Just when I thought I couldn’t write any more, inspiration struck… #AmWriting #ASMSG

Just when I thought I couldn’t write any more, inspiration struck… #AmWriting #ASMSG

Are my panic posts about my inability to write in fact a sign that my subconscious is ready to talk?

I can’t say, but I DO know that I did write my post on Monday ending it with these words:

“I know the story will write itself. Which also means, that I’ll stop writing this blog post, now, to get ready for my day.”

I had barely published the post before a string of ideas emerged, little things, big ideas, and pieces began to fall into place. So weird. I got a better sense about Martin, who he is, what he’s done etc. A second character came onto the scene, and even though I don’t know if they will end up friends or more, they’re currently talking about their lives, and I’ve managed to also resolve a weird conflict with a third character who had been there from the beginning. I’m sure I’ll get more from him, but the question is how.

Clara_Cover

I have had a mini-release, yesterday. My short story about Clara. More below

The interesting thing about “Martin” or Opus XV is that I don’t know where the book will take me. I think it’s going to be a fairly light-hearted story about old age, the ups, and downs, but nothing angsty, certainly not the way Disease was. What topics can we expect being dealt with? Well, there’s gerontophilia, the love for the elderly, which is a sensitive and still very taboo topic. But for now, it’s still a fringe topic, and I’m not sure it’ll get a more prominent space. I’ve already seen the current #MeToo discussions wiggle its way into the story, in an interesting way, although I don’t see that going very far. HIV is there, a “must” given the age of the characters. But I think mostly, two things I look forward to: Martin will at some point travel back in “time” to see if the love of his life is still alive. Not sure how that will turn out. I don’t even know if he actually is alive still. And we’ll be able to see how the relationship between Martin and Eugene evolves: friend or lover? Maybe that is the topic of the book. I’m not sure. And all the practical things to consider once you’re that age… Interesting. Can’t wait to get back to writing, but I doubt it’ll be today. I have a busy day ahead of me with my son’s Lucia recital in school, shopping, a full weekend at my mother in law’s, checking out a new car (long story) etc.

Oh, before I forget: you are still following the Rainbow Advent Calendar? It’s worth reading a free story every day of the advent countdown… And mine’s due December 24th, on Christmas Eve. I’m really pleased with Paul’s story… Don’t miss it.

Never Too Late - CoverAlso, my publisher and I have had a release this week, of an amazing anthology, called Never Too Late. Martin was inspired by the question of “LGBTQIA+ life after fifty”, and the stories in the anthology depict just that. I’m super proud of my own contribution, a short story about Clara, which loosely can be categorized as “genderqueer”. Here’s what two reviewers had to say about Clara:

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved by a story. It isn’t because the story is particularly sad. There’s some sadness in it, yes, but it is not tragic or depressing or even especially angsty. […] There are very few stories about non-binary characters. There are even fewer which are good. This one will forever have a special place in my heart because it felt so real. Right down to Clara’s presentation and sense of self, all the details were so perfect.”

“Hans Hirschi has written a story that is entertaining and touching, yes, but it’s also an excellent education in what being genderqueer/non-binary is like for Clara and others. It’s a story I’ll be recommending to anyone who tells me they don’t understand gender beyond male/female.”

Amazing reviews, and I’m glad I managed to get it right. I feel very strongly about the connection of gender identity, sexuality and gender roles. I invite you to read this amazing story and the anthology it is part of. Great authors, great stories!

If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. The next issue is due next week. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great weekend and enjoy the second advent.

Hans

PS: May I talk about Disease for just one last time? I just received another review this week, and the book has now received 36 five-star reviews on GoodReads, 27 five star reviews on Amazon and even the 3/4-star reviews are raving about the book. If you haven’t read it yet, give it a chance… You won’t regret it!

I can’t hear my voices anymore and without them I can’t write #AmNotWriting

I can’t hear my voices anymore and without them I can’t write #AmNotWriting

I can’t hear my voices anymore, and it’s driving me crazy

I don’t think this is the first time I’ve written about this. How life gets in the way of writing. In fact, just last week, I wrote a long post about all the things going on in my life that keep me from writing. It’s not made easier by all the posts from friends and fellow authors who write, write and write, posting regular updates on Facebook, particularly as the rest of us just had to endure another #NaNoWriMo. As always, I haven’t participated, because I don’t believe in the idea as a principle, but unlike other years, when I used the time after GRL to write, this year I can’t seem to get into the right mental framework.

