Interview with Author Darcie Little Badger

Darcie Little Badger is a Lipan Apache writer with a PhD in oceanography. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Elatsoe, was featured in Time Magazine as one of the best 100 fantasy books of all time. Elatsoe also won the Locus award for Best First Novel and is a Nebula, Ignyte, and Lodestar finalist. Her second fantasy novel, A Snake Falls to Earth, received the Newbery Honor and is on the National Book Awards longlist. 

I had the opportunity to talk with Darcie, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourself?

It’s great to be here!

My name is Darcie, and I’m a Lipan Apache writer with a PhD in oceanography. My scholarly interests include toxin-producing plankton, transcriptomics, and the deep sea, especially its weird stuff. I once worked as a researcher and scientific editor, but I transitioned to full-time writing after my debut book, Elatsoe, was published. Since then, I’ve released A Snake Falls to Earth, another young adult (YA) fantasy.

What else? Oh, yeah, when I was an undergrad, Princeton rejected me from the creative writing program twice. After that, my debut was featured in Time Magazine as one of the best 100 fantasy books of all time, and my second book received the Newbery Honor.

For fun, I take long walks, read, watch horror movies, and play rhythm games like Beat Saber. When my spouse Taran is also free, we go on adventures together. 

As a writer, what do you think drew you to young adult fiction, especially speculative fiction?

I’ve always enjoyed reading spec fic; my mom introduced me to science fiction and fantasy (she was an original Trekkie), and growing up, I haunted the SFF shelves in bookstores and libraries. Guess I’m creating what I love!

As for choosing to write YA fiction: the books I read as a teenager made an incredible impact. They provided happiness and solace when I was a shy, bullied kid; they fed my imagination, encouraging me to dream; they shaped the person I was and would become. I hope that my books make a similar difference in the lives of young readers.

What can you tell us about your latest book, A Snake Falls from Earth? Where did the inspiration for this story come from? 

A Snake Falls to Earth is told through two perspectives. The first main character, Nina, is a human teenager living in a near-future version of Texas. Her great-great grandmother tells her a story in Lipan, and Nina is initially motivated by the desire to understand this story and its significance to her family.

The second main character, Oli, is a cottonmouth snake person who lives in a land of spirits, monsters, and magic. After he’s unceremoniously cast from home, Oli learns to survive on his own, making lots of friends (and a few enemies) in the process. Unfortunately, his new best friend becomes terribly sick, and the only cure is on Earth.

At that point, the two characters meet, their stories interweaving, and Nina and Oli help each other save their friends and family.

The structure, themes, and characters in this book are heavily inspired by the Lipan stories Mom told me. In particular, several of Oli’s early chapters are self-contained misadventures with larger-than-life characters—similar to my favorite traditional stories—that tie into the greater plot. 

In addition, my background as a geoscientist informed the environmental features of near-future Texas. In Nina’s world—that is, her homeland—hurricanes are becoming stronger, temperatures are rising, and the survival of vulnerable plant and animal species is a serious concern. Amidst these difficulties and others, Nina and her family fight to remain on their traditional land.

Where did the inspiration for your first book, Elatsoe, come from? Also note, as a aspec reader, I just really want to thank you for writing more aro-ace characters into the world!

Thank you! It’s my pleasure!

As a teenager, I wrote a short story about a haunted house. Its ghost causes mysterious drafts and screeches “Hello!” in a shrill, inhuman voice. A bunch of meddling kids sneak into the house on a dare and discover that the ghost belongs to a parrot. They free its spirit by opening an old metal cage in the attic. 

Since then, I’ve amused myself by thinking about all the cool supernatural powers different creatures—velociraptors, mosquitoes, sharks, etc—would have. This fascination led to Elatsoe’s original story seed: a person who can raise animal ghosts. That person became Ellie, the hero of Elatsoe

What are some of your favorite elements of writing? What do you consider some of the most frustrating and/or difficult?

Sometimes, writing is so fun, I don’t wanna do anything else. That’s my favorite part: the joy of creation. I let stories sweep me up and take me on adventures.

Unfortunately, the amount of time required to finish a novel is really frustrating. My typical daily word count is 500-700, which means first drafts take at least 6 months, accounting for weekends off. Thing is, the stories are itching to leap out of my head and onto the page. I get impatient—so much to write, so little time!—but that’s life.

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet, but wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)? 

If you could master any instrument, what would it be?

The saxophone. 

Are there any other projects you are working on and at liberty to speak about?

Oh, gosh, I can share that I’m writing a third YA fantasy book. The contract’s signed, but it hasn’t been announced yet, so I’m unable to say more. Stay tuned!!

