I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

Content Advisory: Discussions of and references to love, amatonormativity, ableism, neurodiversity, autism, familial abuse and partner abuse.

This June, I saw an increasing number of positivity and support posts for the aromantic and a-spec communities discussing the amatonormativity of “everyone falls in love”. I agree: the idea that romantic love is something everyone experiences, and is therefore a marker of human worth, needs deconstruction.

Unfortunately, a majority of these posts are replacing the shackles of amatonormativity with restrictive lines like “everyone loves, just not always romantically”, referencing the importance of loving friends, QPPs, family members and pets. Sometimes it moves away from people to encompass love for hobbies, experiences, occupations and ourselves. The what and how tends to vary from post to post, but the idea that we do and must love someone or something, and this love redeems us as human and renders us undeserving of hatred, is being pushed to the point where I don’t feel safe or welcome in my own aromantic community. Even in the posts meant to be challenging the more obvious amatonormativity, it is presumed that aros must, in some way, love.

I’ve spent weeks watching my a-spec and aro communities throw neurodiverse and survivor aros under the bus in order to do what the aromantic community oft accuses alloromantic aces of doing: using their ability to love as a defence of their humanity. Because I love, they say, I also don’t deserve to be a target of hatred, aggression and abuse.

But what if I don’t love?

What if love itself has been the mechanism of the hatred and violence I have endured?

Why am I, an aro, neurodiverse survivor of abuse and bullying, still acceptable collateral damage?

Continue reading “I Am Not Voldemort: An Essay on Love and Amatonormativity”

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Hallo, Aro: Neuronormative – K. A. Cook

Cover image for Hallo, Aro Allosexual Aromantic Flash Fiction. Cover features dark pink handwritten type on a mottled green background with a large line-drawn peacock feather, several sketch-style leaves and swirly text dividers. Green arrows sit underneath each line of text. A translucent overlay of the green/light green/white/yellow/gold alloaro flag sits underneath the text.

Hallo, Aro is a series of flash fiction stories about allosexual aromantic characters navigating friendship, sexual attraction, aromanticism and the weight of amatonormative expectation.

Contains: An autistic allosexual aromantic struggling to deal with the ways alloromanticism and aromanticism alike are binary, neuronormative ways of looking at the romantic attraction spectrum.

Content Advisory: This is a reflective piece about my alienation from and relationship to the aromantic label. The more I realise that there is no meaningful way for me to determine what is and isn’t romantic, the more I question the value of even attempting to do so.

Links: PDF | EPUB | Patreon | Tumblr

Length: 987 words / 4 PDF pages.

Note: “allistic” means “not autistic”.

Is there anything romantic not also non-romantic?

Continue reading “Hallo, Aro: Neuronormative – K. A. Cook”

DiOW: Booksellers Who Know Things

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

An ordinary day of selling, shelving and mending becomes less ordinary when a mysterious stranger saves Nevo from disaster while asking questions about fairy tales.

Setting: Two years before the beginning of the war referenced in Their Courts of Crows and Maybe When the Bones CrumbleDifferent in Other Ways introduces a brand-new set of characters and circumstances; readers don’t need any familiarity with my other works.

Content Advisory: A gay, quoiromantic man making eyes at another man against a culture of cissexism, heterosexism and working-class anxiety. Non-explicit references to sex and erotic media. Casual swearing.

Links: Series Master Post | Patreon

Length: 1, 783 words.

The tinny, cracked bell rings out. Nevo, smoothing the endpapers of a newly re-covered almanac while wrestling with a desk too small to hold a stack of waiting books, the cashbox and his pot of congealing glue, looks up. Lenlil won’t abide anyone entering her store without an enthusiastic greeting, as much as Nevo doubts most customers welcome it. “Good morning! Morning? Good … noon?”

A stranger, dressed like a man, struts toward Nevo with his green felt cap askew. He winks at the young women giggling over a book’s lurid illustrations—Adelin and Yuissa on break from the drapery around the corner—and beams, crookedly, at Nevo.