Some of my author friends would say: “just write”, and maybe at some point, I will. Out of sheer desperation. The odd thing is that I’m not even trying to procrastinate. Quite the contrary. I want to write, more than anything, but I can’t. I have so much going on in my life right now that all I hear is my mundane everyday life. I can’t hear the voices of my characters. A few months ago, I had begun work on a new story about an octogenarian, living in a retirement home. I really like the character, and there is – I’m sure – plenty of stories to tell, but I just can’t seem to get into his head anymore. I don’t hear his voice, nor do I hear the voices of other characters.

Will it help me hear voices?

A dramatic and cloudless dawn sky over Gothenburg and the archipelago.

I’m trying to get ready for writing, and today is – would be – a good day to write. And who knows, I might actually succeed. I’m really not trying to procrastinate, unlike other times. I am trying to delay other tasks, like reading other people’s books, simply because I need to clear my mind for Martin.

For my spring release, I really need the manuscript ready by end of January, so I don’t have that much time left. And should you be one of the authors currently waiting for me to read and review a book of yours, worry not: I keep my promises. There are reasons why I don’t like to read while writing, the fear of plagiarism is omnipresent. If you had my brain, you’d understand… So I stay away from books when I write.

I need to clear my mind, and as crazy as it may sound, I need to focus very hard to listen in on the little voices in my head. Once Martin is allowed to emerge, I’ll be fine, and I know the story will write itself. Which also means, that I’ll stop writing this blog post, now, to get ready for my day.

By the way, you have heard about the Rainbow Advent Calendar by now, haven’t you? If not, read this post and join the fun… My story will be the climax of our little project, and I hope you’ll join us for some free reading, every day, until Christmas Eve. If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great week.

Hans

It’s time for the Rainbow Advent Calendar: new #FREE stories every day #amreading #ASMSG

It’s time for the Rainbow Advent Calendar: new #FREE stories every day #amreading #ASMSG

Today we open door #1 of the Rainbow Advent Calendar, are you ready?

Rainbow Advent CalendarI didn’t hesitate a second when Alex Jane asked me if I was interested in joining them and some other authors in writing short Holiday and Christmas stories for a Rainbow Advent Calendar. No chocolates, no sweets to throw our physical bodies out of whack, but twenty-four (more actually, as you get two stories on some days) short Christmas and Holidays stories.

That’s a lot of stories: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 (plus three bonus stories on some days)

I chose to finish it all up, on Christmas Eve, the 24th. I’ve always loved Christmas, and less than an hour ago, we opened the first door on my son’s Advent Calendar, and he built a small toy steam engine, the first mini gift/toy in his Lego calendar. This is his fourth calendar, and yeah, it is of great help in getting him excited about Christmas, but more importantly (because the excitement part is easy…) to pace it, so he doesn’t burn out before the big night (or morning, as it is.)

Christmas has always been important to me, too, and Christmas scenes are included in many of my books:

  • Jonathan’s Hope: Do you remember Jonathan’s first “real” Christmas, and Dan’s struggle to make it special, given Jon’s past?
  • The Fallen Angels of Karnataka: Now here’s a Christmas scene that I won’t forget. Actually, there’s more than one, but I’m thinking about the one in Røros after Haakon returns from Paris… Cathartic and yeah, very important for the continuation of his life.
  • Jonathan’s Legacy: One of my favorite scenes is the big family Christmas in Orlando. I’m a sucker for big families, not sure why. I’m not normally comfortable around big groups… LOL
  • Last Winter’s Snow: There are several Christmases in the book, but my favorite one is definitely the first one Casper and Nilas celebrate up in Ammarnäs, with Nilas’s family. It’s as magical as the landscapes of Sápmi!
  • Disease: There are at least three Christmases described, from Hunter’s childhood experiences to his last celebration in Florida. It’s of course part of the sickness, to remember these special days, but it’s also a testament to Hunter sharing my passion for this day, that he seems able to hold on to these particular days better than others…
  • A Christmas Tale: A short story I once wrote back in 1990, in a different language (my only work available in three languages) when I was but a pup… But it captures why I think the holidays are so magical, as we get to follow a man who’s separated from his family for the first time for Christmas, being granted a special wish by the big guy himself…