What advice might you have to give for aspiring writers?

Here are a couple words of advice to aspiring writers:

First, everyone has a different writing journey. What works for me may not work for you; in other words, there’s no one right way to be a writer. But I can make a few general suggestions. When writing, take breaks, if needed. Don’t compare yourself harshly with others. And most of all, write the stories that make you happy and/or are creatively fulfilling.

Above all, persevere.

Finally, what LGBTQ+ and/or indigenous books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

Check out Love After the End: An Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction. It’s edited by Joshua Whitehead and has a great TOC of Indigenous writers you should follow. 

International Asexuality Day 2022

Today marks the second International Asexuality Day. It’s a day to promote and highlight asexual, aromantic, demisexual, and other identities that fall under the ace umbrella. In order to help celebrate IAD, we’d like to highlight a number of Michele Kirichanskaya‘s interviews she’s conducted with ace authors and artists that are linked below.

Interview With Yasmin Benoit
Interview With Author Angela Chen
Interview With Maia Kobabe
Interview with the Gentle Giant Ace
Interview with Writer & Editor Kiara Valdez
Interview with Cartoonist Jarad Greene
Interview with Author Julie Sondra Decker
A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO ASEXUALITY Interview with Molly Muldoon & Will Hernandez
Interview with Author Amanda DeWitt
Interview with Courtney & Royce of The Ace Couple Podcast
Interview with Author Claire Kann
Interview With Cody Daigle-Orians
Interview with Author Alechia Dow
Interview with Author Rosiee Thor

A QUICK & EASY GUIDE TO ASEXUALITY Interview with Molly Muldoon & Will Hernandez

Molly Muldoon is a former scholar and bookseller, current librarian and writer, and always demisexual fan fiction enthusiast. Her works include The Cardboard Kingdom, Dead Weight: Murder at Camp Bloom, and the forthcoming The Cardboard Kingdom: Roar of the Beast. Although she’s spent the past ten years globetrotting, she currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with her ridiculous cat, Jamie McKitten.

Will Hernandez is a lifelong artist and a first-time published comic creator/ co-author. Though a passionate storyteller and draftsman, Will is also on an endless journey of discovery, looking to learn more about the world and, in turn, themself. Through ups and downs, they’ve discovered themself to be on the asexual spectrum, growing ever more curious of the role sexuality and gender play in society, and fond of the culture it creates.

I had the opportunity to interview Molly and Will about their new graphic novel, A Quick & Easy Guide To Asexuality, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourselves?

M: Hello! I’m Molly Muldoon and I’m a demisexual writer and librarian currently based in Portland, Oregon. I have a very good bad cat named Jamie McKitten and spend a good part of my week working at a public library. I’ve also spent most of the past 15 years living all around the world and I’m getting itchy feet again so a new adventure may be on the horizon.

W: HeYYYY, I’m Will! But I’m also going by Billie too. I’m a freelance artist in California and am getting a jump start in comics with the writing of this book!

How did you find yourself getting into comics? What drew you both to the medium?

M: Friends being into comics is what got me into comics. I had to move home unexpectedly in 2011 and my only friend still in my hometown had become a comic artist. She introduced me to her friends and all of the sudden, everyone I knew made comics! Reading has been my thing ever since I was a little girl so of course I devoured all the comics I got ahold of and that, as they say, was that.

W: As an artist, I’ve been drawing all my life really n mostly taught myself (because I’ve always sucked at paying attention in art classes TwT). And as far as comics go it’s always been an underlying form of communication for me. Whenever I struggled to put things into just words, a little comic could usually help get my points across.

Molly Muldoon

What was the inspiration for A Quick & Easy Guide to Asexuality, and how did the two of you come together to work on this project about asexuality?

M: After reading the brilliant My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, I sent a pitch for a memoir about growing up ace to Oni. After talks back and forth with editorial, this morphed into a new Quick and Easy Guide. Knowing I needed an awesome partner for this, I actually found Will after he posted some work on the Asexual Artists website and sent their info along to Ari, my then-editor, who reached out. 

W: I personally, was reached out to on Twitter one day, was told that OniPress was looking for a comic artist to draw up a little ace book, saw it as an opportunity to put out some good info and begin my journey in punished work n dived right in! 

I have to give credit to Molly for most of the writing though, I’m personally not the best at creative writing n’ putting things into a script format to work on for comics. I mostly added my own anecdotes and some input, along with the artwork. 

As individuals who both identify on the Asexual spectrum, would you say you’ve seen any media that you felt you related to or represented by in this way? If not, did A Quick & Easy Guide to Asexuality feel like a response to that?

