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AUTHOR INTERVIEWS – Queer Romance Month

In celebration of Queer Romance Month, Boys in our Books interviewed some of the authors who participated and asked them to tell us more about their experience.

 

QUESTION #1: What does Queer Romance Month mean to you?

Amy Lane – It means a chance to celebrate that love is love and hope is essential.

JC Lillis – Well, I adore and fully endorse the QRM tagline, “love is love.” It has special resonance for me, since I write m/m, m/f, and now f/f. “Love is love” might as well be my personal tagline as an author, so getting a chance to participate in an entire month of blog posts paying tribute to that concept was a huge honor.

Alex Beecroft – It’s a chance to see how far our community has come since I first joined it, and a great chance for us to celebrate and affirm ourselves so we can go back to work feeling proud.

Charlie Cochet – To me, Queer Romance Month is about equality. Queer romance shouldn’t be a separate genre. Love is love, no matter what gender is involved. It’s about moving toward a future where people read romance for the love story without taking the pairing into consideration.

Jeff Adams – The month was a chance, in one central location on the QRM blog, to show the many facets of queer romance. So often the genre is defined by m/m, this was an opportunity to really open up the discussion to include everything under the rainbow. I know the purpose of the month was to remind everyone that queer romance shouldn’t just be a subgenre of romance because love is love. I hope it also opened eyes to how many wonderful stories that are out there beyond the main queer subgenre of m/m.

Anyta Sunday – Simple… that Queer Romance Month is a way of celebrating and acknowledging love in all its diversity.

GB Gordon – Initially it meant a platform from which to engage people and expose them to a wider spectrum of the rainbow than is usually talked about. That and a forum for discussion with the potential of opening hearts and minds.

I did not initially expect to be so engaged emotionally. Apart from writing my own post, there are posts from other participants that I feel quite viscerally, and that remind me of my own history and the daily struggle I tend not to think about too much, because it’s no use dwelling on it. In that sense it means to me personally the finding of a positive space, my tribe, so to speak.

JL Merrow – It’s a visible celebration of love in all its forms—but with a serious side, as there have been so many really thought-provoking posts about the serious issues which still face the queer community.

 

QUESTION #2: In deciding what to write for you post, did you struggle at all…or did you know right away what you wanted to write about?

Amy Lane I was lucky. I was doing the “What do I write what do I write what do I write?” dance in my head, and then the incident I wrote about happened that morning.  Happy blogger day to me!

JC Lillis – I struggled way, way more than I thought I would. There were so many possible angles to explore–it’s like when you get a diner menu with 846 options, and you sit there for eons going “OMELET? MEATLOAF? COBB SALAD??” I considered and rejected a few topics because I wasn’t sure how to write about them without coming across as defensive, and I rejected a few others that seemed too bland. I chose the “your story matters” angle because that’s something close to my heart, and something I struggle with every time I start a new book. I have these weirdly contradictory concerns about the stories I write–on one hand, I worry that they’re too “been there, done that” (e.g., Brandon struggling with his sexuality in Mechanical Heart), and on the other, I worry that some elements are too niche to have broad appeal (e.g., the fan conventions in Mechanical Heart, the fantasy elements in We Won’t Feel a Thing). I’ve had to talk myself down from the Treehouse of Doubt many, many times, and I wanted to help build a ladder for others still stuck up there.

Alex Beecroft – I always struggle with what to say. But seeing the community become more open and confident about how queer it is has been a great joy over the last few years. I think the time has long gone when people could honestly say that m/m romance in particular was mostly written by straight cis women for straight cis women. I’ve long believed this was a very diverse community and I wanted to say something about how good that was – and the title of QRM gave me that excuse.

Charlie Cochet – I knew right away what I wanted to write about as it’s something I have been hoping to see for a very long time: LGBTQ representation in mainstream media. I’m a complete fandom geek. I love my books, movies, and TV shows. I love my comic book characters and action heroes. I’m on tumblr and see all the fandom slash pairings.   I want to see an LGBTQ character or couple take center stage. I want them to be treated the way a leading heterosexual character would be treated. No fade to black. No off-screen relationship. I want action, adventure, romance, the whole nine yards, with a character who’s LGBTQ. We need more representation in mainstream media.

Jeff Adams – It was pretty quick choice for me to decide to write about some of the first romances I read. Although the stories I picked don’t fall in the standard romance definition because of the lack of an HEA in them. For me, “The Front Runner” as well as the Peter and Charlie books are amazing romances despite the fact they don’t follow the rules that define romance.

Anyta Sunday – Struggled! Lol. I wanted to offer something of quality and showcase just how beautiful love is. No boundaries, simple acceptance.

Since I love thinking in terms of story, I ended up with three vignettes from different character’s perspectives. Each highlight the moment they realize this is it; they’re in love.

GB Gordon – This goes hand in glove with my first answer. I started out with a rather academic discussion idea pulled purely from the head, but the more I thought about it, the more my heart and my emotions fought to the forefront. In the end I wrote something completely different than I’d originally thought I would.

JL Merrow – I knew right away I wanted to talk about Diversity Role Models, because I think what they do is vital in making the future a better, more accepting place for queer people. Basically they send GLBT people into schools to talk about their lives, literally providing role models for young GLBT people—but not just that: they have a phenomenal record in getting straight kids to see that queer people are just people, and love is just love.

 

QUESTION #3: Have you had the chance to read any of the other posts? And if yes, which ones stood out for you?

Amy Lane – I loved what Amy Jo Cousins said about telling her child what she wrote.

