Author Archives: Erica Cameron

About Erica Cameron

Erica Cameron knew that writing was her passion when she turned a picture book into a mystery novella as a teen. That piece wasn’t her best work, but it got her an A. After college, she used her degree in Psychology and Creative Writing to shape a story about a dreamworld. Then a chance encounter at a rooftop party in Tribeca made her dream career a reality. Sing Sweet Nightingale will be published in March 2014 by Spencer Hill Press. It is her first novel.

The Ryogan Chronicles are Back!

This has been a year with a lot of surprises, good and bad. For my book life, however, it’s been a fair amount of good news, especially for The Ryogan Chronicles!

They’re back! And then some!

With brand new covers made by Cait Greer and wonderful extras on the interiors (like maps!), the whole series is once again available for readers to purchase.


Publishers Marketplace Deal Report
Category: Audio Rights
October 3, 2023
Imprint: Tantor Media

Erica Cameron's THE RYOGAN CHRONICLES, in which a young warrior must fight against impossible odds and dangerous magic to rescue her brother and save her community's isolated island from dark forces, to Kim Budnick at Tantor Media, in a three-book deal, by Eric Smith at P.S. Literary (world English).

My wonderful agent has sold the audiobook rights to the whole series, so that means you’ll eventually be able to beam Khya and her whole squad directly into your earbuds.

More to come on voice actors, release timelines, and other cool news!

Thanks, everyone for your patience as I worked on releasing these books. Hopefully you like the new editions as much as I do!

New Tech Tools and Templates

I found a new fascination this weekend. On the recommendation of a new author friend, I took another look at the program called Notion. I’d heard about it before but didn’t really understand the full capability of the software. Now, I get it.

This tool is a powerful combination of databases and freeform storage, and it’s a perfect fit for building and incredibly versatile novel or series bible (aka a place for you to keep track of everything you create so you don’t forget details along the way.)

To teach myself how to use this program, I built a blank template I can use for my own stories, and I wanted to share it here with a general overview of how to navigate the program and my own template. Feel free to copy the template and make changes so it can better fit your needs! Also, the free version of the program is more than enough for most user’s needs. You can also use Notion’s Guides and Tutorials section for more detailed walkthroughs on the specific functions within the program.

Now, an introduction to the Novel Notes template in Notion.

This is the template’s landing page and the main navigation point for the whole tool

The customizable blank pages can be adjusted to fit a wide variety of needs. I set up this template to highlight the key description of the story, a callout for important notes or reminders, and the navigation links to the rest of the pages in the tool. This should allow for easy access to all the information within the tool.

This shows a section with character cards, and spaces for overview information on the book(s).

Because Notion also incorporates robust database tools, it allows for comprehensive information organization and various ways to view/sort that info. In this template, I highlight the character descriptions with a “Board” view of the character database. This essentially gives each character a card that displays the reference photo (if you choose to upload one) and whichever key details you choose. Databases also include a tagging system that can help you keep even extensive cast lists or outlines organized.

The actual database view of the character list

Here’s what the actual database looks like for the character sheet. It’s essentially a fancy spreadsheet. What’s special about a database versus a spreadsheet is the type of information you can put in each cell, the powerful filter/sort functions, and the easy way you can link information from one table to another. These information links are called relations or references. Notion usually calls them relations. As an example of what you can do with these links, I usually link the characters to my outline database so I know who appears in each chapter.

When you open a record, you have even more space to add information.

Each row in a table can also be called a “record”. In Notion, when you hover over the first cell in the row, you’ll see a button appear that says “Open”. Clicking on this will open the view shown in the image above, and with the space provided here, you can include a TON of additional information in the open space at the bottom of the page where it says “Press Enter to continue with an empty page, or create a template.” Nothing entered in that space will appear within the table or in any view you create (like the Board view shown in an earlier image), but it is the perfect place to go into lengthy detail about the character, chapter, etc. you’re trying to track. As a bonus, this section acts exactly like the main page, so you can add images, create lists, link to other pages, or any number of things.

Add images to create an inspiration board or to remind yourself of key details within the story.

Back on the main page, the last feature I included is space for an inspiration board. Notion links directly to Unsplash, so you can choose images found on that site or you can upload your own. By dragging and dropping, you can reorganize the pictures and add or remove the number of columns in each row.

And that’s it! At least in the most general sense. Below are some details on each of the other sections within the template and why they’re included.