M: Off the top of my head, I can’t say I can think of anything that feels like great representation. Todd in Bojack Horseman definitely comes close but still wasn’t quite on the ball for me. Honestly, I feel like I’ve seen the best representation in fanfiction. In fact, reading fanfiction is what taught me what demisexuality was and gave me the vocabulary to start learning about myself. The fact that it would have been so easy for me to keep missing the words I needed, though, is a big reason why I’m glad this book exists: as a jumping off point.

W: Honestly, I feel that this book is sorta a response to that, personally at least. There aren’t many characters in media that I’ve seen represented as such aside from a handful, and I think it would be nice to see more out there.

What can readers expect from A Quick & Easy Guide to Asexuality?

M; This is really Asexuality 101. It’s quick and easy, after all! We try to cover all the basics, to give a real idea of what it’s like to be ace if you’re not and to validate other aces. I tried to write the book I would have wanted to read when I was younger, something that would have helped me, and hopefully we’ve managed that, with some jokes and anecdotes added in.

W: Well, it’s in the name: A Quick & Easy Guide to Asexuality! I think it’ll make a great introduction to the topic. It won’t answer every question for sure, but it’ll definitely give you a grasp on the overall feeling a lot of aces have.

Will Hernandez

As a writer, how would you describe your background/ introduction to writing? What would you say are your favorite and (trickiest) parts of the creating process?

M: I’ve always been a big reader, which is the most helpful thing to be if you want to write. Writing was always a hobby for me (I wrote a lot of fanfiction in college) but when I started hanging around other creators, I just kind of fell back into it. When it comes to my favorite part of writing, it would have to be working with a great collaborator. I can’t draw to save my life so to work with a great team to bring it all together is the best. Anyone who’s done a group project before knows, though, it can also be very tricky! That’s why, when you’ve got a good team, there’s nothing you can’t do. 

As an artist, how would you describe your background/ introduction to illustration? What would you say are your favorite and (trickiest) parts of the creating process?

W: mM, I’ve mostly taught myself what I know, mostly through personal research online and in libraries growing up. This comic was very much a first trial run of my skills and, tho it was a struggle, since a lot of it took place back in 2020 and I had a lot of family issues going on, I learned a great deal to further streamline my process down the road! As far as most difficult in the process, I’d have to say the initial ideas for what to portray on each panel were the toughest, especially since I didn’t plan as early as I should have to begin with. But time management has been on the list of progress points I’ve been cultivating so. 

How would you describe your creative collaboration together on this book?

M: I loved working with Will. Will is such a great partner, always eager and excited about the book with such a positive attitude, it was like getting sunshine via email. I also knew I could trust them with pretty much anything, leaving whole pages as ‘Will’s thoughts here’ and they always delivered! It’s nice to know your partner’s got your back and you’re both super excited about it.

W: I think it was pretty fun! Great to share input on Molly’s work n for her and my editor to provide input on mine! Always nice to work on projects with such great people!

What advice might you have to give to other aspiring creators?

M: The two best things you can do, as an aspiring creator and just as a person, I guess, is to work on your own projects and make friends. Make your comic! Write your script! Draw adorable fan art! Just keep doing what you’re doing and you’ll only get better at it. And while you’re doing that, make friends with other people doing the same thing. Comics is all about teamwork and people want to work with their friends. Share each other’s work. Make silly jokes. Talk about shows you like. Work on things together and pull each other up. 

W: Ok, so the number 1 tip I have for anyone coming fresh into the field, is to alwaYS plan your designs and layouts early! Environments, character designs, thumbnails, storyboards, if you’re in a case where you’re doing all the art yourself, it’s good to be doing that alongside your writer/ co- writer working on the script. Learning to partly be your own manager is a challenge, but it’s well worth the reward when your work finally gets out!

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but wish you were (and the answer to that question)?

M: Ooooo, that’s hard! I’m not entirely sure how to phrase this as a question but something I wish more people would ask about as beginning comics writers is how to write for your artist. I was friends with comics artists for years before I began writing my own comics and part of the reason it took me so long is that I was terrified I’d become one of the writers they complained about! As a writer, only a couple of people are going to read your script and the main person is your artist, your partner. So talk to them about what works best for them! I’ve worked with artists that like each panel incredibly detailed, saying who is standing next to who and who’s sitting and who’s crossing and all that info. I’ve also worked with artists who say “Yeah, that’s my job. Let me do it.” So I always want to convey how important it is to adapt your style to your partner. See what they need from you and work the way that’s best for them. 

W: HMMMmmmm… None that really come to mind honestly…

Are there any other projects you are working on or thinking about that you are able to discuss?

M: There’s nothing I can chat about yet, unfortunately, but I have a couple of things in early stages that hopefully I’ll get to share more about soon!

