I’ve been getting lots of questions lately from readers who are curious about the sexuality of characters in my upcoming romantic suspense novel Black Iris. If you’ve browsed the Black Iris Pinterest board, you may have noticed something:
There sure are lots of pics of girls kissing girls.
And so readers have asked: is this book f/f? Is it about girls getting it on with other girls?
I’m torn about how to respond to this question. On the one hand, the sexuality of certain characters is related to the plot, and to reveal it is somewhat spoilerish. For a suspense novel, spoiling any of the mystery beforehand is a big no-no.
On the other hand, some readers deliberately avoid books with girl/girl romance, and that saddens me. What if they’d love this story if they only put aside their preconceptions about f/f romance and gave it a chance? Why does the sex and/or gender of the main couple matter? Love is love, right?
But on the other other hand, my inner queer self thinks: THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I WROTE THIS FUCKING BOOK IN THE FIRST PLACE. Because the reality is that people do judge others based on their sexuality, even imaginary fucking people in fiction. And though the plot of Black Iris hinges on certain characters’ sexuality being gradually unveiled, I should embrace the queerness of this book unabashedly, because the whole reason I wrote it is because I’m sick of my queerness being something I’ve had to hide half my life. I’m sick of pretending to be something I’m not. I’m sick of trying to win people over first before I show them who I really am.
Unteachable was, in a symbolic way, me presenting a hetero face to the world. Look, cute boys! Hot P-in-V sex! Please like me. Please don’t hate me when I show you how queer I really am, okay?
Man, fuck that. Enough.
So I’m going to answer this question definitively, and stand by it, unashamed, proud.
Yes, Black Iris is f/f. It is also m/f.
Both are represented. Not equally. To say more is to spoil plot points. But you should expect at least as much f/f as m/f in this book.
And you should expect that in all of my upcoming romance novels, too. Because, guys, in case you missed it, I’m queer. I like girls. A whole hell of a lot. I like writing about girls falling in love with other girls. I like writing about girls and boys falling in love, too, but the girl/girl thing is VASTLY under-represented in comparison. Close your eyes and throw a dart and you’ll hit a romance novel about a girl and a boy. Good luck finding a good one about a girl and a girl.
I’ve done a lot of soul-searching since Unteachable became a rollicking success, and I’ve decided it’s more important for me to be true to myself, and to represent a facet of romance that is tragically under-represented. So yeah. Black Iris is pretty fucking gay. So is Camgirl. So is everything you’ll read from me in the future.
I make no apologies for it. If you want m/f, you can literally fall ass-backwards into it.
If you want well-written f/f, well, join the club. I’ve been searching for it my entire reading life and found precious few authors I can rely on for quality girl-on-girl romance. I grew up desperate to find books like Black Iris, books about girls who like both girls and boys, whose sexuality is fluid. Books where there’s no fade-to-black when the girls fuck each other. Books that show me my life as I lived it, without making me feel like a freak.
Look, no beating around the bush, to use a horrible pun. If you hate f/f, that means two things: 1) you’re not going to like any of my future books, which is okay, because not every author is for every reader, but also 2) you might be a homophobe, so, you know, fuck you.
But if you “hate” f/f because you haven’t read it done well, then I sympathize. And I hope I can change your mind. I hope taking this risk inspires other romance writers to be bolder and write queer romance that isn’t the same old white gay boys falling in love.
Bottom line: I’m not sorry for being who I am. I’m not sorry for writing about things that are important to me, like the representation of girls who don’t fit the heteronormative template. I’m not sorry if that loses me readers who loved Unteachable. I’m incredibly lucky to be in a position to publish a subversive, unconventional, pretty fucking gay novel with a major publishing house and see it on bookstore shelves next to your typical ultra-heteronormative New Adult romance. The mere fact that my queer-as-fuck novel will sit side-by-side with straight-as-fuck novels is in itself a victory, even if it doesn’t sell a single copy.
So fuck it, man. I’m embracing this and running with it.
Yes, Black Iris has tons of f/f. Are you ready for it?
And just as importantly: are you ready for more?