Aro-Spec Artist Profile – K. A. Cook

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Hello! You all know me as the autistic, disabled, transgender, abrosexual, allo-aro Australian behind @aroworlds, @alloaroworlds and the Hallo, Aro short story series. I also have a Ko-fi you can support if so inclined, and you can find all my books on my personal website or collected by theme: allo-aro and aromantic.

Aside from the writing, I’ve worked as an editor and text designer on various community publications. When my hands allow, I like to sew, craft, bead and scrapbook. I’ve made everything from fidget toys for my @stimtoybox blog to dollhouse miniatures.

I’m here to talk about how disability separates me from my own aro-spec community, the importance of early recognition of aro-spec identity and my yearning for allo-aro autistic representation. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement as I attempt to kick-start more conversations on what it means to be aromantic and creative!

Four book covers, depicting cartoon-style fantasy images of a graveyard, a witch's front door, a taproom and a swamp, all with white type and author credit. The books are as follows: The Sorcerous Compendium of Postmortem Query; Love Spells, Rainbows and Rosie; Love is the Reckoning; and The Crew of Esher Hill, all by K. A. Cook.

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile – K. A. Cook”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Alexis

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Alexis, who also goes by Wishie and is known on Tumblr as @lvbytes. They’re better known to the aro-spec community, though, as @aro-positivity!

Alexis is a POC and an agender, aroace writer of original fiction and fanfiction, the latter for the It fandom. You can find their fanworks on AO3 and invest a few dollars in worthy aro-spec talent via their Ko-Fi.

With us Alexis talks about the difficulty of writing romance as an aro, their passion for writing narratives centred on multiple forms of love, the importance of constructive positivity and the pressure aro-spec creatives feel to write representational aro-spec characters. Their passion for supporting the aro-spec community infuses every sentence, so please let’s give them all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?

I hadn’t considered that I was aro for the longest time. I think a part of it was a lot of pressure in my life around finding a partner, or the stereotype that no aromantic person is capable of love. Either way, even after I discovered that being queer was a thing people could be (I grew up in a fairly conservative area) I still thought I was cishet. Then I identified as cis and pan, and shortly after that, agender and bi, and then a lesbian for quite a while longer. Side effect of this? I’ve been in a lot of relationships, and they’ve all ended the exact same way.

It wasn’t until a year-long relationship of mine had ended, and I was crying my heart out and wondering why I didn’t care more when the other person was clearly in pieces, when a friend of mine suggested that maybe I was aroace.

This sparked a meticulous google search on aromanticism, things I’d missed while learning about the LGBTQIA+ community the first time. I had a lot of internalized aphobia I had to get over before I could fully accept myself, and like much of the community, I still struggle with internalized aphobia and amatonormativity. I started @aro-positivity in part because I didn’t see a whole lot of actual, constructive positivity coming out of the community, or at least not gathered in one place, and I wanted a way I could constructively learn to accept my identity and who I was.

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Alexis”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Luthyx

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is @luthyx​, who also goes by Petrichlorine and MUSE-42. They’re better known on this blog for sharing snippets from an in-progress work called Sanction the Skies, celebrating all things a-spec and dragon!

Luthyx is a transmasculine, agender aro-ace creative with mental illnesses, specialising in speculative fiction and digital art, the latter both original and fancontent (primarily for How to Train Your Dragon). You can find their gorgeous art on their DeviantArt account and their writing at @sanctiontheskies​, currently featuring artwork, maps and a wealth of worldbuilding and characterisation teasers. Lastly, if you enjoy Flight Rising, you can check out their dragons under the name Luthyx!

With us Luthyx talks their confidence in their aromanticism, the need to live an authentic life on their terms, the way their characters and worlds become part of them, and writing spec fic as an aro. Their determination to craft and make as they need sparkles in every word and dragon scale, so please let’s give them all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Luthyx”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Pauline

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Pauline, known here on Tumblr as @the-rose-owl but best known to the aro-spec community as one of the super talented mods on @arostuck!

