Interview: Jordan S. Brock

Today we’re joined by Jordan S. Brock, who also goes by Kryptaria. Jordan is a wonderful author who specializes in queer romance. She writes both original work and fanfiction. Jordan is currently working on a book she describes as “a kinky m/m asexual romance.” She is obviously an incredibly passionate writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve been writing all my life, though I spent forty-plus years trying and failing to muster the courage to submit to a publishing slush pile. For years, I read and wrote sci-fi/fantasy. Then I found fanfiction and fell in love with romance in fanfic — which is strange. I was never able to connect to mainstream romance, to the point where I could reasonably say I hated romance novels.

But romance in fanfic is a different creature altogether. As at earlgreytea68 says here [http://anauthorandherservicedog.tumblr.com/post/159134116719/on-fanfic-emotional-continuity]:

“[F]anfiction has nothing to do with using other people’s characters, it’s just a character-driven *genre* that is so character-driven that it can be more effective to use other people’s characters because then we can really get the impact of the storyteller’s message but I feel like it could also be not using other people’s characters, just a more character-driven story. Like, I feel like my original stuff–the novellas I have up on AO3, the draft I just finished–are probably really fanfiction, even though they’re original, because they’re hitting fanfic beats.”

This is the original fic I write. It’s marketed as romance, and the focus is on a happily-ever-after ending, but the romance is organic. It grows step-by-step, as true to the characters’ motivation as I can get, without heavy-handed external machinations to cram the characters together.

My first published romance novel, The Longest Night, is actually a nearly word-for-word copy of my Sherlock (BBC) fanfic, Northwest Passage [http://archiveofourown.org/works/531662/chapters/943040]. After I posted NWP, a senior editor at Sourcebooks contacted me on Twitter and asked if I’d be willing to scrub the fic and change it from m/m to m/f. After forty years of wanting to see my name in print, I agreed and signed a two-book contract.

Never let anyone say that fanfic isn’t real writing!

These days, though, I’m much happier to be writing queer romance. In October 2016, at Riptide Publishing released Change of Address [http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/change-of-address], an #ownvoices story about PTSD, a service dog, and a Jewish character — who, unlike me, is a fantastic cook. The sequel, tentatively titled Building Bridges, will be written as soon as my brain cooperates.

COA Book cover from Riptide

For now, I’m very excited to be working on a kinky asexual m/m romance. It’s an awesome challenge, writing an asexual character who’s sex-neutral (bordering on sex-repulsed) but also has a mile-wide dominant streak. He’s learned to navigate kinky spaces in various ways, both healthy and unhealthy, but he’s never found his happily ever after — until now, though it doesn’t come without a whole lot of stumbling blocks in the way. I hope to have the first draft done before May 2017 so the book can be released this year, but no guarantees. Real life keeps getting in the way!

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

I’ve always needed to write, for my own mental health. I’ve noticed a direct correlation between periods when I don’t write and times when I’m depressed or unhealthy.

As for inspiration, these days I look to the unusual romances: ones that sneak up on people from unexpected connections, ones that are realistic, ones that don’t fix the world or cure a character’s problems but that make life a little happier for everyone involved.

That’s what I love about queer romance. I’m not shoehorning or stereotyping my characters into “male” or “female” roles as they’ve become traditionally defined in the romance genre. I can let my characters develop as they will, without fear that an editor will redline a character because of breaking those gender-based molds.

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?

Animals! I tend to sneak in animals, especially dogs or cats, wherever I can, because they’re so important in my own life. I have a service dog for PTSD — two, actually, since my senior service dog, Darian, has retired due to bad hips and I’m now working with Bucky, my service dog in training. Isn’t he gorgeous?

Bucky 39

In Change of Address, I gave Michael, who also has PTSD (from combat), a service dog named Kaylee. She’s a German Shepherd Dog who’s a mix, in temperament, of Bucky and Darian. She’s not perfect, but she’s the steady rock that Michael needs to anchor himself as he finds his way in the civilian world — and the reason that he and Josh eventually end up together.

COA tumblr header

In my next book, one of the characters has an adopted greyhound. She offers her human unconditional love in exchange for long naps on the sofa. Really, what more could a person want? And I have plans for a golden retriever puppy to take a starring role in Building Bridges.

