Thursday, August 23, 2012

Follow the Rainbow Book Reviews Blog Hop: What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me

Welcome to my post for the Follow the Rainbow Book Reviews Blog Hop

I'm excited to be a part of the celebration!  I'll be chatting a bit about some of my inspiration and why I write what I write.  Also, I'm giving away one free ebook!  You have your choice between my two current titles: Art of Death, and The Dragon Tamer.  To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment on this blog post along with your email address any time before midnight central time on Sunday 8/26.

On Monday, I'll randomly draw the name of the winner from the comments and contact you by email.  If you have a Dreamspinner account, we'll put the book of your choice on your virtual bookshelf.  Otherwise, the book will be delivered as a PDF by email.

Also, make sure to check out the Rainbow Book Reviews Blog!

What Writing GLBTQ Literature Means to Me

I like to write fun, weird, unusual stories.  Stories with action and drama and humor.  Stories that don't take themselves too seriously.  Heck, my most recent release was about undead painters and the people who worship them—and there's a sequel coming out in October.  When I write stuff like that, how can I take myself seriously?  I like to keep things light, and I like to joke around.  But at times like today, when I take the time to sit down and really think about why I write what I write, I realize just how serious I am.

I've had GLBTQ friends for as long as I can remember.  I'm of an ethnic minority, thus I've always empathized with others who felt like they weren't—or couldn't be—one of the "normal" kids.  I'm even a minority within a minority—a rare Indian with a Christian upbringing when all the other Indians I knew were Hindu.  Not Indian enough for most Indians, not Christian enough for most Christians, not girly enough for most girls, and so on.  My GLBTQ friends were the ones who accepted me for all my weirdness—my utter lack of so-called femininity, my refusal to adhere to, promote, or support restrictive traditional gender roles, and more.  They accepted these things without judgment or questions, the same way I accepted and respected them—and I can't even express how much gratitude I have for that acceptance.

I've wanted to be a storyteller for my entire life, but I've always felt frustration as a consumer because I strongly believe that minorities of all types—ethnic, GLBTQ, gender-based, etc.—should have fair, varied, realistic, and significant representation in fiction.  I'm passionate about this for two reasons:

  • People who are part of these minority groups deserve to see characters like themselves in primary roles in fiction.
  • People who are not part of these minority groups need to be exposed to these characters as a way of cultivating understanding and empathy, especially when they aren't lucky enough to live in a diverse environment.

Mainstream media likes to essentially "neuter" GLBTQ characters and have them be no more than colorful sidekicks for heterosexual heroes (who happen to get far more on-screen action than said sidekicks).  On the flip side, lower budget indie movies and small press GLBTQ books sometimes reduce their characters down to their sexuality and nothing else, with stories that are either focused entirely on sex and romance, or on the Gay Experience (coming out, gay bashing, AIDS, etc.)

The latter is true of most minorities: stories that feature minority leads are almost always about the "minority experience."  While I think those "minority experience" stories absolutely do need to exist, they're not enough.  Minority characters need to be heroes in all kinds of stories, not just minority-themed stories, and at the same time it needs to be done in a way that doesn't ignore their identity, neuter, or whitewash them.

I looked at these mainstream stories with neutered GLBTQ sidekicks, and then at the genre stories of romance, sex, and more sex, and then at the stories of AIDS, gay bashing, self-loathing, and victimhood.  It left me wondering: where is the middle ground?  Where are the stories of GLBTQ characters living not just the gay experience, not just the love-and-sex experience, but the full human experience?

It got to the point where I felt more frustration than joy after consuming a work of fiction.  I was sick of the idea that only straight white men could have high-flying adventures, solve a murder, make a heroic sacrifice, climb the career ladder, conquer paranormal creatures, or tame a dragon.  I was sick of the idea that minorities could only be sidekicks and supporting characters in such stories, but never leads.  I was sick of GLBTQ genre stories that refused to rise past clichés and familiar territory and failed to deliver substance beyond the sex scenes.

Most importantly, I was sick of ranting about these things but not actually doing anything to fix the problem.

So that's where I stand.  That's why I write what I write.  I write in the middle ground, the land of adventure, love, joy, danger, fun, loss, sex, success, missteps, and everything else that's part of the human experience.  I'm by no means the only person who's devoted to this middle ground of GLBTQ literature, and I rejoice every time I find someone else who shares this exciting space with me.  I'm excited by the recent growth of this middle ground, and I hope to see it continue to flourish.

Thanks for reading!  Make sure to leave a comment below to be entered in my giveaway!  And make sure to check out all the other participants of the blog hop!

[EDIT] Congratulations, wulf, for winning the giveaway!  I will be contacting you by email shortly so you can claim your prize!


  1. Thanks for participating in the blog. I'm finding a lot of new-to-me authors and it's fun to read what their writing and characters mean to them.

  2. You express my own feelings so well, everything. Minorities can and should star in stories that are every bit as rich and fully developed as those traditionally told about straight characters. Sign me up!