Pauline is a queer, bigender and aromantic original and fan creator specialising in digital art. Aside from populating much of this blog’s homestuck tag, you can find his super cute work on @rosey-arts, DeviantArt and YouTube. She creates fanart for Homestuck and Steven Universe along with a heap of gorgeous OCs. I’m in non-romantic love with this gorgeous draft-horse centaur girl and this sleepy plant-themed dog!

With us Pauline talks about aro pride, his journey to aromanticism, art as building self-esteem and her passion for the aro-spec community. His words are just so brimming with positivity and enthusiasm, so please let’s give her all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Pauline”

Hallo, Aro: Friendship – 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: A sapphic aromantic who wishes to partner a dragon’s handmaiden without the complications of a romantic relationship, but finds comfort in her friendship with her own dragon. Continues in Attraction.

She fears speaking it, but she likes days spent with Azhra, likes nights spent with princesses, likes this unconventional life far from a home that never suited her. If freed of navigating her lovers’ romantic expectations and desires, what more can Elisa want but caves, treasure, dragons and handmaidens?

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

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Sebastian

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Sebastian, better known on Tumblr as @gloriousmonsters and @mangledmouth!

Sebastian is a bisexual, autistic, aromantic trans man who is single-handedly covering many literary bases in producing original aro and queer short stories, novels and poetry. Aside from his Tumblr blogs, you can find and support more of his work at his Patreon. If you have a dollar or two you’re wanting to invest in worthy aro-spec talent on a less-regular basis, please take a look at Sebastian’s Ko-Fi!

With us Sebastian talks about identifying with the role of villainy in narrative as an aro creative, aromantic characters and grand emotional gesture, the divide between representation and self-expression, and some spectacular-sounding work-in-progress book titles! His investment in aromantic characters and characterisation shapes every word, so please let’s give him all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?

It took me a while to realize I was aromantic, but it was one of the things that made me go ‘oh, that makes … a lot of sense’ when I looked back at my childhood. I was a weird, isolated kid, so I didn’t learn from bouncing off other children; I learned through stories.

One of my strongest early memories is of watching a poorly made Red Riding Hood film over and over again, belting out the lyrics to the (poorly written) villain’s song, called ‘Man Without A Heart’. Cut to a year or so later, watching the Rodgers and Hammerstein Cinderella (still the best Cinderella, IMO), I was utterly fascinated by the villainess singing: ‘Falling in love with love is falling for make-believe…’

I didn’t know, that early, that I didn’t feel romantic love. Not consciously. But there was something utterly, obsessively interesting about villains that sneered at love, who were called heartless, who challenged the narrative that there must always be a love story and it must come out right no matter what. I felt, on a deep level, that these people were like me somehow. The additional queercoding and common side-helping of mental illness helped – or didn’t help, depending on your perspective. I grew up knowing, deep down, what my part in life was: I was the villain.

When I hit my rebellious age, it first came out by my saying, ‘But being a villain doesn’t mean you have to be wrong or unhappy’. I began collecting villains like nobody’s business, and writing stories that more and more often centered people whose character types I’d only ever seen as villains. And from there we arrive at today!

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Sebastian”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Shell

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Shell, already known to the aro-spec community as @arosnowflake and the author of the awesome short story Seducing Trouble!

Shell is an autistic, ADHD, non-binary aro-ace person who writes short stories, original fiction, fanfiction and essays. You can find eir fanworks on AO3 under the username spitecentral, writing for the Voltron: Legendary Defender, Fullmetal Alchemist, DC Universe, Batman and Batgirl fandoms, and we’ll hope ey posts more pieces from eir original Coffeeshop Project!

With us Shell talks about how ey writes romance as an aro-ace, depicting relationships in fiction, the impact of amatonormativity on creativity and eir alienation from current aro-spec community conversations. Eir words bound with enthusiasm on authentic creativity and the growth of the aro-spec community, so please let’s give em all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?

