Fiction: Like the Other Prince, Part Three

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

(In Which Harper Can’t Avoid Nevo’s Questions)

Be sensible,” Mama says, “or be dead.”

Harper Mitzin Seili is many things: fashionable, witty, queer. Cautious … not so much. Nonetheless, life as a tavern server on the working side of Ihrne’s dividing wall demands preparation and limitation. He obeys the rules that matter. He remembers what Mama sacrificed for his chance to live as a man. Besides: the end-of-war Proclamations, issued in the name of Ihrne’s trans crown prince, promise a new, better world. A world in which safety doesn’t require his rejecting connection, intimacy and that shifting, nebulous thing called “attraction”.

But when the Traditionalists take up violence in protest of noble-issued laws, Harper’s risky ventures and glib tongue don’t just fail to steer him out of trouble: they destroy the life he and Mama spent two years building. He can stay and suffer at the hands of his neighbours … or begin anew in another place, under another name. A place where he must now submit to every restriction Mama, in her fears for him, deems “safe” and “sensible”.

A third way exists for Harper, if only he dares break Mama’s foremost rule … and several of his own.

Why must he exchange one set of expectations for another? Why can’t he pick what suits him from a wealth of possibilities and craft a masculinity that’s uniquely Harper?

Continue reading “Fiction: Like the Other Prince, Part Three”

Fiction: Like the Other Prince, Part Two

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

(In Which Harper Is Not Actually Fine)

Be sensible,” Mama says, “or be dead.”

Harper Mitzin Seili is many things: fashionable, witty, queer. Cautious … not so much. Nonetheless, life as a tavern server on the working side of Ihrne’s dividing wall demands preparation and limitation. He obeys the rules that matter. He remembers what Mama sacrificed for his chance to live as a man. Besides: the end-of-war Proclamations, issued in the name of Ihrne’s trans crown prince, promise a new, better world. A world in which safety doesn’t require his rejecting connection, intimacy and that shifting, nebulous thing called “attraction”.

But when the Traditionalists take up violence in protest of noble-issued laws, Harper’s risky ventures and glib tongue don’t just fail to steer him out of trouble: they destroy the life he and Mama spent two years building. He can stay and suffer at the hands of his neighbours … or begin anew in another place, under another name. A place where he must now submit to every restriction Mama, in her fears for him, deems “safe” and “sensible”.

A third way exists for Harper, if only he dares break Mama’s foremost rule … and several of his own.

Hindsight offers only the obvious: a man with too stiff a spine to kneel, too glib a tongue to grovel and too weak an arm to fight has no business making himself available to those wishing harm.

Continue reading “Fiction: Like the Other Prince, Part Two”

Fiction: Like the Other Prince, Part One

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

(In Which Harper Can’t Talk His Way Out of Trouble)

Be sensible,” Mama says, “or be dead.”

Harper Mitzin Seili is many things: fashionable, witty, queer. Cautious … not so much. Nonetheless, life as a tavern server on the working side of Ihrne’s dividing wall demands preparation and limitation. He obeys the rules that matter. He remembers what Mama sacrificed for his chance to live as a man. Besides: the end-of-war Proclamations, issued in the name of Ihrne’s trans crown prince, promise a new, better world. A world in which safety doesn’t require his rejecting connection, intimacy and that shifting, nebulous thing called “attraction”.

But when the Traditionalists take up violence in protest of noble-issued laws, Harper’s risky ventures and glib tongue don’t just fail to steer him out of trouble: they destroy the life he and Mama spent two years building. He can stay and suffer at the hands of his neighbours … or begin anew in another place, under another name. A place where he must now submit to every restriction Mama, in her fears for him, deems “safe” and “sensible”.

A third way exists for Harper, if only he dares break Mama’s foremost rule … and several of his own.

If Mama trusts him to lie about a betrothal to a girl in Astreut, why can’t she also trust him to decide when to risk participating in a world void of safety?

Continue reading “Fiction: Like the Other Prince, Part One”

Patreon Exclusive: Getting to Be

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

Even in Ihrne, young men idle together about the street, but something so ordinary becomes even more complicated when Harper learns why Mama wishes him to befriend anyone but Nevolin ein Yinne.

He’s never understood why people treat attraction as so powerful, constant and all-encompassing that it must be indulged beyond rationality.

Setting: Marchverse, two years before the beginning of the war referenced in Their Courts of Crows. The Different in Other Ways stories introduce a brand-new set of characters and circumstances; readers don’t need any familiarity with my other works.