  3. i do agree that everyone should be able to read about characters that resemble themselves in some way.

  4. When I’m seeking out LGBT fiction to read, I tend to gravitate toward stories that feature established relationships, that show the commonality of love, because all love should be celebrated.

  5. I think m/m has shown me a broader spectrum of male experience than most other literature (certainly het romance!), and has made me feel more empathetic toward men's lives. The transgender and menage storylines have been really enlightening, too.


  6. Giggling here - as a pagan woman living in a Catholic village, biker, chainsaw expert and immigrant, I think I get your point. We have a phrase for it in the British industry - your "token black" (or gay,lesbian, handicapped etc) Good on you!

  7. I like m/m because it was something new. The stories are toward from a male perception and that was interesting to me.

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! (Your header image is gorgeous, btw.)

  9. I just wanted to say that I stumbled across Demon of the Underground the other day, and I love it. I plan on reading your books now. You're awesome!

    stashlab at gmail dot com

  10. Interesting post. Glad I've met so many other LGBT authors. I'm a newbie. LOL!

    Stacey aka Coffey Brown

  11. Thank you for doing this hop.

  12. I am having so much fun on this hop. I love to learn about the authors that I have been reading!! Thanks for writing what I love to read..

  13. It's so wonderful to see how joyous about their writing so many people are. Perhaps that's an odd statement - writing should be a joy, and it's obvious that you adhere to that philosophy. I guess I just love the celebratory nature that so many GLBTQ writers possess.

  14. Hello! Thanks for sharing your post with us. I'm excited to be introduced to new authors this weekend. *Cheers*

  15. Looks like your stories are evolving ...From Dragon Tamer to Art of Death...would never have let me thought how much frustration you had in life.

    I agree with your thoughts on the Hop's pretty sad to see everyone had to be categorized into Minority or Majority...nothing much change around the world even in my own country. day..things would turn out better black or white - just universal colour.

    For now, keep on writing, Ana - cant wait for the sequel release!

    PS : Thank you for being part of the Hop!

  16. thank you for being part of the blog hop. it's been an interesting journey hopping around reading author's POV on writting GLBTQ. =) please count me in for the draw.


  17. I'm so glad to have stumbled across your blog through Hop and I've subscribed to your blog via email to ensure I'm able to follow your work in the future ;) As a member of several minority groups I agree it's become disheartening to read such a narrow population being represented in mainstream literature, and I applaud Hop for taking the time to bring alternative HEA's to the forefront. I look forward to reading your work!

  18. I think you've really nailed it in that gay people are people too (obvious, I know right?), and not just sidekicks and stereotypes. There's no reason to not write about the same experiences (love, death, spies, aliens, pirates, you name it) in GLBTQ. Good post.

    shawnyjeann @

  19. People who are not part of these minority groups need to be exposed to these characters as a way of cultivating understanding and empathy, especially when they aren't lucky enough to live in a diverse environment.

    What fabulous reasons for writing in this genre! Thank you for articulating them so clearly and sharing them with us. :-)

    akasarahmadison at gmail dot com

  20. Ana, I'm so excited to see you taking part in this hop, and equally excited to see RainbowReviews starting up.
    I am addicted to m/m reading, because the dynamic between two male characters in a romance is just so much more angsty, more heated, more everything than in a conventional romance.
    Thanks to all the great writer taking part in the hop, and many more, so many genres have developed within m/m romance that it has something for everyone.

    I'd love a chance to win 'Dragon Tamer', please.
    corieltauviqueen at yahoo dot co dot uk

  21. Very well said, Ana :)

    eripike at gmail dot com

  22. Hi, Ana.

    I enjoyed your post; it was an interesting and entertaining read.

    I look forward in reading your works.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  23. Thanks for your post and hop.adding books to list.

  24. I've been going through these posts looking for new authors to read. You've definitely intruiged me.

    eauclrm4m at aol dot com

  25. Thank you for the wonderful post and I look forward to reading your books.

  26. I enjoyed reading your post I have brought your book "The Art of Dying" I'm looking forward to reading it.

    Please count Me in for the Contest

  27. Great post. I get your feelings of not belonging. While I am not a minority I have never felt like I fit anywhere. No need to get into the sorry details, wouldn't want to bore you to tears. Count me in on the drawing, Dragon Tamer sounds like it would be a good addition to my nook.

  28. I love your post! I think as an adoptee, with two moms of a different race than me I really relate to your post! There do need to be more stories where minority characters are just who they are and that isn't the whole point of the story! I hope to read some of your work soon! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

    lillywriting @

  29. I love reading all the different answers to the same question :)


  30. Loving the hop so far, thanks for joining!
    seritzko AT verizon DOT net

  31. Ana, what a great point of view! I completely feel you on the frustration with mainstream characters that don't fit the hetero/white/whoever runs the machine type--sidekicks and joke fodder, oh man. We're so much more! So glad you're fighting the good fight.

  32. Hi Ana. Great post. Thanks for being on The Blog Hop.


  33. Thanks for the wonderful post and for participating!