Sunday 25 August 2013

Author interview and GIVEAWAY- Suzanne van Rooyen

Today, we have Suzanne van Rooyen answering our questions! Suzanne actually answered a lot more, but it didn’t all fit in one post, so you’ll see her other answers in the main discussion posts.

How important do you think LGBTQIA books are for teens?
They're as important as any other type of teen literature. YA literature needs to reflect the diversity of real in race, religion, culture and sexuality, approaching the various issues facing young people today with sensitivity and authenticity. Teens should be able to pick up a book in any genre and relate to the character, to recognise themselves in the character.
Do you feel LGBTQIA teens have a good selection of books today? I think they have a great selection of sexual awakening and coming out stories. There is, however, a lack of stories for teens that show LGBTQIA teens leading normal, happy, rainbow lives where their sexuality is incidental to who they are. We need more LGBTQIA books where the entire story doesn't revolve around the main character's sexual preference.

Do you think any part of the LGBTQIA gets overlooked/subject to erasure?  Hm... Having not read all of the LGBTQIA books available, this is impossible to answer. I'm sure there are aspects that are not as well examined as others. Perhaps it's more about a lack of balance, where most stories tend to focus on the discovery of sexuality and the coming out process, especially in teen fiction.

LGBTQI fiction is often shelved separately in bookshops/libraries. How do you feel about this?I think it's silly and I'm hoping that as LGBTQIA characters become more prevalent across genres, that these books will simply be shelved according to their genre (romance, SF/F, thriller etc.), instead of their main character's sexual identity.

Do you think there should be more LGBTQIA characters in YA fic, and is there a particular way you'd like them to be presented?"Absolutely! I'd like to see them represented authentically - if the guy's a jerk, he's a jerk even if he's gay. Being LGBTQIA should feel as natural as hair colour and should not be forced into the story for the sake of it. Authors also need to step out of their hetero-normative moulds - two guys in a relationship are two guys, there is no husband role or wife role that one or the other fulfills.  I'd like to see more bisexual male heroes and more trans characters take leading, butt-kicking roles in genre fiction. I'd love to read a teen Supernatural type story where the Winchester roles are filled by an LGBTQIA sibling pair or romantic couple."
Have you ever had issues with the way LGBTQIA characters (in general or in a particular book) have been presented? Not really because I'm quite picky when it comes to what I read. I have been mildly annoyed by certain gay characters being presented as super emotional to the point of melodrama as this is borderline stereotyping. I'm also saddened by books where the futuristic world is shown as open and accepting, even encouraging, of same-sex couples and yet, the main character remains hetero and only ever engages in a hetero relationship despite almost every other character around her being bi or homosexual.

How do you avoid sterotypes when writing?
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.

Have you ever gotten homophobic, transphobic or otherwise negative reactions regarding your inclusion of LGBTQIA characters? How did you deal with it?
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.
Suzanne has written Dragon’s Teeth, Obscura Burning, short stories for various magazines and other things.  You can find her at her website, facebook, twitter and tumblr.

Also, because Suzanne is awesome, she has very kindly offered a giveaway of Obscura Burning.
Open internationally, ends 29 September 2013, you must be 13 or over to enter, prize is either epub, mobi or pdf, use the rafflecopter to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks for taking time to read this!
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Nina xxx

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