Hello! For today's Q&A for Rainbow Reads, it's the invasion of the writers!. Ok, you’ll have seen some of these answers already from them being posted in their own interview, but I put everyone’s answers in the collection of answers and I don’t have the patience to go through them. Anyway, I think it’s good you’ve got everyone’s answers in one place.
Today we have Suzanne van Rooyen, Daniel Kaine, Zoe Marriott, Charlie Morris, Illjolras, Sean Cummings, Ashley Chunell, Laura Lam and Ria Bridges. Enjoy!
How do you avoid sterotypes when writing?
Suzanne: I try to be as authentic as possible in my characterization. I'm quite an odd person and have had the privilege and delight of interacting and befriending many colourful characters throughout my life that do not conform to stereotypes. Drawing from these experiences and being conscious of how stereotypes are used in fiction, has helped me to avoid them. I like to buck expectations so every time I've got characters that need to behave a certain way, I try to put less likely individuals into those roles.
Daniel: Being gay, bi, straight, or anything in between, shouldn’t define the character, it should just be another part to them. Every character should be their own individual, regardless of their sexuality and whether or not they fit any of the stereotypes. For that reason, sexuality is the last thing I decide when creating my characters.
Zoë: 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 after their taste in books and whether they're, you know, annoying or maybe a Linkin' Park fan...
Illjolras: I just write them as people, not a serious of boxes that need ticking to make up a queer character.
Charlie: Research, ask people, think.
Sean: I think avoiding stereotypes is something authors try to do but it's very hard unless you've walked a mile in someone's shoes.
Ashley: While writing my two main characters in "A Melody in Harmony," I completely stayed away from stereotyping and it was easy. I didn't think of the characters as "two gay men," I thought of them as two young men in a relationship and just like any other couple.
Ria: It's hard. I kind of believe that some stereotypes exist for a reason. Not in that every gay male is flaming, for example, but let's be honest -- some are. So if I write a character who's like that, it comes across as me believing that every gay male acts that way, when that's a skewed perception. So it's very difficult. It's almost gotten to the point where the opposite of many stereotypes have become stereotypes in themselves (e.g., the gay jock as a contrast to the effeminate man). The only thing I can do is write the characters as they come to me, try to be fair and balanced in my presentation, and hope for the best.
Do you feel you accurately represent LGBTQIA people in your writing?
Ria: I feel that I'm doing it as accurately as I can, based on my own personal experience. But then again, I'm sure people who are badly representing LBTQIA characters feel the exact same way - writers don't set out to write badly."
Ashley: I hope I do. It's all about love. Writing the love my two main characters share, I think I did it justice.
Sean: Not yet I don't as I haven't written one. Actually scratch that, I am .. but it's not supernatural
Illjolras: I feel like yes, but that's because I am queer.
Suzanne: I accurately represent the characters I'm creating and try to be as authentic as possible in those representations. I don't try to represent any subgroup, be that race, religion or sexual identity. Some of my characters might accurately represent LGBTQIA people, others might not simply because they're oddities themselves and that's okay because diversity in real life is something to celebrate.
Zoë: 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,
Have you ever gotten homophobic, transphobic or otherwise negative reactions regarding your inclusion of LGBTQIA characters? How did you deal with it?
James: I honestly haven't had any negative feedback about Kitty and Delilah. Ryan, in Cruel Summer, is the main character so it'll be interesting to see what reaction he gets. Personally I've had homophobic messages on my Facebook fan page - I suppose given how open I am about my sexuality it was only a matter of time. Rest assured, I won't be deterred.
Laura: So far, there's been no homophobic outcry in response to Pantomime, and I think that's surprised some people. Though I might have gone and jinxed myself now by saying that. In fact, the only controversy has been some people wishing the blurb was more open about the intersex nature of the protagonist. I think that's great.
Suzanne: No, thankfully. What I have noticed, which serious irked me, is that some reviewers put 'warnings' on their reviews for LGBT content. They didn't warn people that my book contained bad language, violence, underage drinking, or depictions of self-harm and suicide. No, the big bad thing about my book was the LGBT content which included an alluded to blowjob and some kissing. This offended me. I wanted to edit every single review I'd ever written and put 'WARNING: Main character is straight. Avoid if that's not your thing* - See how ridiculous that looks? So why 'warn' people of LGBT content? I really thought we'd be past this by now.
Illjolras: Someone said I was trying too hard to be diverse when a story I wrote had very few straight characters. I said 'so?'
Ashley: "A Melody in Harmony" is brand new, so I haven't yet, but a lot of the bigotry and homophobic remarks that appear in my novel are actually things that I have witnessed in real life. I decided to take the hate and ignorance and bigotry that I've seen and put it into my story, which I think makes it all the more realistic.
Ria: Most of what I write hasn't seen public eye. But what little has has generally been well-received. I'm lucky in that regard. I have, however, received negative reactions based on my own identity when it comes to sexuality and gender expression. I don't delude myself into thinking that people will avoid negative comments on what I write when they won't avoid it on what I am.
Zoë: Apart from a couple of reviews on blogs or Goodreads (which did make me fuming mad, but obviously weren't directed at *me*), no. I thought that I would, and braced myself for it, but it hasn't happened yet. I think that, in a way, being a midlist author with a quite small but devoted group of readers is an advantage in that way.
Yet another set of fantastic answers from a wide range of authors. As always, please comment with your thoughts and remember our multiple giveaways.