Thursday, June 21, 2018

Coming Out as a Lesbian Author - #lesbian #amwriting #genrerules

Women holding hands

I’ve always been attracted to women (as well as men). My first three novels, Raw Silk, Miranda's Masks and Nasty Business, all include F/F scenes. As a neophyte erotic author, I wrote what I found arousing, and that meant including lesbian interactions.

Then, around 2006, recognizing a new opportunity and a changing publishing landscape, I began producing mostly erotic romance. I rapidly discovered that the constraints in this genre are far stricter than for erotica (which is how I labeled my earlier work). A romance novel is identified first and foremost based on the genders of its protagonists. Heaven help the author who strays away from that primary identification! Romance readers (apparently) want to be warned about what they’ll find inside the covers. If the book claims to be M/M, you’d better not include the slightest hint of heterosexual hanky panky (even involving secondary characters), or you’ll incur the wrath of readers and reviewers. Meanwhile, I found that compared to the enormous popularity of gay erotic romance, the market for F/F erotic romance appeared to be tiny. When I asked the people on my email list how they felt about lesbian stories, many expressed zero interest and one or two went so far as to tell me they found sexual interactions between women to be “icky” (a response I found deeply depressing).

They say you should listen to your readers. So for many years, I suppressed my desire to write F/F tales or scenes. It was hard sometimes. For instance, my romance novel The Ingredientsof Bliss has a bisexual character whom I just adore, a kick-ass French police detective. As I worked on my first and second drafts, Toni kept coming on to my heroine Emily, and Emily so wanted to respond— but I knew I couldn’t allow myself to give in to that temptation. Even so, my editor insisted I further sanitize their relationship. I was so frustrated!

Things have changed though. I’ve switched almost entirely to self-publishing my work. That means I can write what I wantwhat inspires me personally. I’ve also concluded that my stories actually sell better when I write from the heart, rather than according to someone else’s formula.

So I’m proud to say I’m an author of lesbian fiction (as well as gay fiction, and soon I hope, transgender fiction). I’m delighted with my three F/F books out this month. Meanwhile, my upcoming novella More Brides in Vegas includes lots of delicious girl-on-girl scenes.

Romance rules are not going to keep me in the closet any more!


Larry Archer said...

You Go Girl! Throw off those shackles, don't let "the man" keep you oppressed. Glad you're finally out of the closet.

I've seen a number of authors complain about how their editors have kept them on the straight and narrow. As an Indie author you are now free to write about what ever turns your crank. I've never published anything from underneath the thumb of an editor and have missed the opportunity to write what someone else wants and not what I wanted to write myself!

Let your multicolored freak flag fly!

Lisabet Sarai said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Larry!

Actually, I've received a lot of likes on this post.

apky said...

I totally agree with your decision to write what you as a writer feels inspired to write rather than what an editor deems the right stuff for you to write. I've gone the same route - self-publishing - precisely because I wanted to write my interracial and intercultural romances my way, not my editors' way.

All power to you and the Indie authors!

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