Today we’re joined by Carlie Forsythe. Carlie is an amazingly talented writer who I had the pleasure of meeting at WisCon. She attended my “Where are the Asexual Voices” panel and asked a really wonderful, insightful question about the tendency allosexuals have to automatically link asexuality with disabilities. I was incredibly happy to find out she was also an artist on the ace-spectrum. Carlie is a semi-professional writer mainly of speculative science fiction and Wisconsin-related lyrical prose and poetry. Personally, I can’t wait to check out some of her work. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
At the moment, I’m a crowdfunded writer; most of my work is funded by donations from the audience. Anything that treads too close to fanfiction is posted in exchange with other authors or artists, writing for writing or drawing, instead of for monetary donation. My writing is mostly original fiction, although I’ve attempted free verse poetry once or twice (and may again, who knows). Right now, my main universe is part of a shared world project called Schrodinger’s Heroes. Much of what isn’t connected to that particular sheaf of universes is linked to my being a Wisconsin author, or trying to be one. That is to say, very state-specific and lyrical.
What inspires you?
For me, inspiration can be just about anything, from a song lyric to that random person who was jumping off the bus as I was getting on, to a news story or an object. From there, my mind has a tendency to leap in unusual directions and start spinning, and before most other people know it–boom! Story!
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
There’s always been creativity and creative expression in my life. At first, and for quite a while as I was growing up, my first outlet was vocal music. That’s still important to me now, but writing slowly but surely started gaining an importance of its own as I went through school. I may have had one or two daydreams of making a living singing, but they were never very realistic. Writing is, or hopefully will be, a livelihood for me. It’s crucial to me in a way that singing never was, somehow.
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 haven’t got any specific symbol or signature in my work that I can think of, aside from a few turns of phrase that people can probably pin on me after a while. My background is part academic (I was a journalism major in college), part lyrical prose and poetry and part towering science fiction and fantasy nerd, and sometimes it shows. Also, quite a few of my characters end up bilingual or more, and often they’re very comfortable switching rapidly between their given languages. I suppose that’s a tell rather than a symbol… unless it symbolizes me being a giant language geek!
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
My best advice would be to find a community, online, offline or both, of supportive and similarly creative friends. At least for me, connections like those are extremely helpful, especially when writerly brainweasels come calling.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
I identify as very charcoal grey grey-bisexual, probably biromantic but possibly panromantic (I’m not entirely sure yet), and demisensual. I know that last is a comparatively rare one. Essentially, I need to form some sort of emotional connection with a person, in my case usually a woman, before I can be sensually close i.e. cuddles, other nonsexual physical intimacy with them. Then whoops! down come the inhibitions. I’ve had it compared to demisexual before, only… well, no sex.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Thankfully, I haven’t run into any ace prejudice in the writing world. I’m grateful I landed in a writerly community of wonderfully supportive folks, to be sure!
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
For me, the most common misconception about asexuality connects to ability. I have a very obvious disability if you meet me in person: I’m totally blind, and I use a white cane. I generally hate playing the disability card in wider discussions, but this does need saying. Often, the assumption is that anyone with as significant a disability as mine is automatically asexual, or maybe that’s more accurately phrased as untouchable. Once while growing up, I had it assumed that my disability and the attendant lack of social interaction (small town + openly eccentric blind girl = not very popular at all) left me unable to determine attraction from friendship. That one hurts, even today.
Essentially, what I’m saying is that disabled folks are individuals too. Disability, awareness of emotions and emotional meanings, and interest in sex are not all mutually exclusive. I happen to be an ace, but the vast majority of the wider disabled community are not. Not to be unnecessarily harsh or militant, but assuming that we all are frankly makes a person look as though they’re afraid we’ll faint if someone mentions sex, which is humorous at best, infantalizing at worst. That, or it makes that person look afraid they’re going to catch X disability if they get near us, which is arguably worse than assuming we’re all sexless from the off.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I’ll mention something that would have been extremely helpful to me when I was first starting to figure out just what in the world my orientation variables were. Asexuality really is a spectrum rather than a coin with two strictly-defined sides, as are romanticism and sensual orientation. If one end of any particular spectrum doesn’t fit for you, maybe something somewhere in between will, or will at least be closer to right.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
My list of currently sponsorable works is here, though the actual donation button is on my Dreamwidth account’s profile page (from any entry, click the profile link and scroll down a little ways):
A timeline for my main writing project (the out of character name for that universe is the orange!verse) is here:
And finally, the larger Schrodinger’s Heroes project, linked with permission of its main originator, is here:
Thank you so much, Carlie, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.