W: Currently, I’m just in the market for more creative gigs. Hopefully more comic related stuff cuz, now I have a good deal of foreknowledge to know what I’m jumping into. Aside from that, I’m mostly working on updating my portfolio a little.

Finally, what LGBTQ+ books/comics would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

M: Oh, I want to recommend so many! I’m a big reader and I feel like 99% of what I talk to people about is books they should read. For comics, my soul has belonged to Heartstopper by Alice Oseman for quite some time. Book four just came out! Run, don’t walk! As for novels, the first that popped into my head is A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske. It’s the first in a trilogy about Edwardian magical politics and murder mysteries and I’m already eagerly awaiting book two. But everyone should seek me out on the internet and talk books with me!

W: I haven’t read too many as of lately, but one good one I really love is “My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness”. It’s such a nice lil manga series!

Interview with Courtney & Royce of The Ace Couple Podcast

Courtney Lane (she/her) and Royce (no pronouns/he/they) are a married asexual couple of nearly 8 years who host The Ace Couple podcast where they talk about all things Asexuality. By discussing queer culture and history, they explore the topics of life, love, and sex through an Ace lens. Additionally, Courtney has a YouTube Channel discussing history, hair, disability and asexuality as well as a Patreon featuring video tutorials. You can also visit Courtney’s website, Never Forgotten, which Royce built and manages.

I had the opportunity to interview Courtney and Royce, which you can read below.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT! Could you tell us a little about yourselves?

C: I am an asexual woman of many hats and many maladies. My hats are both literal in the sense that I’m rarely seen without something atop my head (a purple tophat is my signature go-to) and figurative in the sense that I’ve had an exciting variety of odd jobs and hobbies throughout my life. I’ve run my own company, Never Forgotten, for seven years where I make bespoke contemporary hair art and jewelry. Some of my deepest passions include keeping the nearly lost art of hairwork alive, harnessing the sentiment of hair to help get in touch with our most complicated emotions, and exploring mortality as a means of learning how to live our best lives.

R: How do I do this? Hetero-romantic asexual. Agender. Professional programmer. I started learning programming with the intent of getting into the video game industry, but ended up going another route. I mostly work on the parts of software that people interact with, and spend quite a bit of time focusing on user experience and accessibility.

C: As a couple, we’ve been married for almost eight years and we go by “The Ace Couple” online. We live in Kansas City with our two large snakes (Sen and Chihiro), our grumpy rat dog (Quiggley) , our somehow even grumpier opossum (Lenny), and our 30-40 highly acrobatic mice (too fast and flippy to count or name). For fun we often play video games or board games and read books aloud to one another. Occasionally we collaborate on writing D&D adventures and co-DMing for our friends or when schedules don’t align for groups, we take turns DMing for each other. 

How would you describe your podcast, The Ace Couple? Could you tell us how this project came to be and how you came to work on it together?

R: Well, we’ve been involved in the public Ace community in varying capacities in recent years. We had also talked about doing so a bit more prominently. The idea about this podcast specifically came from some repeated conversations we’ve had about all of the unhealthy relationships we see presented in media, or unhealthy relationship behaviors we heard casually mentioned by acquaintances, combined with the general lack of representation of Ace relationships.

C: The reason why we thought our voices, specifically, would be valuable was precipitated by the fact that time and time again, we would see young, romantically oriented Aces on online forums who expressed feelings of anxiety or hopelessness. For years, we’ve observed these folks as they desperately seek some kind of confirmation that they can have a fulfilling romantic relationship someday if they so choose. Of course, being in a happy asexual marriage, I wanted to loudly proclaim for everyone searching that yes, this IS possible! Here we are! We are proof! 

However, Royce is quite an introvert and a lot less inclined to put themselves out there in a public capacity, so I never imagined that this would actually be something the two of us would do together. The conversation was something like, “wow, if there was another asexual couple like us who started a TikTok, YouTube channel, or a podcast, I bet a lot of people would find it really comforting.” To my surprise, Royce was actually interested in pursuing the idea!

R: We decided that a podcast was something we could both manage and that we would totally do it . . . someday. And then Natalie Wynn of Contrapoints blew up Ace Twitter and we jumped on a microphone with little to no prep and just went for it.

C: And we’ve been going strong ever since, releasing a new episode every week! We explore varying topics of life, love, and sex through an asexual lens with a goal of emphasizing intersectionality. We also try to keep a nice mix of heavy, difficult topics such as ableism and acephobia alongside light-hearted Ace joy like fun anecdotes from our own relationship or positive examples of asexual representation in the media. 

And for that matter, how did the two of you meet?