Outline –

This is mostly self-explanatory, but most people don’t outline in a database, so I’ll explain a little bit about why this is a pretty cool option. With the database tools, an outline can link directly to your characters (so you know who appears where), your timeline (so you know when everything is happening), your research (so you always have access to the right information), and your quotes (so you know when you referenced some clue or description or detail).

Plot Notes –

I usually leave this as a more freeform page, so this is where I write out my summary and synopsis, map out plot beats, scribble down revision notes, or anything else I need to keep track of.

Glossary –

This is going to be most useful for those writing something within speculative fiction in which you need to invent words, phrases, and place names. This database helps track the meanings of those words and can give you space to remind yourself how you came up with it, too. If needed, you can also link this to other databases (like the outline or character list) if you want to track where the words are used or who says it.

Timeline –

If you’re using a regular Gregorian calendar (the one that’s the official calendar most people use on a daily basis), the timeline function within Notion can be a good way to track events and dates. If you’re writing speculative fiction with an alternative calendar, you might have to get creative in how you use this feature, but it still could be useful. For example, you could simply use it to track the number of days between events or how long certain journey takes, etc.

Quotes and Notes –

I started using this tool when I was writing my last series and was having a hard time remembering how I’d described certain things (like important rooms and technology I invented) and when I’d referenced details that laid down key clues. Tracking them in a sheet like this gave me an easy way to remember who, what, where, when, why, and how of my own story. Which is good, because I don’t trust my own memory for anything.

Research –

Speaking of not trusting my own memory, I tend to be a bit overzealous wen tracking my research. When I look up information on websites, I tend to copy the whole site into my notes so I always have it for reference. I save PDF copies of articles, copy photos off the internet, and download anything I think I might need again later. Putting it all in a database like this makes it SO MUCH EASIER to find things when I need it.

Progress Tracking –

For those who are motivated by seeing their progress laid out in front of them, this sheet can help you keep track of how much you’re writing and when. With the use of tags, it can also track progress along stages of the process (drafting versus editing, for example) and give you a solid view of exactly how much work you’ve put into the story.

And that’s it! Hopefully this helps. Happy writing, all!

The Hunt is Coming

Tis the season for many things, and one of those things is the Fall Young Adult Scavenger Hunt!

This year, the hunt will run from October 1 to October 6!

Oct 1, noon PST: The hunt begins!

Oct 6, noon PST: The Hunt ends—winners selected.

Oct 8: Winners Announced!

There are four fantastic teams to follow this year. To check out all the books, you can browse this handy Goodreads list to get a feel for the stories and authors on the various teams. I’m Team Purple this time around!

If you’ve never taken part in the hunt and are interested in the rules, visit the official YASH website here. Below are also a few quick links that might help you navigate your first hunting trip or just give you a quick refresher course before the fun is underway!

How to Hunt | When You’re Stuck | Official Entry Form | Prize List

Get ready to win some very cool prizes!

PAX NOVIS has a cover at last!

I’ve been talking about this book for about three years now, on and off, and it feels a little unreal that I can finally, finally share the cover with you!

Pax Novis Cover Art

Cira Antares is deeply loyal to two things: Pax Novis—her mother’s ship that transports supplies across war-torn star systems—and her personal mission to save war orphans. But hiding them as stowaways on the ship is illegal, and if any of them were found, not even her mother could protect Cira from the consequences.

She has successfully kept her secret…until supplies start to go missing. Food. Clothing. Tools. All signs point to her stowaways, but they wouldn’t do anything to risk exposing themselves—or her. Especially not Riston, the oldest of the group and someone Cira has grown close to. Someone she might even be falling in love with…

And petty thefts are only the beginning—whole ships are disappearing now.

Not caught in a firefight. Not destroyed by another planet. Vanishing. Without a trace.

And Pax Novis is next.

Brianna at The Young Folks was kind enough to host a reveal for this beauty yesterday, and even though it’s a little scary how close the release date already is, I honestly can’t wait to share my sprawling, complex space epic with everyone. This is the start of a brand new adventure with a really fun cast of characters, and I hope all of you will join me on this journey!

More information as well as extras like inspiration boards and quote graphics will all be available on my website’s official book page as it becomes available.

Buy it fromEntangled | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo |

War of Storms is almost here.

The final book of The Ryogan Chronicles releases November 5th, and I can finally tell you more about it! But first, LOOK!

Isn’t it beautiful?

The immortal mages have risen, and they’re out for blood.

