Interview: Elyse

Today we’re joined by Elyse. Elyse is a wonderful author who has just released a book called “Thaw,” which features a F/F romance between an asexual librarian and a bisexual supermodel. It’s the second book in her “Seasons of Love” quartet (published by Riptide Publishing). Elyse has such a wonderful love of writing, as you’ll soon see. 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 a writer, which in some ways feels more like therapy than creating art. But putting words down on a page (or typing them on a screen) can be both cathartic and an expression of self, so I guess it counts as art! I’ve written over a dozen books so far, five of which will see the light of day in 2017. My most recent release is Thaw, which is an asexual romance between a librarian and a supermodel, and is absolutely the most personal thing I’ve ever written.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration everywhere. It’s a curse and a blessing! My first book, Whiteout, came from a dream. My current work-in-progress series came from a radio commercial. I tend to exist with one foot in reality and the other in fantasy, always thinking about the ways I wish the world was different!

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

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I first ‘published’ my Sailor Moon fan fiction online at age 12, but was writing stories about detectives or animal creatures as early as 8. I’m lucky that my family has always supported my writing, and encouraged me to spend time on my passions.

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?

There is a signature “Elyse” line that definitely appears in almost everything I write. I’m not going to say what it is, though! Maybe someone will notice someday and point it out 😀

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Keep at it. Never give up. It may seem like you’re not getting anywhere, that you’re not improving, but you *are*. I published my first book at age 30. Every single thing I wrote before then was just practice, and everything I write after will continue to help me grow as an artist.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual, and possibly gray-aromantic. It’s something that’s still evolving.

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

Oh, absolutely. Unfortunately, I don’t know many ace-spectrum folks who haven’t. I’ve had people flat-out tell me that my identity is “wrong” because “asexuality isn’t real, it’s just low libido”. I’ve had people tell me to “stop using made up words”. I’m not as vocal as some, which is in large part to protect myself from the aphobia out there, but I see it all the time and it hurts to know my friends and fellow aces are being attacked because of ignorance.

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

That it’s just low libido. NOPE! People with low libidos can (and often do) still experience sexual attraction. Libido is physical; asexuality is an orientation, a lack of sexual attraction, and is not related to physical desires.

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

You are valid exactly as you are. Asexuality is a spectrum, and you are still ace no matter where you fall on that spectrum! If a word or identity doesn’t fit you exactly, you still have the right to use it if you want to. Identities are personal, and no one has the right to define yours for you!

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

I’m on Twitter at ElyseSpringer, or my infrequently updated website, (http://elspringer.com/). I’m always happy to interact and chat, so feel free to tweet me or shoot me a message through my site!

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

Interview: AbsolXGuardian

Today we’re joined by AbsolXGuardian. AbsolXGuardian is a young aro-ace writer who specializes in fanfiction. She’s incredibly enthusiastic about her work and obviously loves to write, which always makes for a great interview. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I write fanfiction. My first posted fanfiction was a story exploring a headcanon for the Fire Emblem games. It is under the f/m section of AO3, but it wasn’t meant as a romantic story. It simply had a big focus on a pairing for plot reasons (a pairing that wasn’t canon to boot). My main focus is angst and canon compliant stories expanding the backstory or what happens after the end of the series. I have a fair amount of Gravity Falls one-shots posted. Gravity Falls is also fandom of my current long-fic After the War. All my fics are mainly just headcanons that got really out of hand. They’re also really sad.

What inspires you?

My main inspiration are other big writers on Tumblr. I just want to get my ideas out there and have other people enjoy them. I was first inspired to write Return to Ylisse by seeing The Apocryphal One’s Fire Emblem fanfictions. The only fic I can really point to having a big inspiration is After the War. A lot of the ideas of the protagonists coping with the events of the series are based on the much better Fisherman’s Knot. Lyrical music does influence the plot or a character’s thoughts a lot. I’ll just be listening to a song and think “Hey, this fits a lot of the idea I have for a fic.” Then another line will inspire me to change the story a bit. They also help me with getting into a character’s thought process a lot.

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

When I was in third grade I wrote my first Pokemon fanfiction. It was your typical self-insert fic. I also started a couple of original stories that I still have saved on google drive. Once I got over my president and lawyer phase, I wanted to be a computer programmer with some published books on the side. Now a days, I’m more focused on being a computer programmer when I grow up rather than publishing books.