My fanfics, whether solo- or co-written, also tend to have pets of various types, whether it’s a pair of ferrets, a basket of kittens, or an over-dramatic saluki.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Remind yourself that art isn’t a zero-sum game. Other artists aren’t your competition — they’re your colleagues. Cheer their successes, because every successful artist brings new consumers into the fold, whether it’s a Big Name Fan writing a breakaway hit fanfic and bringing in new readers who eventually discover your fics or a New York Times bestselling author bringing new readers into the sub-genre in which you write. Yes, sometimes success is a matter of luck, of connections, of timing, but mostly success is a matter of talent and hard work.

Consume other art in your chosen field. If you’re a writer, read all the books you can in your genre — and a few in related genres. For example, I’ve learned a whole lot about writing humor in romance by reading historical m/f romances, even though I don’t think I’ll ever write a historical.

Study the market if you want to turn your art into a career. Learn the formulas and what made the big names successful. Study the fundamentals. Learn all the rules, whether grammar or color theory or whatever applies to your art. You can’t know which rules to break until you have a deep understanding of those rules.

Then feel free to break the rules. Be true to the art you create. You’ll find a market somewhere.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

These days, I come closest to identifying as autochorissexual.

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

I’m fortunate that I haven’t, though I suspect that’s because I’m working with publishing professionals who are from all over the queer spectrum, including an ace senior editor.

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

Any sentence that includes the words “all aces” is bound to be 1) “commonly” believed or taken to be true and 2) actually flat-out wrong.

When it comes to my next book, I’m actually bracing for backlash from outside the ace community from people telling me I can’t write a kinky asexual character because “all aces” don’t like sex and therefore can’t be kinky.

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

A few things:

  1. “All aces” don’t exist. Every asexual person is different. Sex-positive, sex-neutral, sex-repulsed. Kinky, vanilla, or none of the above. Masturbates or doesn’t. Experiences arousal under whatever circumstances or none at all.
  2. If someone tells you “you can’t be ace because…” or “you’re not a real ace because…” walk away and don’t look back. Nobody elected these gatekeepers, and nobody has a lock on knowing everything about asexuality — not even other aces. We all live in a continuous state of self-discovery, from the day we’re born until the day we die.
  3. And that means sometimes you change, whether from biology or circumstance or because you simply learned a new word that comes closer to resonating with who you really are inside. There was a time I identified as het, then bi, then pan, then gray-ace, then demi-ace, then back to gray-ace/aro. It took me something like 43 years to get where I am now, and that doesn’t mean it won’t change again. That’s okay!

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

These days, I tend to be most active on my Twitter, https://twitter.com/jordansbrock/ for original work or pictures of Bucky. I’m terrible at keeping up my website, jordansbrock.com, even though it’s a Tumblr. You’d think it’d be easy!

My Riptide Publishing author page will also have a link to all books I’ve released through them. http://riptidepublishing.com/authors/jordan-s-brock

For fanfic, my work is all available on AO3 at http://archiveofourown.org/users/Kryptaria/works and my Tumblr, at kryptaria, is full of inspirational pictures. These days, it’s mostly Marvel Cinematic Universe. I keep my James Bond stuff at kryptaria00Q and post random writing/service dog bits at anauthorandherservicedog.

Thank you, Jordan, for participating in this interview and this project. It is very much appreciated.

Interview: Savannah

Today we’re joined by Savannah. Savannah is a phenomenal writer from Jamaica. They writes a number of things, including short fiction and poetry. Savannah is incredibly enthusiastic about writing and it really shows. They create gorgeous pictures with their words, 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.

I’m a writer, by hobby—I haven’t published anything yet (unless you count the two or so letters to the editor I’ve submitted to a local newspaper). I enjoy writing critical pieces, fiction, and occasionally poetry. I write about other people a lot, especially my poetry. My life isn’t that exciting (I think), so I use my writing to tell other people’s stories. I don’t think much about form and structure with my poetry. I usually start writing and I won’t stop until a poem is done. It’s somewhat similar with writing fiction: I’ll feel like I have something to write, start immediately, and then go until I feel tired or I have to stop. Sometimes when I stop I can get back into the groove after I’ve rested, but other times I’ll never be able to pick it up again. I always want to give my stories away to other people who would be willing to finish them (I think of unfinished stories as ghosts waiting to transcend), but I don’t always trust that they are well-written enough to pass on.

