AroAce April | An interview with Rosiee Thor…

I’m celebrating aromantic and/or asexual writers and their work throughout April here on Jessticulates!

I’m so excited to bring you my chat with today’s guest, whose most recent book was my very first anticipated release of 2022 (which I’m currently reading and really enjoying!). Rosiee Thor is the author of YA SFF novels Tarnished Are the Stars and Fire Becomes Her, as well as the picture book, The Meaning of Pride, illustrated by Sam Kirk.

Hi Rosiee, welcome to Jessticulates and thank you so much for taking part in AroAce April! Please introduce yourself:

Hello! Thanks so much for having me! My name is Rosiee, I write queer young adult science fiction and fantasy. I’m an avid gardener, gamer, and humble servant to my demanding pet cat.

Can you remember the first time you came across the terms aromantic and asexual? If so, how did they make you feel?

The first time I heard the word asexual was definitely in reference to snails or slugs who, someone told me, could “reproduce asexually.” I also often heard it as a word for organisms without gender/sex. This incorrect definition led to me denying myself the label for years because I thought it meant something else. Aromantic, on the other hand, I heard much later once I did, at least, understand the definition of asexuality. It still took me a long time to really understand what both meant and what they meant for me specifically, and ironically all these years later I also identify as agender, which is what I originally thought asexual meant!

Your most recent novel, Fire Becomes Her, is set in a Jazz Age-inspired fantasy world. What drew you to writing a Jazz Age-inspired fantasy as opposed to a traditional Medieval Europe-inspired fantasy world?

This might sound like an odd answer, but… I actually studied medieval Europe in university. I even did my thesis on medieval queenship and the correlation between queenly identity/agency and national identity during periods of war and conquest. It wasn’t as boring as it sounds, I promise! But when it came to writing this book, I felt really overwhelmed by all the knowledge I already have in the medieval space and it just didn’t seem all that fun for me to write something that I’d already heavily researched. I wanted to dive into something I didn’t know quite as much about, partly so I could enjoy the research process, but also so I could bend the rules more without paining my own historian sensibilities.

What is it you love most about writing queer platonic relationships?

How easily it comes to me. Writing romantic relationships often feels like I have to really work at it—like dough you have to knead for hours until it’s the right consistency—but queer platonic relationships feel like making a recipe I know by heart. I don’t have to check with anyone what temperature to bake it at or how much vanilla extract goes in the dough. I can just wing it, knowing exactly what feels right for those characters.

It’s no secret that people on the aro and ace spectrums can sometimes be made to feel unwelcome in queer spaces by other people within the queer community. What part do you think fiction has to play in giving aro and ace identities a louder voice within that community?

For a long time, I thought it was my job as an aro and ace author to stand up and be loud about the exclusion we face in the queer community, to carve out a space for us and make other queer people see us, but the longer I participate in the community the more I think my job as a creator is to create safe and compelling narratives for aro and ace readers above all else. I can shout as much as I want, but that’s not going to make the a-spec exclusionists listen. My time and my creativity are much better spent writing stories that embrace the people who share my identity rather than stories that chastise those who don’t. They’ll eventually budge, or maybe they won’t, but I’m not about letting them dictate how I create or who I create for.

Do you think SFF is one of the most welcoming genres for aro and ace identities? Which genres – if any – do you think need to do better when it comes to aro and ace rep?

I think SFF is the least rigid genre in terms of aro and ace inclusivity. There’s certainly great potential for it, since SFF is a little like Whose Line is it Anyway? in that it’s all made up and the points don’t matter. Want to make a world where queer platonic relationships are the norm? Go for it! I don’t think it’s necessarily the space where aro and ace stories thrive the most, at least not under capitalism. Contemporary young adult fiction is where aro and ace stories are getting the most attention and marketing right now, which may have to do with market trends, or it might simply be specific books that are making a splash. Regardless, I don’t think there’s any one genre that is ultimately better for aro and ace stories than any other—except maybe romance, being generally the least welcoming for aro and ace readers with its all too common pitfalls of romance essentialism and denial that aro and ace people exist and can be happy. That’s not to say that all romance is this way, but aphobia is much more common there than any other genre I’ve encountered.

If you were to run for president in Candesce, what would your slogan be?

“Eat the rich, but cook them first”

Ingrid is such a delightfully ambitious heroine. What drew you to writing a story that has such a focus on politics and power?

I’m personally a very ambitious person, so it came naturally to me to write about someone who shares that trait. I’ve always loved characters with drive who know what they want and have a plan to get it. Politics seemed like a good place to set such a story because ambition is so inexorably linked to politics, especially in a world with elections. I’ve always been drawn to politics and remember doing electoral math at like eight years old to figure out who was winning the election (and then being incredibly bummed out when it didn’t go the way I’d hoped). There’s this weird sort of gatekeeping of politics when it comes to children because they can’t vote until they’re eighteen, but politics and elections impact us all and I wanted to write something where teenagers involve themselves in politics, because to stay silent and on the sidelines is an unthinkable choice.

Can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment?

I cannot, in fact! It is a secret! A very very cool secret that I never thought would happen for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to share something soon… but in the meantime, my debut picture book comes out April 19th! It’s called The Meaning of Pride and it’s all about Pride, the event, but also pride, the emotion, and the book is full of amazing, colorful illustrations by muralist Sam Kirk!

Last but by no means least, what are some of your favourite books with aro and/or ace rep?

I have so many, but here are a few that come to mind: The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath, What We Devour by Linsey Miller, If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann, The Last 8 by Laura Pohl, The Kindred by Alechia Dow, Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland, Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger.

Thank you so much for taking part in AroAce April, Rosiee! If you’d like to learn more about Rosiee and their work, head on over to their website.

Flare is power.

With only a drop of flare, one can light the night sky with fireworks . . . or burn a building to the ground — and seventeen-year-old Ingrid Ellis wants her fair share.

Ingrid doesn’t have a family fortune, monetary or magical, but at least she has a plan: Rise to the top on the arm of Linden Holt, heir to a hefty political legacy and the largest fortune of flare in all of Candesce. Her only obstacle is Linden’s father who refuses to acknowledge her.

So when Senator Holt announces his run for president, Ingrid uses the situation to her advantage. She strikes a deal to spy on the senator’s opposition in exchange for his approval and the status she so desperately craves. But the longer Ingrid wears two masks, the more she questions where her true allegiances lie.

Will she stand with the Holts, or will she forge her own path?

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