Writing an own voices character, meaning based of some of my experiences as demisexual (or something closely approximating that category), is far from easy. In some ways it’s harder because the character isn’t me but I’m using my perspective as a jumping off point.
One way I solved this problem was to brainstorm with other asexual spectrum folks. I’m so grateful for Rae, who started as a reader of Dal Segno and sent me an email. We became fast friends and since then have had some deeply personal conversations about sexuality, attraction, physical desire, the things that are important when writing a book but very rarely ever discussed. This information, along with a lot of research allowed me to find Ash’s unique sexuality by the time the book was complete.
But Ash, like all of us, is more than her sexuality. She’s a person with big dreams and long term goals. These goals are going to become more relevant in future stories, and I honestly don’t know how their story ends myself. I have an idea of what I think would work, but things could change as the characters grow.
One aspect of her personality that I had to carefully craft (and hopefully pulled off) was her need to apologize for being in the wrong. Normally in society we view over-apologizing as a negative, and in many cases it is. But we also tend to under-apologize in American society, so when someone like Ash apologizes appropriately based on her worldview it can feel excessive.
A reader brought this quote up as one of her favorites and for me it was the crux of Ash’s personality. “I realized a few years ago that there was little I could do to make the world kinder, not on a large scale. But this was one thing I could do. I could apologize when I did wrong, even if it didn’t seem like a big deal to anyone else. And maybe that would inspire others to do the same. And bit by bit the world would be a nicer place.”
Writing that paragraph made Ash’s underlying motivations very clear to me. Ash is not a doormat and apologizing does not make a person weak like Phoenix may have observed growing up. In the paraphrased words of Brene Brown, vulnerability is courageous. Ash’s willingness to be vulnerable and admit when she wasn’t being her best shows her courage.
This is what I admire most about Ash. She’s found a way to be vulnerable in a way that works for her, even as she protects her heart. And yet, when she finds someone she trusts, she’s all in and open. She expresses her needs and doesn’t compromise herself for Phoenix. This is why they are able to navigate the challenges of their relationship so well. I only wish I could communicate my needs as effectively. Ash has become one of my personal heroes. I hope she inspires you as well.
Rising from Ash is available on Amazon and soon through Audible. Getbook.at/RisingFromAsh