C: I don’t believe in fate…but it was fate. 

R: We met online. On a dating site. The full, in depth story is covered in our 3rd episode: Our Asexual Love Story. But the short answer is that it was a wild coincidence on OkCupid.

As a asexual person, how did you find yourself coming into realization of this part of your identity?

R: It happened a bit differently for each of us.

C: I was a teenager when I first thought of the word asexual for myself. I was quite convinced of and comfortable in this identity and never really questioned it, although I did not discuss it openly for a long time. This was mainly because I thought I created this term for my own singular experience and never expected that it was already an established sexual orientation that others around the world also identified as. It was really just a happy accident that the word I determined for myself ended up being the “correct” one afterall. 

Then, in adulthood, when I was finally considering coming out and exploring this identity publicly, I saw that despicable episode of House where they proved that anyone who is asexual is either “sick, dead, or lying” when it first premiered ten years ago. It was the first time I had ever heard asexuality being used to mean a human sexual orientation in media and at first I was elated…until I realized where they were headed. While it definitely did give me additional anxieties, I officially started the process of coming out just a few months later.

R: When I was younger, I either didn’t notice anything non-normative enough about myself to really consider anything like this, wasn’t really aware of what “normative” actually was, or attributed discrepancies to some other factor. Anxiety or whatever else. I’m hetero-romantic and am not sex-repusled, so I assumed I was within whatever the standard of hetero-normativity is. Until I actually started dating and trying things. It still took a few years for things to finally settle in. That I was asexual. And even longer than that to start to identify and separate allo-social habits and behaviors. 

(Courtney) In addition to having a podcast, you also work as a Victorian Hair Artist and Historian? Can you describe what that profession entails and you came to work in that field?

C: When I was 5 or 6 years old, my grandmother took me to the above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans. At the time, she never imagined that this would spark a life-long interest in the way humans have memorialized their deceased loved ones throughout history. I was already quite immersed in this world of mourning and sentiment when I first learned of Victorian Hairwork. This became my primary research focus, as it made perfect sense to me- not only is this a beautiful work of art to memorialize your loved one, but it is actually made using a literal part of them. 

I studied this history for many years before I ever learned how to make it. There was a time when I assumed it was merely a dead artform lost to time and even if it wasn’t, I had no patience to style the hair on my own head, so I probably wouldn’t be very good at it anyway…and how wrong I was!

Seven years ago, I owned a small insurance agency that I hated and I was looking for a change. I decided to take a gamble and sell my agency in order to open my new company Never Forgotten where I would be a full time Victorian Hair Artist (even though most people at the time had never even heard of this artform)!

Now, I make custom pieces of hairwork, both decorative art and wearable jewelry, for clients. I make a wide variety of pieces including mourning tokens, romantic gestures, family trees, baby’s first haircut, cancer survivor mementos with hair lost during treatments, even quite a few items made out of the hair and fur of beloved pets. There are a number of reasons why one might commission me, but the one thing all these pieces have in common is that they are inherently sentimental.

I also lecture about the history behind this artform and, pre-pandemic, I would teach classes on how to perform these once nearly-lost techniques. Since my illness requires an abundance of caution in these times, I am currently only teaching through video tutorials on Patreon, but I look forward to the day when I can resume traveling to teach at colleges and museums once again. 

(Courtney) As a disabled person who also identifies as asexual, one can assume you might encounter a number of people who struggle to reconcile the two identities, even people from within the disabled or asexual community. What are your thoughts on this and how would you describe your intersectional experiences?

C: The complications are really twofold. Not only is there a tremendous amount of ableism present in asexuality communities, but there is also a lot of acephobia that comes from disabled spaces. It’s really, well and truly, a double-edged sword. There are very important reasons why both of these communities are so quick to try to distance themselves from one another, but that leaves a lot of people, like myself, in the crossfire.

Disabled people have a long history of being desexualized and infantilized. At its worst, this goes as far as forced sterilization and other forms of eugenics aimed at the disabled population. Over time, this has resulted in a lot of modern disability activism centering around sex, specifically the desire to be recognized as sexual beings. 

On the other hand, asexuality as an orientation is widely medicalized and pathologized. There are still medical practitioners who see asexuality as a symptom or an illness that must be fixed. At its most sinister, this can lead Aces to medicinal and/or psychological conversion therapy.

These realities ultimately lead to a lot of harmful discourse such as “we’re disabled, but we’re not asexual” or “we’re asexual, but there’s nothing wrong with our bodies because we’re not sick or disabled” with both sides throwing the other under the bus in an attempt to humanize their respective experiences to an outside audience. This does real harm to people who are living at this intersection. 

