Why It Matters

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“I’m not homophic, but I just don’t get why people keep shoving LGBT characters in my face!”

“Does everyone have to be gay nowadays?”

“Why do I need to know a character’s sexuality? It doesn’t matter! This isn’t romance!”

 

The above statements are all things I have heard or seen in response to articles and blog posts about representation of LGBT+ characters in books, television and film. The number of people I have had lodge complaints to me about this very subject, especially concerning Hellbent Halo, has increased with the release of the third book.

As I sat down to start working on the 4th book in the series, it occurred to me that I could and should address the question. I’m in a unique position to do so as someone who is a part of the LGBT community, and as an author who does not write romance or reverse harem.

Why does genre fiction—horror, science fiction, and fantasy specifically—need one more LGBT character?

My gut response it to ask…Why do we need another cisgender straight hero? Going back, western literary tradition is chock full of straight white men falling in love with women. Every aspect of western storytelling has literally thousands of examples of cis hetero relationships, from film to books to oral traditions. As a friend of mine put it on Facebook, “Imagine if I stopped reading books about straight people. I’d never have anything to read.”

To be honest, it’s actually fairly easy to find lesbian or gay fiction outside of romance in 2019. There are lesbian and gay couples everywhere. I’ve been able to have same-sex romances in most of my video games for several years now. Gay themes and gay coming out stories are everywhere.

But what about the bisexuals?

The B in the LGBT is so often overlooked when it comes to representation in the media, but that’s especially true outside of romance. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled to see more bisexuals being represented in niche genres like reverse harem, but something about that just makes me a little uncomfortable too. It’s as if bisexual characters are only allowed to be bisexual in a sexual setting. None of these stories—at least none of the ones I’ve picked up—have talked about the bisexual experience, coming out as bi, and the unique challenges and struggles of bisexuals in a world that’s sometimes very binary.

Sadly, this is particularly true in the indie urban fantasy market, which is painfully full of toxic masculinity tropes, and where I’ve put down far too many series for making fun of anyone who doesn’t conform to the gender and sexual norms.

When I started writing Hellbent Halo, there were other authors actively discouraging me from writing in what one reviewer called “the unnecessary gay element” of Josiah’s past relationship with a man. Even the reviewer got it wrong. It’s not a gay element. It’s a bisexual element. We are invisible even to our readers, even when we put characters like us right in front of them.

But I’m not offended. I didn’t write Josiah as a homoromantic bisexual for them. I wrote it for me and people like me who didn’t grow up knowing bisexuality existed, for readers who grew up without an open dialogue, or who felt like they had to hide their attractions because they didn’t fit in a prescribed binary. Growing up, I often felt like a rectangular peg trying to fit in either a circular or square socket. If I twisted just the right way, I could fit in with one side, but that still meant being squished, contorted. Unhappy.

We need more bisexual characters in non-sexualized roles. More bisexual stories. More representation. It’s not an unnecessary element, it’s stories that haven’t been told, voices that have yet to be heard. Voices that should not be silenced because they make others uncomfortable.

Why do we need more LGBT characters in genre fiction outside of romance? Because we exist and we have all sorts of stories yet to tell.

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Josiah Quinn is the lead character in the Hellbent Halo series. You can read the books for free with Kindle Unlimited by clicking below:

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Fractured Souls: Change in Release Date

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Life is stressful. Deadlines are stressful. Having a life and writing on a deadline? Insanely stressful.

As an independently published author, I didn’t used to use deadlines. I didn’t like the idea of being boxed in by having a date to meet. It felt like added pressure and the very idea scared the hell out of me. When I started using them, however, my productivity jumped from only putting out 4 books a year to releasing 10 last year and completing two more. I tripled the number of books I completed per year with one simple tool.

Deadlines.

Basically, I started out releasing Death Rites, Organ Grind, and Shallow Grave a month apart. That meant I had to have really tight scheduling and not miss any deadlines. I was writing books in 21 days. Was it stressful? Oh, you bet. But the payoff was worth it.

Eventually, I decided I couldn’t keep that up because of some personal things going on—family stress, moving, etc—and I spaced the book releases out to one every 60 days instead of one every 30.

Right now, however, The Lazarus Codex books are coming out even slower at one every 90 days. That’s because all that wonderful productivity ground to a halt when I moved from Ohio to Kentucky. I was blindsided by a serious bout of depression. As the work piled up, the darkness around me only seemed to multiply and I found it near impossible to get out of bed every day, let alone get to the keyboard and churn out thousands of words. From the date the move was confirmed in October 2018 until halfway through February of 2019, I wrote one book, Dark Revel. It took me 4 months to complete an 80,000 word novel where it used to take me just days.

By the time Dark Revel came out, I was feeling much better. I had my depression under control, and I was settling into life in Kentucky.
However, I was hopelessly behind. Turns out writing thousands of words a day wasn’t something I can just sit down and do after not doing it for 4 months. I fell out of practice. Concentrating for long periods was even more difficult. More days crept by where I didn’t get as many words down as I wanted.

I got overwhelmed trying to play catch up, both with my writing and all the other aspects of running my own business. There were taxes to take care of, people to email back, plans to set in motion.

So when it came time to set a release date for the very first book in my new spin-off series, Hellbent Halo, I sort of just picked a date and went with it. It felt like April was a really long way away.

Then, yesterday, while I was looking at a countdown to Avengers: Endgame I realized I’d set Fractured Souls to release the same day as Endgame! Since it’s basically going to be the cinema event of the year among my geeky core fanbase, that was a BIG mistake! Rather than push it back a week, I moved the release date up to the 19th.

Sadly, I’m still not caught up and it’s leaving me scrambling a bit. No fear, however. I’ll get it done in time. It just means some 12 and 14-hour work days between now and then. But that’s the life of an independent author, isn’t it?

I’m hoping to settle back into a routine soon that allows me to get back to writing more impressive word counts like I used to, and completing a book in 3 weeks or less. That’s going to take time. It also means there won’t be another Lazarus book out until June, since Dark Horse was actually supposed to be done in February. As of April 10th, it’s not even half done, but getting there in record time.

After Dark Horse, I’ll be starting work on the second Hellbent Halo book, due out in July. That should put me back on schedule to get a book out every month the second half of this year.

I want to thank my readers for their patience and understanding. I know it’s not easy to wait on books. I just finished a book (Grave Destiny by Kalayna Price) and now have to wait a good while until book 7 is out, so I know the feeling! But I love the Grave Witch books and I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait, as I hope the rest of The Lazarus Codex books will be for my readers.

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A rogue wizard. A reckless mission. Who knew rescuing the devil’s daughter would raise holy hell?

Click the cover below to reserve your copy of Fractured Souls for release day!

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