What if heterosexuality were a crime? Introducing BASTIA (Fall of 2013)

Many of my readers are new to the F/F genre, and I often hear the following comments:

  • I don’t like F/F.
  • F/F makes me uncomfortable, but since your stories are largely about friendship they are easier to read.
  • The idea of F/F makes me uneasy.

These comments are often followed by, “But I like your stories.” I truly appreciate the compliment, and in many cases I take pride that my stories have helped to change some people’s assumptions that stories of female relationships must always center around sex. Kat and Natalie lie in a curious zone of not-quite-lovers-but-more-than-friends. Only with Simple Gifts have I branched out into a fully developed romance. Part of the reason for this reticence (although only a part) is that I did not want to deal with anti-LGBT backlash. I want to write stories of people who love each other, not political statements about sexuality.

A side note: I have given M/F a try (and the second installment of The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus, affectionately known as “Vennie”, should be coming out soon), and I enjoy exploring the old-fashioned dynamics of a DD couple. I enjoy a lovely M/F relationship just as much as the next person, but there is something so tender, so intimate, and so precious about the love between two women.

In my journey of publishing, submitting cover art requests, sending books out for review, and interacting with other authors and readers I have returned to the same paradox again and again:

People feel comfortable telling me that F/F is not their thing, but the same people find it offensive when I say that M/F is not mine.

As a writer, I have puzzled over this many times. Certainly, M/F is the majority. In many religions and societies, M/F is the only morally correct mode of living. When I fill out cover art request forms that ask me to describe my “hero and heroine”, I understand this is a case of majority dominance rather than prejudice.

Yet I struggle to explain why things like these matter. When the basic fabric of our lives is built on the assumption that only relationships between men and women need to be acknowledged, how does that limit our perspectives? Our capacity to understand viewpoints that are not of the majority?

Out of this curiosity, I asked myself these questions:

What if LGBT were “normal” and heterosexuality were not?

What if heterosexuality were, in fact, not just abnormal but a crime to be prosecuted and punished by the state government and religion?

What would this world look like? What small changes would be made to protect the state’s mandate of same-sex relationships? What if children were taught, from the time they could first talk, that the state’s religious deity decreed all men should create families with other men, and all women should create families with other women?

What if a college girl, born and bred to be married to another young girl from a powerful family, discovered she had feelings for the male friend she had previously considered a brother?

In Bastia, a series premiering this fall with Becoming Clissine, a girl named Clissa finds out the unspeakable:

She loves a boy.

And her world will never be the same again.

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44 thoughts on “What if heterosexuality were a crime? Introducing BASTIA (Fall of 2013)

  1. Erzabet Bishop says:

    Sounds like an interesting premise. πŸ™‚ I still struggle to understand the reluctance of liking f/f and the fascination with m/m. I am partial to f/f with some m/f. Lately I find myself drawn to writing and reading f/f.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I have a lot of thoughts on that (naturally!), including a societal tendency to prioritize male stories over female. When we add that to a heterosexual tendency of women to prefer m/m to f/f (because the men in m/m stories can serve as objects of sexual fantasies for female readers), it often means that f/f stories get the least attention. That’s difficult at times, particularly with marketing, but one benefit is that f/f stories have far more leeway for creativity, at least in my opinion. Fewer cliches. πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. Casey McKay says:

    I love this idea for a story! I’m excited for it to come out. Where did you come up with the title?
    Seriously, people get offended that M/F is not your thing? This makes me want to smack people- and not in a sexy way.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      My crazy brain comes up with lots of crazy things. The original title for this book was Abomination, but initial response was overwhelmingly negative. I’ll talk more about the title in a later post.

      I think people are accustomed to M/F being the norm, so for them it’s shocking for anyone to not be “into” it. Yet they don’t realize that majority does not equal normalcy. πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. joeyred51 says:

    F/F stories seem very normal to me. When I read your stories, I think of several friends who are in long term committed relationships who are deeply in love. The fact that they are the same sex is immaterial to the love they share for each other.