In my own experience, I have received widespread hate and harassment from the asexual community in the past for speaking out about my experience as a Disabled, Asexual woman. From unfriendly DMs, to piling on in comment sections, and even seeing people in various online forums speculating about my medical history and wondering if the issues I face with my medical professionals are somehow entirely my fault. Time after time I’ve been told that I should not speak about asexuality because I am “Bad Ace Rep” and that by sharing my own lived experience, I am doing a disservice to the entire orientation.

It has only been within the last 6 months, after starting our podcast and doubling down on my intersectional disability and asexuality activism, that I’ve begun to see the tides turning. For the first time in a decade, I feel like my voice is starting to be heard and I sincerely hope that this is the start of a cultural shift for the better from within these communities. 

As a couple, both of you identify on the ace spectrum. How do you feel your own respective identities play off each other when talking about asexuality, or simply being together as a couple?

R: We are in different areas of the spectrum, but not in a troubling or incompatible way. Courtney is closer to the sex-repulsed or sex-averse side, and I’m closer to the sex-affirmitive or sex-neutral side.

Having a somewhat broader shared experience definitely helps talk through the various aspects of the whole community.

And for our relationship, yes, our differences have been close enough that it has been pretty easy for us to navigate. But I think the thing that had the single largest impact was having open and honest conversations about expectations, needs, limits, and boundaries.

What are some things for someone who is still new to asexuality/disability identity you would want people to take away from this interview?

C: Well hopefully you take away the opinion that we’re pretty neat along with the desire to check out our podcast sometime to learn more! 

Kidding! Mostly…but in all seriousness, take away whatever it is that you find useful. That is all I can hope for consumers of any of our content. 

What advice would you give to other aspiring creatives or asexuals coming into their identity?

C: I try very hard not to be the advice-giving type, because when others give me advice, I often find that it is unwarranted or irrelevant and there is rarely a one-size-fits-all piece of advice that I think is truly worthwhile for a majority of people. However, since the question is one of identity, there is one thing I’ve learned above all else and it is this: what you do is not who you are.

I grew up dancing and it was such an entrenched passion that I defined my whole being around the idea that “I am a dancer”. I think it’s very natural for artists to do this, but this led to even more heartbreak than was necessary when my body began to further decline and I could not dance as often or in the same way as I used to. 

The way in which I built my personality around dancing caused an identity crisis which further complicated matters. Aging, illness, disability, even temporary injury or naturally fluctuating interests can drastically change the activities we’re able to do throughout our lives, and while it’s natural to grieve for the things that you may no longer be able to do, the whole process is much kinder to yourself if you realize early on that what really makes you you is worthy and valuable and it is completely separate from your physical or cognitive abilities and actions.

The same advice could be applied to asexuality for a different, yet improtant reason. All too often, I see questioning asexuals experiencing a sort of imposter syndrome and asking a lot of questions such as “am I still asexual if I (insert sexual act here)…” Asexuality is a matter of attraction, orientation, and your ability to feel at home in the label -nothing more- and no action you can take will be able to take that away. 

Aside from your work, what do you enjoy doing in your free time and what are some things you would want others to know about you?

C: Well, I know you said aside from work, but we also do a bit of accessibility consulting together for events and companies. With my lived experience as a disabled woman who has access needs and with Royce’s expertise in web-accessibility, we make a really good team!

R: I always have to have a project of some kind going on.

That includes programming, either for work or as a hobby. I tend to do the video or audio editing for things we work on. Lately, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time writing D&D 5e material. It’s been a nice creative endeavor, since I haven’t worked on video game designs in so long. I also like to have video games, anime, and manga on hand for when I need a break.

Then there’s the occasional spark of interest: making a spot for compost in the backyard and seeing what pops out of it, optimizing the purchase of a household necessity, trying to figure out how to make better coffee, etc.

C: One important aspect of me that isn’t always center-stage these days is that I love to perform in front of live audiences. At one point, I thought that professional dancing was going to be my career path. I have also done quite a bit of acting, sometimes professionally, but most often for fun and on a volunteer basis. Just before the pandemic, you could find me singing in a weekly show at our local Hamburger Mary’s! 

My disabilities can sometimes make certain types of performing difficult, but I’ve always found a way to incorporate the performing arts into my life. I was a dance teacher/choreographer for 15 years and I also created and taught a drama curriculum for the arts academy I worked at until I had to quit due to health concerns. 

Other professional and/or hobbyist hats I’ve worn throughout my life have been zookeeper, science educator, fencer, bass guitar player/vocals for a metal band and a punk band, stage combat trainer/choreographer, model, wild chicken tamer. I am very proud of my strange and versatile resume, but since I don’t typically like to define myself by the one thing I happen to be doing at that point in time, sometimes I think “Professional Weirdo” is the best title for me, and in fact, it says so on my business card! 