If you want to get into the Christmas spirit some more, here’s what you can do:

  1. Join this group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1673039336093815/ and/or
  2. Head on over to this website, every morning at 7 am UK time (08:00 CET, 2 am Eastern): http://alexjane.info/rainbow-advent-calendar-2017/
  3. Tell your friends, share the joy of the Holidays. Thank you!

My Rainbow Advent Calendar story is ready, uploaded and waiting for you on Christmas Eve. It’s a short story about Paul, a man living in Chicago, alone, and on the night before Christmas, he’s visited by someone, in his dream… You don’t want to miss this, my homage to Charles Dickens, the writer of one of my favorite Yuletide stories…

If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a great weekend and a peaceful and quiet start to the Holiday season.

I’m off to reading my first story, by DJ Juris…

Hans

The reader question that completely short-fused my brain #amwriting #amreading #ASMSG

The reader question that completely short-fused my brain #amwriting #amreading #ASMSG

A seemingly innocent question during a recent radio-broadcast short-fused my brain, leaving me speechless

I love to talk to my readers. I enjoy the questions they throw at me. For the most time, I have no issues answering them, no matter how difficult they are. And until a couple of weeks ago, there was no question I couldn’t answer. Mind you, couldn’t, not wouldn’t, because I’ve always had ONE question I’ve steadfastly refused to respond to. Let me get that one out of the way first, before we move on to the question that threw me a total curve-ball, totally short-fused my brain.

This is a very important place in <a href="http://www.hirschi.se/blog/tbt-heres-what-happens-when-an-author-retraces-the-steps-of-his-main-characters/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Haakon's life</a> (The Fallen Angels of Karnataka). And you can feel the emotional impact visiting the place has on me.

This is a very important place in Haakon’s life (The Fallen Angels of Karnataka). And you can feel the emotional impact visiting the place has on me.

The question that a lot of people like to ask (I’ve been asked it at least a dozen times), is which actress and actors we’d like to see portray our characters in the movie. I’ve never answered it, and I never will. Here’s why: a movie is to squeeze the unlimited ways to read a book into one single visual rendering, the director’s. Which is why so many people feel that the book is better than the movie. While I find it wrong to compare books to movies for that very reason, they’re completely different media, it’s an unfortunate fact that it’s still being done. I think at least a couple of mine have the potential to become movies one day, should I ever become famous. Not that I expect that ever to happen, but still. Now I know how my characters look like. Duh! And obviously, there’s no actor who ‘can’ ålay them, since, duh, they’re not my characters. So I won’t answer that question. I also don’t want my readers and their imagination of the book to be limited by a particular vision of what the actor looks like. Just imagine how boring and sleepy a read would be if the character were played by Ben Affleck…

The question that really threw me for a loop, short-fused my brain, was a different one. “Which character would you want to accompany you to the basement to check out a weird noise?” Or something along those lines. Here’s the thing though. As innocent as this question may sound, and trust me, I’ve been thinking about this for the past two weeks, ever since the reader asked it, live on a radio broadcast. And I’ve had to think long and hard to come up with a proper response, beyond the babble on air, why I couldn’t answer it.

Just the other week, we took a walk around our island, to this bay where Nilas, Casper and their nephews had a long conversation about the rise of sea levels in Sweden. Call me weird, but at some point, I pointed at a place and said to my family: "Here's where they had their picknick..." Weird?

Just the other week, we took a walk around our island, to this bay where Nilas, Casper and their nephews had a long conversation about the rise of sea levels in Sweden. Call me weird, but at some point, I pointed at a place and said to my family: “Here’s where they had their picknick…” Weird?

