Today we’re joined by Therin Stapp. Therin is a phenomenal podcaster who enjoys the writing and storytelling involved in podcasting. She co-writes and acts in an audio drama entitled Interference. She is also about to start DMing a D&D play entitled Roll like a Girl. It’s clear Therin is a dedicated and passionate artist who finds joy in creating, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
I probably consider myself a writer, above everything else. My main projects right now are podcasts, though, not stories to read. One is an audio drama called Interference, the other is a D&D5e actual play called Roll Like a Girl, which I am about to start DMing. There’s a lot of technical art to producing audio, but writing and telling stories are my main jam.
I have dabbled in fanfiction (I’ve only published one story), and I love to knit, and cook. In a general sense, the act of creation is important to me.
What inspires you?
Lots of things, sometimes weird ones, probably. Conversations, dreams, and that mish-mash of life experience. Stories I’ve read. History. The lives of saints. Spite, and anger. The desire to connect and collaborate. I try to pull inspiration from a lot of places.
Now that I’m writing a lot for an audience, rather than just for fun or “to get published, someday,” I find that audience to be a huge inspiration, in the sense that they keep me going. Interference is a strange little project, and without the response to it, we probably would have stopped publishing it after a few episodes. We’re 7 months in, now, and we have some really awesome listeners. We’re finding that a lot of people respond to it strongly because one of the main characters is a trans woman. People are starving for that representation. That wasn’t a conscious decision when we began, it’s just our life; my wife Hazel is trans. But when we realized that people were listening for that reason, we became very conscious of the way we do it.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I have always wanted to be an artist, yes, though I haven’t always focused on writing. When I was very young, I loved to draw and make comics. I am quoting someone here, I think but… I am not very good, and I’m very, very slow. I usually collaborate with or hire other artists for visual stuff now.
But it’s always been about storytelling, and I’m very happy with words as my medium. As I mentioned, I’ve always been a big reader, and I can think of no better way to spend my time than by bringing that same feeling to others.
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 designed the logo for the Orc Zone, the lightning eye symbol. It’s a holy symbol for a goddess in our fantasy setting, where the vast majority of our stories are written and our D&D games play out. Her name is Sister Truth, and she is the goddess of magic, storms, and sudden inspiration. We haven’t really made that meaning explicit anywhere, but it reminds me of our creative vision.
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
Something that people don’t like to talk about is the amount of non-artistic work involved in building an audience for your art. Networking with other artists by making friends (and by being pleasant to artists you don’t like), a good social media presence, and developing a professional demeanor for commissions/freelance work are all imperative. They can also be really boring. Since I started doing art in a more businesslike way, though, I’ve found myself more inspired, more connected, and more successful. The hustle is worth your time, and so is the effort of getting organized.
And! Always remember that there is nothing wrong with asking for money for the work you put into your art. It’s how artists have done it forever, and if you disconnect your craft from the realities of living in a capitalist society, it makes things harder than they need to be.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I am biromantic, and if we’re getting technical, I’m probably in the Gray-A or demisexual realm, BUT the word asexual feels good to me, so that’s what I use.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
All of the podcasters I regularly interact with are amazing. My main community sprung up around RPGcasts.com. We have a very supportive, very queer, semi-private discord server, where only women, nonbinary people, and trans people are allowed. It often devolves into a sharing session where ace and bi members are talking about how they’ve never felt legit, how we’re pushed aside by other queer people just as much as straight people. If any of us experience any prejudice, it’s almost always out of the podcasting community, and that server is where we vent about it.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
I mean… that it doesn’t exist? That’s pretty pervasive.
It took me 30 years to understand that I was ace. I’d never really heard the word “asexual” used in a serious way before. Interest in sex is so assumed in society that sometimes asexuality FEELS fake, even though I’ve always known that sex it isn’t for me. “I don’t date or get crushes because… um… I don’t know! I guess I’ve seen these same kids every day since I was five? That seems reasonable.” Then, I fell in love really young (at 19) and at the time, it felt like a confirmation that it was just a phase. Everything in culture points away from the possibility of a person being asexual. And even supportive families don’t understand.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
Yes, actually. Let me drop several nuggets of wisdom upon you. You’re not alone or broken. Your experience is real. You don’t owe anyone anything. There are plenty of people willing to love you on your terms. If someone seems supportive, but tells you being demi or gray or romantic or aromantic is not valid, ignore them.
And (this one is important) bisexual and gender nonconforming people are your biggest allies. Treasure them. They understand what it’s like to live in a world that’s screaming, “you don’t exist!”
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
You can find me and my wife Hazel at orczone.com. That’s where we post our two (soon to be three) podcasts, Interference, Leaf Us Alone, and Legends of Chel. It also has info, Twitter and Patreon links, and an email address if you want to get in touch.
You can find Roll Like a Girl, an all-women D&D 5e actual play podcast that I make with my four best buds, at rollllikeagirl.com. The site is currently just our audio feed, but we’re planning to open a real site in the future, and it does link out to our Twitter.
Thank you, Therin, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.