Monday, September 10, 2012

The Problem with LGBT Fiction

If you were at the local bookstore, and you were in the mood for some heterosexual romance with white characters, where would you look first? The Heterosexual section? In the Erotica section, even though you're looking for something with very little sex and that isn't not explicit? Or would you look in the romance section?

If you were at the local bookstore to find some m/m romance, where would you look first? What about African-American romance?

I haven't understood the logic of labeling romance novels as "niche" because the main characters are not white and heterosexual. To borrow a lyric from the 80s (and you're welcome for the earworm): people are people.  Characters are characters. Stories are stories.

If a story is a romance, it will follow a building romantic relationship where characters ultimately triumph over external and personal obstacles and find a promising ending. It doesn't matter if a couple consists of a werewolf and a vampire or a Taiwanese man and an African-American woman - both ought to be shelved in romance. If a couple is a Martian man and a woman from a system  near our galaxy's super massive black hole, or a gay man and a gay man, none of the experiences in the story we read will address anything more alien than the human experience.

When I first acquired Adrien-Luc Sanders's novella "From the Ashes," I couldn't get over how beautifully told the story was despite the hero's less than heroic past. It's a story with meat and teeth that would appeal to people who've never considered reading m/m before. Because, frankly, sexuality is a non-issue in the story. It's just one more character trait shared by both heroes. The characters who fall in love are both men, yet the story's themes of redemption and familial expectation are universal. Characters are characters. Stories are stories.

I'm proud to have played a part in this book's production, and I'm hopeful we'll see it sit next to other romances in the mainstream rankings. To work toward that goal, Adrien-Luc is hosting a giveaway. If his story "From the Ashes" hits the top 100 of Amazon Kindle bestsellers, he's giving away Visa gift cards worth $500 and $250. For more details, hit his blog. You don't have to buy anything. You don't have to tweet anything. Just enter to win and cheer LGBT romance into the mainstream lists.

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father's inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford--antisocial graduate researcher, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias's hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean--or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?

Win $500 or $250 Visa Gift Cards or a manuscript crit if From the Ashes reaches the Amazon top 100!
Contest Rules / Entry Page | Buy on Amazon | Add to GoodReads

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