Friday, February 1, 2013

On writing "queer" fiction

Posted by: Evey Brett
Recently I was asked to write an introduction for one of my writing idols an mentors (can't say who, yet, as I don't know much of the project beyond it being to support queer fiction and writers) and came across an interview in which the author said they don't consider themselves a queer author. They are in a same-sex relationship and the novels they write involve same-sex relationships, but if a label needs to be applied to the author, they're a writer. A good one.

Which got me thinking about the characters I write. The vast majority are gay or bisexual. That's just the way my writer brain spits things out. And I don't think I've written anything where the characters worry about being gay or coming out and worrying what their friends or family are going to think. My stories aren't about being gay and coming to terms with it; that fact is just a part of who they are and they have other things to worry about, like saving the world or killing an incubus before it kills them.

I recently found the movie A Single Man at the library and picked it up. It's a gorgeous film based on the book by Christopher Isherwood (whose boyfriend has a brief cameo in the movie, as does the director's.) It's set in 1962, and notable in that there's only one overt reference to discrimination toward same-sex relationships. Otherwise, the characters just are who they are and love who they love. In the "Making Of" special feature, the director mentioned that the film wasn't about being gay; Colin Firth's love interest could have been a woman, and the overall message of the film would have been the same. Colin, too, said he didn't worry about "being gay" for the character. The character was a man who'd loved and lost and it didn't matter what sex his lover was. (Colin Firth is an amazing actor in this movie, and there are several nice shots of Nicholas Hoult's bare behind.)

One time I did a critique for an author who wanted my input on the gay sex scenes. I looked at it--and not only did they not work as gay sex scenes, they didn't work as sex scenes in general. They were flat and emotionless and did nothing to further the story. In the end, I told the author the same thing--Love is love. Sex is sex. The emotions involved are the same. In the end, we're all just people, whomever we love.

And, speaking of all types of love, my next book, Eliana, will be out on Feb. 19th from Loose Id. M/M/F BDSM.

Evey Brett


  1. I think the label is important, if only because readers will get something out of sex scenes that turn them on in a way they don't get out of sex scenes that don't hit those specific biological buttons. We can all appreciate the emotional aspects, but I like to be able to include "will I find this sexy?" in my consideration of whether I will buy/read a book - just like I'd want to know "Will these characters be evangelizing their religion?" or "Will this be a thriller or a sweet romance?"

    I've read some M/M and F/F erotica and erotic romances which really "worked" for me (straight married woman) - but they've mostly been the ones where the focus is on the characters' feelings more than the physical acrobatics required. I also realize that different people have different tastes, no matter what their orientation might be.

  2. Great topic, Evey. I think the label is important if the book is for a particular audience, such as erotica and romance, where the reader is looking for something to their taste, as Wendy said. If the audience's sexual orientation or interest isn't the main draw, then it's not really relevant.

    I write epic fantasy that happens to feature LGBTQ characters as well as straight ones. I wouldn't label it queer fantasy. But I also write f/f erotica, which is decidedly queer erotica.

    I also happen to be bisexual, which is relevant in the way that my being female is relevant. If someone is looking to read women writers or bisexual writers specifically, they'd be interested in that detail. So yes, I am a bisexual/queer author. And I'm a female author. And I'm an American author. All of those labels are fine with me.

  3. I don't think about a character's orientation when I'm writing. Their personal preferences present themselves in the course of the story and I go with it. I was a little surprised the first time a love interest for one of my heroines turned out to be a woman, but it felt right for the character and worked well. My characters and story cultures rarely struggle with who loves whom. Such is the advantage of writing spec fic : )

    As for labelling, I'm of two minds. I don't think it should matter what the pairings are. Love is love, as you said, Evey. But, Wendy and Jane make a good point about reader expectation. I want a reader to enjoy every aspect of my story. As much as I'd love to have someone who has never read f/f pick up my books and be wowed, I also don't want them to expect one thing and get something else that they may not appreciate.


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