Getting to Be takes place some days after Men Bound by Blood but, due to change of narrator, can (probably) be read with no prior knowledge of the first three stories. Readers should note, however, that this piece isn’t a stand-alone. In other words: many questions are raised, few are answered.

Content Advisory: References to classism; references to misogyny, cissexism, and heterosexism; casual references to sex and sexual attraction; casual references to romance, kissing and dating; vague/veiled/non-specific references to self-harm; casual references to blood, death, necromancy and decomposition.

Links: Series Master Post | Patreon

Previous: Booksellers Who Know Things | Men Bound by Blood | Jeile

Length: 3, 101 words.

Continue for Story Excerpt

Book Edition: Love in the House of the Ravens

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.
Cover image for Love in the House of the Ravens by K. A. Cook. Cover shows a wooden bed set against a stone wall, with filmy curtains draped over the wall and bed. A translucent room divider is set off to the side, with a chest and boxes visible through it. The subtitle "a marchverse short story" is written in white handdrawn type. Title and author text is written in brown handdrawn type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and avoided falling in love with the companionate. If he lives at arm’s length from passion, isn’t that better than risking the abuse his fellow mercenaries so eagerly deliver to an autistic who can’t quite fit in? But when the right person suggests a romantic relationship, “yes” still won’t grace his tongue, and Darius hasn’t the least idea why. He likes Harlow. Shouldn’t he want to love her?

The only thing he can do is turn to his old friends and rescuers, the Ravens. They have an answer if he can stumble his way through asking the question … but it may upend every truth Darius thinks he knows about himself.

Love in the House of the Ravens is a story about what it means to be aromantic and autistic when the world isn’t accepting of either.

Continue reading “Book Edition: Love in the House of the Ravens”

Discussing Allo-Aro Identity (And Why Fluid Folks Need Better Definitions)

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-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 began my Allo-Aro 101 page by defining the words “allosexual” and “aromantic”. If “allosexual” is uncommon terminology outside a-spec spaces, “allo-aro” (in all its grammatical and stylistic permutations) is even less accepted. “Aromantic” itself voyages into arcane language, often understood by outsiders as only a relationship to or a form of asexuality. Visitors to this website may not know what “allo-aro” means, so–limited by current terminology and conceptualisations of the split attraction model–I follow the well-trodden educator’s path of first mimicking a dictionary.

I consider my following explanation more important, as an allo-aro whose relationship to this identity cannot exist untouched by fluidity:

Any allosexual aromantic who isn’t also, solely and permanently, asexual; or any aromantic who wishes to centre their experience of sexual attraction alongside their aromanticism. Heterosexual aros, bisexual aros, pansexual aros, gay aros, lesbian aros and aros with fluid or shifting attractions inclusive of allosexuality can identify as allo-aro.

Some allo-aros identify as both asexual and allosexual or shift between them. Abrosexual aros may be entirely allosexual or experience both asexual and allosexual identities. Aceflux aros may experience allosexual identities along with their asexual ones. Being solely and permanently allosexual should never be a requirement for allo-aro identity and community participation.

I can count on one hand (with spare fingers!) how often I’ve seen fellow a-specs acknowledge attraction’s potential fluidity in their defining of “allo-aro”. In stressing adverbs like “permanently”, I am an outlier in the genre of explaining allo-aro identity and community membership.

Most allo-aros explain our identity by the words comprising this term: allosexual and aromantic. What more need one say on this subject after coming to agreed-upon meanings for the words “allosexual” and “aromantic”? What more need one say than to explain that allo-aros are aromantic and not-asexual?

Such an explanation erases a non-zero number of fluid allo-aros (not to mention forcing aromantics who are neither asexual nor allosexual, or reject identifying with this binary construct, under the allo-aro umbrella).

It erases me.

Continue reading “Discussing Allo-Aro Identity (And Why Fluid Folks Need Better Definitions)”

Hallo, Aro: Question – K. A. Cook

Banner for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aro Flash Fiction. Image features dark black handwritten type on a mottled green background. Diagonal rows of arrows with bands, heads and fletching in the colours of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold allo-aro pride flag cross the image above and below 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: Reflections on the aromantic desire to avoid family members’ amatonormative questions about dating–and the ways attaining this freedom can speak less about aromantic inclusion and more about heterosexist erasure and queer antagonism.

How can this be the aromantic dream when your queerness quiets the room?