I first got reinterested in fanfiction last summer when I was hyper fixated on Fire Emblem. It was the summer and I had an idea (also a lot of free time). That was when I wrote most of the Return to Ylisse chapters. Once I got into the Gravity Falls fandom, I decided I wanted to write After the War. But wanted to finish what I started. So I finished up Return to Ylisse and started working on After the War. I’m forcing myself to order all my long fic ideas and eventually get to them. I have written some one-shots between After the War chapters.

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?

There’s no real special signature my fics have. Other than a lot of sadness, but that’s a common thing throughout all fandoms.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I mean, I’m kinda one myself, but I’ll give it a try.

Just keep at it. Treasure compliments. Use suggestions. But completely disregard the haters. Don’t let it go to your head.

Also if you’re experiencing a great emotion, just try to log off. Analyze what you are feeling. This will let you repurpose it in your writing. You (hopefully) won’t be experiencing anything as extreme as your characters, but you can exaggerate it. Try to do the same with other emotional scenes in books.

Oh and here’s a tip I got once that I’ve taken to heart. If you don’t know what your characters would say and you feel awkward writing it, so do your characters. Add in awkward pauses. “X didn’t know what to say, it was all just so overwhelming”

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m aromantic asexual.

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

With fanfiction, the community of each fandom is a lot more important than the field as a whole. But with fanfiction as a whole, it may be the popularity of smut/romantic fics over gen fics. For someone that’s aro/ace, that’s hard to write, but also hard to empathize with as you read. I just deal with it by creating the content I want. I’ve never been directly questioned/harassed about my orientation, but that’s what I’ve seen.

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

In general, just the misunderstanding with the dual meaning asexual has. For people who only learned the scientific meaning in school, it can be confusing to adapt. But it isn’t hard if the person is open minded.

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

You’re valid. Also anyone who is bothering you about not finding a partner with or without knowing your orientation is a jerk.

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

Other than my AO3 and FanFiction.net profiles, you can find me at my Tumblr blog: https://absolxguardian.tumblr.com/. It’s mostly just a mulit-fandom, but it’s the easiest way to contact me. I’d love to talk about my own fics, asexualitly/aromantism, my fandoms, or even read gen fics you send me and give feedback. Also I liveblog while I’m writing with the tag #writingwoes.

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

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.

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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.

Signal Boost: “Albenzauber“

Hello all!

I’ve got a special signal boost today. Carmilla DeWinter is an author who did an interview with Asexual Artists a while back (Tumblr & WordPress). She’s got a new book out entitled Albenzauber. Carmilla is also going to be doing a reading on April 23rd in Mainz, Germany.

Here’s all the information about the book:

“Albenzauber” (Elven Charms) is about the elf Nives, who has raised her prince Cir in the human realm after saving him from a coup. When she accidentally uses the elven charm on a young human male, thus driving him out of his mind, she and Cir return home to find a cure. There they find out that the usurper, beautiful and power-hungry Noctuola, is preparing a war with the humans. Cir is determined to save his heritage and asks a seer for help: They will have to find a human being, neither man nor woman, who is immune to the elven charms. This seems highly unlikely, until they meet the androgynous human mage Heilika. Heilika does agree to help them, while forcing Nives to question everything she believes about herself.

You’ll meet two aces, one of them genderqueer with female pronouns, plus everything a sword and sorcery adventure needs.

Unfortunately, only available in German.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.de/Albenzauber-Carmilla-DeWinter-ebook/dp/B06Y5CLPQ1/

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I’ll be reading an excerpt on Sunday, April 23rd, in Mainz, Germany. (Link for more info: https://carmilladewinter.com/2017/04/09/lesung-5/

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So if you’re in Germany, please go show a fellow ace some love!

Thanks, everybody!

Interview: Rayah

Today we’re joined by Rayah. Rayah is a wonderful writer who has written a few stories, including one for an anthology that’s soon to be released. Rayah works for a publishing house that specializes in LGBTQIA+ work. She has a great deal of passion and enthusiasm for writing, as you’ll soon read. 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 am a writer. I have been published with two short stories so far. One of the anthologies still hasn’t come out yet though. It’ll be out soon.

What inspires you?

My stories inspiration generally comes from real life experiences, and I kind of elaborate and imagination “what ifs” from there. I also draw inspiration from other writers and their works.

