You know how they say if you can’t find a book you want to read, you should write one? Obviously that’s not always an option since not everyone is a writer, and sometimes even writers don't think they can write the type of story they want to read, for whatever reason.
It can be hard to find a book with a specific theme or type of character or even setting. I love LGBTQ books, and I’m always looking for more of them. I’ve read a few really good ones, but many of them tend to have similar themes. A lot of them are coming out stories, which are great - those books are needed, there’s no question of that. People need to see themselves in characters, whether they’re just realizing their sexual orientation, or they’re ready to come out, or they’ve been out for years. But I have to admit, I’m a bit tired of those stories, especially since so many of them are similar. There are also a lot of LGBTQ books with sad, bittersweet, or even tragic endings. I’ve read a few happy-for-now or happily-ever-after books, but a lot of stories leave me with a sour taste in my mouth, or feeling sad.
So what’s the solution? One of them is to keep reading LGBTQ books and hoping to find some really great ones that are different. Stories with characters who are out and proud, stories with positive portrayals of relationships. The other solution: write those books myself.
When I started writing After the Storm, I had no idea Sadie Fitzgerald, the main character’s new best friend, would become so real to me that she’d demand her own story. When I began turning the idea over in my mind, I knew she deserved her own story. She struggled a lot in After the Storm, but I wanted her to find happiness, find her place in the world, and also find love.
So Take Them by Storm was turned from a seed of an idea into a book. I took a lot of the things I’d been longing for in other books and included them in Sadie’s story. A few great YA LGBTQ books came out last year, and there are more coming out in 2015, but I wanted characters that were a bit older. Characters who aren’t afraid to make mistakes, learn from them, and get back up when they fall…or are pushed. Characters who don’t necessarily make the ‘right’ choices, but who own who they are and are proud of who they are. And, yeah, girls who kiss other girls, because I like that stuff. ;-)
That’s Sadie. Her love story isn’t necessarily a conventional one. She doesn’t always make the ‘right’ choices...but I know I sure didn't make all the right choices when I was her age. But she’s smart, she’s creative, and she has a huge heart. She’s quirky and wonderfully weird, and she’s proud of who she is. She falls in love, she experiences heartache, she has obstacles to overcome, and she has some really great things happen to her. And, ultimately, she gets her happy ending. I knew the outcome of her story from the beginning, and there was never any doubt that Sadie would get a happy ending, just like all my other characters in all my other books, because those are the types of stories I like to read.
I'll continue to write the types of books I want to read, whatever that may be at any given time. It changes constantly, but I promise to do my best to write complex characters, swoony romances, and books that make you feel. And I hope you might give them a chance. :-)
What are some of your favourite LGBTQ books? Do you like the darker stories without happy endings or do you prefer a HFN/HEA ending? Do you have a preference between coming out stories and stories where the characters are already out? If you’re a writer, have you ever considered writing an LGBTQ book? Let's talk here or on Twitter!