Khya arrived at the Ryogan coast too late to stop the invasion. Now, cities are falling before the unrelenting march of an enemy army, and Khya’s squad is desperately trying to stay ahead of them. Warning the Ryogans, though, means leaving her brother imprisoned even longer. Time is running out for everyone.

But how can her squad of ten stand against an army of ten thousand?

Calling in help from every ally she’s made in Ryogo, Khya tries to build a plan that won’t mean sacrificing her friends or her brother. It’s a tough balance to find, especially when the leadership role she thought she wanted sits heavy on her shoulders, and her relationship with Tessen is beginning to crack under the strain.

The end is coming, and there’s no way to know who’ll be left standing when it hits.

The wait is almost over! The storm is rolling in.

Coming Up Aces: Pet Peeves

Brianna asks: What are your biggest pet peeves with bad asexual rep? Or, what are some of the most common, hurtful things we should be vigilant to avoid when writing ace characters?

Answer: While there are a number of answers to this question, I have to preface everything that follows with this—I am speaking from my experience, and I won’t hit all the points. What hurts me and the people I know is not necessarily a universal wound the entire ace community shares.

In my initial post for Coming Up Aces, I talked a little bit about this, but from a different angle. That post contained a list of everything asexuality is not, essentially a list of common misconceptions and myths. When looking for pet peeves and issues that will cause significant pain when an author gets them wrong, start there. These are common mistakes that are talked about a lot. Getting them wrong in your representation means you didn’t do much homework, probably didn’t talk to anyone who identifies on the asexual spectrum, and are probably looking for “diversity points” more than anything else. Don’t do that. People can tell, and they will call you out for it.

So let’s start there. My biggest pet peeve is authors who don’t take the time to research the experiences they’re trying to represent. You don’t have to include marginalized characters in your book. Honestly. You don’t. If you’re not going to take the time to read what others have written about their own experiences, interview people with questions specific to the needs of your story, and then find readers who can review your manuscript for accidental errors or poorly phrased statements, please do not include us in your book. Don’t include anyone different from you if you’re not going to put in the effort to do it right.

More specifically, it hurts when authors use asexuality as a trick or a smokescreen. Sounds ridiculous, right? It’s not. The first “example” of an on-page asexual I ever found did this. The character (meaning, the author) claimed to be asexual to push off advances from an admirer. He wasn’t asexual or even questioning—something he admitted later in the book—he was a virgin who had spent so much of his life isolated that he was terrified of intimacy. Do not do this. The noise I made when I first saw “asexual” used in print was ridiculous. I was so happy! That quickly faded as I picked up on where the author actually intended to go with this character. By the time we reached the end where the so-called “asexual” character had been “fixed” with sex and admitted he was never really ace to begin with, my heart hurt. I almost never return books, but you better believe I got rid of that one. It seems small, but the ace community doesn’t have much representation to claim. Even one character using asexuality as a ruse hurts. For a lot of readers, it was probably the first time they’d ever encountered the term, and now it seems like something people make up, a lie they use to cover up fear. That kind of belief (or disbelief as the case may be) is excruciating to face in real life. Having it reinforced by fiction helps no one.

Another huge issue is the misconception that sexual attraction and sexual action are the same thing. I have never felt sexually attracted to anyone. Romantically, yes, but it was never anything deeper than that. I’ve had sex, though, and the experience was enjoyable, even if I participated more for the emotional connection and to please my partner. That’s me, though, and my libido is nearly as non-existent as my level of sexual attraction. Others on the asexual spectrum have a much higher libido and enjoy sex frequently. Yes, there are those on the asexual spectrum who are sex repulsed (or even touch repulsed) and will never have intercourse with anyone, but that’s not a universal fact. All of these experiences are valid, but when writing an asexual character who enjoys sex, pay attention to the distinction between libido and attraction. Wanting sex is not the same as wanting another person sexually.

Since we’re on the subject of sex, there’s a big difference between portraying sex as an act that “flips a switch and fixes someone” and an individual who has been questioning where they fall on the asexuality spectrum and eventually discovers that demisexual is a more accurate label than asexual. There is nothing broken in someone who identifies as asexual, and therefore, there’s nothing to fix. However, new experiences can absolutely change someone’s understanding of themselves and make them reevaluate things they previously thought they understood. Tread carefully is you want to write this sort of arc and you’re not coming from a place of personal experience. It would be incredibly easy to accidently get this story wrong, even with the best of intentions.