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

Pride Month Patch Tutorial: Pride Hearts

Six digitally-created versions of cross stitch pride patches, arranged in two rows of three, against a background of a textured partially-translucent aromantic pride flag. Text between the two rows reads Aro Pride Patches in black type. Patches include a rectangular patch in aroflux zigzag stripes, an idemromantic heart, an aro flag text patch reading "aro", a square in quoiromantic stripes, an arrow design in allo-aro colours and a second arrow in nebularomantic colours.

In honour of Pride Month, I thought I’d offer patches applicable for the wider LGBTQIA+ and queer communities. This tutorial showcases the steps for making a heart-shaped patch, with patterns available for flags with three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten evenly-spaced horizontal stripes. Folks who want to emphasis love as an element in their identity can sew the hearts in the traditional upwards-facing orientation, while aros like me, who like to de-centre the role of love in my pride, can sew them upside down.

A photo, taken on a blue microfibre blanket, of the rainbow pride flag, Sullivans embroidery floss in the same colours and laid out in rainbow order, and an assortment of pride-themed cross stitched heart patches, all with borders in thick buttonhole stitch, open blanket stitch or dyed aida. Hearts shown, sewn both upside down and rightside up, include rainbow, aro, allo-aro, abro, agender, pan, p(o)ly, trans, non-binary and idemromantic flags.

You’ll need familiarity with cross stitch (full and quarter crosses) and backstitch to make the unedged patches, along with a buttonhole/closed blanket stitch (or a neat over stitch) to make the edged patch. The first instalment of this patch tutorial series demonstrates cross and blanket/buttonhole stitch, while the second covers backstitch. If you’re new to embroidery or needlecraft, I recommend completing the first tutorial–a simple square patch–before attempting the heart. The shape isn’t complex, but it does require sewing along curves.

Continue reading “Pride Month Patch Tutorial: Pride Hearts”

When Asexuals Belong In Allo-Aro Spaces

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-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.

On my Allo-Aro 101 page, after explaining what the words “aromantic” and “allosexual” mean, I state whom the label “allo-aro” represents:

Any allosexual aromantic who isn’t also, solely and permanently, asexual; or any aromantic who wishes to centre their experience of sexual attraction alongside their aromanticism. Heterosexual aros, bisexual aros, pansexual aros, gay aros, lesbian aros and aros with fluid or shifting attractions can identify as allo-aro.

(Allosexual, as a general rule, means “experiences sexual attraction while not on the asexual spectrum”.)

This isn’t a description common to those folks concerned with explaining and defining allo-aro identity. In most circumstances, a-specs define allo-aro as “aromantic and allosexual” or “aromantic and not asexual”.

Allo-aro is positioned in opposition to asexuality to such a point that it is difficult to define why allo-aro exists as an aromantic identity without referencing asexuality. In practice, it has become a rallying cry of I am aromantic but not asexual against a broader culture of assuming aromanticism is only valid, acceptable or safe when paired with asexuality. Why shouldn’t allo-aros stick to those simple definitions? Why complicate matters with additional words like “solely” or “permanently”?

If we regard allo-aro identity as a mere statement of one’s present allosexuality and aromanticism, I’m not currently allo-aro.

Continue reading “When Asexuals Belong In Allo-Aro Spaces”

Craft Collection: Aro Cross-Stitch Patches

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green pine trees growing against various green-hued mountain ridgelines. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aromantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Crafts sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

I don’t own any pride merch, aside from a small rainbow-striped flag that sits on my desk, that isn’t handmade. Most pride merch items can only be purchased online, and even if shipping to or within Australia weren’t prohibitively expensive, I still don’t have money to spend on optional extras.

As shown on my about page, I’ve made beaded fidget toys, simple jewellery, aro pride dresses for Sylvanian Families figurines and a journal cover made from washi tape. I’ve spent a few years pondering the making of pride flag patches, as in something I could theoretically accomplish should I find enough absence of pain and motivation. As I’d gotten back into hand sewing (mostly in making clothing for my Lori dolls) this year, it seemed like a good time to try!

A square pride patch attached to the front panel of a grey jacket. The patch is made of five stripes of coloured thread cross-stitched onto aida cloth, the edges embroidered with a tight blanket stitch done in an embroidery floss that darkens and fades from pastel yellow to a grass green. The five cross-stitched stripes are sewn in the colours of the allo-aro pride flag: dark green, light green, white, yellow, gold.

Continue reading “Craft Collection: Aro Cross-Stitch Patches”