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

Well, I have my BA in English, and since a very early age I have been an avid reader. I’ve always been drawn in by stories and devoured them with enthusiasm … and I guess it was only natural after a while to want to write some of my own. Over the past year, I have started managing a small publishing house with my best friend. That’s given me more drive and motivation to pursue more published works.

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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?

Those that know me can usually tell that I have a character that sort of like me within my stories. I can’t help it. I also write furry stuff sometimes. The publishing house that I manage has a large base of furry writers that we publish and work with. It’s by no means all that I do, but it’s what my currently published story falls under.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

For aspiring writers, I encourage you to be avid readers of the genres you are interested in. Explore others styles, learn the rules and norms of the writing through reading. It’s really the best way to learn.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as heteromantic asexual… and I’m also exploring the idea of polyamory.

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

Not so much prejudice. Perhaps a bit of ignorance. There’s a lack of visibility for sure. It’s difficult for people who are not asexual to imagine it, and that also makes it hard to write it. Even as an asexual, I often struggle to know how to write an effective and complex asexual character. It’s definitely something that I feel like writers are still trying to figure out.

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

That I will never have a fulfilled relationship without sex or that I never will have sex. Neither are necessarily true.

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

Try to surround yourself with understanding people and friends if possible. I actually didn’t even realize what I was until a friend pointed out I could be demisexual (upon later research I learn I am actually asexual) … and after that conversation is when I did my research, and I realized that I wasn’t broken like I had always though. That felt liberating. I came out as asexual for the first time to the same best friend who suggested demisexuality. I knew he’d be a safe place to do that, and it really help me just to be open about it with him. It helped me to explore it by doing the research too. I also had the chance to go to a local pride event during this time of figuring out I was asexual, and even though I was too shy to talk to anyone, I saw individuals wearing ace colors and that made me feel less alone.

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

They can find the book I am currently published in here… https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Deadly-Sins-Furry-Confessions/dp/1945247096/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491185017&sr=8-1&keywords=seven+deadly+sins+furry+confessions (This is a pretty dark and rated R book. My piece is not sexually explicit though, but beware if you are sex repulsed or you don’t like dark stuff. Not all of it is sexual in nature, but all of it is dark. This is not a book for everyone….)

For updates about my writing and my work they can follow me on Twitter at rayahbunny. I am working on some stuff that’s not quite as niche as this first work, and I am always editing and managing fun books through our publishing house, thurstonhowlpublications.com, so I am always involved in the writing and creating process.

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

Interview: Edy

Today we’re joined by Edy, who also goes by omegalovaniac. Edy is a phenomenal versatile artist who is mostly a writer. She writes fanfiction as well as original work. Her original work tends to be terror and supernatural. Edy is also a first for Asexual Artists: she hosts her own low-fi community radio program. It’s obvious she’s an artist with a great amount of passion. 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 a writer before anything else; I really enjoy fanfiction and have for years, even if the wide majority of my older work is no longer accessible. I hope to have a few more fandoms published for in the coming year. The original work I’m pushing for publication is along the lines of uncanny terror and the supernatural, and the original work that won’t be meant for mainstream release is stuff I’ve been working on for over a decade now. Most of the artwork I put out is for fandom or the non-pub fiction. I also do cosplay, and I host a weekly lo-fi community radio show every weekend.

What inspires you?

My current font of inspiration is Disney’s Wander Over Yonder, but I have irons in so many fandoms that it’s a bit overwhelming on any given day, to say the least! There is so much inspiration in shows and films I enjoy, and comics and books I read. There’s a lot in the people I’ve met and places I’ve gone and things I’ve done. There’s a lot in the songs and poetry I hear. I find it’s important to be open and take in as much as I can, as there are a lot of stories to be found, everywhere and in everything.

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

I can’t remember a time before wanting to write. From scribbling comics and characters to lugging an old typewriter around the house to keeping a notebook with me wherever I go, that’s me and a lot of people close to me know that. Telling stories is something I enjoy almost as much as hearing good stories. As for the radio, I have a clear memory of dragging one of those “My First Sony” radios around and pretending to broadcast radio dramas of sorts – stories I would make up on the spot or retellings of my favorite Looney Tunes cartoons (Hair-Raising Hare comes to mind). Art has always been a part of that, too, in illustrating what I’d write or want to write, and then moving onward to fandoms and friends’ original characters. The costuming is nothing new, either. If I could have been Babs Bunny every day that one year instead of Halloween, I tell you what. If I could be Lord Dominator every day instead of trying to find work-place appropriate costumes for Halloween this year, well, I’ll tell you what again.

