Hello World Twitter & Ace Community Interview!

HELLO WORLD came out yesterday,  and now I can type “Hello World” into amazon and find something I poured my heart and soul into. It’s so far getting glowing reviews for the exact things I tried so hard to get right. I have a paperback copy I can hold in my hands like portable magic.

Late last week I asked the ace and twitter community to send me questions about the book, and as promised here are those answers. Thank you to everyone who took an interest in this book baby of ours.

Anon Asked: What is your fav part of your novel?

I can’t think of a favorite scene, but I think my favorite part of the novel has been insistently Scott’s sass. His sarcasm and dry wit always made me smile even if scene wise there is chaos and destruction everywhere. I think being able to joke about things, even if it’s just gallows humor at times is really something that keeps everyone going.

Dawn Asked: What was the easiest/hardest parts of Hello World to write?

The easiest part was the general flow of the action. Scott has a singular focus in this book that question of “okay, where do we go next?” never had to be asked. Made writer’s block non-existent which was miracle like.

The hardest part, by far, was the sex scene. It never was right. It always felt like it assumed a lot about Scott that made me personally uncomfortable on his behalf. I rewrote it at least 4 minutes times trying to get it just write and it was hard because most people didn’t understand my concerns with it when I asked for feedback. In the end, I think it says something important, I just hope it comes off that way in the end and isn’t just glossed over as another pointless sex scene.

Osayi asked: How do you get better with writing? I mean I know it’s about practicing, so I suppose a better question is how to convince yourself to practice and actually practice properly? If, say, you only read horror stories and you were really good at writing them how hard would you think it’d be to write maybe a happy romance?

I think the one thing they never tell you is how hard writing can be. It’s a very slow process and if you don’t absolutely love what you are writing it hardly seems worth it. Find a plot or a message that you simply most tell, or maybe just a character who you absolutely want to follow where they go. That makes the world of difference when it comes to motivation.

As for the second half. I think that absolutely depends. I personally have an incredibly hard time writing happy cute things. I think that’s mostly because I always wrote as an escape from bad so I’d process daily or worldly struggles in fiction. I don’t think changing genre is the hardest thing, but if your heart is set to horror mode, and your head says no write happy romance your best chance might be combining them somehow. That juxtaposition might create something that only you could write.

Ace Apples asked: What would be your favorite characterization to see in an ace character? Like, what kinda personality traits would you love to see them with, or what kinda character archetype would you just adore seeing paired with an ace character?

Hmm, there is relativity so few aces in media and so many ways one can be ace that all I really want to see for ace characters is to be written by non-aphobes and with on page labels. I personally like the sarcastic, take no shit, aces. But mostly because if we were to go down as a single archetype  I’d love for that stereotype to be ‘dont fuck with us or the community.”

Anon asked: How do you think Scott being part of a marginalized and invisible orientation like asexuality influences his resilience as an activist (hacktivist!)? Looking forward to having this book in my hands and supporting you!

Bless you, sweet thing. By complete accident, Scott in ways became a metaphor for my own activism. I don’t want to make too close of a comparison because Scott runs around committing crimes every page, but I do think you hit on something important. Marginalized and invisible groups take so many more metaphorical hits than someone who is not. Sometimes I feel so worn down and literally feel like my face is all bloodied even if all my fights were digital that day. I think there’s a reason why the LGBTQIA/MOGIA communities’ greatest leaders are often people of color, trans women, and sometimes trans women of color. I wouldn’t dare compare myself or Scott to them, but I absolutely believe the most resilient people are from similar groups. I also think it’s why it hurts so much when you see them hurt.

Ben asked: What challenges did you face depicting asexuality on the page, given that it’s the *absence* of something?

