Well the easy answer is because that is her nature. Life as a writer would be infinitely more easy if our characters were less complex. If Midge were heterosexual that would throw open a much larger readership for me for a start. Schools and Christian readers would not be taken aback by her love for another women for example. Yet she would blend unseen into the infinitely large pile of boy meets girl romances. If she were to be a lesbian on the other hand that would make her life much less complicated for her and for my novel too. There would be a ready made niche audience of lesfic fans who I suspect would be somehow much more comfortable with her sexuality. There would be fewer triggers in the story although, for me, it would be less true to life and less interesting. Midge is neither gay nor straight and that shapes her life in unexpected ways. Although she is obviously drawn to women emotionally she enjoys the company of men as likeable human beings and has a strong sex drive which is modified by the era in which she was born. There will be those readers who say she always was a lesbian and just had to discover her true self; there will be some who castigate her for marrying a man just as there will be those who condemn her for being unfaithful to Richard. So why did I write her this way? Was I trying to be trendy?

In answer to the first, my writing tends to be character driven. I believe that our characters exist in some hidden dimension of space or time waiting to speak to those who will be most attentive to their needs. Maybe some will see that as paranormal; I think it more likely that it is a product of our own psyche, our conscious beliefs and our unconscious dreams. When a character like Midge is “born” she takes over the writing of the story and leads it down paths a little different possibly from those we had planned. I could no more force Midge to be gay or straight than I could force myself to eat melted blue cheese on cornflakes! She has a voice of her own and her scenes were almost dictated to me, as distinct from scenes I wrote for other characters after in depth historical research.

Was I trying to be trendy? Absolutely not. The concept of “bisexual being trendy” is really limited in my experience to the young and famous. For most honestly bisexual individuals it is not an easy label to take on or live with. The ideas many people have about bisexuals derive from sources that have a strong agenda. I won’t go into that now, but I will reference a superb book that addresses many of the misconceptions about bisexuals. This comes from my review of Purple Prose on Goodreads:

“Bisexual is not a “one size fits all” label. Being bisexual is not about being confused, trendy, greedy or dishonest. Bi-phobia and bi-erasure are institutionalised everywhere. Bisexuals are often, but not always, monogamous. They might identify as straight or gay/lesbian their entire lives but they know they have romantic feelings towards both genders and indeed sometimes to people whose gender falls outside the binary norm. A bisexual friend once said to me “I love a person, not a gender.” For those individuals who fall into the “monosexual” category gender assumes an overwhelming significance in partner choice. For bisexuals it does not – a person is loved for more than their intimate parts, their masculinity or femininity. This should be liberating. Often it is not.”

So I was not trying to be trendy and by being honest rather than reductionist in my writing I was probably always going to limit my book’s audience but if one person reads The Wings to Fly and says “I know that girl, she is like me” or “she is like my friend” then it will have been worthwhile. Sometimes life does not fit into convenient pigeonholes and neither do heroines in fiction.

Searching for AmberSearching for Amber by David Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Searching for Amber by David Smith is a work of literary fiction. I have to declare an interest in that I read and reviewed this as a Goodreads Giveaway. I don’t enter these regularly, it is an occasional thing when I have little to do and as I was nursing a broken ankle I had time on my hands. I like to be adventurous with my reading and while most of the blurbs on Giveaways tell half the plot, this one drew my attention because it had only one sentence.
“Under the fluid metal of a steel-blue sky,
the body of a young woman strokes silently through the dawn waves… “
The book could have been about anything but it sounded intriguing enough to warrant filling in a few details and several days letter I received an email to say I had won, followed the same week by a copy of the paperback. I was in the mood for a spot of late night reading, my Kindle batteries had gone flat too, so I started on my prize – and prize it was!
To start things rolling, this book will not please those readers who want fast and furious action, it is thoughtful, has a long exposition and descriptive passages, many of which are exquisitely written. The first chapters are apparently exposition and are full of the minutiae a visual artist would capture. The use of the present tense puts us very much in “the Now” as well as in the mind of Jade. It is those early chapters that introduce the basic premise and main characters of the story.
I don’t want to write a review that either tells the story or deals in spoilers, but the novel deals with the intimate and largely unknown links between these characters. There is much of loss and tragedy in these pages, love, betrayal and suicide are also themes. The shift between time periods is emphasized by shifts in tense between past and present. The author is fond of the present tense and handles it well. I was impressed by the way he draws action out in an almost dreamlike state. I also like the use of poetry.
It was only when I reached the end that I realized the perfect symmetry of the plot and how well that sentence “Under the fluid metal of a steel-blue sky, the body of a young woman strokes silently through the dawn waves… “ becomes a sort of leitmotiv for the work. The sea moves almost like a character itself throughout the story.
Another theme that runs through the story nicely is the theme of searching for Amber. The cover has an amber blonde Jade in the foreground with two children beachcombing in the background. They are searching for amber, which features in an item of jewellery and also is the name of a very important character. I leave you to find the link! This is a book for readers who love thoughtful books that go that little more deeply into descriptions, motives and the interaction of character and landscape. I would recommend it to lovers of literary fiction and I am very grateful to have received a review copy of such a thoughtful work.

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