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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 am a huge sucker for callbacks, references, and homages. HUGE. So of course, I use them too. I had someone tell me once that it pulled them out of their immersion in the fictional world of their choosing when they’d catch one, but adversely, I feel even closer to the characters, they are more relatable. They make the same jokes I would and they enjoy the same things I do. I love it. I recognize it’s not for everyone, at least where the pop culture aspect might be concerned, but I feel like utilizing them carefully in one’s own story as a closed loop, that’s a good, solid move. The ideal goal is to become part of that myself, one day. Someone references a quote of mine or a thing I’ve done, in something they’ve done.

I also really enjoy subverting tropes like no one else’s business, twisting them and seeing how far I can break them or how much better I can make them. Tropes can be good and useful. They can also be terrible. But even if they’re terrible they can still be some fun…

Where the radio show is concerned I’ve reached for a staple tool I’ve used in my writing in the same way that I might use TVTropes: Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies. Every week I pull a card from my tattered, DIY deck and craft an hour-long segment around it. It’s a big challenge and I look at selecting songs for it in the same way I might pick pieces for a collage. It’s gotta be comprehensive, but at the same time very lateral in composition, and overall, enjoyable and entertaining. From songs with different time signatures for “Distorting Time” to exploring musical themes of Philosophy in the current show I’m putting together for “Disconnect from Desire”, this segment I call Obliquities is my signature, cornerstone segment.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

A few things. Don’t listen to Stephen Moffat. Don’t be afraid to do things, even if someone already has – you might do it more differently than you think. Remember to take breaks often and play with your pets if you have them, drink some water, have a snack, and then get back to it. Try not to be too hard on yourself if you find you’re in a mental block moment! Your brain needs some serious rest too, sometimes. Be serious and be honest about your collaborations, both towards your partner, your input, and the output. Learn. Listen. Keep at it.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’ve finally settled on Asexual. Just that. I’ve not yet decided where my romantic leanings lie (as I can at least say aromanticism isn’t where I’m at) and I waffle on those so much that I just say forget it, more often than not. It took me a long enough time to find the word “asexual” and what it means in relation to me and my life that I also spent sometime shuffling through the other forms of it and doing some thinking as I went along, for good measure. I’m happy sitting here for the moment.

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

Oh, yes. In earlier fandom fun I wrote some explicit things, did some adult art for friends, but as I realized I wasn’t super comfortable writing them, or writing them well, even, I started to taper off of doing that. And my audience started to taper off, too, very visibly. That is what it is. No matter how much someone who is selling you sex would have you believe, though, sex doesn’t always sell. Great and amazing stories can and do exist without it just as much as they do with. So I persist.

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

That it’s unnatural. I heard this from the Chair of my local Pride organization when I had started to volunteer for it, and I became sort of a token joke at meetings and sponsored canoodling events, as if I couldn’t possibly have an opinion on matters pertaining to sex or sexual relationships. They are not a good person in general and there’s been a lot of education happening from me and others. Including one of my favorite performers that we had worked with, with the organization. Being told “girl, what are you even doing here” by him was a bit jarring, but he has since apologized, and is working to better his personal understanding, and that of his drag scene, of the diversity in the queer community. I’m proud that the open discussion about that has had an effect. It was hard finding the words for it. Even as a writer I was at a loss for so long, and so angry about it until I was able to fix that, even if just for myself at first before others.

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

It’s okay! I’m still struggling. There are days when I want to love everyone and days where I want to love no one. Days when I want to be touched and days where I feel I might implode if I were to be touched, even non-sexually. Days where I know, and days where I don’t know. That’s just the way of it, sometimes, and it’s perfectly fine. It’s all part of getting to know yourself. And if you feel comfortable being as fluid and as wonderfully elusive as a Water Weenie, that’s just great too. There is nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with you. Don’t let that weird connotation of being “broken” somehow keep you from seeking yourself. It’s not true.

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

My fanfiction can be found on AO3 here: http://archiveofourown.org/users/3amepiphany.When I say it’s a wall of single fandom pieces, I mean it. I hope to have more things up soon enough, but come Wander Over Yonder with me there for a bit in the meantime, yeah?