What inspires you?

Other people, mostly. I’ll be walking in town, or driving on the street, or standing in line somewhere, and I’ll see someone just going about their business and think ‘I wonder what that person’s life is like’ and then immediately I’ll want to write something about them. Sometimes I’ll even write something out at the same time on whatever loose paper I have available. Those are the most fulfilling times.

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

I was always a bookish child (I used to get books instead of toys), and I developed a love for literature. I wanted to be a writer from an early age, and remember choosing high school subjects based on what I could use to get into a writing school. I studied Literature when I went to university, but I sometimes feel like I shouldn’t have — I feel bogged down a lot with the business of poetic structure and other literary terminologies. When I ignore all that and write for the sake of writing, I feel more satisfied.

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 prefer to write in parts; usually three parts. Most of my poetry gets written this way. Each poem can stand alone, but trios make me feel like it’s a more complete work: Beginning, middle, end. I incorporate this into my fiction too, but much more loosely.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t be too concerned about people liking your work. Your work is worthwhile because it’s your work, not because other people like it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual.

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

Not so much prejudice, but there has been a lot of ignorance. When I was in university I wrote a prose fiction piece for a creative writing peer review class and a few of my classmates marked me down for the lack of romantic elements in the story. I have also been criticized by a few friends for not writing about romance or sex. They’ve meant well, but it’s discouraging to hear. In the past I’ve incorporated romance and sex into my writing to please people, but I found that it made me dislike my own work, and so I decided to stop. Generally, I feel like there is too much focus on sexuality as a source of passion in literature, rather than other things like joy and pain and growth. It’s hard to find asexual, aromantic, or non love-centric YA and adult literature, and that’s deeply disappointing.

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

“You just haven’t found the right person yet.” Every time I hear this I mentally unfriend the person who says it to me because it’s just downright rude to assume you know someone better than they know themself. I used to try to convince people like that that someone’s asexuality is not in/validated by that person’s relationship with others, but these days I just sigh loudly and roll one eye like in the memes I’ve seen on Tumblr.

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

There’s a whole world of other asexual people out there that you haven’t met yet who are rooting for you while you discover yourself. Really. We’re out here thinking about you and we want you to know that you’re accepted and you’re cared for. Even if you aren’t yet sure about yourself. Take your time, invent yourself, and keep on keeping on, you awesome ace being!

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

Presently, I run a Tumblog where I’ve been uploading my literature every now and again: http://acomplexmachine.tumblr.com/ and an Instagram account dedicated strictly to my poems: https://www.instagram.com/acomplexmachine/

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

Interview: Alena Matuch

Today we’re joined by Alena Matuch. Alena is a phenomenal writer and visual artist who enjoys writing fantasy, often taking inspiration from mythology. Aside from writing fiction, Alena also writes fanfiction and personal essays. She’s also an incredibly talented visual artist and considers illustration to be part of her writing process. She very obviously has a great amount of passion, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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Hel

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m both a writer and an artist. I’m hugely interested in Fantasy and Mythology and how those forces are woven into how we see the world. Most of my work is fantastic or has some bizarre element that doesn’t fit in with how the world typically works. You can see some of my stuff on Tumblr and I also love to play around in fanfiction. I’m currently working on a novel about Norse Mythology from the point of view of a canonically genderfluid god.

As for my art, I work primarily in watercolors and ink. Arthur Rackham, Edward Gorey and Chris Riddell are huge influences on my illustrative style. I see my drawings as an extension of my writing. There’s something so special about seeing your characters standing before you with your own eyes, seeing how exactly it is that they move about their respective stories. Painting them helps me to see them more clearly as people and (hopefully) write them into better stories.

What inspires you?