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  4. pao says:

    I’m really excited for this book. Heck, I’m even excited to see the blurb πŸ˜€ Whee! The excitement of unveiling a new book! Congratulations!

    Like

  5. Irishey says:

    I’m looking forward to reading how you handle this title question, Ana. I’m sure this will be quite an interesting background to develop in order to build the setting and story line.

    About your paradox – that took me somewhat by surprise. I don’t understand people taking “offense” that m/f is not your thing after taking the liberty to tell you f/f isn’t theirs. If you came to me and said you prefer f/f, therefore that must be my choice as well – well, I might say something that later you would realize was offensive. But, if I choose to tell you f/f isn’t on my register, and in turn you tell me m/f isn’t on yours, wouldn’t my big girl response be anything other than becoming offended?

    Personally, when someone likes something I don’t, I like to discuss it in order for both of us to understand why. Not everyone likes to have those discussions, but that’s okay, too. However, if we talk about it, our choices can remain unchanged, but we can walk a little further in each other’s shoes if we understand the meaning and importance of those preferences.

    I wish you much success in your new series. I’m looking forward to meeting Clissa/Clissine.

    Irishey

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      It’s a complicated question, isn’t it? I’m trying a few different new things with this book, taking a lot of risks, and crossing my fingers that it will pay off. Worst case scenario is that I alienate everyone equally. πŸ˜€

      I think that people mistake preference for morality sometimes. I prefer to read, on average, stories about women. I will read other pairings, but that is my preference. It’s a different situation than if I were to lay down moral guidelines that anything besides f/f would be morally incorrect. People also don’t realize all the tiny ways that m/f is ingrained in daily life. So when someone says, “I never thought about reading f/f before,” I understand…but expect the same understanding in return. πŸ™‚ The difference is that as a writer and reader of f/f, I have been raised in a m/f society and inculcated with m/f values and stories. I think it’s good to have this kind of flexibility of perspective, but I think more of us (not just f/f writers/readers) would benefit from it. What I adore about readers here is that you’re willing to think about and discuss things like this.

      I hope that you’ll like Clissa. πŸ™‚

      Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      It’s been a long time coming! I hope that the writing will convey the story that I want…at heart, it is a love story (but not the usual kind…although when is anything I write usual?) πŸ™‚

      Hugs and blessings back, miss trouble maker.

      Like

  6. Renee Rose says:

    It’s such a great premise. I’m going to look for a quiz we used once in an LGBT awareness project that made that assumption. Have you seen it? Might be fun to post when you’re promoing your book.

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Love between two people, sexual or not, is the foundation of all human societies. I wish we had less of a need to force definitions onto kinds of love and ways of loving. Thanks, Terps. πŸ™‚

      Like

  7. C. Descoteaux says:

    Interesting post & discussion. I haven’t had anyone react negatively when I say I’m not into M/F–usually they change the subject or stop talking completely. Which, I suppose, says much the same thing. I read and wrote tons of straight fiction & after a while it just didn’t do anything for me anymore.

    Like Irishey, I like to explore why different people like the things they do–it’s intriguing to poke around inside someone else’s head and see what makes them happy. Sometimes I find something new to like & others it’s just a good conversation.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about this book! πŸ™‚

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      The funny thing is that I did not feel any pull toward activism until I began interacting with communities that felt entitled to assign political meanings to my innocent stories of women who care for each other. Nothing about Kat and Natalie’s stories is sexual, explicit or implicit, and yet people assume that two women together must mean lesbians. We have plenty of stories of male friendship that aren’t pigeonholed into sex-or-not-sex. Why not female friendship, too?

      The other funny thing about being pigeonholed as a writer of lesbian fiction–even when it is not–is that it makes me decide…okay, if I’m going to be called a writer of lesbian fiction, then I’m going to *write* lesbian fiction. So watch out. πŸ˜€

      If there were a ton of F/F stories out there, I wouldn’t feel the need to write them as much (which may or may not be a good thing). I write the stories I wish I could have had.

