GUEST FEATURE: Love Speculative Fic? Crave Aromantic Characters & Platonic Friendships? Then Meet the Common Bonds Anthology and Claudie Arseneault!

Text: Common Bonds Anthology. Friends at the pond: Guest feature, Common Bonds and Claudie Arseneault. Image: A green, white, and grey squid wearing glasses, holding the aromantic flag.

You’re at Gen’s garden today, helping him plant his new seedlings for the coming change of season ahead. And you’ve got to say: you seem to have a knack for helping Gen’s plant babies into their new home!

“Friend! Come quick!” comes the sound of Xiaolong’s voice.

You look at Gen – you’re almost finished helping him though! – but he gives you a big smile and tells you that you’ve done plenty today.

Xiaolong the pink axolotl, wearing an upside down flower hat, waving at you and holding an aromantic flag (five horizontal stripes: dark green, light green, white, grey, black).When you find Xiaolong, she’s standing by the pond’s edge and is adjusting a flag pole that she has pushed into the ground. The flag flutters gently in the wind (though, you think it’s Varian’s probably air-magic that is helping the flag fly) and the flag has a five-stripe design, with dark-green, light-green, white, grey, and black!

The aromantic pride flag! you say, recognising the flag.

Xiaolong gives you a big grin. “Yes, friend! We have a special guest today, and I’m really excited to introduce you to her. But before she arrives, I want to share with you the book that she is editing. I can’t wait to read it, but it needs a little help first!”

Help?! you exclaim. We always help our friends, right Xiaolong?

She gives you a big thumbs-up. “Right! We always help our friends!”

Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening friends! ✨

I have such an exciting feature to share with you all today, and I also have an exciting guest that will be visiting the Pond today! But before I introduce you to our wonderful guest, I’d like to tell you a lovely, upcoming anthology that will feature speculative fiction, aromantic characters, and stories about platonic relationships!

Introducing: Common Bonds

Common Bonds Anthology, with green vines intertwining and twisting across from left to right.

What is the Common Bonds anthology?

Common Bonds is an upcoming anthology of speculative short stories and poetry featuring aromantic characters. At the heart of this collection are the bonds that impact our lives from beginning to end: platonic relationships. Whether with family, mentors, friends, colleagues, or found family, these links pepper our lives and their importance is often overlooked. We seek to highlight the various ways platonic relationships can enrich us. Furthermore, we want to explore the way aromantic people often redefine the relative importance of these platonic bonds, centering them in their lives over romantic ones. We dream of sisters on a roadtrip through space, of queerplatonic partners hunting dragons, of an alchemy teacher changing the course of their student’s life, and of neighbours supporting each other through the apocalypse.

Friends, I cannot tell you how thrilled I am that this project exists.

One of the things that I love about anthologies is that they beautifully showcase the diversity within a common theme or identity. With existing anthologies such as Unbroken, which contained unique stories about disabled teens, and Black Enough, which showed how diverse Black identity can be, not only am I excited for Common Bonds but I certainly see, and want to highlight, that aromantic experiences can be unique and diverse as well — and I think Common Bonds will succeed in portraying this, and more.

In addition, the team behind the Common Bonds anthology are an incredible group of people whom I look up to and value for their voices and advocacy for queer and ace/aro communities. As well as Claudie, whom you will meet later, the team also includes:

The stories

Thus far, two stories have already been accepted in Common Bonds, and these two stories are any indication of the sort of lovely stories we can expect from the anthology as a whole — I think this will be one heck of an awesome collection.

1. Would You Like Charms With That? by E. H. Timms

Two shopkeepers recall their past as adventurers and the growth of their queerplatonic relationship to help their young pupil navigate his own desires and needs.

2. Half a Heart by Ren Oliveira

A forest spirit teaches earthblood magic to an eleven pupil and their bond grows to overcome even their ties to the forest itself.

I love the sound of these stories, especially since these two stories have two different perspectives within the fantasy genre, and I look forward to reading the other stories that will be in the anthology!

Support Common Bonds!

There are two ways that you can support the Common Bonds anthology!

First, you can support the Common Bonds anthology by contributing to the Kickstarter! Almost all of the funds gathered through the Kickstarter will go towards paying the authors, printing, and shipping of the anthology, as well as cover Kickstarter fees, taxes and cover art!

Second, Common Bonds is still open to submissions, and will be until April 30th 2019. This is a great opportunity to be published in a wonderful and needed anthology, work alongside with the likes of wonderful authors and incredible voices in our community! More information about submissions can be found here on their website!

Guest Interview with Claudie Arseneault

A soft hum fills the air and warms your skin, and the pond begins to bubble, glowing a bright teal.

“She’s here!” exclaims Xiaolong, jumping to her feet and peering into the pond’s edge.

Green, white, and grey squid wearing rectangular glasses, holding the aromantic flag, and smiling at you.When the bubbling stops and the pond returns to its usual glimmer, something emerges from the water and it’s a — a triangular fin? As you lean forward to take a closer look, the fin in the water rises, revealing a big green, white, grey, and black squid wearing rectangular glasses! She gives you and Xiaolong a friendly wave, and swims closer to the pond’s edge.