Nevo lowers the scraper, smiles and turns. “How can I hel—oh, fuck!”

His elbow smacks into the pile of books.

The man’s gloved hands block the books a heartbeat before they cascade onto the glue. Nevo whisks aside the pot and brush, biting back a string of Da’s more colourful curses. Mending books supposedly brings in more money than sorting and selling them, but then why doesn’t Lenlil invest in a proper workshop? Or at least a desk big enough to hold his record book, the cashbox, glue and a few clamps?

Keep reading at Patreon: Booksellers Who Know Things

Patreon, Aro Arrows and Other Projects

Handdrawn illustration of a yellow pasture against a background of hills and sparodic trees. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/grey/black stripes of the aro pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Discussion Post sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted to this website. So I thought I’d give you all a rundown on some new projects of mine and updates to a couple of older ones.

Patreon

One of the problems of being a disabled creator is that when we try to monetise our work, we’re expected–even required, if we hope for a modicum of success at it–to offer up extras in addition to what we’re already doing for free. That makes it difficult to get something like a Patreon up off the ground! I’ve had to take time off everything else to set one up and build up enough content for the next month or two of posting.

I do need support from my community if I wish to survive to keep making aromantic content. So I hope you’ll join me in giving this adventure a shot!

For $1 a month, patron exclusives include:

  • Bones, Belts and Bewitchments, a 275 page collection of Marchverse ficlets, short stories and novelettes where everybody is queer and nobody is alloromantic. Includes the exclusive story Kin of Mind where Darius (Certain Eldritch Artefacts) meets Azhra (Hallo, Aro) and discovers that autistics and dragons have a fair amount in common.
  • Different in Other Ways, a series of fantasy sketches and vignettes about gender, abrosexuality, quoiromanticism, customer service, working-class queerness and friendship. This series shows The Eagle Court‘s Ihrne from the perspective of queer people none too pleased with even the better Iteme royals. If you want a smart-arse abro trans dude with porokeratosis who loves fashion and gives traditional masculinity the middle (scaly, itchy) finger, Harper.
  • Early access to all Hallo, Aro stories.
  • Early access to all free Marchverse stories and books.
  • Early access to general aromantic posts, essays and articles.
  • Free downloads of all paid Marchverse short stories.
  • Sneak-peaks at forthcoming stories.
  • My gratitude undimmed until the ending of the world.

(Why porokeratosis? Because I’ve never seen a fantasy protagonist with my skin, and I yearn to show a character with the magical equivalent of my steroid cream collection.)

Patrons will get exclusive content (unavailable anywhere else) at least once a month, and my goal is to post something every week. I have a collection of short stories I’ve been working on just for patrons!

Continue reading “Patreon, Aro Arrows and Other Projects”

New Community Term: Dia Aro

In the last twelve months or so, it’s become common to see folks scrambling for a term that conveys the meaning of “someone on the aromantic spectrum who doesn’t solely describe their aromanticism as ‘aromantic'”. “Aro-spec” was for a time beginning to be used this way, in the sense of “I’m an aro-spec ace”. Now, I’m seeing an increasing number of posts where the community is deciding that “aro-spec” includes all aromantics.

On the one hand, some of us have a need for a word that includes aros like me–aros who additionally use terms that aren’t “aromantic” to describe our aromantic identities. On the other hand, the alternative “greyromantic” (in its use as an umbrella term) doesn’t include everyone who feels that general aromantic spaces and terms are unable to encompass our needs because of the way we identify our aromantic identities and experiences.

When idemromanticism and my shape of nebularomanticism mean I am not greyromantic, but the general aromantic community’s approach to content and representation leaves me feeling alienated from my own community and even the word “aromantic” because it assumes a relationship to and understanding of romance and romantic attraction I don’t have, how do I find connection and support?

