Fiction: When Quiver Meets Quill, Part One

Banner image for When Quiver Meets Quill. Banner features black handwritten type on a mottled green background with two green feathers and a black pencil. A translucent overlay of the dark green/light green/white/grey/black aromantic flag sits underneath the text. Text, feather and pencil images are boldly outlined in various shades of green and white.

Alida Quill is just fine spending hir holidays alone with a book if it means freedom from hir family’s continued expectation to court and wed. When hir co-worker Ede sets hir up with a friend and won’t take no for an answer, Alida plots an extravagant, public refusal scene to show everyone once and for all that ze will not date. Ever.

Ze doesn’t expect to meet Antonius Quiver, a man with his own abrupt, startling declarations on the subject of romance.

It isn’t courting if he schemes with hir to pay back Ede … is it?

I don’t date, court, woo or pay suit to anyone.

Continue reading “Fiction: When Quiver Meets Quill, Part One”

Aro: Language, Identity and Reflection

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

I’m K. A. Cook. I run several accounts with “aro” in the title: Aro Worlds on Patreon and WordPress, @aroworlds on Tumblr, @alloaroworlds on Tumblr, @aroflagarchive on Tumblr and Aro Arrows on WordPress.

Aro, the shortened version of aromantic, is a significant part of my creativity, my identity, my self-expression and my digital noms de plume.

After a few years of identifying only as aromantic, I now name myself arovague, idemromantic and nebularomantic. I need the specificity of these micro-identity terms, because a general word like aromantic doesn’t always fit my identity and these words better centre my autism in how I understand aromanticism, romance and attraction. Having the truth of these more-specific ways of identifying my aromanticism lets me again feel comfortable with “aro” and “aromantic”, even if I no longer define myself by an absence of romantic attraction instead of an absence of alloromantic understandings of romantic attraction.

I can identify myself in relation to a larger group of people with whom I have similarities in not being wholly and permanently alloromantic: aro and aromantic. I can identify myself in relation to a smaller sub-group of people that more closely share my aromantic experiences: nebularomantic, arovague, idemromantic. One speaks to a broader coalition, a category of experiences; one speaks to specific ways of experiencing and understanding my aromanticism.

I’m not, in this post, speaking for any other aro. I’m giving voice to my fears and beliefs; I’m sharing and explaining the decisions I have made concerning language and identity. Just as no other aromantic has my relationships to my identities, neither have I seen another aromantic voice my exact experiences of alienation and connection. You don’t need to agree with my conclusions, but I do ask that you respect them.

So I’ll begin with this declaration: I am aro and aromantic.

I will no longer identify myself, my projects, my communication or my community with the term “aro-spec”.

Continue reading “Aro: Language, Identity and Reflection”

Hallo, Aro: Loveless – K. A. Cook

Banner for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

When Paide ein Iteme says the words “I don’t love”, he doesn’t just refer to romantic relationships.

Little does this world hate more than a loveless man, save perhaps a loveless woman.

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Loveless – K. A. Cook”

I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Content Advisory: Discussions of and references to love, amatonormativity, ableism, neurodiversity, autism, familial abuse and partner abuse.

This June, I saw an increasing number of positivity and support posts for the aromantic and a-spec communities discussing the amatonormativity of “everyone falls in love”. I agree: the idea that romantic love is something everyone experiences, and is therefore a marker of human worth, needs deconstruction.

Unfortunately, a majority of these posts are replacing the shackles of amatonormativity with restrictive lines like “everyone loves, just not always romantically”, referencing the importance of loving friends, QPPs, family members and pets. Sometimes it moves away from people to encompass love for hobbies, experiences, occupations and ourselves. The what and how tends to vary from post to post, but the idea that we do and must love someone or something, and this love redeems us as human and renders us undeserving of hatred, is being pushed to the point where I don’t feel safe or welcome in my own aromantic community. Even in the posts meant to be challenging the more obvious amatonormativity, it is presumed that aros must, in some way, love.

I’ve spent weeks watching my a-spec and aro communities throw neurodiverse and survivor aros under the bus in order to do what the aromantic community oft accuses alloromantic aces of doing: using their ability to love as a defence of their humanity. Because I love, they say, I also don’t deserve to be a target of hatred, aggression and abuse.

But what if I don’t love?

What if love itself has been the mechanism of the hatred and violence I have endured?

Why am I, an aro, neurodiverse survivor of abuse and bullying, still acceptable collateral damage?

Continue reading “I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity”

Hallo, Aro: Neuronormative – K. A. Cook

Banner for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: An autistic allosexual aromantic struggling to deal with the ways alloromanticism and aromanticism alike are binary, neuronormative ways of looking at the romantic attraction spectrum.

Is there anything romantic not also non-romantic?

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Neuronormative – K. A. Cook”

New Community Term: Dia Aro

In the last twelve months or so, it’s become common to see folks scrambling for a term that conveys the meaning of “someone on the aromantic spectrum who doesn’t solely describe their aromanticism as ‘aromantic'”. “Aro-spec” was for a time beginning to be used this way, in the sense of “I’m an aro-spec ace”. Now, I’m seeing an increasing number of posts where the community is deciding that “aro-spec” includes all aromantics.