“Claudie!” waves Xiaolong to the squid. She turns to you, a massive smile on her face. “Friend, meet Claudie! This is the guest that I was telling you about. I’m so excited to have her here, and I can’t wait for you to meet her and listen to all the great things that she has to say.”

Xiaolong: Hi Claudie, and a warm welcome to The Quiet Pond! Tell us about your exciting upcoming anthology, Common Bonds.

Claudie: Thank you! I’m so excited to be here. I love this place, it’s so full of warmth. So Common Bonds combined three of my favourite things in writing: aromantic characters, platonic relationships, and speculative fiction! It’s an anthology of short stories and poems that will be full of good platonic feels and will star aromantic characters. We’re hoping we have a lot of cool, tropey SFF elements too — bring on the magic and spaceships! I’m really excited to be working on this.

Xiaolong: Common Bonds will feature aromantic characters, which is representation we don’t see enough. What gave you the idea of putting together and organising an aromantic/aro-spec authors?

Claudie: This idea has been with me for so long now, the exact origin is hard to pinpoint. I’m pretty sure it first coalesced into something solid while I was promoting City of Strife in 2017. It was Aromantic Awareness Week, I was talking a lot about the platonic relationships in the book, and how it had a lot of canon aces and aros. Short stories with canon aromantic rep were hard to find, scattered over the web, and having them gathered in a single spot was a pleasant thought.

Back then I was still only coming into my identity, and nowhere near confident enough about it to lead a project, though. But I was working on my first Baker Thief draft and using it to explore aromanticism, and I really got a first-rank seat on how validating and empowering it was for me to prioritize non-romantic relationships and to tie that into aromanticism. So when the conversation about platonic relationships reemerged on twitter months later and B. R. Sanders talked about an anthology with only that, I leaped on the opportunity and asked if we could make it aromantic, too.

Xiaolong: The stories in Common Bonds will also be speculative fiction, which is a genre I particularly enjoy. Why speculative fiction though, and what can readers expect from the speculative fiction stories that will be included in the anthology?

Claudie: We chose speculative fiction because we all love it. That’s the biggest reason, honestly. Restricting genres does have a pragmatic aspect, however. It makes the anthology’s theme and feel naturally more coherent. Our editorial team also specializes in spec fic, and apart from Cit Callahan, I don’t think any of us has a substantial experience with contemporary, so this helps keeping a higher quality of stories. And on a very practical level, our network is slanted towards spec fic, too, and I believe this focus helps us get more funding.

At this point, it’s hard to give you an idea of what readers can expect, as we only have two accepted stories. We’re expecting stories that are very open about their speculative elements, and I personally hope people will both transpose real-life tropes and relationships into a more speculative setting and look into possibilities unique to the genre (psychic ships, magical bonds, etc.). We’ll see what we get in our submission piles, and we’re honestly as excited to find out as everyone else!

Xiaolong: What does the Common Bonds mean to you? And what is your hope with Common Bonds?

Claudie: Common Bonds is a way for me to give back to my community. I’ve learned so much about myself reading essays on aromanticism, writing fiction, talking with other aromantic writers … figuring this out about me was complicated (and it’s not finished, really), but it made so many things in my life make sense? Now, I don’t think a single anthology can do that for everyone. In fact, it’s impossible for Common Bonds to do that–it’s one project with a very specific theme, and we’re not covering every aromantic experience with it. But I do hope many aromantic people will recognize themselves in it. I hope they’ll be enjoy it, that it’ll mostly be a comfortable and fun and uplifting. While I’m sure we’ll have alloromantic writers in the final line up, I want this anthology to be by, for, and about aromantic people. We don’t really have a space like this yet. This will be a first drop in the enormous work that still needs to be done. The short version is that I have a lot of feelings about what this anthology can be, but I always try not to project too far. I do my best and hope it’ll reach others, too.

About Claudie Arseneault

Photo of Claudie, sitting on the stairs and smiling at the camera.Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic spectrum writer hailing from Quebec City. Her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders centered on aromantic and asexual characters. Her high fantasy series, City of Spires, started in February 2017, and her latest book, Baker Thief, features a bigender aromantic baker and is full of delicious bread, French puns, and magic.

Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro and ace characters, and her unending love of squids. She was long-listed for the 2018 BSFA Awards for her essay Constructing a Kinder Future in Strange Horizons. Find out more on her website!

Thank you so much for visiting today, friends, and for learning more about the Common Bonds anthology.

I believe this is an incredible and important anthology, and I hope any aromantic friends out there will find themselves in these stories, and that others will enjoy and understand a little more about what it means to be aromantic and how diverse aromantism can be. 💛

Don’t forget, you can still support the Kickstarter for this anthology!

2 thoughts on “GUEST FEATURE: Love Speculative Fic? Crave Aromantic Characters & Platonic Friendships? Then Meet the Common Bonds Anthology and Claudie Arseneault!

  1. I’ve loved everything I’ve read so far by Claudie Arseneault, and I can’t wait for more. I’m excited for the anthology, and I hope it will help aromantic readers find themselves and feel seen and loved.

    Liked by 1 person

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