We’re not so different, you and I…or are we?

I wanted to do a second post for this round because I liked both of the themes that were suggested. My previous post, Jump!, was going to bounce around in my head forever if I didn’t get it out, but I also wanted to discuss the differences between my writing and most other fantasy.

Now, I’m not so arrogant as to say that my world is the first to implement the technological aspects that I have chosen (rifles, railroads, telegraphs), though it is rather rare. There is precious little in the way of Gunpowder Fantasy floating around, so it is different than most other fantasy fiction.

I’m also not the first person to include a healthy dose of politics and intrigue in my world. I think George RR Martin is probably one of the leaders in this regard, and I’ll readily admit that I draw a lot of inspiration for my cloak-and-daggery and betrayal from his A Song of Ice and Fire series.

The Cerberus Rebellion showcases this a little bit, but as the series progresses the reader will be introduced to some rather shady characters and political power struggles right alongside the war that ravages the nation of Ansgar.

I think what’s rather unique about my the universe that I have constructed is the blending of these elements with traditional Fantasy-fare. While I haven’t introduced them all yet, the Griffins & Gunpowder universe includes Elven snipers, Orcs that fight with hand-cannons strapped to their arms, a human mage that rides griffins and the power struggle for not one, but two thrones.

I’ve always liked working politics into my stories. Nearly all of my unpublished space opera novels include a significant character that is heavily involved in politics and the Griffins & Gunpowder universe has major political action, outside of the direct scope of the Ansgari Rebellion series (name WIP), that will be highlighted in spinoff series and companion novellas.

So if you like action blended with guntoting fantasy creatures and political intrigue, check out The Cerberus Rebellion and keep your eyes out for the rest of the series!

The Rainbow in Genre Fiction

As writers, we have to strive to make our work different. Be it the context of which are worlds are set in, the way we tell our stories, the locations we set them in or the timeframes that we present the reader to, there are an innumerable amount of ways to make writing ‘different’—which, I think, is one of the most exciting thing about discovering a new writer. The thrill of seeing how they make their work different, especially the worlds that their favorite genres are set in, is always one of the greatest things that happens whenever you crack open a new book. Though that may sometimes not be the most pleasant thing in the world, I think it makes for interesting literature.

The topic this week on the Guild of Dreams is to write about what makes our writing different from another’s. While that in itself is a great idea, I stumbled over the topic itself because I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to present this essay to the readers of the fantasy collective. I decided that, in the end, I should write it, because if I’m not going to, no one else is.

As many of you probably already know, I self-identify as homosexual (i.e, I’m attracted to the same sex.) I won’t go into specifics, but this has been a near-lifelong identification for me and it has affected everything from the way I perceive things, people, to the way I respond to certain situations and also the way I interact with others. It also affects my writing, which some might find surprising.

Readers and writers alike often ask, ‘What makes your writing different?’

I say, ‘I write about gay characters.’

The writing world is very sparsely-filled with such characters. Genre fiction as a whole especially suffers from a lack of identifiable and relatable individuals that relate to the GLBTQIA spectrum (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual.) Oftentimes, gay characters are presented in minor roles (the strong female character’s sassy, finger-snapping hairdresser gay male friend or the bitter lesbian who hates men.) The two aforementioned roles are probably two of the most commonly-used examples of tropes within the gay community. Even writers who are pro-gay or are gay themselves often don’t write about gay characters, or have them as minor characters whose issues are never highlighted in detail. Growing up, especially as a young gay adolescent and eventually teenager between the ages of nine and fourteen, I searched for positive role models. Sadly, I only started finding them at the age of fourteen, when my thoughts and feelings about my sexuality were festering to the point where I was becoming depressed. While Christopher Rice’s debut novel A Density of Souls ultimately helped me find that support I needed, it was one of the few books I read that had a positive gay male as a role model at the time.

In my fiction, I try to write characters the reader can look at realistically—flawed, dignified, respectable and sympathetic men and women who readers can identify with. Sure, they might not be perfect, but who is in the real world?

Examples of gay men and women in my genre fiction wholly rely on the source. Several characters in my collection Amorous Things are gay or lesbian. My two leads in my novel Sunrise are gay. And, most specifically related to this blog, a major character in The Brotherhood eventually enters into a relationship with someone of the same sex. I won’t say who it is, or allude to which character it might be. I will say, however, that their relationship speaks of how it is to live as a person who doesn’t identify as heterosexual. The doubt, the fear, the misconception, the mistreatment from others, the worries about being in a position of power and about raising a family in a world where the ‘traditional’ is supposed to be the ‘right’ and ‘proper’—all these things are presented in this character’s plight, and though I struggled with including this aspect of this character’s life in the book, I ultimately realized to hide it would do no one good.

In the end, I want to craft engaging stories that are told from points of view that are underrepresented. In my mind, those in the LGBTQIA community are highly underrepresented, and I will never stop writing for them.