I never thought I was anything other than straight, although I did start noticing that I was different from other people when I was as young as twelve (for example, I remember being asked to pick the handsomest guy in a boy band, but to me, they all looked the same). However, I simply put this down to my autism, and since I was already desensitized to differences with peers, I pretty much ignored it. That is, until I repeatedly saw the word ‘asexual’ used online, and I began to wonder what it was, so I googled it. After reading the first paragraph on the Wikipedia page, I basically slammed my computer shut and did my very best to convince myself that no, I was overreacting, and also straight; after all, I was already autistic and ADHD, so any more diversity would be implausible.

Past me was so naive.

Anyway, I came to terms with being asexual at sixteen, and openly started identifying with it without adding ‘I think’ when I was seventeen. When I learned about the SAM, I initially dismissed the idea of being aro because I had a couple of crushes when I was a kid. However, after learning more about aromanticism and after some conversations with aromantic people, I decided to adopt the label since it really fit me. I mean, I was like nine when I had those crushes, and I don’t feel like they counted. I’m fairly sure now that I was just having them because it seemed like the Thing To Do, and, even then, all of my fantasies involved a more platonic ‘best friends forever but with shared pets’ lifestyle than a romantic thing. So while I may or may not have had crushes before, I don’t think I ever will again, and I don’t want to either, so I’ve adopted the aromantic label. I know it sounds weird, but oh well!

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Shell”

Ask: Aromantic Characters Without the Word

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.

An anon asks on Tumblr:

Do you have any advice for writing aromantic characters without explicitly using the word “aromantic?” I’m personally an aro person, but I am writing a fictional story that uses language that does not yet have words for “aromantic” (furthermore, “bisexual” or “demiboy” or other LGBTQ+ labels that have been around for a while). I have tried a few different methods of getting orientation and identity across but I’m curious about your thoughts. I want my representation to be explicit as possible.

For me, anon, it boils down to showing. Getting a good handle on the difference between showing and telling is essential in my opinion, both for good writing generally and for good writing of marginalised characters. There are times when it is appropriate to tell the reader something while never showing it, of course–factual information and scene transitions, like the passing of time or quick observations, are often best told. Identity and identity-related experiences, though, should be shown as much if not more than they are told.

Done right, folks familiar with “aromantic” as a concept will label your characters themselves without your using the word in-text. If they don’t already know the word, your showing will still contextualize that experience when they happen across it. Readers, even some alloromantic readers, will go “oh, that’s that character in X-book!” in the same way aro-specs related to Keladry of Mindelan and Jughead long before anyone got to naming them as aro. If this happens with characters who are not intentionally written as aro, I promise you it will happen with your characters, anon. Readers are smart and you know what you’re writing about. You do not have to worry about this.

Remember that an alloromantic’s inability to see an aro character is amatonormativity, not a lack in authorial depiction.

With regards telling and the use of the word “aromantic”, the idea that we have to go to extremes to explain or clarify a character’s aromanticism for an unknowing audience is in itself an amatonormative one. (Consider, for contrast, how narratives treat heterosexuality!) While it is difficult for us to let go of the need to explain, especially when aromanticism is not well understood, it’s important to recognise that need to explain and label is another shade of marginalisation. Furthermore, a culture that doesn’t have such history of marginalisation might not have any need to label at all. In a setting absent amatonormativity, telling the reader within the narrative that your character is something that doesn’t need to be identified in-universe can feel intrusive, so it may be that telling as a tool for communicating aromanticism is not in your current toolbox, anon.

How much telling you require also means considering the needs of your audience, because your intended audience will determine the amount of telling, explanation and exposition required. You’ll label and explain aromanticism for a mainstream audience very differently than for an a-spec or aro-spec one. Decide who’ll get the best from your work and target your degree of explanation and exposition at that audience. The more exposition, the reduced chance of misinterpretation, yes, but too much can alienate an aro-spec readership who just wants to see an aro knight slay dragons over another 101 tutorial.