      But at the same time, I should point out that social acceptance of F/F fiction has grown enormously in the past ten years. Ten or twelve years ago, few publishers would consider F/F fiction (especially with spanking).

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  8. Minelle says:

    What a great discussion already! Most people initially read based on their own perspective. However when we open our minds to other possibilities the ‘world is our oyster.’ I enjoy reading about relationships and love, regardless of the gender.
    A talented writer can draw us in and make us care about their characters. You are always able to do this.
    The premise here is excellent…it allows people to feel injustice through a world contrary to what we have now. It forces us to challenge presumptions about love and organized religion- versus faith and conscience.
    EXCITING!

    Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I’m excited about the response to this initial post and look forward to continued discussion leading up to and after the book’s release! I only hope my writing can live up to expectations. πŸ™‚

      And what I have learned through these kinds of conversations is that the average person I interact with may say things that don’t always sit right with me, but that these are people who will open their minds and hearts once we have a chance for real discussion. Everyone who has commented here is one of those. For that, I thank each one of you. It is an honor to have readers like you!

      Like

  9. Elin Gregory says:

    This sounds like a very interesting premise. I’ll enjoy reading about the world you build.
    I have to put my hand up to being one of the people who don’t usually read F/F, and I don’t read M/F either. If either type of relationship appears in a book that I’m enjoying – a spy novel, a western, sci fi – it won’t make me stop reading but it doesn’t engage my attention the way relationships between men do. Books with a strong feminine POV can be an enjoyable read but I’m not identifying with the MC, I’m observing from a distance. I suspect it could be my faulty wiring. When I sleep and dream I’m not female so maybe that spills over into my reading preferences.

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    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Elin, that’s such an interesting perspective. I wonder what it is about the female perspective that doesn’t work for you. “Observing from a distance” Is a great way to put it. That’s how I feel when I read most books. If a book can make me become engaged, actually emotionally engaged, it’s a rare and wonderful treat. I wonder, and this is pure speculation, whether you prefer books from a male POV because male main characters are usually written much differently than female ones. When I watch Star Trek, for example, I identify with Data more than Deanna Troi because Data’s character arc is more interesting (to me).

      I’m going to have to pick your brain on this one, if you don’t mind. πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for stopping by and adding your opinion. Such a nice surprise to see this discussion today.

      Like

    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Lula, your experience sounds familiar to many of my other F/F author friends. It seems as if there is not as much crossover as might be helpful, although there are good reasons for wanting to stay within a F/F community.

      Bastia has been through its first round of beta readers and is now going through editing, but I’m sure I could use reviewers once it reaches its ARC stage. Would you be interested?

      Congratulations on your new release!

      Like

      • Lula Lisbon says:

        True… I’ve written straight and LGBT stories, and I have a number of male fans (a lot of guys like femdom!). As for my female fans, I get the feeling they’re mostly gay, but I’ve never taken a poll, so I don’t know for sure. I find it interesting that non-fans say they feel “uncomfortable;” seems to me like latent fear — at least based on my memories of pre-coming out. I remember being intimidated and even turned off and afraid by lesbians. Interesting, no? Please note, however, that I identified as bisexual for many years before realizing I was gay! (Provides lots of real-life inspiration for my stories, though πŸ˜‰

        As for Bastia, I’d be more than happy to review an ARC. Let me know if you do a blog tour, as well!

        Like

        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          I must admit that F/F as a male viewing sport does make *me* uncomfortable. I don’t mean femdom stories where men enjoy watching a dominant woman, but the idea of girl-on-girl for male viewing pleasure. But…if it works, there will always be an audience to enjoy it and authors to supply it. It wouldn’t be much fun if we all wrote and enjoyed the same stories, would it?

          The act of one woman kissing another on the lips (or holding hands, for that matter) is one that does make many uncomfortable. I think it’s unfortunate that all physical contact between two women needs to be sexualized and read as a declaration of sexuality, rather than a sign of affection between people who may be just friends. Plenty of cultures have allowed same-sex touching…why can’t we? πŸ™‚

          I hope to have an ARC in August. I will be sure to contact you then. Thank you!

          Like

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