Small things that very few people notice. A misplaced line of text, never explained, but important. I like the stories of people that were written out of history, whom the Arbiters of Good Taste decided were not worth the ink or time. I look for places, feelings, states of being that are largely unexplored and considered terrifying, until you know the lay of the land.

lady-lucine-woolsey
Lady Lucine Woolsey

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

Most definitely! I was writing stories about my classmates in grade school and had a multi-chapter saga about an alien invasion from Mars by fifth grade. In kindergarten I convinced a friend that I had 100 kittens living in my home. He was extremely disappointed when he came over for my birthday party and could only find one.

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 used to do a small doodle of the Cauldron of Inspiration next to my signature on works of art. It’s a common motif in Germanic and Celtic mythology representing fertility, birth and raw creative power. Maybe I should bring it back.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Listen to what your body is telling you. For the love of God, get up and take a walk once in a while. Don’t punish yourself for taking breaks. You need time to be a human being as well as an artist, to let your mind drift into things that aren’t related to what you’re working on. It is okay. And you’ll come back to work so much stronger than you were before.

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Laenke

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a demi lesbian. I also identify as Butch.

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

No. Of course, I’m not out about it at all.

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

The biggest misconception I’ve ever run into was for the longest time my own. For almost my entire life I had no idea that there was a spectrum at all, that there was any such thing as demisexuality. I knew that I could and was getting along just fine without a partner. My sex drive was never something that had any bearing on my life. And yet, every once in a long while, I did feel something for someone else. So I couldn’t actually be ace, right? I stumbled over the definition of demisexuality by sheer accident in an offhand comment on the YouTube channel of my favorite sex educator and learned something about myself that day.

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Taniale Prosthetic Leg

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

The single thing that helped me the absolute most in coming to grips with my orientation was this little comic that drifted across my feed one day. I have no idea who drew it or where it came from. I didn’t think to save it at the time, but the idea of it stuck in my mind, giving me peace and hope as I struggled to figure out who exactly I was.

In it, the protagonist is deeply questioning their orientation and visits an “Orientation Shelter” to figure it out. The proprietor kindly shows them around, gently easing their confusion. She unlocks the first door.

“Maybe you like men?” she asks, gesturing inside.

The room is filled with men of all shapes and sizes, kissing, embracing, gazing lovingly into each others’ eyes. The protagonist shakes their head, getting more irked by the minute by a question which they thought should have an easy answer.

The proprietor pats them on the back and says it’s okay. She unlocks the second door.

A room full of beautiful women. Romantic picnics, holding hands, lips locking.

The protagonist turns away in despair. They think there’s something wrong with them, that they’ll never find what they’re looking for. But there is one more door left to try.

The key turns in the lock and they step through the portal into a vast, open field, the sun gleaming on the swaying blades of grass. The land is filled with all kinds of people – artists, dreamers, athletes kicking a ball across the green, an astronomer gazing through a telescope. In that room there is represented every faucet of creativity that can be imagined, every color of sheer joy that has ever been painted.

I keep that image in my head when the thoughts that I am lacking in something come back to haunt me. I hold it in my heart and remember that this is who I am, that these are the things I love.

I am lacking in nothing and the entire world waits for me to bend it to my will.

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

Check me out on Tumblr at Neriad13.Tumblr.com. The “My Art and “My Writing” tags are a very good place to start.

I also post fanfiction on Ao3 (http://archiveofourown.org/users/Neriad13/pseuds/Neriad13) and Fanfiction.net (https://www.fanfiction.net/u/4296233/Neriad13) under the same handle.

I post art on Deviantart (http://neriad13.deviantart.com/), though I am falling a bit behind on that one.

angrboda
Angrboða

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

Interview: Jenn Ocana

Today we’re joined by Jenn Ocana. Jenn is a phenomenal artist who dabbles in a couple different fields. She’s currently majoring in Communications, but has been doing quite a lot of writing. Jenn loves the written word and writes in quite a few different forms. She has recently had her first poem published in her school’s literary magazine. She has also recently gotten into cinematography and enjoys that as well. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I don’t think I’m at any level to where I could possibly be able to call myself an artist. However, I am trying to work towards making my hobbies writing, and content creating available for others to read/watch/listen. For the most part I write things journal entries on Wattpad (as well as previously writing some fanfiction), as well as fiction stories, poems and even speeches. Also at my college I am considered an audio and video engineer. I help record and produce podcast, PSAs, radio shows, as well as, do camera work and editing for music and promotional videos.

