queer planet

Strange Horizon’s Queer Planet special (a month of queer-focused fiction, poetry and non-fiction) has begun, and one of this week’s items is my column, “Did You Mean ‘A Romantic’?” which talks about growing up as an aromantic in a amatonormative world, highlighting some of the media which has scarred me and some of the reactions and realisations I’ve gotten throughout life.

This is my first non-fiction sale! And the title is from before “aromantic” became a term Google knew and that was the standard search correction suggestion.


reprint & interview

My interactive poem “stone” has been reprinted in sub-Q! There’s other interactive poems, and interactive fiction and games, over at sub-Q which you can check out too!

And I did an author spotlight over at Pack of Aces where I talk about my published acearo characters and how much better my writing life is since I discovered the terminology that described me:

When I was a teen I tried to write characters who were like me. This was before I’d heard of asexuality or aromanticism. All of the characters were broken, like I obviously was, and they were all eventually fixed like I was told I would be. (Perhaps “they were all broken, and they were all eventually broken in” is better phrasing?) They should have been happy endings: the character admitted they were in love, sex was usually implied, hooray, the character is fixed. But they were all off. Stockholm syndrome was common, overbearing and wearing down of wills was common, power imbalance was common. The characters did not choose to fall in love, they didn’t really fall in love; they were pulled into love and sex and held there with a grip that only at a glance looked like a romantic holding of hands. Messed. Up. (But that’s what I thought I saw in books and films and TV, that’s what I thought was the only path for me. There were many stories which horrified me, which people insisted were romantic. He loved her, so it was all right. She ends up saying she loves him, so it was forgiven.)

There was a month dedicated to these author spotlight interviews with various acespec creators and you can check them all out here!


Me & Asexuality & Aromanticism

This was originally posted late 2010. There’s been some editing and updating.

Part One :: Me & Asexuality/Aromanticism

When I was growing up, the default was “straight”. My extended family, TV, books, all full of heterosexual people. I expected I was straight, I was expected to be straight. (Because it was the default, I should clarify. My parents were pretty awesome about being supportive and good people. There would have been no drama from them if I’d turned out more traditionally queer.) It probably wasn’t until high school that I found out there were other orientations.

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The Selkie Before Summer


southern fur seal; Milford Sound, New Zealand, February 2008

My long poem “The Selkie Before Summer” is up at Liminality! It’s about a southern fur seal (or maybe an Australian fur seal) who leaves the ocean for the first time to rescue a lover and ends up exploring Victoria and gender and matters of the heart. (And there’s another poem in this issue about a sea creature who heads inland, by Sandi Leibowitz!) Yes, it is yet another S-title poem about skin. I might have gotten it out of my system now but I promise nothing.

Earless seals like greys and harps have always seemed like quasi-fantasy animals to me. I knew they were real, I saw them on documentaries, but they were just so different to the fur seals I was more familiar with that there was something mythical about them. (White swans have the same effect. When I visited Britain and saw them it was a very “how is this even a real island” moment. Seeing a lone black swan amongst a group of white swans in Windsor did not help this surreal disconnect.) But imagine an Australian fur seal selkie walking along a yellow sandy beach, their brown skin draped over their head to keep off the burning December sun, even though every story and art I see specifies otherwise. That’s more real to me than anything involving a grey seal and the Atlantic.

Of course, it is now well and truly summer, but I was in fact in Victoria this past spring, so here’s two indulgent photos. (If the eucalypts look strange, they’re shedding their back, which is one of my favourite things! Such a beautiful time of year, seeing the trees shed and change colour.)


The Otways, Victoria, September 2015


The Twelve Apostles, Victoria, September 2015


skins and seas

My short poem “Skin Ashore” is up at inkscrawl! It’s got a selkie and consonance and difficult life choices.

And my longer poem “Singing Her Body Oceanic” is up at Liminality with mermaids and tattoos and yearning for something new.

Along with “stone” that makes three poems published this month (!), all with S titles and all featuring changing skin. They were all written in different years so that’s quite some coincidence there. I feel like I should probably understand poetry better now but most of it is just ??? to me still.

Short notes:
The supralittoral zone sits above high tide and is regularly splashed.
The photic zone is well-lit.
The mesopelagic aka the twilight zone is 200 to 1000 metres below the surface.
The bathyal zone aka the midnight zone is 1000 to 4000 metres below the surface; sunlight does not breach it.


Love Over Glass podcast

You can now listen to “Love Over Glass, Skin Under Glass” over at the GlitterShip podcast! And also read it, as there’s a full transcript provided! This is the first time “Love Over Glass” has been free to read or hear online (it was originally published in Aurealis and then reprinted in Heiresses of Russ 2014) which is super exciting! It’s a creepy romance about obsession, compromise, differences and self-discovery.

GlitterShip is a new podcast focusing on queer SF&F stories. Definitely check it out!


Even Robots Learn

My poem “Even Robots Learn” is up at Strange Horizons (as well as their fund drive for the next year)! It’s about aromanticism, representation, amatonormativity, and robots. I’m overwhelmed that the poem found such a lovely home; it’s an important subject to me.

When I was growing up, amatonormativity and representation of non-alloromanticism and non-allosexuality led to me thinking I wasn’t right, I couldn’t be normal: I was a rock, an awful inhuman malfunction. I’ve talked about this before (and so have others) but it’s something that profoundly fucked up my headspace as a teenager, something that still haunts me. And it’s the thing that drives me to write asexual and aromantic characters.

When I was growing up, the only characters like me were aliens, psychopaths, broken, dangerous (or silly young women who said they weren’t interested but really they just hadn’t been claimed by the right guy yet). They were fixable. And I was surrounded by friends–people who genuinely cared for me–who trusted that some day I too would be fixed, who told me that one day a boy would come and change me and fix me (and make me want to be fixed and glad to be fixed) and make me understand and feel love. Real love, of course. After all, I wasn’t properly human. Rocks are incapable of loving their friends.

And to me, that idea was terrifying. Some person is just going to come along, know how I feel better than I do, and change how my brain works because they like me really a lot and it would super suck if I didn’t like them a lot too?? That is literally the plot of a bad hypnotism story. That is literally a power that evil characters have, to make you like them against your will. And my friends thought it’d be a good thing, a romantic thing, because the only people like me they’d seen on the TV or in books were inhuman or in need of fixing. I was lucky in some ways–oblivious and unpopular, and at the time the people who had a crush on me were too shy/clumsy to act–and I never had to stumble through dating and all the horrors I’ve seen aros talk about related to that. Imagine if I had, everyone so happy for me, my confusion and distress continuing, and everyone thinking it’s okay, she’s fixed now.

In other news: everything literally sounds like robots to me at the moment due to ear infections.


Zenith’s Wake

Zenith’s Wake is up at Mirror Dance! At 9,400 words it’s the longest completed thing I’ve written since I was a teenager, and probably the first time I’ve had to use maths to work out how quickly a plot should be progressing.

It is about death, grief and disaster relief; stress, relationships, love and homesickness; magic, logistics and uncertain futures.

Some minor notes: Ithikana is a Brisbane-analogue and Istapor is a Singapore-analogue; Australia really does have stinging trees.


Elie and the Ship

Elie and the Ship
fantasy, non-humans; 2011; postcard

It wasn’t the fact that the ship was conscious that bothered Elie. Nor the fact that it had developed a soul over the years — or had had a sailor’s soul grafted into it; the stories conflicted.

The thing that bothered — really seriously bothered, to the point that she was considering leaving at the next port — was that the ship kept trying to flirt with her.
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