I could keep going for a long time, digging into a lot of different mistakes and misinterpretations that can do a lot of harm to the asexual community. For today, though, I’m going to close this off with trauma. It’s a touchy subject for a lot of reasons—as well it should be—but it’s an experience a lot of people outside the ace community conflate with our experience. There is a pervasive belief that assault or trauma is the “cause” of asexuality. It’s not. It can be a contributing factor for many—I know my own assault and an emotionally abusive marriage had a huge impact on my perception of relationships—but there is no “cause” of asexuality. It’s not a condition any more than homosexuality or bisexuality is. If your character has a trauma in their past, be careful of how you tie it to their orientation. It can absolutely make them more leery of taking chances on new people or new relationships, and it can change their comfort level with touch and types of touch, but their innate orientation is a different story. Survivors of assault should be treated with far more respect than that kind of assumption grants them.

Like I mentioned before, there are so many more myths, mistakes, and misconceptions that bother me and hurt the community at large, and I could probably write a book on the subject, but these are some of the most common I’ve seen. They’re also incredibly easy to avoid if the proper research is done. Hopefully, this will offer a place to start for those willing to take the time and do it right.

Coming Up Aces: The Forgotten Orientation

The Forgotten Orientation

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It was a family trip, but not one I had a hand in planning, so it was either luck or fate, not foresight, that allowed me to be in Halifax the same day as their Pride Parade. I was delighted, and I steered my family into attending with me. Luckily, that wasn’t much of a struggle.

So we went, and it was wonderful.

The public’s involvement at every level was fantastic, and both the participants and the crowd were full of energy! Businesses, churches, college groups, volunteer organizations, military service members, city employees, and even the Prime Minister himself marched down the streets of Halifax. I was especially delighted to see a massive group from HalCon, most of whom were in full cosplay. The rainbow flag was flown with joy and, yes, pride, by hundreds of people, and I was mostly exuberant to be part of the experience.


You see, I don’t usually handle crowds well, so I’d never been to a Pride festival before. In preparation for the day, I’d picked out one of my favorite shirts—a long-sleeve gray shirt that says NAH along the front in all caps. Each letter is a color from the asexual flag. It’s adorable. I love it. Since this was my first Pride event, I intended to rep my orientation as much as possible. What I was even more excited about, though, was the possibility of seeing other people doing the same thing. I desperately hoped to meet people who understood and/or shared my experience.

Although I searched the parade for my colors in outfits or flags or floats, I only found it twice. Two flags, both of them on floats that included almost every recognizable set of colors I’ve ever seen. On one of those floats there was one girl who noticed my shirt and grinned at me, giving me a thumbs up. She wasn’t dressed in ace-spec colors, but we still had that moment of connection, that “Oh, hey! Look! Someone else is here!” moment. Then she was gone and I was left searching for something that never showed up. Even on signs and banners, the A in LGBTQIAP+ always got dropped. Most of the time, the letter list never made it past T.

So basically, two flags and a smile is all I got from a parade that took over an hour to pass me by.

It’s not nothing, but I couldn’t keep from feeling disappointed. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that this is exactly why the small but steadily growing asexual community is shouting so loud for representation. I couldn’t keep from remembering how many stories I’ve heard—or how many times I’ve seen for myself—how unwelcome ace-spec individuals are across the board, both in queer spaces and in cishet ones. I couldn’t stop wishing I’d seen a local group marching for awareness, and I couldn’t stop wondering why they hadn’t—because they didn’t think they needed to or because they didn’t think they’d be welcome?

Is this level of ace representation close to the norm for Prides? Maybe there’s usually more. Maybe there’s less. I don’t know for sure, but I know where I’m hoping “normal” falls.

What I do know is that I’m going to struggle against my own discomfort with crowds and events to be more involved in local Pride parades and events. I’ve also seen why it’s so important to keep talking about ace-spec issues online. There, I’m friends with dozens of fellow aces and can talk to people who understand, but that world doesn’t reflect reality yet. It’ll take a long while yet for that to happen, but I for one am definitely willing to put in the work to help get us there.

An Interview on YA Cafe!

Today, I was lucky enough to be interviewed on The YA Cafe podcast with Laura Moe! It was a great conversation about Island of Exiles, writing, asexuality, death rituals, speculative fiction, the popularity of dystopia, and more. Not necessarily in that order.

You can listen to the hour-long podcast here!

Thank you, Laura, for a great conversation!