The stuff I’m not tossing at the mainstream publication demons, and the ephemera around it and the arduous labor of love that is what I call writing (and not just dragging my face aimlessly across the keyboard) can be found here: http://billetdouxnondistribue.tumblr.com. If furry works aren’t your bag, I apologize. That’s … what … that’s what it is. Also, some of the fic I write that doesn’t end up on AO3 as well as the art I do and have had done for me winds up there.

As for the radio show, I can be heard streaming online worldwide here: http://radiosunnyside.org every Saturday night from 5pm-8pm PST. My show is called Written on the Studio Wall and I am DJ Hot Donna. Thanks for tuning in!

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

Interview: Lahraeb Munir

Today we’re joined by Lahraeb Munir. Lahraeb is a wonderful writer who writes a lot of poetry and is currently working on a novel as well as some short stories. They’ve published some creative non-fiction and have been published in some literary magazines. 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 consider myself a writer, albeit an experimental one! I mainly write poetry, though am working on a novel & I also have a couple of short story projects on the side. My poetry is definitely what you’d call abstract – I like readers to take their own interpretations & I love reading their understanding of the words, which is so different to mine, yet just as valid. It’s pretty cool. In books, I like to write underrepresented or misunderstood characters, such as poc, queer or disabled people. I have had poetry & creative non-fiction published in a few literary magazines, which is a heck of an experience & I am thankful to anyone who reads my work, enjoys it & connects with it.

What inspires you?

I focus very much on the human condition: why we do what we do & how we do it. I often draw on personal experiences to write pieces & tend to use the written word as a form of communication. I am inspired by the relentlessness & fragility of humanity & how people are different in all the same ways. I am both scared & awed by people & that is what I try to express. Also nice comments from my readers keep me going.

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

I have always been an avid reader, but only started writing myself in my early teens. I think words are incredibly valuable & so many people misuse or abuse them, which is quite sad. I am drawn to their perfect infallibility – try as I might, I can never really get across what I am trying to say, so in that way I can tell the same story an infinite amount of times & I think that`s rather amazing. I am not really sure what career path I want to take & writing has always been more of a hobby than anything else – though that does have the potential to change.

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?

Well, as you can see, I like to write in lowercase & use “&” – for no other reason than I find it aesthetically calming. I am aware that some people may find it annoying, so I tend to capitalize properly in novels. I also like using {these brackets} because I think they are cool {that being said by a vastly uncool person!} I am also a fan of puns & wordplay & having more than one meaning attached to a particular phrase so people can take it to mean what they want to – & so I end up playing around with format and structure a lot.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

I would tell them to always make sure they enjoy what they create – it’s easy to get lost in the demands and whims of people, particularly in this technological age, so if you find that you are not enjoying the creative process as much or just creating for other people and not yourself then it’s perfectly acceptable to step back and take a break to evaluate what your art really means to you. Also, take risks – most of the time, they might not work out, but that one time it does, it’s freaking awesome!

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as asexual – simply using the umbrella term, as I don’t really connect with any of the more specific terms. All I know is I am not sexually attracted to people & I am fine with that.

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

The writing community itself is so diverse, so I have been lucky not to encounter any prejudice regarding my sexuality.

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

that we are all broken or damaged in some way – we’ve either been abused, have hormone imbalances or some other underlying pathology to make us this way – & why that may be true for some aces, they are still valid aces regardless. People seem to find it hard to comprehend that asexuality is not a choice, and although it may be influenced by life events, it is not caused by it.

Also, people seem to think that the concept of being queer & the concept of being religious are so dramatically opposed that should the two collide in one person, the notion is completely rejected! Although this refers to queerness in general, it is still something that annoys me a lot because I am pretty sure I exist, but people seem to want to challenge me on that.

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

It’s okay to be struggling, but the struggles do not define who you are & it is important to remember that. It’s best to surround yourself with a positive network of people with similar experiences – & there is loads of ace positivity online {try your best to avoid the discourse}. Remember: you are not a freak, you are accepted and valid – even if it doesn’t feel that way. & it’s okay if your orientation changes – there are a wide variety of terms to accommodate whatever it is you feel & you will always be valid no matter what labels you choose.

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

People can see more of my work on Wattpad: thefineideayoucrave
I also have a blog: https://uncoveringthefineideaswecrave.wordpress.com/
& a Tumblr: https://thefineideayoucrave.tumblr.com/

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