Here’s the thing: I have a very vivid imagination, and I also know my characters better than anyone else. So it should be easy to pick the “bravest” one to help me go downstairs. So why did the question throw me for a loop? Was it because there’s nothing that would ever frighten me so much (at least not that I can imagine, with all of my imagination) that I wouldn’t dare go downstairs alone? Was it because I subconsciously don’t want anyone to think that my characters are braver than I? I mean, why couldn’t I just take my husband? Or was it something else? During the broadcast, I mumbled something about knowing my characters intimately, about knowing they wouldn’t, ever, be in this house, blah, blah, blah.

There’s, of course, a grain of truth to my statement. Knowing my characters, I also KNOW they wouldn’t ever be in my house. Willem lives five centuries into the future, so he and Hery are out of the question. Not to mention he’s a head of state, why would he bother with me? Jonathan is in college, a young man (right now) and living on a different continent. Haakon, Raphael and all the others don’t even live anywhere near me, and Hunter is dead. Leaves Nilas, at least he’s living in Scandinavia. I keep trying to write “he doesn’t know me”, but that’s silly, right? He does know me, in a way, because he’s been in my head, telling me his story, yet I also know that if we were to meet on the street, I’d know him, he wouldn’t know me. I know about him, he doesn’t know about me.

And I think this is where we get to the sad truth: I know my characters, they don’t know me. So why would they give a fuck about me needing help to go downstairs? It’s not like we have pow-wows where we talk about the state of the world. I know what you’re going to say: but they only live in your mind anyway, so what’s the big deal? Which is another sore point, at least for me, because while a small part of my left hemisphere realizes this, my right brain half violently protests and keeps insisting that they are real live human beings, living their lives. Which is why I can visit the places where they live. I know them, they don’t know me.

Am I crazy? Probably, but I kind of like the way I am, and I am perfectly fine with my relationship with my characters, and I guess I better get used to having my brain short-fused every now and then. It’s a prerequisite for me to be able to write. I wonder how other authors work/think/tick. Feel free to comment. If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a good weekend.

Hans

Readers selling review copies and what it means for the industry #amwriting #amreading #ASMSG

Readers selling review copies and what it means for the industry #amwriting #amreading #ASMSG

While it may not be criminal, selling an ARC is unethical and a serious threat to authors and publishers

Selling ARCs may not necessarily be criminal, but highly unethical and a form of piracy.

This blew up all over Facebook yesterday. A woman’s desperate screams to leave her alone. Apparently, she’d been caught red-handed with selling advance review copies of upcoming novels to others. Needless to say, most of the writing & reading community were quick to trash her, and I guess the poor lady lost a lot of friends last night. But she’s not alone. My friend and author colleague Brad Vance discovered (see below) that this seems to be wide-spread, and accepted by what I can only pray is a minority of readers.

There are, of course, things authors and publishers can do to make the distribution of ARCs safer and to reduce the risk of them being sold. And national legislation may look different, too. In most countries, selling a paperback or physical book isn’t illegal. If it’s given to you for free, as a present doesn’t make a difference. However, most publishers put specific wording into their books, excluding the sale of such books. Whether that language would hold up in court? I don’t know. This isn’t a new phenomenon either. Paperback versions of ARCs have been collector items for years, and six years ago, this Guardian article highlighted the same.

Just some people who sell and buy ARCs… #Scary

Today, few small publishers create paperback versions of ARCs. Most reviewers read the books electronically, partially due to the shortened time frame between a book entering the editing process and the publication. What used to be a year or longer can now be shortened to weeks.

I know from my own experience that the ARCs we send out are often high-quality products. Yes, they’ve not been proofed, but they’re always edited (knowing that some reviewers will call out on editing issues, rightly so) By the time we have ARCs, we’re less than a month from publication date. And an e-book sent via email can be distributed (and sold) onward to anyone. That is a risk we take. For my most recent novel, I asked for interested people to read the book against an honest review, a classic way to get many reviews early on. I had a good fifty people ask (and receive) review copies against a specific promise (in writing) to review by publication date. Roughly 40 did, which leaves about a dozen who didn’t…

So why ask for an ARC if you’re not going to read it? My take is that these people just saw a chance to get a free book. They will read it eventually. My newsletter distribution list is populated to 60% with people who got free books against signing up for it. People like free, and will go to great lengths to get free. Which is also why piracy is such a huge thing. I’ve been a member of Blasty, helping them through their beta process for over a year, and this is what my site looks like:

Here are the numbers of piracy sites on the web giving away my books.