Let’s be real, here: “aromantic” is a broad term that encompasses us all. General aromantic community spaces, however, tend to focus on a few ways of being aromantic, particularly the kind that doesn’t require additional identity terms to explain how we experience or navigate romance, romantic attraction and relationship behaviours.

I am not greyromantic, but when I am lumped together with end-case aros as though that interpretation depicts my aromanticism, all I feel is how different–and unwelcome–are my experiences with regards romance and attraction. I have more in common with the greyromantic community than I have with most end-case aromantics, despite not being one of you. I need a way, therefore, to connect with other aros who don’t fit the standard end-case aromantic experience without misidentifying myself, a word that can’t be conflated with “aromantic” or “aro-spec”. A word not quite as wonderfully broad as “aromantic” or “aro-spec” but a little broader than “greyromantic”. A word that lets other people identify us without leaving cupioros and idemros under the “end-case aro” label as though the reasons we claimed those identities don’t matter enough to be worth distinguishing.

Continue reading “New Community Term: Dia Aro”

Collection: Aromantic and Autistic

Handdrawn illustration of a green meadow foreground with green and yellow pine trees growing against a mint-hued sky. Scene is overlaid with the pink/white/blue stripes of the nebularomantic pride flag. The text Aro Worlds Fiction sits across the image in a black, antique handdrawn type, separated by two ornate Victorian-style black dividers.

This is a separate list of all my works featuring autistic and aromantic protagonists. My other aro-spec works can be found on my fiction page or at my website.

It’s also worth noting that my protagonists are like to be various combinations of trans, non-binary, multisexual and otherwise-disabled.

Some of these stories do not focus on the aromantic, and one story, Certain Eldritch Artefacts, is more an example of an aromantic not yet knowing it than an aromantic narrative. (Do the alloromantic usually build a successful romantic relationship with an inappropriate crush by first spending a year travelling around another continent?) The sequel, Love in the House of the Ravens, depicts the beginning of Darius’s finding this out…

What if it Isn’t

Cover for "What If It Isn't" by K. A. Cook. Cover shows a colourful pastel fractal/dripping-glass style background, predominantly peach-orange and light blue. The title text, in black serif and antique handdrawn-style type, is framed by three black curlicues. A fourth curlicue borders the author credit at the bottom of the cover and a fifth forms a frame at the top.What if her love is a dull, flickering, rare thing, so insubstantial it makes better sense to disregard it as meaningful? What if her love is quiet and companionate at best while Keiko loves with fairytale passion, a woman who wants and needs to be wanted?

Pretending to be girlfriends while casing an art gallery with Keiko shouldn’t be a problem, but once Jessie realises things have gotten a little too real in the façade they’re showing to the world, the only thing to do is ask.

Contains: A stand-alone, fluffy, contemporary short story about a greyromantic autistic and the beginnings of a QPR.

Links: Patreon | WordPress | Tumblr

PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions are available for download from Patreon.

Length: 2, 097 words / 6 PDF pages.

Continue reading “Collection: Aromantic and Autistic”

Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eleven

Cartoon-style illustration of shrubs, roses and grasses growing against a grey stone wall. Scene is overlaid with the dark green/light green/white/yellow/gold stripes of the allo-aro pride flag. The text Marchverse sits across the image in a white, fantasy-style type.

After seven years in Rajad, Darius has fallen out of love with the unattainable and failed to fall in love with the companionate. When the right person offers a romantic relationship and he doesn’t understand why yes won’t grace his tongue, the only thing an autistic man can do is ask the Ravens–and hope he can survive the word they give him in return.

Content Advisory: Mentions of ableism/abuse, assault, fantasy violence and wounds, along with an agender, aromantic person of colour being referred to as an insect and a brief discussion of the ways amatonormativity impacts aromantics in relationships with alloromantics.

Length: 1, 057 words.

Links: Beginning | Previous

The world makes romance more important than anything, or anyone, else.

Continue reading “Love in the House of the Ravens – Part Eleven”