Continue reading “Ask: Aromantic Characters Without the Word”

Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Tylea

Handdrawn watercolour-style image of a sparse forest of redwood trees growing among grassy hills, with a white and orange fox sitting in the grass at the base of a tree on the viewer's right-hand side of the image. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Artist Profiles sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Our next aro-spec creator is Tylea, already known to us here as @afroenby –one of the biggest likers and rebloggers of this account!

Tylea is a black, agender, neurodivergent, mentally ill, bi-alterous, aro-ace, enby author who specialises in dancing and narrative: microfiction, short stories, novels and poetry, particularly young adult/new adult speculative fiction.

You can find and support more of their work on a variety of platforms. Tylea also goes by @tylea-writes here on Tumblr and is known by afroenby on Twitter, WordPress and Patreon. They have multiple works available for purchase on Gumroad and for free reading on Wattpad. If you have a dollar or two you’re wanting to invest in worthy aro-spec talent on a less-regular basis, please check out their Ko-Fi!

With us Tylea talks about alterous attraction and their road towards aromantic identity, their passion for writing and dancing, their many aromantic characters, the challenges of writing relationships when neurodivergent and aromantic, and their difficulty in connecting with communities as a multiply-marginalised creative. Aside from producing some wonderfully diverse works, they are an unsung hero when it comes to boosting and promoting aro-spec talent here on Tumblr, so please let’s give them all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Artist Profile - Tylea

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Tylea”

Ask: Surviving Hate, Erasure 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.

An anon asks on Tumblr:

Hello, I love reading your posts and I think all the activism you do for the aro community is beautiful and needs to be done, so thank you so much <#. I personally realized I was aroace a month or so ago–How do you manage just being an aromantic person in just daily life without getting crushed under all the erasure and ignorance in the world? I’m worried about going into the adult world as someone with this orientation because of all of what I hear about aros not being heard and all the stories about aces being taken advantage of, and I’m honestly scared of all the ignorance and amisia I keep hearing is in the world. I’m not out to more than my close friends and family and the online communities I’m in, but you don’t have to be out to be hurt by antagonism or ignorance from others, and the amatonormativity I keep seeing *everywhere* is starting to make me feel hopeless. What do you do with these feelings? Thank you for reading this and for your blog <#

Thank you so very much for the kind and lovely words, anon!

I will agree with you that you absolutely do not have to be out to be hurt by hatred, erasure, dismissal and invisibility, because this line of thought isn’t said enough for my liking.

First, I’ll point out that self-care is important. If you haven’t already, get to know what what distracts you, what makes you happy, what takes you away from anxiety or frustration, be it books or TV or crafts or talking with a friend. Have these things ready as a waiting toolbox for when you need to escape the pressures of the world. Keep books or music that make you happy on your phone or in your bag, have a stash of a food you like in the cupboard, know where you can go to relax and decompress. Pursue hobbies unrelated to activism and give yourself space to enjoy them.

Second, please know that you can and should make full and shameless use of unfollowing, blocking and blacklisting options. If you want to make for yourself a paradise where your dashboard bears no mention of allosexism or amatonormativity, do it. Having these spaces allows you to more easily bear those situations where you can’t avoid debating your existence, and you are under no obligation to endure, explain and educate. You are always allowed to put your needs, your safety and your limitations ahead of both other people’s demands and the fight to be seen as human. You are always allowed to choose some battles and let others ago. You are always allowed to say that you are done with a particular conversation and stop. You are always allowed to say that you are not capable of this or any other fight. You are always allowed to centre your needs, anon, and while I am less good at this than I’d like to be, it is difficult to accomplish everything else I discuss if you can’t make a point of establishing the boundaries you need to survive.

I do two things with my feelings, anon, that allow them to rest more easily inside my skin: creativity and gratitude.

Continue reading “Ask: Surviving Hate, Erasure and Amatonormativity”