Ash is genderqueer. This means different things depending on the person, but I wanted to make Ash like me. It goes back to each of the main characters in this book. They all have at least one aspect of me. Ash also plays the ukulele and is obsessed with indie folk music–which is also one of my things. 😉
It’s been a long road of discovery, and I’m not done with it yet, but like Ash, I just want to be referred to as they/them. It feels better. It’s not something that’s easy to explain. It’s personal. Never feeling like I fit in with girl things. Not exactly feeling like I fit in with boy things. There are aspects of both I can grasp. There was also a time I thought I was trans. I don’t have answers, and I still feel lost a lot of the time, but I’m trying to move forward. In my mind, that’s Ash’s history too.
I wanted to capture what moving forward looks like with Ash. They know who they are, but they also go with the flow. They’ve chosen to leave behind their past, to forget their last name. They adapt and change as the situation calls for it, but the one thing they are is comfortable with who they are. That’s why they can live the way they do. And that’s how I want to live. It’s hard with mental illness and life in general, but I can do it. You can do it too. Whatever the obstacle, we have to keep fighting.
To me, Ash is strong. Ash is also kind, understanding, and accepting. If there’s anyone out there capable of easing Lance’s anxieties, it’s Ash.
I hope you’ve found characters that represent you in some of the books you’ve read. For some people, I think it’s harder to find than others, but it’s always important. I think it’s important for people who don’t relate to read these stories too. They might learn something. I have certainly learned from stories I don’t necessarily relate to. At the very least, they’ve made me think.
This books, Valentine’s Day Tigers, is especially made for anyone out there like me.