Queer Romance Blog Hop – K. Piet
Welcome to the Queer Romance Blog Hop, where queer writers and readers of queer romance share their thoughts on the genre, as well as a few recommendations for books to read! Everyone participating in this blog hop identifies as queer and also reads and/or writes (or edits, or reviews!) queer romance. For our purposes, queer romance refers to books with:
1. LGBTQ+ main characters
2. In romantic relationships
3. That have a happy ending. (No Brokeback Mountain here, folks!)
Hey, everyone! K. Piet here, and I wanted to bring this particular blog hop home with me because the subject of queer fiction is one I’m very passionate about, not only as a writer but as a publisher. When I first heard about the blog hop, I thought Heidi Belleau (the originator) was looking solely for reviewers/bloggers who read trans* and queer romance in a broader sense than just gay romance. When I discovered I was wrong about that and I could potentially participate with the other authors who identify queer? Well color me surprised and delighted! I hope everyone has enjoyed the month of interviews and perspective from my fellow authors and bloggers, and I hope my contribution will be enjoyable. 😀 Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty together! (Or just get down. That’s nice, too.)
1. Let’s start off with the getting-to-know-you stuff: How do you identify, and what does that mean to you? Whatever level of detail you’re comfortable with, of course!
Followers of my blog likely already know (or newly learned) that I identify genderqueer. I actually wrote a post about exactly that just before hearing that it was Trans* Week and that this blog hop was happening. Great timing! I present female, wish that I presented more neutral or male, and my identity skews a bit more male than female, though I don’t mind anyone using female pronouns so long as I look female. In my head, though, my outward femininity is more like being a flamboyant gay boy who enjoys crossdressing into the feminine realm, so I’m all up in that gray area, and I’m happy here. It makes for some awkward situations and conversations, especially where dating is concerned, but I’m lucky enough to live with incredibly accepting and supportive room-mates, and my immediate family might not understand my identity, but they don’t give me a hard time about it or make attempts to change me.
2. What’s your preferred “flavour” of queer romance (e.g. trans*, f/f, m/m, menage with queer characters, etc.) Why?
When it comes to writing, I primarily write gay and bisexual fiction, though I’ve been caught writing a couple lesbian short stories in the past as well. I love the entire spectrum of sexuality and gender identity, and even though I haven’t written trans* fiction as of yet, it’s so on my to-write list. When it comes to reading, I love gay, bi, and trans* fiction, and I’ll get exceedingly giddy over a book with trans* characters that I feel are exceptionally well written (e.g. see my thoughts on Sinews of the Heart by Cody Stanford). I also have a soft spot for openly bisexual men in fiction. They make my heart go pitter patter because it makes me happy to see men embrace both masculine and feminine qualities either in themselves or in others. I feel that broader range of love is something a lot of people could learn a thing or two from in the general sense of loving and accepting people as they are.
3. Do you write/read/review? Do you think being queer affects your participation or platform in romancelandia?
I primarily write, since my reading time is miniscule these days outside of the reading I do in the production process of books coming through Storm Moon Press, the publishing company I founded with my co-author, S.L. Armstrong. Being a queer writer doesn’t truly change my participation in the genre — or at least it hasn’t affected me negatively so far, which renders me a bit more blind to it, I suppose. My identification as a genderqueer/trans* writer hasn’t disabled me from writing whatever I’m passionate about, and while I know several authors who identify like me have come under fire in the past, it hasn’t happened to me. I’ve always been pretty open about my identity, even as I was still discovering it, so I think that honesty has gone a long way.
4. What drew you to queer romance?
Fandom. I’m not afraid to say it. 😉 I met my co-author in the Tolkien fanfiction community ages ago, and after a brief foray into fanfiction, the original ideas sprouted en masse, which has set us up for decades of writing and publishing rather than returning to fandom. We like our original ideas and find them very fulfilling to write. I remember being drawn to gay fiction because I saw something of myself in it in a way I couldn’t with straight/het romance. I love me a good love story, regardless of orientation/identity, but certain aspects of gay fiction clicked with me… and later on, trans* fiction had the same effect. When I feel I can relate to the characters in a way that makes me think, “God, I wish I’d read this back when I was in high school because it would have made me feel less alone”, it’s a very powerful thing. I just hope the fiction I write ends up having that same effect on other readers down the line.
5. What do you love about queer romance in general, and/or your specific subgenre?
I love the endless possibility of it. While the genre can still be very formulaic and cling to tropes, there is also a greater chance of finding fiction that challenges the status quo and goes where more ‘mainstream’ fiction dares not go. You’ll find everything from tentacle-filled science fiction/fantasy to fluffy contemporary to mind-fuckery faerie non-con. It can really be a wild ride, and I love that variety is often viewed positively rather than negatively in the genre.