It’s really hard and I think that was the driving factor that made me put a label on things. The more aware of things I become the harder it is for me to see that start line of explaining things. There’s a learning curve for readers and you gotta decide where you want to be on it. Straights who don’t understand the community as a whole need more things spelled out for them. Community members need less, and then as I writer, I see aces who are like hell yeah give me a strip club owning sex worker who is ace. I think it comes down to what audience do you want to speak to, readers will be from a range of backgrounds, but you gotta think who is this for. Is it for you? Is this to educate cis straight people? Is it for your own community? It’s definitely a big challenge in writing something that isn’t known by everyone.

Rachel asked: How would you describe your relationship to your characters?

They are definitely my children. I feel like if fan fiction was ever written I’d have to leave a note for the sitter that said make sure they are in bed by nine, here’s a list of their allergies, and an emergency contact number.

Ben asked: What’s computer tech like in Hello World? Is it close to established/probable stuff, or is it really out there?

I’ve always viewed the story as 20 minutes into the future. Everything bit of tech you see is based on existing tech. Even the creepy stuff. However, there is plenty of liberties taken with things that are only proven in theory that in the story are months away from being for the mass market consumer.

Marsianomo: I’m a teen asexual, what do you want me to get bout of this story?

I hope you have something I didn’t. I feel like calling him a hero is bragging, but at least someone who tries their heart out and is open about the struggles in that. That way when you fight, for whatever your own heart decides, you go into without Hollywood romanticism. I also hope you can see that ace lives are complexed and worth telling even if, or maybe when, jerks try to tell you otherwise.

Again thank you all for the questions and I hope you check out HELLO WORLD!

Interview with Author Claudie Arseneault

I’m thrilled to have Claudie Arseneault on the blog today because I so rarely am able to show all the love I want for this growing body of work. City of Strife is a new series coming out soon so I hope you jump on the hype train with me!

Many authors have overarching themes from book to book. For people who are already your fans, or would like to be, in what ways is your newest, City of Strife, like your other works?

The major thing they have in common is the importance of teamwork—of several people all doing their own small part to fight something. I don’t do The One Hero. Viral Airwaves might have Henry as a lead, but a lot of its message is that you can’t stand aside and let others do the work, that “being a hero” really only means doing your best, no matter how small.

City of Strife has a slightly different approach to this. The trilogy’s overarching storyline starts when Diel Dathirii decides to go against the imperialistic enclave that is slowly invading his city’s politics. A lot of his struggle is in how the rest of the city won’t join him, and how alone, he doesn’t have the power to do this.

All of my work has this “don’t fight alone” and “don’t leave anyone behind” feel, and a lot of it also translates into major non-romantic relationships—friends, family (found or otherwise), mentors, etc.

I adore that message and thrilled to see more of it. The first thing that stands out about the book’s blurb is the character’s age. Does Arathiel being older change how you go about writing him? If so, in what ways?

Having elves in a story creates great opportunities to play with age, memories, and maturity. Arathiel is older, true, but this prolonged survival is artificial—most of the hundred thirty years he spent away from Isandor passed in a flash. This creates a huge amount of dissonance for him between the city he knew when he left, and the one he finds upon returning. People he knew back then are dead now… all except the elves.

So those elves do remember him, but they lived that 130 years fully. Arathiel is a lot more distant in their memory, because their lives changed and evolved since. I had to give a lot of thoughts on how I wanted to treat elven longevity in the context of an otherwise human city. It was a lot of fun.

Many fantasy worlds comment on real life organizations or nations, is there any symbolism hidden in your world building?

No? Maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t call it symbolism. I didn’t put anything in it thinking “this is a stand-in for X” and part of that might be because I first imagined this world some 8-9 years ago, and my political awakening was barely beginning at the time.

On the other hand, the parallels are really easy to draw, and I am very aware of them. There’s no denying Isandor is literally lead by a handful of merchants and that these rich peeps will gladly let the poorer folks rot if they can keep living in luxury, including through laws that maintain their status. Then there’s Avenazar… It’s kind of surreal, how the main villain of this is abusive, racist, vengeful, reckless, and easily-provoked. He’s existed for as long as the universe, and much longer than I knew Trump did, but here we are. I’ve had readers comment he should get more of a backstory to explain why he’s like that, but in all honesty, recent US events make me think the shithole racist empire Myria is constitutes all the backstory Avenazar needs.