What inspires you?

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what inspires me. I would say I often find inspiration from other people and poets that I have much respect for and wish to emulate. I would also say a lot of my work inspired by my own life and past experiences whether that be family, health, or school related, or really anything I find that I could possibly share my own thoughts on.

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

I never really had the best life, some may say I was just given an awful hand of cards at birth. When I was younger, I became blind in one eye and since then, it always seemed like it was just one bad thing after another. When I started going to a small public school at around the age of 7, I immediately knew that I wasn’t going to fit in being the only child with skin darker than the color of notebook paper in my whole town. That was one of my first experiences with being excluded. Over the years, I’ve also had to deal with physical, mental, and emotional abuse whether that be at home or at school and because of it I’ve always felt alone and lost. That is when I’ve found myself beginning to be more drawn to writing, drawing and music. I don’t know if always wanted to be an artist, but I remember as a kid, one of the only teachers that I felt believed in me strongly encouraged me to continue with art, I disagreed because I’ve never thought I was good at it, or with anything for that matter. However, as I grew older, I noticed that I could never find interest in any other subject that we were required to take high school and somehow, I’ve always ended up coming back to writing.

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

I don’t think I have anything that is unique to my own work, for the most part, most of my work is done on a computer, but when it does come to my own signature I have a very specific way of signing things. Some people say it just looks like two likes and some squiggles but, I like it. As far as specific features, I guess that it would be that you can tell that I almost never write about things that tend to be happy. This does not mean that I don’t write about happy things, because I do. The reason to this is because I feel like not everyone knows what it’s like to be happy about something, or to express appreciation, or even have the feeling of being in love with someone. This could make it harder for a reader or listener to connect with my work on a personal and emotional level. However, everybody has been sad at some point in their life about something. So, by default, everyone knows that gut-wrenching feeling that I’m trying to express in my work and therefore can be able to relate and or sympathize with my characters as they can connect their own emotions with my work.

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What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you want and don’t let anyone stop you. Scared about what others may think? Go by a pen name. You are the only person that create make your thoughts into a reality, whether that be a story, a poem, a video game, a melody, anything you can possible want to create. You are the only one that can create it, so don’t let anything get in your way.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I wouldn’t know how to identify myself exactly but if I had to choose a term to go by, I would consider myself to be lithromantic (or akioromantic) asexual. I can have literally the absolute biggest crush on someone but if I find that they like e back the feelings immediately go away… its quite frustrating sometimes. However, I would say that I’m quite sex repulsed. If you touched me anywhere else besides to rub my back and maybe, just maybe, hold hand, the odds of me slapping the medulla out of your head be highly likely. Ha-ha, I’m just kdding but yeah, you get the idea lol.

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

Directed towards me? No. The people who I work with whether that be in my major in college, or when I work with the people in my school’s radio station/club are very open to others and diversity. This is probably due to the reputation my major and club has at our college, we welcome all with open arms.  However, the environment in the dorms is quite different. Some people think it’s just crazy thinking that it’s impossible to think that way. However, others some just seem to not be able to comprehend the idea. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way, I was once involved in a conversation when my friends were discussing how someone’s girlfriend was asexual. They just didn’t know what that was supposed to mean and didn’t really know that it was a thing. They never really understood I, but they were overall respectful for that person.

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

I really haven’t encountered much since I’m only open about my sexuality with two people. However, I have tried to tell my mother who is convinced it is only a phase and I’ll think differently when I’m older. Also, one thing that seems to be a misconception is that when I first told one of my friends, he thought I was lying because I had crushes on guys and always told him about them. He thought that because I was asexual, I was incapable of liking someone. Nevertheless, after explaining that it is possible he’s become more understanding, which is good. J

