To celebrate the upcoming release of Wings Of Destruction, I’m happy to present a personal interview with me about writing, the LGBTQ romance genre, and coming out as genderqueer. Enjoy!
Of all the stories you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?
My favorite has to be Hinori’s Journey. Perhaps it’s personal for me, since I identify as genderqueer, but I loved being in that world with Hinori and Mateo. Watching them find one another and themselves was immensely gratifying for me. The funny part about the Love’s Landscapes event (that Hinori’s Journey was written for) is that I almost didn’t take part. I just couldn’t find the right prompt, but then this one leapt off the page at me and I knew I had to write it. It all came together in one extraordinary weekend and it helped me to learn about myself, too. I’ve always felt that writing was a vehicle in which I explored parts of my psyche, and this was very much a fact with Hinori’s Journey.
Why did you start writing LGBTQ fiction?
I dabbed for a while in slash/yaoi fanfiction as a young adult, but the floodgates truly opened when I came out as bisexual in 2006. I wrote dozens of lesbian short stories as I explored a part of myself that I’d been hiding for years. One novel followed another, and I realized I was writing even when I wasn’t at the computer. I’d become a writer without realizing it. After I’d honed my craft for a while (those first novels were rough!) I knew I wanted to publish them. I started self-publishing in 2012, but the Big Dream was to be accepted by a publisher. In February 2014, I got my first acceptance letter, for Wings Of Destruction, and many more have followed.
What would you like to see in the genre?
I’d like to see authors and readers alike challenging themselves to read and write outside of their comfort zone. Obviously everyone has genres they like and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s so much fresh ground to break in some of the less-explored corners of LGBTQ romance. Most authors can’t afford to write material that won’t sell, though, so they need the support of readers to make that happen.
What do you plan to write next?
I have a bisexual poly romance (F/F/M) that I’m editing, and I’m working on a dozen different ideas, from a trans* Wild West tale, to a lesbian mermaid short story. Some will pan out, some will ultimately end up being scrapped. I write very much on the edge of my seat, which means unpredictable things can happen. The characters are in control and they write the story; I’m just the vehicle to get it onto the page. Unfortunately, that also means that some stories run out of steam before they’re finished, or they twist themselves into plot pretzels that cannot be unwound without significant rewriting. I’m not afraid to ditch a story that just doesn’t work—part of being a writer is understanding that not everything that comes out of your mind is solid gold.
The tagline for your website says “because everyone deserves their love story”. Can you elaborate on this?
I think everyone deserves to be loved, and everyone should be able to find fiction that’s about them, regardless of how and who they love, and how they identify. I think that’s a good goal to work towards, exploring all those little unknowns, stepping into other people’s shoes. It’s about empathy. You don’t have to be someone to understand where they’re coming from, and I think love is a universal language. It’s something we can all relate to.
You came out this year as genderqueer. Tell us a little about that.
Since I was a child, I never felt like a good fit as female. I wanted to be a knight in King Arthur’s realm, or an astronaut exploring strange new worlds. I was always labeled as “weird” and bullied a lot in school, which was a special kind of hell. My teenage years made things even harder. As the girls around me became women, increasingly socially aware and involved, I was more interested in beating the latest video games. I found I related a lot easier to the protagonists in games than I ever did with my peers. From saving an alien solar system from evil in Phantasy Star IV to the military espionage action of Metal Gear Solid, I felt at home playing the part of knights and soldiers, of experiencing their fight for the things that were important to them. It seemed a lot more relevant to me than shaving my legs or learning to apply makeup (To this day, I do not own or wear any makeup). I even made excuses to buy some clothes from the men’s section. Yet there is a part of me that is very feminine: I can be very emotional, romantic and empathetic. I’m not completely a woman, nor entirely a man. For years I never had a word for what I felt I was, which I dubbed “the best of both worlds”. I was able to reconcile my sexual and emotional attraction to men and women (and everyone in-between and beyond) in the label “bisexual”, and for a while I felt comfortable, but there was still a part of me without a name. That’s when I discovered the term genderqueer and it fit like a comfortable pair of old sneakers that had been lurking in the back of the closet for years.
i’m keeping the pronoun “she”; everyone has the right to use whatever pronouns feel comfortable for them, but for me this feels the most practical and doesn’t make me feel awkward or out of place now that I’ve reconciled all the pieces of me and identified them. I know who I am and it’s a good feeling. I’m at peace.
Tell us about Wings Of Destruction. What inspired you to write it?
I wrote Wings Of Destruction shortly after I lost a friend to suicide. It was a really rough time and I was in a dark place for a while as I struggled with the thought that a friend of mine had been so troubled, so sure he couldn’t go on, that he took his own life. I wondered what I could have done to help him, over and over in my mind for months. I’ve struggled with depression myself, it’s such a horrible illness in that it lies to you and distorts reality to make things worse than they are, while simultaneously telling you that the reason things are so grim is because you’re not good enough, that there’s something wrong or broken about you.
Don’t listen to it. You’ll be missing out on so much. If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out.
So I wanted to write something where the MC struggles with that terrible illness, in a world where things are already grim and the future is bleak. I’d also been thinking for a while about writing something with an asexual protagonist, and Martin slipped out of my mind fully formed. I wanted to document his struggles, but I also wanted to give him a happy ending where his needs were met. I also like angels and Biblical themes despite being an atheist, so what came out on the page ended up being a bizarre tale of angels and humans in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. You can check out an excerpt on the Wings Of Destruction page and buy links are below.
Thanks for your time!
Society has collapsed, driven to madness after a great economic crash. Gangs roam the streets, taking any man, woman or child without a Mate for their own.
Martin is on the brink of despair, an asexual man who cannot keep a Mate. Facing a life he cannot bear, he heads to Spire Rock to end it. But when he reaches it, he encounters Anael, an angel sent to assess the world for destruction—and the first to accept Martin exactly as he is.
Teaming up with former gang concubine Sarah, they journey to the Tower of Elysius to end the world. But nothing is ever as simple as it seems, and some angels have plans of their own…
Wings Of Destruction is out October 15th from Less Than Three Press.