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Scorching Book Reviews is hosting an LGBT Fiction Blog Hop April 1-6, and I am proud to participate. Click on the above image for the complete list of participating authors and readers. Do you have a favorite LGBT book? Chime in, please!
As much as I support this event and appreciate Scorching Book Reviews for hosting it, I can’t help hesitating at the label of “LGBT fiction”. As I’ve said before, I resist the label of “LGBT” or “lesbian” fiction. Labels are a great tool for marketing, finding an audience (and as a reader, finding books that will interest me), and sorting books into categories for expediency. At the same time, I wonder whether using these labels will cause people disappointment when they find out that my books don’t contain hot girl-on-girl action (perhaps for male viewing pleasure). I write stories of love between women, but I prefer to write without labels. As I wrote in an interview with Katherine Deane, I also like to write about the intimacy between two women that may or may not contain references to sex:
The reason for the emphasis on female characters is simply that traditional stories tend to neglect stories of women in their own right. Especially in television and films, unless they are specifically marketed to a female audience, we have tended to have stories of men’s girlfriends, sex objects, lovers, mothers, and neighbors. Look at Big Bang Theory, for example. Men’s stories are great, but I’ve never been interested in following the majority. Women have rich and interesting lives, and I love to tell their stories.
I am grateful to be surrounded by a wonderfully supportive community that not just tolerates but relishes F/F fiction. I’m thrilled to have an entire event dedicated to pairings beyond the traditional M/F. But does that have to mean “lesbian”? This is not an idle question but one with real-life consequences.
The Way Home, my newest release that tells the story of two college roommates who become lifelong sister-friends, is a story of love without labels. Kat and Natalie, who recently gave a character interview, share a love that goes beyond labels until the outside world forces a label onto them…”The L Word”, the emotional heart of the book, describes the implications of this labeling. Kat and Natalie are targeted, not because of their biological sexuality (which is a non-issue in the book), but because random outsiders assume that two girls together must be lesbians. In this way, the attack is not about being or not being lesbian–the attack is about the assumptions inherent in labeling others.
Editorial Board, takes a much more light-hearted view of the relationship between two women. Spring, a badly behaved author, meets her match in her new editor, Rachel. While there are no sex scenes in the book, Spring accuses Rachel of sexual misconduct in order to undercut Rachel’s authority in the office. The phrase, “The sex was good” takes on several different meanings throughout the course of the book.
A book that I have a particular soft spot for is Desire in Any Language, a coming-out and coming-of-age story of a young adult who studies abroad and finds love and discipline at the same time. I’m not a fan of the shock-and-horror old-school style of coming out stories where the character’s life is devastated by discovering his or her sexuality. Mira certainly goes through many struggles on her journey to learn more about herself, but in owning her sexuality she is able to blossom into adulthood.
Finally, my upcoming release, Simple Gifts (scheduled for April 24 publication by LazyDay), is my first outright F/F romance. In fact, it is a classic “friends-to-lovers” tale of two childhood best friends who find themselves wanting more as adults. Leila, a professional violinist, and Carene, a pianist and orchestra teacher, come together after Leila’s injury forces her to take disability leave from her symphony. What happens between them was unplanned for me as the author…and perhaps some of my favorite scenes.
There are many other wonderful F/F stories available, and I hope that you’ll take a chance. If you’ve never read a F/F story, try picking one up. You never know what you’ll find. 🙂
In solidarity with all who support the stories of love between people, no matter what the label.
(FYI: I’m having internet and electricity issues. If I don’t respond or have another post up for a while, it’s because I’m offline. Sorry! I will get back to you as soon as I can.)