Lyssa Chiavari is an author of speculative fiction for children and teens, including the upcoming FOURTH WORLD trilogy, a young adult sci-fi adventure set on Mars. She has also written several pieces of short fiction, and is the editor of PERCHANCE TO DREAM, a young adult collection of Shakespeare retellings. Lyssa lives with her family and way too many animals in the woods of Northwest Oregon, which suits her just fine; except it actually doesn’t rain there as much as you’ve been told, and she really could do with more rain, thanks.
Both of those sound awesome to me, but let’s get to our very first asexuals in writing feature interview!
What do you identify as?
I identify as asexual and gray-biromantic.
Who is asexual in your story and how do they identify?
My upcoming YA trilogy (the first book, Fourth World, is due to release this fall) is told in alternating perspective between a boy named Isaak, who’s one of the first generation of kids to be born on Mars after it’s colonized by people from Earth, and a girl named Nadin. One of Nadin’s major storylines across the three books is realizing that she is asexual—that it’s a thing, that she’s not broken, and that it’s normal for her to feel the way she does. Along the way, she forges a connection with Isaak, who is demisexual. Of course, there are lots of other adventures in store for them (it is Mars, after all), but it was important for me to include characters like myself, because representation of aces is so rare, especially in young adult fiction, where most people can only name one or two major examples.
Even though Fourth World is the one that deals most prominently with discovering one’s identity and asexuality as a label, most of my stories feature ace and/or aro characters and storylines. For example, I edited a YA anthology of Shakespeare adaptations called Perchance to Dream, which releases at the end of June, and my own story in the book, a retelling of The Tempest, includes a queerplatonic relationship between my two heroines. I have also written a few other short stories that are currently out on submission with ace protagonists. Being ace (and bi, and gray-romantic) is such a major part of my existence, and I decided awhile ago that I wanted to write what was true to myself, rather than just focusing on what other people expected. I feel like my writing has improved since, so I’m definitely happy with that choice.
What did you want to get right about your representation?
The most important thing to me is to write stories that feel “true” to me. Some of my stories, like Fourth World, include a “coming out” subplot; but most of them, the characters just are, and it’s totally fine for them and everyone else. I absolutely think that “coming out” stories are important, but it’s also beneficial to me to have stories where people are just themselves and it’s a thing that’s normal. I spent so much of my life thinking something was wrong with me. I think a lot of it could have been avoided if I’d seen more characters like myself in fiction, so that’s my goal in writing what I do.
Any other comments?
I just want to say thank you for running this blog and this series, and to everyone who’s reading and who is interested in asexual representation in fiction. Things have improved so much in the last ten years, when realizing I was ace was akin to a social death sentence and the only alternative was to shove myself back in the closet for a decade and pretend to be “like everyone else.” I never would have imagined, back then, that there would be resources like this and Asexual Artists, places where I could meet not just other aces, but other ace writers—I’ve even made a group of friends who all write sci-fi and fantasy, and we’re opening a blog soon where we talk about our experiences as aces and writers. I could never have dreamed that there’d be a world where asexual stories would be wanted. I just hope that our stories will help other aces feel comfortable in their skin and make people realize that we’re not robots or sideshow spectacles—we’re normal people, just like anyone else!
Perchance to Dream is set to release June 30th and Fourth World should be out in November. I know I’ll be eagerly waiting for them both and I hope you check them out too. Check out her website to learn more about Lyssa Chiavari or follow her on twitter and tumblr.
Ty Ogunkoya at New York Model Management photographed by Georgie Wileman for Issue 8. Fashion by Lisa Jarvis. Ty wears Shirt by Aguinaga, Jacket by Blk Dnm and Hat by Albertus Swanepoel. See a preview of the series here
Ty Ogunkoya at New York Model Management photographed by Georgie Wileman for Issue 8. Fashion by Lisa Jarvis. Ty wears Shirt by Aguinaga, Jacket by Blk Dnm, Hat by Albertus Swanepoel, Trousers by Tripp and Shoes by Dr Martens. See a preview of the series here
Nintendo will release Yo-kai Watch on the 3DS next year in North America, a role-playing game about using a special watch to detect otherwise invisible mythical creatures floating all around Japan. The game is just one part of a coordinated Yo-kai Watch multimedia rollout, with comics and toys joining the 3DS game on store shelves.
Yo-kai Watch creator Level-5 is currently best known in the US for the popular Professor Layton series and for developing Dragon Quest VIII and IX with Square Enix. But with Yo-kai Watch, the publisher is aiming for a much rarer, higher tier of success. And over the last few years, it has built the kind of experience, partnerships, and capital required to even have a chance at turning Yo-kai Watch into a household name.
Though this is the first time the company is attempting a coordinated push in North America, it’s not the first time Level-5 has created such a multifaceted, successful franchise. Yo-kai Watch is the third of what it calls its “Cross Media Projects,” franchises designed with a variety of media in mind, not only video games.