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet and wish you were asked (as well as the answer to that question)?

C: When was the last time I won a breakdance battle you ask? Thank you, that’s a great question, I would LOVE to tell you…

In 2019, a local entrepreneur friend and I decided that since we don’t get to have traditional company holiday parties, that WE should organize one for all the fellow entrepreneurs and self-employed folks in the KC metro. 

The event went off without a hitch and as the night was winding down, a dancer asked the DJ to pose a challenge: anyone who could beat him in a dance off would win $50. I’m sure nobody suspected the cane-using disabled woman who was wearing a heavy, historical ball gown with a full hoop skirt to step forward, but I still to this day wear spandex shorts under all my dresses for this exact scenario, so I kicked off my shoes, threw my hat aside, dropped my crinoline hoops, grabbed the hem of my floor-length gown, and tucked it into my spandex shorts. Sure, I couldn’t walk the next day, or the day after that…but that night? I walked (hobbled) away $50 richer. 

Can you tell us about any other projects you two might be working on and at liberty to discuss?

C: Last year, I founded Disabled Ace Day in conjunction with Ace Week as a way to boost the voices of fellow Disabled Aspecs and draw attention to the intersectional issues we face. Ace Week takes place during the last full week of October and as of 2021, Wednesday during Ace Week is our officially designated Disabled Ace Day. We hope to continue growing the event this year and in the future. 

Finally, what queer media would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?

C: Goodness, what a big question! We’ve got a lot of queer faves, so for the sake of brevity, we’ll keep the list to queer media that we’ve consumed together as a couple and both loved.

Bojack Horseman has our all-time favorite example of asexual representation on TV in the character Todd Chavez. 

Nimona, the webcomic-turned-graphic novel, was the first book we ever read aloud together, so it’s definitely got a special place in our hearts even though most of its queerness falls back on coding. 

As for video games, we are really fond of the entire Life is Strange franchise. All protagonists at least have the option for a queer plotline, but the real, non-negotiable queer gold is in the prequel DLCs Wavelengths and Before the Storm (which is basically just lesbian punk simulator). 

Tell Me Why comes from the creators of Life is Strange where you alternate playing as a pair of identical twins, one of whom is a trans man, as they use their powers of twin telepathy to unpack childhood trauma. 

For some cozy, queer genre fiction video games, we love dispensing drinks on Coffee Talk and Va11-ha11a.

We also have a long-running hobby of playing as many strange or unconventional dating simulators as possible, and Dream Daddy was *chef’s kiss*.

Interview with Author Amanda Lovelace

amanda lovelace (she/they) is the author of several bestselling poetry titles, including her celebrated “women are some kind of magic” series as well as her “you are your own fairy tale” trilogy. she is also the co-creator of the believe in your own magic oracle deck. when she isn’t reading, writing, or drinking a much-needed cup of coffee, you can find her casting spells from her home in a (very) small town on the jersey shore, where she resides with her poet-spouse & their three cats.

First of all, welcome to Geeks OUT. Could you tell us a little about yourself? 

thanks so much, and of course!

my name is amanda lovelace, and i’m an author, poetess, and oracle deck creator.

i’m most known for my first poetry series, “women are some kind of magic”, which includes some bestselling and award-winning titles: the princess saves herself in this one, the witch doesn’t burn in this one, and the mermaid’s voice returns in this one. there’s also an oracle deck based on the series, believe in your own magic, which i co-created with illustrator janaina medeiros.

my more recent releases include my modern-day persephone collection, flower crowns & fearsome things, as well as my “you are your own fairy tale” trilogy: break your glass slippers, shine your icy crown, and the yet-to-be-released finale, unlock your storybook heart (march 15th, 2022).

most of my works explore things like trauma, feminism, and empowerment.

What first drew you to poetry? Do you remember any poets or poetry collections that inspired your love for the medium?

music, actually!

the lyrics in songs always moved my soul and helped me cope with the more serious things going on in my life, especially as a child and teen. i loved bands like linkin park and evanescence, and i eventually began writing my own “lyrics”, which i realized later were also poems.

in terms of poets, though, emily dickinson is always the first name that comes to mind. her simple-yet-intricate verses about nature, religion, and death continue to haunt me through adulthood. i’ve visited her old home in amherst, massachusetts (which was turned into a museum) a few times now, and i’m moved by the beautifully intense energy there every time.