JC Lillis – Yes! The QRM posts have been incredible; so many gifted writers shared their stories and perspectives, and I learned a lot. Some of my favorites: “Power Perception,” Sam Schooler’s fascinating exploration of power dynamics in fiction and in life; Jo Myles’ post on “Bisexuality in a Black-and-White World”; and Cara McKenna’s “There Was This Thing About Trent Reznor,” a candid, relatable story about sexual awakening and why she writes m/m. I’m sure I’m missing some. They’ve all been fantastic.

Alex Beecroft – Having written a very impersonal post myself, the one that stood out to me most was Queer Tectonics by John Jacobson because that spoke to me in a very personal way about the struggles I’ve also had defining my identity and finding some beauty in the fact that perhaps you won’t ever be able to properly pin it down. (I’m a lot closer to the truth these days, though, I hope.) Thank you for that, John!

Charlie Cochet – I have read the other posts. They cover several different topics and I’ve enjoyed reading on everything from writing Queer Romance to personal experiences. There isn’t one in particular that’s stood out because I’ve just been amazed by all the wonderful support and how folks have come together to express their love of Queer romance.

Jeff Adams – Yes, I’ve read quite a few. Here’s what stood out for me (and sorry for the list being kind of long because there was so much awesomeness!). Rhys Ford asking “why?” is very timely. Piper Vaughn’s piece on diversity points out a long time issue in the media that hopefully the diverse authors in the queer genre can tackle so our books are full of different characters. Anne Tenino left a thought provoking final remark in her discussion of me-ness and you-ness: “Those are the times when it’s about more than me, them, or you. It’s about us.” Nicole Kimberling’s post on a gay wedding she planned had some great messages about fear of the unknown. JC Lillis hit home to my writer self as she reminded to write the story you want to tell. Edmond Manning did what might be my favorite post on the idea of happily never after. I don’t mind if there’s no HEA, as I hinted at with the choice of the books I wrote about. I know it breaks the rules, but sometimes an amazing romance just doesn’t survive and I’m okay reading that. It shouldn’t be a surprise either than Sarina Bowen’s post on sports in queer romance was a favorite since I write in that genre myself.

Anyta Sunday – I’ve read a bunch of other posts and I have been impressed at the variety and the thoughtfulness that has shone through the themes and writing.

One post that really stood out for me was Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock’s post: Just Love. This excellently outlined the significance and bravery of coming out. Highly recommend.

GB Gordon – Age Concerns by Adam Fitzroy addresses a topic I’ve been thinking about and that’s been on my to-write pile for a while now. As is Time to Stop Getting Out the Erasers by Angel Martinez. And then there’s Deconstructing My Labels by Thorny Sterling which got me ‘right in the feels’.

It’s hard not to go on and on and mention every single post. I was quite frankly blown away by the insights demonstrated and intimacy offered on such a scale.

JL Merrow – Anne Tenino’s post has stayed with me. She pointed out something I’d never realised – that some “Christians” believe it’s their duty to point it out sin in other people, and that if they don’t, they’ll be punished. So Bible-quoting bigotry often isn’t just hateful, it’s self-serving as well.

As a Christian myself, I kind of want to give these people a good shake and ask them what they think they’re doing, picking out tiny verses from Ezekiel, Leviticus etc to justify hate—oh, and meanwhile ignoring all the bits that don’t suit their agenda—when there’s a WHOLE NEW TESTAMENT about how Jesus was all about love.

Then again, by their own argument, it’s probably my sacred duty to actually DO this! ;)

 

QUESTION #4: What’s the one message you hope people get from your QRM post?

Amy Lane – The the people posting here are every day people, mothers, fathers, and neighbors. Everybody should believe in love and hope.

JC Lillis – Always believe there’s someone somewhere who needs YOUR story: the one you want to tell, the way you want to tell it. Listen to yourself (and your trusted editor/betas), and don’t get discouraged by industry trends or blog posts that tell you there’s no market for what you’re writing. What’s “over” for one person might be desperately needed by another.

Alex Beecroft – That we all belong here – all of the letters of the Quiltbag and allies – and that by virtue of being considered ‘queer’ by the heteronormative world, we have insights that that world sorely needs about love, because it’s bigger and better than a lot of them think.

Charlie Cochet – I hope that people who maybe hadn’t thought much about the lack of representation in movies or TV, or perhaps accepted it as just being what it is, will start to see the need for change, and what’s more, be vocal about the change. TV has certainly gotten bolder and we seem to be moving toward a more open and accepting future, but there’s still a good ways to go. We’re starting to see complex, strong women characters in lead roles, but it’s hardly the norm. The audience is there, as is the demand. Now we need studios to realize that some of their old school ways just won’t cut it anymore. Mainstream media can really do a lot for equality, so I think it’s time to step things up.

Jeff Adams – It’d be great if the intended message pushes through: “Love is Love.” That’s what matters most.

Anyta Sunday – That is doesn’t matter the form, people are people, and love is love.

GB Gordon – That love is love, no matter the parameters. And I’m heartened by the discussions going on in the comment sections. With very few exceptions, they’ve been positive, curious and bridge-building. A far cry from the vitriol that so is often found in the comments of an article that it engendered the ubuquitous ‘whatever you do, don’t read the comments’ warning.

To me that shows how much a project like was needed, and how much it can (and still has to) achieve.

JL Merrow – VISIBILITY MATTERS! ;)

 

To view the posts by each of these authors, please click on their links below. You can find all posts during Queer Romance Month HERE.

Amy Lane
JC Lillis
Alex Beecroft
Charlie Cochet
Jeff Adams
Anyta Sunday
GB Gordon
JL Merrow

 

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This entry was posted on October 31, 2014 by in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , .

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