November 8, 2013

Just My General Musings: Why Do I Write Lesbian Fiction?

Rhiannon and Aijyn
Lotus Petals

I've got several novel-length projects in the works currently.  I realized today that four out of the five of them are lesbian romance. 

I've been criticized in the past for writing from gay or lesbian points of view when I myself am not a man, a gay man, nor a lesbian (just to be clear, though, I am bisexual). I've never felt ashamed of writing from these alternate-to-my-own points of view.  People who (in my opinion) don't know what they're talking about seem to believe authors should "write what they know".  I was recently privileged to hear an urban fantasy author whom I admire respond to such advice with a very strong opinion of his own.  He said, "That is bullshit."

Even though I've never felt ashamed of writing lesbian fiction (or gay, or poly, or Master/slave for that matter), I can't help but wonder at the realism or authenticity of what I write. Noticing today that four fifths of my current novel-length interests feature lady lovers, I started wondering to myself... why do I write lesbian fiction?

I suppose the real answer is, I don't.  To be honest, I don't mentally label my work as 'lesbian' fiction as opposed to 'straight' fiction.  Sometimes friends comment that I have a large collection of lesbian characters, and that's true.  I also have many characters who are straight, bisexual, kinky, virginal, or several combinations of the above.

Angel never thought she'd fall so deeply in love with another woman, until devilish Tali swept her off her feet.
When a character comes to me, that character comes with their own personality and interests, which I really only discover as I write along. I've had characters develop in my mind and fully intended  them to be paired up with an opposite-sex romantic interest, only to have them veer directly towards a same-sex supporting character instead.  I've had gay ladies swoop in and steal the hearts of characters who had, for years and years of story-writing, been staunchly straight.  I've had ladies who never felt even the slightest attraction to men, and ladies who never felt at all drawn  to women.  I've had male characters who never showed the slightest sexual interest in a woman, yet be driven nearly to tears over a beautiful young man. 

I've even had one leading lady begin her story courting only other ladies, but then one day found her heart pulling her towards a man.  I've never appreciated the concept of 'turning' a lesbian... the idea that somehow the right manly macho man could change a gay woman's mind or somehow 'show her the light'.  I find the idea patently offensive, as a matter of fact.  As though one's sexuality is driven only by who gives her the wildest time in bed.  So I was actually a little frustrated at first to find a character I understood to be wholly and happily gay suddenly falling for a man.  At first blush I cringed to think I had let my fiction take a turn for such a cliche and frustrating trope.  I tried to write it away, even, but I couldn't... as I wrote her stories, my leading lady was, after a lifetime of loving only women, strangely drawn to a man. 

Calico Sue originally found a male companion, in my mind, but when Idris of the Desert came along Sue had other ideas.
One of my readers once asked why I didn't just call this character bisexual and avoid any controversy.  The truth is, because she wasn't bisexual.  She was gay... and one day, she discovered a person she fell in love with, as much as she had ever loved others, and the fact that he had a penis was pretty much incidental.

I don't really write 'lesbian' fiction. I write the characters as they feel genuine to me: gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, poly, kinky or vanilla.  If I try to write them any other way, it just doesn't work.  So I write love stories... I write characters who seek happiness, in themselves, in their relationships, in their one-night stands.  And I love to write that.  And at the moment, I am loving writing the stories of my tomboy lady Knight Reagan and her beautiful princess Ceridwen; I love writing voluptuous Captain Devon of the airship Chimera and her fugitive aristocratic love Samantha; and as always, I love returning to the world of Rhiannon, my vampire, and the ladies who have shaped her over three centuries of unlife.  
Sadira has always been meant for Bannon.  There has never been another who can master her as he does.
But on other days, I love writing Sadira, rapturous and passionate slave to the barbarian Bannon, and all the ways his dominance and control makes her feel so vibrantly alive.  I love writing Raschael, my scheming succubus, to whom gender means nothing when it comes to selecting a victim or mate.  I love writing Feste, a pensive and clever vampire 'fool', who stalks lovely men into graveyards to kiss them and kill them with his deadly brand of romance.  And I'm still looking forward to the day I can write out the story of Finn of the Morrigan, the Elvyn half-breed, who loves both his Ladies with equal passion and fervor, in the 'perfect' love triangle.

So, I suppose I just write what I like.  The characters shape themselves up as they will and I follow them in the directions they lead.  I love my gay ladies and their lady-loving ways, as much as I love my straight ladies and my ladies of other persuasion. I'm happy to write all their stories, and see all the different facets of romance and erotic love that there are to be offered in the telling.

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