Writing LGBTQ stories
Welcome to this Rainbow blog hop. The organizers asked each of us to answer the question: what does writing LGBTQ fiction mean to me?
The first time I wrote a story in my head where two guys kissed, I think I was about fourteen. Being pretty naïve (and living in the days before the Internet) I had no idea where they would go from there, so I wrote a lot of fade-to-black. But the sex wasn’t the point then, and isn’t now. (Nice icing sometimes, but not the point.)
Why did I spend so much time back then writing romances in which there was no character I could identify with, stories that would never come true for me? Intensity. Drama. Emotion.
I didn’t do it to be a crusader, championing a cause. First and foremost, writing was and is fun. I get a kick out of creating interesting lives for characters a reader can relate to. I try to entertain, to take people out of themselves and into another world for a few minutes or a few hours. I love to write – there is pleasure and joy in putting the words on paper, and the world of LGBTQ fiction is my favorite playground.
But that also doesn’t mean I want to trivialize this world that I can describe but not share first hand.
I like emotion in books. I write about cops and werewolves, about men facing loss and change. My stories try to bring the reader into moments of intensity, when everything matters. And in writing LGBTQ characters, I can bring those particular challenges and difficulties to my guys. Being LGBTQ in today’s world comes with built-in stresses that straight characters don’t have to face. I like what it does to my stories. And let’s face it, I enjoy writing about two men trying to get through life together.
As much as I’m writing entertainment, a part of me does hope I’m also writing for the future. The more each of us reads about the variations of human experience, the more we see just how much we all have in common. I’d like to think that in a small way I’m contributing to growth, to change, writing for the time when my gay characters will not have the added burden of discrimination along with the romance standards of unfaithful lovers and car crashes and cancer scares… I want to see the time when “Coming out” and “Homophobia” are unusual tags for a story and not major ones. The difficulty of getting two guys to talk together and negotiate a relationship will still make a captivating story even when the outside pressures abate.
I write some Young Adult LGBTQ fiction in addition to the gay romance, using the pen name Kira Harp when I actually publish it. There, even more than the adult work, I hope that in addition to entertaining, my work is sending the message of acceptance and normality. I want a teen to read my stories and see, not the things that make LGBTQ youth different from straight kids, but the things that make them the same. I want gay kids who read my stories to feel represented and included in the wide spectrum of human experience.
I’ve had a few people read a story of mine as their first exposure to gay romance. Some of them have given my work one or two rating stars and a note that it was not for them (or occasionally something less polite.) Others have rated it higher and written about the commonality they found between the romance of John and Ryan, and a romance between John and Susan, or Ryan and Kate. And each of those new LGBT-fiction readers is an added joy for me as an author. I’m entertaining, and giving pleasure, and hey, I’m also changing a heart or two, here and there, one at a time. And that feels damned good. I intend to keep on doing it for as long as people care to read my work.
If you’ve come this far, you deserve to hear about the giveaway. I’m giving away a book from my backlist, winner’s choice, each day. The cut-off is midnight Eastern time Fri, Sat, and Sun. I will select winners by the trusty names-in-a- hat method, and both post and email the winners. Good luck everyone, and enjoy the other blogs as you hop
The link back to Rainbow Hop Central is here – have fun.
ETA: I just got the cover for the next story I will have out – a 22K short story called Tumbling Dreams in the Olympics anthology Going For Gold from MLR press. The anthology releases next Friday August 31st.
I’ll post with more details Monday.