Pretty sad, right? This doesn’t give you any information about the number of downloads. Mind you, I’m no famous author. I write in a niche genre about a minority people and I don’t see more than 400-500 books per year. However, imagine if I only sold 1 book from each of the 4,000 plus sites that give them away for free… That’s ten times the amount of books I sell, given away for free. If you are one of the readers who get your books from those sites, a word of caution: there is no such thing as a free lunch. Just as we pay with our personal information for using Facebook, you give those pirate sites something, every time you access them, either by accepting a virus/trojan infected file or by viewing commercials (best case) while there. But there is no site that will just give you a free book. Some might even provide you with ARCs, with all the mistakes still in those manuscripts…

Twenty years ago, we discussed piracy of music and films, and I guess it’s still an issue, despite the comfort and quality of sites like Spotify or Apple Music. I was once a music pirate, but I’ve long ago legalized my library. Why did I pirate? Because I couldn’t buy all the music I wanted, I couldn’t see movies here. Today, that’s no longer a problem. And money isn’t (cannot, mustn’t) the problem. Because piracy is theft. Stealing. If you can’t afford to buy a book, there are libraries. But stealing a book because you can’t afford it, isn’t morally acceptable ever because you take that money from someone else, not an evil monster corporation, but in most cases from other human beings, trying to make a living, paying their bills, feeding their families. We call ourselves authors. There are reasons why the big publishers (those big, bad companies we all love to loathe) only publish guaranteed best-sellers these days, because they, too, have employees to pay, invoices to pay, owners who want a return on their investment. And due to all of the piracy (obviously a much bigger problem for famous authors), they can’t afford to publish niche books any longer. The risk is too great. From a corporate point of view, I totally understand that. So more niche authors move to small niche and indie publishers, often mom & pop shops with little to no economic muscle power. My own publisher is something as unusual as a proud socialist house, not even trying to make money. But even they must pay suppliers, must pay their cover designers, their proofreaders, editors. As long as we have a money-based economy, people need money to stay alive. So keep that in mind next time you steal a book.

It’s interesting. If you can’t afford to buy a car, you don’t buy a car. If you’re at the store and you can’t afford that piece of meat, you don’t buy it. If you’re at the store looking at that new dress, but you can’t afford it, you walk away. But with the arts, there seems to be a difference. Can’t afford the latest from XYZ? Simply download it somewhere. Why wait for the library to stock it? It’s as if the months of work by the author, editors, proofreaders and cover designers aren’t valued, at all. In the long term, more authors will have to stop writing or will be forced to publish their work without editing, proofreading, with low-quality covers, making books, in general, less valuable, of less quality. All readers would suffer from that development. There’s enough of that already, we don’t need more of it.

Maybe it’s so easy to steal online? I don’t know. The same with ARCs. Yesterday, many authors said they’d stop sending out ARCs, making life a lot more difficult for review sites, not to mention making marketing even more difficult for indie authors. Yes, there are ways to distribute ARCs safely, but those solutions are expensive, and thus often prohibitive for most of us. Maybe this blows over after Suzanne and her friends have been hung out to dry for a while. Maybe this will get better. I doubt it. We live in a time of entitlement, where some people simply think they ‘deserve’ to read a book without paying for it.

In closing, here are a couple of simple tips on how you can help your favorite author:

  • buy their books, preferably on release day
  • review their work
  • tell your friends about your favorite books (best advertising there is!)
  • ask your library to stock them
  • if you can’t afford a book, here’s what you can do:
    • subscribe to the author’s newsletter. Most of us run regular giveaways!
    • send an e-mail, and ask for a book. I’d rather you ask me for a book than have you steal it. I doubt very much that I’m the only one who gives away books to readers on occasion. All I ask for in return is a review or a recommendation.
  • Don’t use piracy sites (for your own safety) and don’t buy electronic ARCs. Contact the author/publisher instead. The likelihood is great that you’ll get a copy of your own, for free, against an honest review. Too much to ask?

