Guest Post: Meanwhile, In The Serengeti by Barbara Ann Wright

WildebeestStraight people are my wildebeests. I watch them from the grass, waiting. One little noise will send them into a stampede, hooves kicking the dirt into a cloud, making them harder to catch.

I creep forward, silent, downwind from them. I must catch them off guard. I take a deep breath, stand up, let them have a good look at me, and say, “I write fantasy novels about lesbians.”

Okay, maybe it’s not exactly like that, but pitching a novel starring LGBT characters to a straight audience has its pitfalls, but if I want the widest readership possible for my work, it’s something I have to do.

I love all my fans. From the LGBT crowd to the pansexuals and asexuals, those who are intersex, and those who eschew labels. And there are straight people who seek out diverse books. I love them, too. I usually don’t have to sell so hard to any of them. They’re the reason I wrote The Pyramid Waltz. Well, them and me, of course. It used to be that most LGBT characters in fiction faced horrific persecution and a tragic end. So I wrote a fantasy romance where being a lesbian was no big deal. It was just another kind of love.

A lot of straight people have to ease into the idea, though. They know of the books with horrific persecution and tragic ends. They cringe when they hear there are lesbians in my fiction, expecting characters who are beaten bloody by the very society they live in. “Don’t be scared,” I’ll say. “Being gay in my worlds is no big deal. It’s important to read fiction starring all kinds of people. The more diverse characters we see, the more our culture will come to see everyone as just another part of society. So don’t be afraid of the gay king, the lesbian princess, the trans wizard, or the bisexual knight. It’s still your kind of book.”

I go to quite a few science fiction and fantasy conventions, and the bulk of the people I’ve spoken to identify as straight. I’ve seen some people squirm when I tell them that my stories star women who love women. I’ve seen the occasional eye roll, like I’m trying to sell an agenda. I have to keep my cool, keep describing the book, be as funny as I can be, and assure them that it’s all right. The other shoe will not drop. It’s really no big deal. Lucky for me, many people believe me, read the book, and see for themselves. I’ve overheard some conversations where someone reassures someone else about the book by saying, “It’s not really about that.”

And it’s not, not for them, at least. But for those of us who don’t often see ourselves in fiction, it’s very much about that. It gives me joy to see someone who feels the way I do on the page. Anyone who has ever felt excluded knows what I’m talking about. Most of the lesbian, gay, or bi people I know learned long ago to enjoy fiction starring straight characters. Trans people are used to not seeing themselves on the page. Most LGBT people I know don’t look at straight fiction and assume, “That’s not aimed at me,” or have to reassure each other with, “The characters are straight, but it’s not really about that.”

So the next time you see a story starring a character with a sexuality or gender identity different than what you’re used to, go ahead and pick it up. It’s not a lion waiting in the grass. See if you like the story. Read a few pages. See what you’re in for. Go online and peruse the ratings. You might discover a new author to follow, a new world and characters to love. You might expand your horizons. You might join me in calming the wildebeests.

Author Barbara Ann WrightBarbara Ann Wright writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not adding to her enormous pen collection or ranting on her blog. Her short fiction has appeared twice in Crossed Genres Magazine and once made Tangent Online’s recommended reading list. Her first novel, The Pyramid Waltz, was one of Tor.com’s Reviewer’s Choice books of 2012, was a Foreword Review Book of the Year Award Finalist, a Goldie finalist, and won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy. One of its sequels won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Lesbian Fantasy Romance. Her newest work, Thrall: Beyond Gold and Glory, is a standalone fantasy starring lesbian and trans characters in a Viking-esque world.

