Today we have Zoe Marriott, author of The Night Itself (which I really enjoyed with a review to come), Frostfire (which I really enjoyed last year, with a review to come if I find time to re-read it), Wild Swans and Shadows on the Moon (which I plan to read one day).
Anyway, Zoe has answered so fully that you're only getting a selection of her answers, because otherwise this post would be ridiculously long. She'll pop up in later posts too.
How important do you think LGBTQIA books are for teens?
Very, very, very. When I was a teen I never read a single book aimed at my age-group in which there was a gay character. Not one. There certainly weren't any acknowledged gay characters on TV or in films. And since I went to an extremely rough school in a very deprived, working class area where racism, homophobia and all kinds of nastiness were rife, I don't think I even realised gay people existed in real life except as the butt of vile jokes and insults until I started working in the public sector, years later. Books were my only real window on the wider world, and sadly that window let me down when it came to gay characters.
It took several more years for me to glom onto the fact that this was a war - like the battle against misogyny and racism - that was being fought around me every day. My privilege had insulated me from all awareness, and as a result it didn't occur to me to include a non-heterosexual character in my own work until my third book (there was a big gap between my second book, which I wrote when I was twenty-two, and the third, which I finished when I was twenty-eight, and I did a lot of growing up and learning in that time). If there had been books which introduced gay characters as a simple part of the story, having adventures alongside straight kids, I'm sure I would have started trying to to be a QUILTBAG ally years earlier.
Do you think any part of the LGBTQIA gets overlooked/subject to erasure?
My personal feeling is that transgender and genderfluid/genderqueer kids are getting a bum deal right now. For some reason gender binaries seem to have become a bit of a frontier in the portrayal of non-hetero characters. People who seem perfectly fine with a mainstream portrayal of gay and lesbian characters will get squirmy over the idea that gender in our culture is a largely artificial construct (there is no pink gene on the X-chromosome, dammit!). But I also think that bi/pansexual kids and asexual kids aren't seeing the representation they need, either. Like I said above, we still have a long way to go.
What's your favourite genre for LGBTQIA fiction?
The same as it is for everything else - fantasy!
How do you avoid sterotypes when writing?
Stereotypes are basically a result of a lack of knowledge. They're a product of only having One Story about what gay or transgender or genderfluid means; the fact that really no one in our culture gets a fair and nuanced representation in media apart from straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied males. So the first step in avoiding stereotypes and one dimensional or offensive portrayals is to learn. Read books, watch films, seek out TV programmes that portray all kinds of different QUILTBAG people doing all kinds of different things, like falling in love, conquering strange planets, solving crimes, making funny YouTube videos. Seek out and join groups that seek to promote allyship among different groups. Talk to people in real life and online. *See* people. See people as people first and whatever other labels are attached to them later, not even second, but way down the list af
ter their taste in books and whether they're, you know, annoying or maybe a Linkin' Park fan...
Do you feel you accurately represent LGBTQIA people in your writing?
I feel that I do. I hope that I do. I'm not sure how 'accurate' is really defined though. It's not like... I don't know, say, 'accuracy' in your depiction of playing the violin. If you show someone doing it with a hammer rather than a bow, you've got it wrong. I don't think there's a right or a wrong answer if you're presenting readers with what are hopefully complex, fully-realised characters. I'm mostly concerned with making readers love the characters I want them to love, hate the characters that I want them to hate, and with making all my characters seem like evolving people. I do try to be aware of stereotypical or negative portrayals of marginalised groups in the media so that I can avoid adding to them,
Zoe can be found at her website, her awesome blog, and on twitter.
Giveaway time! I have one copy of The Night Itself to give away. UK only, rafflecopter entry, be age 13 or above, giveaway ends 29 September.
a Rafflecopter giveaway