What can you tell us about your latest book, flower crowns and fearsome things?

as you may or may not know, persephone is the greek goddess of spring as well as the queen of the underworld. on the surface, these titles directly oppose one another. how can someone frolic through a meadow yet still manage to reign over a place like the underworld? regardless of how impractical it may seem, persephone chooses to be both, embodying them for equal parts of the year.

flower crowns & fearsome things begins with a poem that reads, “who said you can’t / wear a flower crown / & still remain / a fearsome thing?”, and it’s titled “make persephone proud.” 

i wanted to write a collection about a modern-day speaker who seeks to make persephone proud—embracing both the sensitive wildflower and the angry wildfire inside of her. much of it is loosely based on the myth of hades and persephone, but i would call it an archetype exploration more than anything. 

the poems are a little messy and contradictory, and they’re supposed to be, because that’s the whole point of the collection: women should be allowed to be those things and so much more. this collection is me shamelessly reveling in that.

From the looks of your poetry, fairy tales seems to be strong component of your work. Why do you feel you keep getting drawn to these stories?

i’ve asked myself that a lot, haha!

i think it’s because fairy tales and fantasy books were my coping mechanisms growing up—when things felt hopeless, the magic in those stories inspired me to keep living to see another day, even if it was just to read another chapter. 

since my very first collection, the princess saves herself in this one, i’ve wanted to write my past and present struggles into those fairy tales and give myself a happy ending. it gives me a renewed sense of hope, and people have told me it gives them hope, too, so i keep doing it, and luckily, people keep reading.

though my more recent collections (i.e., the “you are your own fairy tale” trilogy and flower crowns & fearsome things) are a *little* more fictional than my previous collections, there’s always a piece of my truth in everything i write, whether it’s a feeling, a belief, or a personal experience. these collections have given me the chance to explore topics that didn’t fit into other collections, so in some ways these ones feel even more personal to me, and they give me just as much hope.

Aside from fairytales, is there anything else you feel inspired by?

magic—real life magic, which some people might spell like magick

when i started to call myself a witch, my perspective on the world and on life itself completely changed, and i think that’s something that can easily be seen when you look at my earlier works versus now. i see the sparkle and purpose in everything, and that inspired me to create the believe in your own magic oracle deck, and it’s inspiring even more projects that i can’t wait to share! ?

As a queer/ Aspec person, I just want to say it makes me really happy to see more asexual/ queer writers out there? Are there any times you would say this part of your identity plays into your work? 

yes, absolutely! 

it’s not always very obvious because, well, poetry, but that piece of me is in almost every collection i write.

in shine your icy crown, the second installment in the “you are your own fairy tale” trilogy, the speaker realizes that she has “much more interesting things to do” than to kiss boys. she ultimately chooses herself, not one of the many princes vying for her attention. as the collection goes on, she makes it clear that she wouldn’t mind ending up with someone else, but she’s not totally attached to the idea, either – it would just have to be the right person, the one who will “let in more stardust than storm clouds”. that’s something i can definitely relate to as someone who’s demisexual (which is on the asexual spectrum). i view her as demisexual as well.

in my next collection (and the finale of the “you are your own fairy tale” trilogy), unlock your storybook heart, the speaker is pansexual, which is another one of my queer identities. i can’t say a lot about this project yet, but i will say that i’m super excited—and admittedly also very nervous—for it to hit shelves. sadly, some readers made it known to me that they didn’t appreciate it when the speaker in break your glass slippers (the first installment) expressed her attraction to women. i’m not going to let that hatefulness effect my work, however.

Aside from writing, what are some things you would want readers to know about you?

what else is there?! haha~ ?

  1. the only place i like better than home is the woods.
  2. spearmint tea > peppermint tea
  3. i’m a huge swiftie.

What advice might you have to give to other aspiring writers?

write that idea, even if it’s a little weird. (weird is good, actually.)

write that idea, even if no one else has written anything like it before. (maybe that means you should be the one to do it.)

write that idea, even if everyone around you tells you that there’s no market for it. (who says you can’t make one?)

What’s a question you haven’t been asked yet but wish you were asked, as well as the answer to that question?

Question: You co-created an oracle deck, believe in your own magic, based on your first poetry series, “women are some kind of magic”. Will we also see an oracle deck based on the “you are your own fairy tale” trilogy?

there’s nothing currently in the works, but as that trilogy comes to a close, it has admittedly been on my mind more and more. may the stars align to make that happen!

Finally, what queer books/authors would you recommend to the readers of Geeks OUT?  

literally anything by anna-marie mclemore. they’re an extremely talented YA author, and they make me question my writing skills daily. if you’re looking for a more specific recommendation, then my personal favorite would have to be blanca & roja!

for poetry: nikita gill, renaada williams, and ari. b. cofer.