Author Interview: Kasper J. Beaumont

Kasper J. Beaumont was born and raised in Australia and lives a quiet life with the family in a seaside town. Combining a love of fantasy and a penchant for travel in the Hunters of Reloria trilogy, Kasper started to write on the urging of friends and family and enjoys watching readers become immersed in the magical world of Reloria. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Author Kasper BeaumontG’day folks, I’m Kasper Beaumont, a fantasy author from Australia and I’m looking forward to sharing my dragon tales with you. I’m a mild-mannered healthcare worker by trade and when I’m off duty, I turn into a creative fiend, pushing the boundaries of fantasy writing. I juggle writing, work and my three young cherubs and enjoying catching up with my writing group, family and friends. Living the dream.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was really keen on writing as a youngster and teenager, then I discovered travelling and a whole new world opened for me as I backpacked my way across Europe with a bunch of friends. Needless to say there was much partying involved and apart from keeping a journal with self-drawn pictures, my writing was on an extended hiatus. When I finally returned home, I was focused on saving for a house, then marriage and rugrats took up my world. After the 3rd child I was needing some ‘me’ time and an outlet for my creativity, so a whole new career beckoned and here I am, a thrice published author. Sweet!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Probably not until I published my first book in 2013, so I still consider myself a newbie and am hanging out for a 3 movie deal with Peter Jackson. A girl can dream.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest release is Dragon’s Revenge, which finishes the Hunters of Reloria trilogy. As the title suggests, my badass dragon is majorly peeved when the Cyclops enemy destroys his homeland. He is hell-bent on revenge and must gain the help of the Hunters of Reloria to defeat his nefarious foe. The Hunters of Reloria are a mixed group of heroes, with halfings, dwarves, elves, a mage, a knight and of course, the dragon. They rally to fight the invading forces of Vergai lizardmen and Cyclops giants who shoot laser beams from their eyes. There is magic; battle action with lasers and dragons; romance and sweet fairies in the series – something for everyone.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve been planning the trilogy a long time and I’m glad to see the culmination. I’m a big fan of fantasy and all things dragon-related so I guess it was natural that I would write fantasy books. I draw inspiration from the fabulous fantasy artwork I see all around and Anne Stokes is my favourite dragon artist. Many of my young fans send in fantasy artwork as well and I love to hear their feedback and ideas for my new work.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I let the characters write the story and give them a gentle nudge here and there. It’s interesting when they go in a completely different direction to where I think we are headed, but the plot twists make it exciting, so I just go with it. ‘Flying by the seat of my pants’ writing is the only way to go for me.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Magic happens.

If you believe in something enough and work together to utilize your companions and resources to their full strength, then you can achieve anything. Sometimes it is the most unlikely person who can perform an extraordinary act of bravery to save the day.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No. I’ve yet to have my homeland invaded by laser-wielding Cyclops, thank goodness!

What authors have most influenced your life?

Tolkein, Eddings and Clive Cussler

What about them do you find inspiring?

The way they can all make the most incredible adventures believable and realistic. You leave reality at the door and buckle up for a roller-coaster ride of excitement. If I can give my readers that experience, then I consider my job well done.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?

No, I wouldn’t say a mentor, for I haven’t met any of my favourite authors. How cool that would be to have them pour over my first draft and make a few suggestions.

Who designed the cover of your book?

I employed a local spray paint artist to do the covers for the trilogy. His name is Scott Patterson and I really admire his work. He threw me a curve ball with the Dragon’s Revenge cover because he changed from spray paint to digital. I was a bit worried at first that the style would be different to the others, but I am really stoked with the end result. Some artists can do anything.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Just the advice that I keep telling myself: remember to write every day. Life is so busy that you really have to make time for the things that matter. Oh, and find a good editor when you’re done. That’s very important too.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I love to get feedback, so please do a review or send me a message to tell me know what you think of the Hunters of Reloria trilogy and what you would like me to write next. Always happy to oblige.

Book Cover Dragon's RevengeKasper Beaumont
near Brisbane, Australia

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Dragon’s Revenge – Book 3 in the Hunters of Reloria series

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No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

writers-linksWelcome back to another Monday of Writer’s Links from No Wasted Ink. This week there is an assortment of articles ranging from general writing tips, to handwriting, and writing science fiction. Go grab a cup of coffee or tea and settle down to some interesting reading.

Back on record – the reasons behind vinyl’s unlikely comeback

From manuscript to self-published book – what does it take?

John Steinbeck’s Pen: How the Joy of Handwriting Helps Us Draft the Meaning of Life

“Mad Men” Creator Matthew Weiner’s Reassuring Life Advice For Struggling Artists

Ten Ways to Tighten Your Writing & Hook the Reader

10 Ways To Create A Near-Future World That Won’t Look Too Dated

Ursula Le Guin talks Sci-fi Snobbery, Adaptations, & Troublemaking

IS CURSIVE WRITING FOR DINOSAURS?

Put Your Journaling Time to Better Use

David Ogilvy’s 1982 Memo “How to Write” Offers 10 Pieces of Timeless Advice

A Primer for Writing Scifaiku publishes on Lit Central OC

primer notebook

Scifaiku has become a passion of mine over the past year. It is a form of poetry that combines science fiction themes with Japanese haiku in a “bastard” form. I took a workshop on how to write this form of poetry at a local science fiction convention and it has had an impact on my writing.

I’d like to encourage science fiction writers to take a look at Scifaiku and wrote a primer about how to go about writing it. I’ve included some of my scifaiku illustrations that you see here on my blog with the article. It is published in the online magazine Lit Central OC, edited by DeAnna Cameron.

A Primer for Writing Scifaiku by Wendy Van Camp

Author Interviews * Book Reviews * Essays * Writer's Links * Scifaiku

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