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

This is a hard one because I’m still not fully accepting of my own sexuality however, I’m becoming more self-aware of it every day. My biggest advice would be to not force yourself into doing anything you are not comfortable will doing. It could just make you feel more uncomfortable and even worse than you felt before. Writing is what works the best for me, I often would write about my experiences with trying to figure out why I don’t have that “butterfly feeling” when I kiss a guy and try writing may ways to find a solution to what I’m feeling. If you’re stressing yourself out about it step back and take a breath. Watch a movie, read a book, listen to music, do anything you feel that can take you mind away from the stressor. A big part for me in to trying to come to term with my orientation is trying to say it out loud. I know it could be hard and scary for some people. The first time I told someone I was asexual, I said it in a text message. Honestly, by doing that I felt like I was still trying to hide it from myself. If I were to be complete honest it wasn’t until just a week ago, that I said that I was asexual for the first time out-loud and it was in front of my school counselor. I may or may not have cried in the process. Even though doing this was probably the hardest and most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, the act of finally saying this out-loud has almost, in a way been a catalyst with my process of accepting myself. So, if you think you are ready you can do what I did and go to a school counselor, look at yourself in a mirror, or even just lay down on your bed and tell that to yourself, it can really be the push you need to accepting your orientation.

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

I’m going to start posting a lot of my poetry on my Tumblr but if you want, you can find any of my work on almost all my social media accounts (Wattpad, Instagram, Twitter). The username is CupcakeJiley and it is spelled the same way on every site. I you are interested in checking out any of the podcast/interviews and music videos I help produce and create you can go to my colleges radio Sound Cloud (https://soundcloud.com/wkcv-lp-908850132) and YouTube page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp2mJoWoVZnNJ6Q3I3bCBdg). I’ve also considered making my own YouTube Page in which I talk about my work, interest, as well as sexuality. I haven’t decided quite yet but I’ll keep you posted.

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

Interview: cxxxxxxxx

Today we’re joined by cxxxxxxxx. cxxxxxxxx is an incredibly versatile artist who has dabbled in almost everything but has most recently focused on zines. She has a great love for art and it’s very apparent this love has transferred into making zines, which are fascinating. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a lot of stuff it feels like—poetry, fiction stories, nonfiction and more personal writing, drawing and painting with different kinds of pens and paints and pastels, making collages—but this summer I got into making and putting together zines and I can put all those things inside of a zine on a given topic, so I’ve been having a lot of fun writing and drawing for zines on dancing, creativity, my gender identity, romance stuff. I get stuck a lot when it comes to my art and writing but I’ve made a lot of things this year especially that I like to look back at now.

What inspires you?

I don’t follow a lot of artists but this semester I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about Dada and the Beat Generation and learning about those movements and reading their writings/looking at their art/collages and I feel really inspired by these artists and writers that look at a given society and create art to oppose it and express their own views. I like to put on films about stuff like that or just political movements in general and spend the whole time sitting at my desk painting and drawing. Watching Stranger Things really inspired me to draw some cooler stuff, too.

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

I’ve been writing since I was a kid and started drawing my first year of high school because a lot of my friends were into it and I really kind of idolized them. I’ve always felt like I had a lot to say but I’m abysmal at talking to people, so I’ve always liked being able to express myself and my thoughts in writing; there’s something special about it, I think.

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

Not really, to be honest. I’ve never been really consistent with that sort of thing.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I spent years drawing not because I enjoyed it but largely out of a desire to improve so that I could enjoy, and I don’t think that’s the right way to go about creating things. Make what you like, and if it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it to, find things about it that you like anyway. Draw because you like to draw, not for the sake of other people. Something like that.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as aromantic and asexual, although technically slightly gray-asexual is probably most accurate.

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

Not really? In everyday life a majority of people I knew up until college didn’t even know it existed (me being one of them for a long time, too). I’ve seen people make prejudiced comments online and expressed some of my anger about such comments in poems I’ve written about being ace.

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

Mainly the one that I can’t be happy in the future without a partner, but I don’t think that’s true. I experience depression and anxiety frequently but dating someone/etc. wouldn’t change that, and I do feel happy and excited about enough things (poetry, history, playing guitar) that I don’t feel I’ll be missing something when I’m older. There are a lot of things I want to do someday and I don’t need another person to do them or in order to feel happy and fulfilled, I think.

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

I have a tendency to over-think things of that nature and make myself anxious wondering how I’m supposed to look and be and identify, but my best friend advised me to try not to worry like that and just accept myself even without labels and I think she was right about that. For me, anyway, it’s easy to get caught up in anxiety when I don’t identify with any known labels for gender identity or sexual/romantic orientation, but lately I’ve just been trying to be the person I like being and feel comfortable being and I think maybe that’s helping. So I think I’d recommend trying that, just going with the flow of things and how you might feel.