Coming Up Aces: Asexuality as Armor

Question: Hi! I’m an ace author who is currently writing a fantasy novel with an ace main character. This is my first time writing an ace character, and to be honest, I’m not sure if I’m doing it right. My character uses her asexuality as an armour of sorts, and is somewhat repulsed by sex, yet still willing to use her femininity to her advantage when she needs to. Is this ok? I feel like I’m projecting my own feelings as an ace woman into my character, but I don’t know whether these are personal to me or whether they are ‘typical’ ace traits.

Answer: To begin with, it’s impossible to say definitively whether or not something is okay. “Typical” is also impossible to define. Like “normal,” it doesn’t exist. Experiences, and how people interpret and/or react to those experiences, vary as much as DNA. In those on the asexual spectrum, there definitely seem to be shared moments (feeling out of place or broken at least once, confusion over celebrity crushes, the “aha!” moment when asexuality is discovered), but those moments can have very different impacts on the people living them.

No group is a monolith.

When people discuss diversity, they often talk about “lanes.” Specifically, there is often the question of whether or not people should stay within their lanes when writing. The inherent problem with this analogy is that it takes a whole group’s experience and then contains it within a single lane. This is not only impossible to do (for more reasons than the one I mentioned in the first paragraph), it is damaging to our understanding of both characters and the lives of those people these characters are meant to represent.

No group can fit in a single lane. It’d have to be something more like a superhighway, a massive one with almost twenty lanes and multiple on and off ramps and express lanes. Within any group, experiences and reactions to those experiences differ. Within any group, some individuals are going to disagree about what their “true” experience is like and what accurate representation “should” look like. Sometimes, even if an author writes a story that exactly mirrors and mimics their own life experience, someone somewhere will think they got it wrong. 

As for the scenario you presented, I think it will very heavily depend on your presentation of the character, the situations you put her in, and how both she and the other characters react to those situations. A character who uses her asexuality as “armour” is not inherently problematic—I’ve done exactly this before—but there could be problems in how you describe the feeling, in how the other characters react, or in how the world perceives asexuality in general. There could be problems with the characters reasons for using this as armor, too, especially if those reasons in any way come back to the character hating themselves for this aspect of their personalities.

Everyone needs armor sometimes, and we can use different physical things or personality traits to serve that purpose. I’ve seen people use clothes, jokes, physical appearance, insults, and, yes, orientation as a distraction from some other part of themselves or as a way to distance themselves from others. It happens.

The same logic applies to someone “willing to use her femininity to her advantage” while still being “repulsed by sex.” The combination of these traits in one person is far from impossible, but executing them in a believable and respectful way could get tricky. Keep in mind, too, that readers will be inside the character’s head as they make decisions, and in the descriptions and reasonings an author uses there is the potential for harm. Proceed as the story demands, but do so with care, conscientiousness, and caution.

One thing I do want to mention on that last point, and that I hope to talk about later in greater detail in another post, is that speculative fiction is a vehicle for hope. You can carry our current prejudices and ideologies over into a sci-fi or fantasy world, but you also have the opportunity to create a world without them. Make sure, whichever side of that coin you choose, you are making the choice consciously. Books can be a powerful tool for normalization. I encourage authors to use that tool when they can.

Coming Up Aces: Historical Asexuality

Caitlin says: I’m ace, and I’m writing a book that features ace girls in love during the French Revolution. My problem is this: I’ve read a lot about how important it is to use the actual word of the sexual orientation in question on the page, especially in YA, as it might introduce teens to words they might need. However, “asexuality” as a word wasn’t coined until about 30 years after this book takes place, and then only in the sense of plants and asexual reproduction, not people. If this was a contemporary I’d put it all over the place very happily, but this seems different.

I know I’m probably using more words that aren’t period appropriate – though I’ll weed some out in edits, I’m sure – but should I skirt around historical accuracy and just use the word? It feels a bit clinical and out of place to me, but am I just being weird? I’d love some further thoughts from other people on this!

Erica says: To start with, thank you for asking this question! This is a subject I’ve been meaning to research in more depth for a while now, and this was the perfect nudge to push me in that direction.

Before we start, a reminder to readers just in case they (like me) couldn’t remember specifically: The French Revolution occurred between 1789 and 1799, and it definitely precedes any known public acknowledgement of asexual spectrum identities. At least any that have been translated into English.

Now, let’s cover the words we do know and when they were first used. 

