listening to music.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was in primary school (about 6 years old) and was, as a result, guided away from career paths that involved a lot of reading and writing. But at some point a friend of mine handed me a copy of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; I read it all in a weekend. Which almost got me into trouble with my special needs tutor who didn’t believe me when I told her this.
I later started The Silmarillion. This was my greatest inspiration to become a writer. The idea that a whole world could be created by the imagination had never occurred to me before, but seeing it done moved me to try it.
Words and language have always seemed mysterious and difficult for me. But this did not deter me from choosing to write, because I felt like the world I was creating was difficult, mysterious, and hard to comprehend. It felt like the best fit and I genuinely enjoy doing it.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in our work that you’d be willing to reveal?
Do puns count? I mean, really, truly terrible puns. They’re all over my work. If you look at the map for The Sea-Stone Sword there are some really bad jokes in there.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Don’t be afraid of help. I always needed help with writing and reading, but often refused to get it out of shame and pride. When I got past that things were so much better and I got better as a writer.
Also, keep re-writing. The more you do it, the better you will get.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I’m waiting to see what happens with my second book, The Sky Slayer, which has an openly and explicitly ace character. But my experience with the industry side has, so far, been fairly okay. But I haven’t really pushed them yet.
The only time I encountered some unpleasantness was in university. I was criticized often for not giving my protagonists a love interest and avoiding the topic whenever possible. Perhaps as a reaction to this, the main character of The Sea-Stone Sword does have a romance (though it’s an odd one that he doesn’t really act on until it’s too late).
I do recall being told that “not having a romance limits your creativity” at one point. Never did like that comment.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
One of the most baffling responses I have seen a few times is that asexuals are “looking for attention” and this just doesn’t make much sense to me. What kind of attention, exactly, do they think we want? We certainly want people to be aware of us, and to recognize that we exist. We want to be treated as legitimate.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
There are so many aspects to life that do not rely on sex or romance. The fact that our society tries to tie it in to every single moment of our lives is a tremendous lie that, once you see past, will always look silly in the end.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My first book, The Sea-Stone Sword, is in all of these places…
I have a Facebook page for fans to ‘like’… if you like liking things.
My publishers have a blog that I sometimes post on;
My Tumblr also exists, but it is mostly a confused mess of my various favorite fandoms with the occasional bit of Ace stuff, feminism, and general political words.
I have a Twitter that I sometimes use…
Thank you so much, Joel, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.