On the one hand, some of us have a need for a word that includes aros like me–aros who additionally use terms that aren’t “aromantic” to describe our aromantic identities. On the other hand, the alternative “greyromantic” (in its use as an umbrella term) doesn’t include everyone who feels that general aromantic spaces and terms are unable to encompass our needs because of the way we identify our aromantic identities and experiences.

When idemromanticism and my shape of nebularomanticism mean I am not greyromantic, but the general aromantic community’s approach to content and representation leaves me feeling alienated from my own community and even the word “aromantic” because it assumes a relationship to and understanding of romance and romantic attraction I don’t have, how do I find connection and support?

Let’s be real, here: “aromantic” is a broad term that encompasses us all. General aromantic community spaces, however, tend to focus on a few ways of being aromantic, particularly the kind that doesn’t require additional identity terms to explain how we experience or navigate romance, romantic attraction and relationship behaviours.

I am not greyromantic, but when I am lumped together with end-case aros as though that interpretation depicts my aromanticism, all I feel is how different–and unwelcome–are my experiences with regards romance and attraction. I have more in common with the greyromantic community than I have with most end-case aromantics, despite not being one of you. I need a way, therefore, to connect with other aros who don’t fit the standard end-case aromantic experience without misidentifying myself, a word that can’t be conflated with “aromantic” or “aro-spec”. A word not quite as wonderfully broad as “aromantic” or “aro-spec” but a little broader than “greyromantic”. A word that lets other people identify us without leaving cupioros and idemros under the “end-case aro” label as though the reasons we claimed those identities don’t matter enough to be worth distinguishing.

Continue reading “New Community Term: Dia Aro”

Fiction Collection: Aromantic and Autistic

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the aqua/yellow/red stripes of the autistic aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Fiction sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

This is a separate list of all my works featuring autistic and aromantic protagonists. My other aromantic works can be found on my fiction page.

It’s also worth noting that my protagonists are like to be various combinations of trans, non-binary, multisexual and otherwise-disabled.

Some of these stories do not focus on the aromantic, and one story, Certain Eldritch Artefacts, is more an example of an aromantic not yet knowing it than an aromantic narrative. (Do the alloromantic usually build a successful romantic relationship with an inappropriate crush by first spending a year travelling around another continent?) The sequel, Love in the House of the Ravens, depicts the beginning of Darius’s finding this out…

What if it Isn’t

Cover for "What If It Isn't" by K. A. Cook. Cover shows a colourful pastel fractal/dripping-glass style background, predominantly peach-orange and light blue. The title text, in black serif and antique handdrawn-style type, is framed by three black curlicues. A fourth curlicue borders the author credit at the bottom of the cover and a fifth forms a frame at the top.What if her love is a dull, flickering, rare thing, so insubstantial it makes better sense to disregard it as meaningful? What if her love is quiet and companionate at best while Keiko loves with fairytale passion, a woman who wants and needs to be wanted?

Pretending to be girlfriends while casing an art gallery with Keiko shouldn’t be a problem, but once Jessie realises things have gotten a little too real in the façade they’re showing to the world, the only thing to do is ask.

Contains: A stand-alone, fluffy, contemporary short story about a greyromantic autistic and the beginnings of a QPR.

Links: PDF (read in browser) | Patreon | WordPress | Tumblr

PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 2, 097 words / 6 PDF pages.

Continue reading “Fiction Collection: Aromantic and Autistic”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eleven

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and failed to fall in love with the companionate. When the right person offers a romantic relationship and he doesn’t understand why yes won’t grace his tongue, the only thing an autistic man can do is ask the Ravens–and hope he can survive the word they give him in return.

Content Advisory: Mentions of ableism/abuse, assault, fantasy violence and wounds, along with an agender, aromantic person of colour being referred to as an insect, and a brief discussion of the ways amatonormativity impacts aromantics in relationships with alloromantics. References to kissing and physical intimacy.

Length: 1, 057 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous

The world makes romance more important than anything, or anyone, else.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eleven”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Ten

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and failed to fall in love with the companionate. When the right person offers a romantic relationship and he doesn’t understand why yes won’t grace his tongue, the only thing an autistic man can do is ask the Ravens–and hope he can survive the word they give him in return.

Content Advisory: Discussion of the intersectionality between autistic-targeted ableism and amatonormativity and the ways said ableism make more difficult an acceptance of aromantic identity. This section includes ableism/abuse, assault and self-harm and/or wound mentions.

Length: 940 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

A word isn’t a gift if you can’t discard it. Keep it, or not, as you want.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Ten”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Nine

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and failed to fall in love with the companionate. When the right person offers a romantic relationship and he doesn’t understand why yes won’t grace his tongue, the only thing an autistic man can do is ask the Ravens–and hope he can survive the word they give him in return.

Content Advisory: Discussion of the intersectionality between autistic-targeted ableism and amatonormativity and the ways said ableism make more difficult an acceptance of aromantic identity.

Length: 990 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous | Next

Does an inability to conform again need labelling when he owns one dangerous, difficult word—one whose roots touch everything Darius is and will be?

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Nine”