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, asexual as a biological description meaning “having no sex or sexual system” was coined in 1829. It wasn’t first applied to human orientation until Mangus Hirschfeld used it in a pamphlet called Sappho und Sokrates that he wrote in 1896 (the original is in German, but you can read translations of some of the relevant sections here). Hirschfeld used it to mean “wanting [lacking] sexuality, being of or referring to neither sex.” Before that though, there was something else.

The term anaphroditous appears in the The New Sydenham Society’s lexicon, printed in 1879, and it means “not enjoying physical love; impotent” (pg. 205), but it may have first appeared before that date. However, according to sources the Online Etymology Dictionary pulls from, anaphrodisiac (“diminishing the sexual appetite”) was first used in 1823. Basically, it’s an antonym of aphrodisiac, so it seems to be more of a description for food or other things rather than people. The entry does list anaphrodisia, anaphroditic, and anaphroditous as related words, but there’s no entries for those specifically, and so it’s hard to know if any of those forms existed prior to that time. Anaphroditous certainly appeared before its inclusion in the Sydenham Society’s book, though.

So, great. Words acknowledging the existence of people who aren’t interested in sex are WAY, WAY, WAY older than most of the world realizes. Since there’s no concrete evidence (that I could find) saying when the related forms of anaphrodisia were first used, it’s believable to stretch it back in verbal use if not written another couple of decades. However, would the general population in 1823 know what anaphroditous meant? Possibly, but probably not unless you’re writing about people who are highly educated, well-traveled, and open to schools of thought about human psychology and sexuality that most of society didn’t acknowledge. 

Just because someone doesn’t know the word “asexual” or “anaphroditous” doesn’t mean asexual spectrum orientations didn’t exist. Actions, behavior, and beliefs matter, and all of those can be shown on a page. If the ace-spectrum character is a viewpoint narrator in first person or close third, you also have direct thoughts to contribute to the full picture of the character’s personality and opinions. And also their attractions (or lack thereof).

Even without a historically accurate word, there are still comparisons and descriptions that can be used—as long as they don’t rely on inaccurate metaphors. Calling your ace-spec character a priest, for example, draws an incorrect parallel between celibacy and asexuality. However, constructing a scene in which the ace-spec character gets hit on and then explains that they’ve never been attracted to anyone is a good idea. How the character interacts with the world and how an author describes them will also greatly depend on where the character falls on any number of spectrums. How do they feel about casual touch? Intimate touch? Sexual touch? Do they experience aesthetic or romantic attraction? Are they neurodiverse? Are they a minority in their society in a way additional to their orientation? All these factors and many more influence an individual’s opinions on and interactions with sex and society. They’re also crucial aspects of the character, especially if they’re a major player in the story.

If the character does have sex at some point in the story (an action which in no way invalidates their asexuality), a verbal statement concerning their lack of attraction will clue the reader in to their asexuality. As long as that idea is also repeated after the sexual encounter—otherwise, most readers will assume attraction between the sexually intimate partners and then assume orientation based on the stated gender of the partners. Honestly, without a word to use, the lack of attraction will need to be repeated several times in a variety of ways (thought, behavior, and dialogue) to reinforce the concept in the audience’s mind. As we know well by now, characters tend to be interpreted as straight until forcefully proven otherwise. And characters coded too casually (like Dumbledore, for example) don’t work when you’re trying to add representation.

An alternative is invention. If a historically accurate word doesn’t exist, create one with a basis in the language of the period. As a reader, I’d find it believable that a word once used in conversation but rarely written down would fall away and be forgotten. It happens. This applies to science-fiction or fantasy worlds as well. In my novel Island of Exiles, for example, I created the word ushimo to replace asexual. As long as the created word is explained the first time and then repeated throughout, it could conceivably be a stand-in for the language we use today.

A final possibility is the addition of an author’s note. These aren’t uncommon, especially in historicals. If there’s something you want to be sure readers understand, adding an explanation on the etymology of asexual could reinforce the idea in readers’ heads. And also introduce people to the current terminology. That’s a necessity if awareness and acceptance is going to spread.

Mostly, writing a character in a time “before” asexuality (no such thing!) is about the three Rs—repetition, respect, and representation. Represent your character’s actions and thought respectfully and repeatedly (with situational variation, of course). If you do these things, and get sensitivity readers to help you catch mistakes, you will succeed more often than not.

Have a question? Great! Submit it here for the ongoing Coming Up Aces Q&A.