What is your take on this whole thing? Is piracy ever going away? Am I missing something here? Let’s hear it…

If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram. Have a good weekend.

Hans

 

Why writing LGBT stories doesn’t make you part of the LGBT community #amwriting #LGBT

Why writing LGBT stories doesn’t make you part of the LGBT community #amwriting #LGBT

Authors can’t expect the LGBT community to rally to their side based on faulty expectations

Let’s talk about author drama, shall we? It’s been a sad couple of weeks around me. A suicide, a (potential) suicide attempt and yet another author who decided “enough is enough”. The suicide and the author are not directly related, yet they are, in a way, as the author claimed they quit because of a lack of support and help from the others in the industry, plus a general rant about how disappointed they were by the lack of inclusiveness from what they’d thought was an “inclusive” group, the LGBT book genre. So allow me to rip off this band-aid once and for all and clarify two very important things, which people seem to get wrong:

Authors don’t owe other authors shit… We only owe readers.

Writing is a trade for most, a form of art for some. But to pay bills, we must make money. While I don’t think this necessarily makes us competitors (because I do not believe the writing cake to be finite), it is a business: we pay for cover art, editing, proofing, and we’re being paid for each sold book. Some (more and more) of us self-publish, others use intermediaries in the form of agents and publishers and share some of the profits with them.

As authors, our allegiance lies with our readers, they are our customers. And they should lie with our suppliers and co-workers within a publishing house. We are no different than any other “company”. Yes, we should be civil and respectful of each other, and we should help each other because that is how we build a better world. However, and I can’t stress this enough, 1) we can never expect others to reciprocate and 2) we most certainly shouldn’t help others with that expectation. Even my four-year-old son has already learned that lesson: you do good because it makes you feel good, not because you want good to be done back. After all, the golden rule says: treat others the way you want to be treated. It doesn’t say “treat others well to be treated well back”…

We do owe our success to our readers, whether we have one hundred or one million. They buy our books, they praise us, review us, and keep us going. They don’t owe us anything (except civility), but we owe them everything. It’s as simple as that, and if you aren’t absolutely clear about this, you need to read up on business 101.

Writing LGBT doesn’t make you LGBT

This is a bit trickier. And it has to do with the fact that the vast majority of LGBT literature is written by heterosexual women. And for the umpteenth time (before anyone gets angry and upset), there’s nothing wrong with that, per se. As a writer of […], you are a member of the […] writing guild/community. Writing a novel about black people doesn’t make a white person black, and writing romance about two men fucking their way to their HEA doesn’t make you a member of the LGBT community. Sorry if this comes as a surprise or shock, but it doesn’t. So to rant about a lack of support and how disappointed you are by the lack of inclusiveness is pointless. Allow me to exemplify: last summer, after publishing my book about a gay Sami man and his journey back to his roots, I expressed interest in attending a Sami Pride event in Finland. I was ready and willing to fly there on my own expense to participate and learn more about where the Sami LGBT community is at and where it’s heading. I wasn’t welcome. I’ll grant you, that stung quite a bit at first, but I understand. I’m not Sami, and they wanted a safe space to be among others who have the same experiences, the same background.

The LGBT community is not more inclusive than any other group

This is hopefully not coming as a shock to anyone, but it needs to be said out loud every now and then. Being gay, Lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer or intersex doesn’t make us better human beings. It makes us a bit different than most others, but neither better nor worse. Just different. When people think that we should be more inclusive just because we’ve evolved to include more letters over the decades, you’re naïve at best. I’d probably use different words to describe such an expectation. Because it shows a level of ignorance about not even knowing what got yourself into writing about us. The LGBT community has always been at each other’s throats, just as any other group that comes together to fight for a common goal: G’s fighting with L’s over partying v political activism, G’s and L’s fighting with B’s over having it both ways (literally) and not making up their minds, G’s and L’s accusing T’s of treason to their own kind, and giving in to the het majority. This is a coarse oversimplification to make a specific point, but all of these arguments were used at times before we realized it was a lot more complicated, and long before we huddled together after we had realized that only together were we truly strong. We’re human beings, flawed, learning, making mistakes.

