I have a lot of goals for 2019, but the biggest one is to make it queer. I’ve come a long way as a writer and a person since I found writing was the one thing, out of all my many interests, that I want to pursue relentlessly.
The first novel I wrote has yet to see the light of day. It’s a story I want to tell and revive at some point. However, for now, it’s lying in wait. That novel is important to me for a couple of reasons. The first reason is obvious. It was the first novel I finished. It never went past the first draft, but that doesn’t matter. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Perhaps most importantly, I felt like I could do it again.
So I did. I wrote The Wandering Empath. Buuuut it wasn’t called that at the time. My goal for that book was to finish a book, polish it until I felt it was ready to publish. I accomplished that goal and felt like I could do it again, so I did. I kept going. I got addicted. It’s been about four years since then, and now I can’t imagine going a day without writing. It feels as necessary as breathing.
My goals have evolved since The Wandering Empath. I learned about many different kinds of readers, the books they love, if it’s possible to make writing into a full-time job, literally all kinds of things. I’m still learning and that will continue for my entire life, but I’m feeling pretty content with where things are at. By that, I mean I feel like I’m on the right track to everything I want to accomplish with writing. But that track could change. I might take a different turn here and there, which brings me back to making 2019 queer.
Figuring out who you are is a lifelong endeavor, and being who you are is a whole other story. I grew up in a religious family. I think religion can be really great, but as a teenager, I decided it wasn’t for me. It didn’t help that I felt different. I’ve never felt much like a girl, but I go with it and continue to use the pronouns because that’s just the way it’s always been. I thought I liked boys and girls. I tried dating a couple times, but now I’m not so sure I like boys and girls at all. Romance is a bit of an abstract concept to me. I can understand it because I’ve been exposed to it my entire life, but it’s not something I’ve experienced myself. Frankly, I have no desire to.
“Why the hell are you writing romance then, weirdo?” That’s what you’re thinking, right? Well, as I said, I feel like I can understand it. When I’m writing, I’m not writing my feelings–the majority of the time. I’m writing about characters, people who aren’t me. There are other reasons for why I’ve written what I’ve written, though. It’s inevitable for authors to put part of themselves into what they’ve written no matter what, and that has been the case with me.
Let’s go back to The Wandering Empath. I wrote that book very “clean” because of my religious background. It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted to. It was meant to be a new adult book, about characters close to my age. While I don’t regret what I’ve done, I purposely avoided using certain words and toned down some violence. Most of all, I made sure Rimn, the main character is straight. I also made sure that none of the supporting characters would seem to be anything but straight, though one character, in my mind, certainly is not.
I did those things because I was afraid of my family reading my books. That first novel I finished but haven’t published has a main character who is gay. That was extremely bold of me at the time, but I did it anyway. I was testing the waters, seeing how a few close people in my life would react.
The next book I came up with was Blind to Love, also not its original name, and I made sure the characters in that story were straight for the same reasons as the above, but I explored, very lightly, a bit of religion.
Then I tried a new pen name with Demon Snare, also not its original name, and that pen name offered a sense of freedom I didn’t have before. So, I did something for my heart. I made Arsen, one of my three main characters, bi. It’s also a heavy exploration of “light” and “dark” and religion and everything that means. Out of all of my published books, this series is the most personal. But I was still shying away from being too “bold” about it because all of Arsen’s “serious” relationships have been with females. It’s not just family members I was trying not to “offend.” It was readers too.
If you’ve been with me for a while, and especially if you’ve read all of my books, you’ve probably seen a slow change in how much queer content I put into my books. When I started my last pen name, Kamryn Hart, with Her Brave Wolf, I had every intention of only writing M/F romances. Well, that fell apart when I introduced Rogue, one of the MCs in Her Bad Cat. I love this character, okay? And he told me who he was. I couldn’t fit him into the mold I tried to make for him. He wouldn’t have it.
A similar thing happened with The Lost Princess of Howling Sky, but I won’t go into that too much because SPOILERS. That was when I said, “You know what? I’m going to stop suffocating the queer characters in my head because why is their story any less important than anyone else’s?” Then I wrote Halloween Werewolf, my first M/M romance. And now I’m writing Valentine’s Day Tigers. These tiger twins are something, friends. You’re either going to love them or hate them, but I really hope you love them. You might say they don’t belong in a romance novel, but they do, and that story is going to tell you why.
We’re all different people, but I truly believe we can all relate on some level. I think that’s important. That’s why I need to write these queer characters in my head. There are people like me who have had a hard time finding characters they relate to.
I want to write stories for YOU. I also want to write stories for ME. There’s a place these two things converge, and I’ve slowly been discovering it. I’ve learned a lot this year, and I will be implementing it all in 2019. Thank you for making 2018 a huge year for me. I’ve grown a lot, and I hope you’ll stick by me as we enter the new year. I’ve got a lot of stories to share.