Aro-Spec Artist Profile: Luthyx

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 next aro-spec creator is @luthyx​, who also goes by Petrichlorine and MUSE-42. They’re better known on this blog for sharing snippets from an in-progress work called Sanction the Skies, celebrating all things a-spec and dragon!

Luthyx is a transmasculine, agender aro-ace creative with mental illnesses, specialising in speculative fiction and digital art, the latter both original and fancontent (primarily for How to Train Your Dragon). You can find their gorgeous art on their DeviantArt account and their writing at @sanctiontheskies​, currently featuring artwork, maps and a wealth of worldbuilding and characterisation teasers. Lastly, if you enjoy Flight Rising, you can check out their dragons under the name Luthyx!

With us Luthyx talks their confidence in their aromanticism, the need to live an authentic life on their terms, the way their characters and worlds become part of them, and writing spec fic as an aro. Their determination to craft and make as they need sparkles in every word and dragon scale, so please let’s give them all our love, encouragement, gratitude, kudos and follows for taking the time to explore what it is to be aromantic and creative.

Can you share with us your story in being aro-spec?

My tale is a fairly straightforward one. By the time I was of the age that most people started experiencing their first crushes, I’d moved to a different state and begun taking an online school, free of the peer pressure that lies ever-present in most traditional classrooms.

Even then, as I began to develop my skills and passion for writing, I’d already begun to see the influence of the omnipresent Romantic Subplot. It was everywhere: books, film, music, poems. I couldn’t so much as flip on the radio without hearing a disillusioned, autotuned cry for help healing a broken heart. I hated it. I still do.

It quickly became apparent to me that I wasn’t like the others. Every once and a while, my mom would drag me to her church, where I’d be forced to endure the company of undisciplined tween boys and catty, Twilight-obsessed girls. It was the girls especially that caught my attention: the sheer passion and fervency with which they discussed who they found hot, what Hogwarts house they were in, and their critiques and praise of The Hunger Games. I found it absurd to objectify people, fantasy or real, like that.

I think this was probably about the time I began to realize that I was agender, too, but that’s a story for another day. Thankfully, I’d already become a headstrong, independent teenager, and I was proud to say that I was different, that my interests were in something that, in my head, was much more important and much more intense than those of others my age.

I can’t recall the first time I heard the term aromantic or the first day that I applied it to myself. I think, deep down, I always knew, and I’ve always been astoundingly proud of it. To me, romance isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of things, but just another life experience I haven’t had, like owning fourteen chihuahuas or going on a warm summer vacation to the Middle East. Not everybody wants to experience those things, and society is completely fine with it – I see no reason as to why they should feel differently about romantic relationships, but I suppose they do. Dealing with the fallout of that bias is their problem.

I am me, and the me I know will not be held down by stereotypes, will not conform to any sort of life script I am handed, will not feel sorrow or remorse for a single experience lost. I’m here for a good time, and my idea of a good time involves doing what I love. Romance is not on that list.

Can you share with us the story behind your creativity?

My creative streak started young. For as long as I’ve known it, I’ve been drawing characters and writing stories. Mind you, the first stories were about Littlest Pet Shop figures and were written with the help of my parents, but it was a start nonetheless. Art, in its many different forms, has always been my form of self-expression. I often wandered off into my imaginary world when I got bored, and when I went to sleep every night, I’d often spend hours just imagining characters doing as they do before drifting off to sleep. I still do that every night – like clockwork.

I think it was when I was in my early teens – thirteen or fourteen, maybe – that I decided I wanted to be a writer. I recall turning to my mother one night and saying, “I wish I could write a book,” still believing that I was too young to attempt such a thing yet. “Nobody says you can’t do it right now!” were the words she gave back to me, and then off I started.

The project I started then is one that’s still ongoing now – a series of books I call Sanction the Skies, featuring dragons, wars, and a good hunk of divine intervention. I’ve worked and reworked it ever since that fateful day, improving the lore, changing the characters, watching my perspective of them evolve and change alongside me. They are a part of me, through and through.

It hasn’t been the easiest journey, but I’m still chipping away at it, ever-determined. It’s been doubly hard to follow my dream because of all of the messages about how impossible it is to be a writer in this day and age, and that you can’t do it without a well-paying side job. My stubborn self says, “To hell with you!” and works on it anyway. I want to write, to draw, to forge, to craft, and the world be damned if it tries to stand in my way.

Are there any particular ways your aro-spec experience is expressed in your art?

The only way it’s expressed is in my writing, where almost all of my characters are explicitly aro. The Romantic Subplot is a tiresome, often badly-done trope, and I’d like to steer away from it altogether. I want to show that a friendship is not worth less than a romance, and that a good story can still be told without the boy getting the girl – or the girl getting the girl for the sake of progressiveness.

What challenges do you face as an aro-spec artist?

Honestly? Not much, at least not yet. I think I may face a bit of pushback in the future because my novel features no romance, but overall, I’ll probably be fine in that regard.

How do you connect to the aro-spec and a-spec communities as an aro-spec person?

I rarely connect with them at all, honestly. Most of the discussion I see is either people screaming about amatonormativity or people asking, “Am I asexual/aromantic if…?” Alternatively, there’s people discussing their experience being partially a-spec or aro-spec, none of which I can relate to. All I want is a place to revel in my identity, to be able to talk about anything BUT romance, to form strong friendships.

Sometimes it hurts me to think that the friends I have now will soon find romantic partners, and I’ll be left behind in the dust as a third wheel. I hope my friends won’t do that, that perhaps I can still make myself heard – but who knows? I’ve had no luck with finding any other aro-spec people in my region at all, unfortunately, so the internet is all I’ve got in that regard. I’ll just have to wait and see what the future holds!

How do you connect to your creative community as an aro-spec person?

I find I connect somewhat decently. I write fantasy and sci-fi, which generally seem to be more acceptable genres to have a lack of romance, especially when a pair of dragons are the main characters. It is alienating from many fandoms, though, because they often focus so much on the romantic partnerships and shipping. Almost every blocked tag in my dash concerns ships, kissing, hugging, romance, children, and anything related to those.

Can you share with us something about your current project?

Ohoho, this is a fun one! Well, right now, I’m working on re-writing Chapter One for the trillionth time after giving the town it takes place in a complete and utter overhaul. I’m also working on making a short comic that takes place in the universe of the book but is unrelated to the main plot, though it features characters and locations that may be explored in future books. I want to do the comic in the hopes of gaining some traction and interest in the books, since I’m rather horrible at advertising at the moment.

Have you any forthcoming works we should look forward to?

Again, the comic! It’s about a con artist who incurs the wrath of the demigodess of misfortune after a con resulted in the death of a sick hatchling. There’s also some stuff with an ancient, precursor species of dragons and one of their final remaining sanctuaries.

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