Hello, Internet! I'm here to talk with you about an issue currently facing the publishing industry. The world needs diversity in fiction more than ever, and that goes for Young Adult fiction too! With the genre expanding and reaching a very real commercial dominance, it's a responsibility of today's authors to correct its longstanding flaws and prejudices. What I want to discuss is how to counteract the erasure of LGBTQ+ relationships in favor of hetero-normative ones. We can all take steps toward crafting adventures that are inclusive of LGBTQ+ readers - and if my steamy romance between vampire Prince Cassian Alistaire and his mortal lover Lucien Harroway written entirely to get me and my fans horny helps to promote that idea, then that's fantastic!
My sweeping historical fantasy bildungsroman takes on multiple issues, like:
- What would you do if a vampire offered you immortality?
- What would you do if society estranged you for loving who you love?
- What if Cassian's supple white fingers slowly hook themselves into your belt loops, roving gradually inward from your thighs, while his tongue slips through your lips and you feel your body arching towards him in anticipation?
For any young writer interested in including LGBTQ+ relationships but hesitant about where to begin, there are tons of helpful resources available online to help you do so in a way that is supportive and not hurtful. Might I recommend my Pinterest? We can all do our parts to open other people's minds, and I think that my ability to describe two classically beautiful, clean-shaven European Adonises no more than 25 (Cassian, although he's really 150) and 20 (Lucien) biting each other's lips and whispering sweet nothings to each other in a curtained four-poster bed really services that goal.
(Haha - get it? "Services?!" But seriously, the fact that it gets me off is totally NOT worth talking about and takes the backseat to equity. And I think the 4.5+ rating on Goodreads provided by other straight women like myself might back me up on this one).
The truth is, writing about gay characters can open your eyes and teach you to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. To avoid issues like tokenism, it's important to realize your LGBTQ+ characters as human beings with development. That's why Lucien's character changes significantly though the novel: he begins as gay in an adorably hesitant way, like he bites his lip unconsciously as a habit, but by the end of the novel he's a Total Absolute Gaylord and he bites his lip BECAUSE HE KNOWS IT DRIVES CASSIAN CRAZY.
Also there's Latin and a few Shakespeare sonnets about the fair youth scattered around? And Cassian whispers the story of Patroclus and Achilles to Lucien as they look up at the stars, contemplate Lucien's mortality, and then Cassian's hand slips down Lucien's thigh and OOH BABY! Intersectionality is also crucial, which is why the otherwise white-coded Lucien suddenly acquires mocha skin on page 252.