Today we’re joined by Melinda Gillispie. Melinda is a phenomenally talented young writer who has been writing for quite some time. She specializes in original fiction and writes a lot of LGBTQIA+ characters, which is always great to see. She has a wonderful enthusiasm and love for the art of writing, as you’ll soon see. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I’ve been writing in general for a long time. In elementary school, when we’d have to write a creative story, I’d always be the one with the best story. It was the same in middle school, and now high school. All of my stories have been original fiction or fan fiction, except for whenever we’re required to write autobiographies for class. My most popular story right now is one that I came up with at random several years ago and have been writing online since. It’s a fan fiction, but that’s not relevant. I have so many more stories planned out and characters being developed in my head at all times, so I make sure to write down ideas somewhere so I can remember it for when I have time to write it. I’m wanting to become a published author in the future, but on the off chance I don’t make much money in that field, I’m looking into majoring in something else in college when I get there.
What inspires you?
I’m honestly not sure. I get inspiration and ideas for stories at random; for example, I recently binge-read a book series about dragons and started creating my own fictional dragon world a few hours after. When I get inspired to write more for my current stories, it’s when I’ve been reading something similar or with the same general aspects (time travel, revolution, etc.) So I guess my inspiration would be other authors’ books and stories!
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
When I first started writing for something other than school assignments, it was when I had finished reading what was published of the Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter at the time. I was so excited, since cats have always been a part of my life. Erin Hunter’s writing was so similar to my own thought process that I based my own writing style off of hers. I started thinking of my own characters that I would personally place into the story, and it all kind of went from there. Actually I stopped being interested in it for a few years, surprisingly. During that time I decided I wanted to be an artist who painted and drew, but I’ve never been good at painting in general. I’ve always been better at painting mental pictures with words.
In 6th or 7th grade I started talking to people that I now consider some of my closest online friends, and they actually encouraged me to start writing (without knowing it, of course!) My first story was a complete disaster, to tell the truth. Nobody read it, the grammar was the worst, the storyline wasn’t well thought out… it was just horrible. The second was a bit better; I had about 200 readers, 15 of which had decided to follow the story and get notifications when I updated, and I got good feedback. Reading back on it now as a sophomore in high school… that story is cringe-worthy. I’m tempted to rewrite it completely.
I haven’t always wanted to write, but lately it’s been one of my biggest passions and one of my proudest accomplishments. Living with all of my insecurities, it’s nice being able to see how many people care for me and like my writing. It’s boosted my self-esteem a lot. I’d love to live my life as an author. Maybe not the #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR, but I’d like to sell some of my books, you know?
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 main characters in my stories are always LGBT in some way. In Golden Blood, the main character (based off of me) is super gay for her girlfriend (based off my own girlfriend.) In Stolen Time, the main character is openly aro/ace. I guess that’s kind of a feature I like to include in my stories.
In my stories I tend to focus more on the plot than the setting, which might just be bad writing on my part. I find myself neglecting to include how the environment (like the weather) would affect the storyline. The vocabulary doesn’t include hugely fancy words; I prefer to write using words I incorporate into everyday life so as not to confuse my readers.
I guess my writing style in general is unique in its own way. Everyone writes differently and has their own style, just like how everyone sees color slightly differently. We all see the world in our own special ways, so we interpret and portray our personal worlds in our own ways, as well.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
My advice would be “do what you love best.” If you love writing but aren’t good at spelling, go ahead, write anyway! If you want to get better with spelling, just look up how to spell certain words online. Also, I’m sure if you write online, your readers would gladly help you out. Nobody can do what you can do except yourself. So do what you want, in your own way! If you want to write fan fiction, go for it. If you want to draw silly comics, have fun! It’s your life. Make the best of it.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as panromantic asexual. I do lean more towards females but that’s just a personal preference.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Well, I’ve definitely encountered lots of rude people who made fun of me, said I wasn’t valid, said “hey if we stuff her in a room with romantic music and candles, will she emerge with a clone?” and other degrading things. But with writing, not so much. I’m a digital writer, so all of my works are online, and people have yet to shove their ignorance on me when it comes to asexuality. Of course, someone once said I’d go to hell for writing a story with gay characters but that’s not ace prejudice, it’s just LGBT prejudice.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Definitely the misconception that we are all plants and reproduce on our own. In biology class sometimes people point to pictures of cells going through mitosis and say “hey, look! It’s Melinda,” which hurts but I’ve learned to roll with it. I used to get more easily offended but now I joke about it too. Yes, I reproduce on my own and my clone army is coming for you. Beware.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Do what you feel is best for you. If you think coming out would put you in danger, stay closeted until you feel safe to come out. If you’re not sure, that’s fine! Questioning things about yourself isn’t a sin. If you feel you desperately need a label, just look up the different sexualities and genders and figure it out. If you think you’re ace, identify as ace! Your identity can change over time, there’s no harm in that. I used to think I was straight. Then bisexual. Then pansexual. Then panromantic asexual. I feel most at home with this label, but I could figure out more about sexualities and change it in time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you!! You’re valid no matter what.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
You can go to my Quotev, where I write most often. I also have a story up full of photos of art I made in art class with other fun mediums. Most of my stories aren’t even published or made yet, so you don’t have many to read, but that’s fine. I’m getting better at updating often and not completely abandoning stories. My Quotev URL is at MellyMelon, and the username is Goldenflight. If you want to follow my Tumblr too, it’s at golden-melon. I usually spam post memes on Tumblr but I also post writing prompts and other stuff that has to do with art. My girlfriend is also an asexual artist. She’ll be submitting her interview sooner or later. We’re gay and it’s cute and she’s cute and I love her. She’s Haylee Scribner, so if you see hers, you should follow her accounts too! ❤
Thank you, Melinda, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.