Fiction has a way of being a bit too real at times… You’ve mentioned there is an all LGBTQIAP+ cast, and I know an aromantic character is included in that lineup. Could you tell us more about this diverse cast?

I could spend a long time talking about that. Isandor is written with a huge cast and many narrating characters (I approached this as a mosaic of point of views). Here’s the secret rule to it: if a character narrates, they’re queer. It’s not always explicit in the first book, but it will be through the trilogy.

But let’s talk about the aromantic and asexual characters! The cool part is that I technically don’t have enough of one hand to count them. Writing this book was like sprinkling the A everywhere. ^^ The most important ones are:

Nevian is a sex-repulsed biromantic asexual nerd. He’s a teenager who constantly deals with abuse (there are massive tw for abuse in this novel, and most of them are tied to Nevian). He’s also resilient, wary, and he loves to be right, even on technicalities.

Cal is both aromantic and asexual, although his aromanticism is the one briefly discussed. Cal is everybody’s friend, he’s a bit of a gossip monster, and although he neither has attraction or really wants a relationship, he loves seeing other fall in love and get together.

Hasryan is demibiromantic and heterosexual. Most of his relationship with his aromanticism is a big ???? because he also has fairly solid trust issues, and as the story starts he can’t be bothered to figure out where one starts and the other finishes. He definitely treasures his close circle of friends, and as the story progresses, there’s a lot of movement in it that leads to more exploration.

Larryn is grey-Ace and bi, though this stays Word of God in the first novel. A friend once called him the Grey-A Rage Baby, and that’s pretty accurate. He’s the owner of Shelter for the homeless, the bastard son of a Dathirii, and perpetually angry at the amount of injustice around him. Which would be great if he dealt with his anger a tad better.

There are more aro and/or ace babies! They become more important later in the trilogy, though, and this is already longer than it should have been sooo, let’s stop here.

Wow, what a huge collection! In a guest post you mention that the book is friendship-centered could you tell us more about the dynamic, and possibly the tension, between Arathiel’s connections to the Dathirii, and the new friends he meets?

A lot of Arathiel’s storyline in City of Strife revolves around trying to find a new place in the city, and the dissonance caused both by what he remembers of Isandor, and what he now discovers of it (this plays on several level, as most of Arathiel’s senses were numbed by what happened to him when he left, adding another distance).

There are… multiple layers of complexity here. His new friends (Cal, Larryn, Hasryan) live in the Lower City, and upon arriving he stays in a Shelter meant for homeless folks (owned by someone who absolutely cannot deal with rich people, no less). His old friends are nobles who live in pretty tower and spend more time discussing trade deals than scrambling for their food. These are two very different lives, and Arathiel’s not sure he can, should, or want to jump back in the old one. Figuring what home means to him and how to reconcile the different parts of it is a huge aspect of his story.

City of Strife’s official cover has just be revealed, can you tell us about the the style, or even feeling you want it to convey with it.

I wanted the city on it. Isandor is a character in and of itself to me, an universe I’ve been building brick by brick for a long time. I asked my cover artist to convey the eclectic feel of the tower, to go wild with the architecture. The end result is gothic towers, lions spitting water, beautiful glasswork, and a fantastic amount of details. Bonus: this is a concept we can reuse with every cover to give them a unified feel while still being quite different!

City of Strife releases on the 22nd! Which is the day after Hello World, it makes me feel hopeful so that such an aggressively a-spec filled book sits next to mine date wise. Last week had the re-release of The Princess Saves Herself In This One and Island of Exiles and now these two being so close to each other is just- well beautiful really.  Make sure you add it to goodreads so you don’t miss Claudie Arseneault’s newest gem.