6. What’s your pet peeve?
Steadfast, willful intolerance. People insisting women don’t belong in gay fiction, men don’t belong in lesbian fiction, trans* or bisexual characters don’t exist and, therefore, don’t belong in any fiction… Oi. In particular, the intolerance in the gay romance genre surrounding female genitalia or characters who are openly bisexual ‘onscreen’ just really gets me fuming. I also get riled by anyone saying any group of people is inherently incapable of doing justice to a certain type of character or a certain subject matter. Only in this genre do a significant number of people make it a point of knowing what lies between an author’s legs. It’s degrading and seeks only to alienate and silence people rather than encourage tolerance, understanding, and the free exchange of ideas on any given subject.
7. What growth would you like to see in the genre, going forward? Any ideas on how to accomplish that?
On a more superficial note, I’d love to see more bisexual, polyamorous, and trans* fiction out there, and that can’t happen until authors write it and submitting for publication (or self-publish it), so I hope writers with a passion for such topics will take the plunge and write about those characters or continue doing so. ^_^
For the genre in general, there are certainly a lot of points I’d make to combat the issues that are my petpeeves.
Quit it with the exclusion. Let people tell their stories and connect with their audiences, whether they share borders or cross-pollinate with your own stomping ground. While having personal preferences is expected and perfectly fine, don’t use it as an excuse to delegitimize others’ fiction. Disagree all you like, but don’t delegitimize, dehumanize, or dehumidify. We like it hot and sticky more often than not. 😉
Stop questioning the existence of one group of people in another group of people’s fiction. Men, women, and those identifying in between all exist in real life. Therefore, they all have a place in fiction. The levels just vary from one story to another. The generalizations about this group or that group have to stop, and we should all appreciate the vast variance that is life and the limitless nature of the imagination as it is showcased in fiction.
Know when things are none of your business, respect it, and don’t pry. A person’s identity and self-expression are intensely personal, and it isn’t everyone’s business to know every detail of a writer, reader, or bogger’s life. I might be a-okay sharing about my identity and experiences, but not everyone is, and that should be treated with care and respect. When someone is uncomfortable sharing information about themselves on a personal level, pestering them only causes tension. Be kind and decent to one another. It leads to a better environment in the reading/writing community as a whole.
8. Do you seek out other queer authors when you read?
Not really, to be honest. I typically learn about an author’s queerness long after reading their fiction. Those whose fiction is exceptional and connects with me are those I tend to seek out again in the future. It’s always a treat to see more genderqueer/neutral/fluid authors in the genre, but I don’t really give preferential treatment. I just looking for great fiction, regardless of the author’s identity on the sexual and gender spectrums.
9. How do you feel, in general, about straight peoples’ participation in reading, writing, and reviewing queer romance?
Doesn’t bother me at all. Again, it’s not about the identity of the people enjoying the fiction; it’s about the shared passion for the genre. That said, I don’t like people who dictate how queer romance should work based on their various levels of privilege, but that’s certainly not restricted to straight or cis-gendered peoples in the genre. 🙂
10. Rec us 3 titles in your chosen subgenre and tell us why you love them.
Gladly! I’ll stick to trans* fiction on this one, since I’d love to see more readers giving trans* fiction a try.
Sinews of the Heart by Cody Stanford
This book is many things that somehow manage to meld together into a brilliant read that I simply can’t recommend enough. Young adult fiction set in a post-apocalyptic world where anthros and humans attempt to co-exist. The main character is a trans* anthro-tiger and goes through a lot of self-discovery when it comes to identity while coming of age in the post-apocalyptic setting. A truly amazing novel, and one I wish I’d read when I was younger for a plethora of reasons!
Legal Briefs Anthology (edited by S.L. Armstrong)
Apart from this being a charity anthology to benefit Lambda Legal, this anthology really showcases the spectrum of identity and sexuality, which I just adore. Three of the stories are trans* pieces, and not one is like another. They range in both genre and subtlety in a way that I really appreciated. Everything also has a legal theme, which is a heck of a lot of fun. A great anthology with proceeds going toward a great cause.
Gift of Self by Kathleen Tudor
This short story was the trans* contribution to the Milk & Cookies & Handcuffs anthology (linked above), but will be coming out on its lonesome on Christmas Eve this December. It surrounds a loving relationship tested when one character comes out as being MTF transgendered and asks to begin expressing themselves differently in private. It’s a touching story and is crafted with exceptional care by an author who took a chance and wrote trans* fiction for the first time in that anthology. Bravo!
And that’s it from me! I hope everyone has an amazing holiday season filled with family, friends, and community where the love and acceptance of self is paramount. Also, if you are interested in any of the three books above, Storm Moon Press has a 30% off sale this weekend from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, so it’s great timing if you’d like to pick up those trans* titles! Give a little love to the authors if you’re so inclined, and have a fantastic holiday!
Thanks for reading and for following the tour! Be sure to use the links below to check out more great posts from our participants!