DiOW: Men Bound By Blood

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.

Nevo learns his mystery man’s name, but Harper’s slip of the tongue means that Nevo makes a promise to his father he may not be able to keep.

Setting: Two years before the beginning of the war referenced in Their Courts of Crows and Maybe When the Bones CrumbleDifferent in Other Ways introduces a brand-new set of characters and circumstances; readers don’t need any familiarity with my other works.

Content Advisory: Casual swearing, depictions of working-class anxiety and classism, alcoholism as an expression of trauma, references to casual fantasy-style violence. Many references to heterosexism and cissexism.

Links: Series Master Post | Patreon

Previous: Booksellers Who Know Things

Length: 2, 736 words.

“She gave me a list.” Nevo slams his empty mug onto the scratched table, wishing that he dared drink enough to distract himself from Lenlil. “Of everything I’m supposed to do around customers. But I’m also supposed to finish books quicker, and if I don’t she’ll hire someone else because there’s fifty people who want this job and I should be grateful.” He tries not to snarl and fails. “I have to stop what I’m doing and serve, but stopping means I can’t finish everything else she expects finished, and how can I do anything when there’s not enough space? And books get nicked when I can’t properly stack and sort…?” He ends with a strangled exclamation, too frustrated for words.

Da just gives an encouraging grunt.

Except for Nevo’s habit of hiding queer books from outside bulk lots and listing them as school readers when selling to folks in the underground, he’s done as right by Lenlil as anyone can. “And she knows … I think she knows that I need to work somewhere like a bookshop. Not why, exactly … you know?”

He looks across at Da’s craggy face, an older, sunbrowned version of Nevo’s broad forehead and wide-set brown eyes. Tangle-prone blond hair, white skin, thick brows, the kind of height and brawn that makes every bed and doorway in Ihrne a trial and suggests less gentleness than both men own. Nevo knows what he’ll look like at forty: Da.

Perhaps without the eyes oft bloodshot and watery or the tinge of sallowness lurking underneath flushed cheeks.


“She doesn’t think…?”

Nevo shakes his head. He’s no actor, but thus far his build discourages the speculative whispers plaguing the men Ragen and his boot-lickers like to accuse. If he isn’t working on a build lot surrounded by men discussing women, his appearance undermined by his inability to respond to questions, jokes and attempts to set him up with everyone’s daughters, Nevo needs only avoid obvious displays of interest. Lenlil may be a trial, but Nevo doesn’t fail as badly at masculinity when he spends his days indoors. A bookseller is allowed more space for shyness and awkwardness than a labourer.

“You’re not going to get yourself fucking killed by having words at her?” Da speaks slowly despite the cursing.

Nevo still recollects the days when such words never passed Da’s lips.

“I try hard not to get myself killed, Da.”

Keep reading at Patreon: Men Bound by Blood

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: Gracie

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 latest aro-spec creator is Gracie, known here on Tumblr as @mattdaddorkio, @gracietheshadowwriter and @abookishace!

Gracie is a prolific aromantic and asexual writer who writes the Magnus Bane/Alec Lightwood pairing from Shadowhunters, and her work can be found on AO3 under the username gracie_the_shadow_hunter.

With us Gracie talks about romance and shipping as an aro in fandom, her enjoyment of a good love story and the power of prompts as encouragement! It’s wonderful to see an aro creative’s take on and interest in romance, so please let’s give Gracie all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Please note that the last two images, under the cut, feature kissing. These images are underneath the answer to the question “How can the aro-spec community best help you as a creative?” if our romance-repulsed followers would like to use that as a stopping point.

Artist Profile - Gracie

Continue reading “Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Gracie”

What If It Isn’t – K. A. Cook

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the 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.

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.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 queer, allosexual, greyro autistic protagonist, stimming, unwanted commentary on capitalism and the trend of companies making expensive versions of disposable items, explicit use of the words “greyromantic” and “queerplatonic relationship”, heavy-handed metaphor, an observation on the matter of what is romantic anyway, and a happy ending … as long as nobody gets caught later on.

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

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

Length: 2, 097 words / 6 PDF pages.

Advisory: there’s a fair bit of cuddling and touching along with non-explicit/really vague sexual references. I don’t describe Tangles in too much detail, so here’s a link to the Tangle tag on my stim blog if you’re wandering what Jessie’s stim toy is. This piece is also light on things like polishing and any actual knowledge on how one might case an art gallery.

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?

Continue reading “What If It Isn’t – K. A. Cook”

Ask: Characters and Absence of Love

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:

What is your opinion on characters who have no love at all (not just romantic love, but all kinds)? Obviously, they’re often demonized (*cough*Voldemort*cough*), but if they aren’t could they work without being inherently arophobic? I (an aro) am thinking of writing a story where a character loses their ability to love and Doesn’t React Well, but eventually learns to accept it. Should I go through with that? If so, are there particular arophobic tropes to avoid?

I am somewhat biased in that I’ve written an aro character who means “all love” when he says he doesn’t love (and this is explored further and more explicitly in his future stories) so, as someone who has a complicated relationship to love myself, bring them on.

I am so tired of seeing “love” billed as the ultimate indicator of a “good” character while “inability to love” is the ultimate indicator of “evil”–despite the fact that some of the most difficult things I have endured came about from someone else’s love. If relatives bullied me and friends-who-wanted-to-be-boyfriends stalked me despite and because of their ability to love, why should an inability to love mean anything  when love just as often motivates cruelty? In my opinion, there is nothing inherently misrepresentative of aro-specs in a character’s inability to love–just the social tangle of ableism and aromisia and amatonormativity from other people in unquestioned assumptions that ability to love makes a protagonist. Why should it?

Continue reading “Ask: Characters and Absence of Love”