We still fight, we still struggle, and we still don’t agree over whether e.g. asexuals and aromantics are part of the community. We struggle, we fight. A lot. And like any community, we need borders to exist, to define what we are, and what we’re not. It’s the very core definition of a community. And therefore for as much inclusivity as we show, and while I agree that the rainbow flag is a symbol of universal love, not everyone can be part of the community, and heterosexuals just aren’t. They’re the oppressors, they’re the ones who put all the legislation on the books making us illegal, putting death sentences over our heads, discriminating against us. Can they be supporters? Absolutely! Allies? Yes. But not part of. Hopefully, one day, we’ll no longer see discrimination, then we may no longer need the LGBT community. We’re not there. Far from it.

Writing gay romance doesn’t make you LGBT

So, in closing. If you write about two boys going at it in your books, that is great. If you do so with an open mind, do your research and don’t write (physically) impossible sex, you can keep your phantasies of HEA, of Santorum- & pain-free anal sex, of Mpreg, gay-for-you, monogamy and whatever else you think will tickle the bones of your readers. But no, unless you are LGBT, you’re not a member of the LGBT community. There are more and more LGBT members writing our stories: trans men, trans women, gay men and Lesbians, bisexuals and intersex individuals. For the most part, their stories will invariably be different, over time, focusing on the grim reality of our existence, and they may not always have a HEA.

So why does this creep up again and again?

Over the years, I’ve met quite a few authors and readers of “gay romance” who felt victimized, felt as if they didn’t belong to the “het majority” for many individual reasons. Some actually turned out to be LGBT and have since come out, some struggle with mental disease, some struggle with self-esteem & body issues, and they all have in common that our society, as a whole, isn’t very forgiving if you’re not a size two or smaller, with huge pointy breasts and a Stepford wife behavior. To read is an escape, to read fluffy romance is a great escape, to read about two hunks humping a great way to get your rocks off. I know of people who read gay non-con (aka rape) erotica to exert some sort of mental revenge on their own male assailants. They relish the pain, the anguish unleashed on those poor fictional boys, over and over again. I understand all that, and I think it’s great. Whatever helps. Certainly beats unleashing that revenge on real boys…

But you’re still straight, you’re not illegal. You don’t risk jail or a death penalty for loving who you love. You can get married (or not), your choice. You don’t risk losing your job, you don’t risk being turned away from a business or a hospital because of who you are. You can go to the bathroom without being jailed or ridiculed. You don’t need to be sterilized before having sex reassignment surgery. Because of all those risks, mental health issues are rampant within the LGBT community, suicide rates a lot higher than in society in general. Our gut reaction when we first realize we’re “not like everyone else” is depression, anxiety, fear. We want to change, we strive to change, would give almost anything to change, to be straight, to be like the rest. To belong. Been there, done that, carry the scars. For many of us, depression and suicidal thoughts are going to be constant companions throughout the rest of our lives.

Straight people suffer from mental disease, too. They suffer from horrible losses and have their lives thrown for loops, too. The reasons may be different, the reactions similar. Now picture this: LGBT people have that, too, on top of everything else. Our parents die, our siblings fall sick, friends have accidents etc. And we suffer even more, on top of everything else.

As authors, LGBT or not, as fellow human beings, we offer our sympathy, we help our friends, but there is only so much we can do for colleagues in the industry, readers, people we barely know. As authors with thousands of “friends” (which aren’t real friends, make no mistake) online, we can only do so much. We have our own families, real friends, our own lives to look after. You just cannot expect help. That’s society’s task. That’s where you need to get help.

I’m sorry if people in the LGBT writing space feel disappointed that the LGBT community doesn’t rally to help them in their time of need. But the change needs to happen elsewhere. You just can’t expect an oppressed minority to carry the weight of the world, you can’t. It’s not fair, not to you, not to us. Instead, build a support system around you that is based on real friends, people you can rely on, no matter who they are.

What is your take? Am I wrong? Let’s hear it. This is something I’ve struggled with myself for a long time, and I finally had this “epiphany” over the weekend, about why there are so many misconceptions within the LGBT writing (I refuse to use the two-letter acronym) industry. Am I onto something or is my brain out on “thin ice”? It would hardly be the first time… LOL

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Hans