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

My zines are online to read here.

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

Interview: Bobbi

Today we’re joined by Bobbi. Bobbi is a wonderful amateur photographer and a writer. She really enjoys light photography and has dabbled in art photography. For writing, Bobbi writes fiction that examines serious issues and heavy subject matter. She is obviously someone who really enjoys her art. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an amateur photographer and unpublished writer. Really, I do most of my art for fun, although I did take a photography course at college. I enjoy light photography, although portraiture interests me as well, especially images of family.

My writing is fiction, although it deals with real life situations. I have written several plans and half finished novels about teenage angst, child abuse and drug use. These themes interest me on a psychological level, as I enjoy learning about what causes addiction or why child abuse occurs. I understand it is a very sensitive subject, and I aim to reflect this in my writing.

What inspires you?

I’ve been writing since I could pick up a pen. I have countless notebooks from my younger years filled with unfinished stories, plots, odd chapters and character development sheets. I have yet to finish anything, as I’ve always struggled with endings.

I have had a lot of inspiration for my work, as I was reading voraciously before I was writing. I adore JK Rowling, and I’ve recently developed a love for Patrick Ness.

My photography was an accidental discovery. I was actually studying German, but I found the classes too intimidating, so I switched to photography instead. I enjoy manipulating images to divert them from reality, for instance, I created a Disney Princess inspired piece for my final project.

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

I suppose my interest in photography stemmed from a hatred of German. To be honest, photography is, and always will be, a hobby of mine, although I don’t photograph as religiously as I write. Writing has always been second nature to me. Whenever I get a spare moment, I’m writing, whether it be about my day in real life, or random passages from a story I haven’t yet completed.

It was actually my mum that got me into reading and writing, although I have always wanted to be a writer. I enjoy creating new worlds to get lost in, through any medium, although my drawing skills are abysmal. Character development is probably my favourite part of writing, as I can create anyone I want, from personality to physical features. It allows me some control, of which I feel I am lacking in reality.

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 really have any sort of symbol, although I did play around with pseudonyms when I was younger. My favourite one was Elsie Mets. I’m not entirely sure why, but I liked the simplicity of it. It’s not a particularly fancy name, but it appealed to me.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be, don’t procrastinate. Whatever medium you choose for your art, procrastination is definitely your enemy. Also, don’t give up halfway through, even if you’ve lost all motivation or passion for the subject, persevere, and you might surprise yourself.

And please don’t be shy about sharing your work. Honestly, even if someone doesn’t like it, a bad opinion is better than no opinion on your work at all. If nothing else, it will give you a fresh perspective, which is never a bad thing.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m still trying to figure myself out at the moment, but I would say I am asexual, and possibly aromantic. But, as I said, still trying to figure things out.

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

I haven’t actually told anyone about my orientation, as I’m not entirely sure myself. If I was being totally honest, I would say the only ignorance on asexuality I’ve had to face is my own. I also don’t believe my family or friendship group know what asexuality is.

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

“Isn’t that a plant thing?” Seriously, yes plants are asexual, no it doesn’t mean the same thing!

Another misconception I’ve heard is that sex-repulsed aces should ‘have sex anyway’ to keep their partner happy, because it’s ‘the natural thing to do.’ I actually fell for that kind of pressure once, and god am I glad to be out of that situation.

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

I don’t really feel qualified to answer this, as I’m still questioning everything, but if there is one thing I’ve learnt, it’s be honest with yourself. Don’t let prejudices and ‘social norm’ keep you from being who you are.

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

My work is not actually published anywhere, although I am hoping to rectify that, as long as people don’t mind unfinished work. I will finish it eventually! In the meantime, I have got a Destiel fan fic going at the moment on AO3. It’s my first fanfiction, but I think it’s okay so far. It’s called ‘This Is The Way You Left Me’ by bobledufromage. Here’s the link: https://archiveofourown.org/works/8089705

My photography, I am hoping, will be on my Tumblr soon; acesarehigh42.

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

Interview: Melinda Gillispie

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.

WORK

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.

ASEXUALITY

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.