This is a post that has been decades in the making. In my lifetime equality issues have made huge strides to the extent that gay and lesbian friends are very much out and part of everyday life. I am less sure about how those friends who are transsexual feel and to be honest the extent of biphobia and bi-erasure from those who should know better never ceases to amaze me. I decided quite early in my writing career to follow the principle that “love just is” and I have never excluded relationships that I felt were germane to the characters in a story. For this reason, I believe I am struggling to find any sort of audience. There are those who would say to me something along these lines:

1. “I can’t buy / read / share your WW2 novel because it has women like that in it.”

2. “Why does everything have to contain lesbians or gays these days?”

3. “There never used to be so many of them. The world is becoming so wicked.”

On the other hand, I also get:

1. “Why did Midge have to marry a man before she discovered herself?”

2. “I wish there were no straight sex scenes in your novel, you know. Without those is would be really good.”

3. “Why did your story have so many men in it? Was that really necessary?”

To me, neither of these attitudes addresses the real problem of bi-erasure, straight-erasure or the LGBT-erasure we (wrongly) assume is over and done with. People who buy books want to look through rose tinted spectacles at a world where any of the following apply:

1. LGBTQIA people do not exist; or only exist on the periphery as sad or comic characters.

2. Men in lesfic – or women in M/M romance – do not play any role in the story, other than a minor part if absolutely necessary.

3. Characters are exclusively gay, lesbian or straight, nobody is ever confused and bisexuality is a wicked perversion that endangers everyone who is actually honest with themselves.

Sadly, my books do not conform to these straitjacketing norms and for that reason I now know that they will probably not be enjoyed by many readers, LGBTQIA or straight, within my lifetime. I have worked so hard over the last five years or so and yet I am still very much on the fringe and at this point in time I am seriously thinking of giving up creative writing altogether and going back to the less frustrating business of composing music.

You know, in my stories, I try my best to make the love scenes open, honest and tasteful; please note I said love. I am not in the business of writing erotica; too many people already do it far better than I ever could. I would just like to find a few more tolerant and open-minded readers who don’t fall into either of the above two categories though. I would like to find some readers who can accept that LGBT characters existed and had (albeit closeted) normal lives before 1970 and others who can accept that their own liberation includes recognising that we are not stereotypes. Real people are not all the same – black or white, hetero-exclusive or homo-exclusive, recognisable genre tropes in day to day existence – nor should we be. My relationships are not second class relationships, either in real life or between the pages of my novels.

Rant over.

Love just is.

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india-adams

India R. Adams is author of Serenity (Forever Book 1) and this week I was privileged to meet up with her online and to ask a few questions about her work and ambitions.

Please tell us a little about your background, hobbies and homelife.

I used to be a professional dancer who never had any intentions on writing. Then I became a drama instructor with children, which was a lot of fun. Kids rock. They really do. My first marriage was not the “dream come true” so I had to relearn some things. And as I aged, my childhood past kept creeping up on me. Trying to move past it and grow, brought me to writing, healing my past and loving the future. Now I am remarried with three kids, a loving true dream husband, and I am reaching others—victims—through stories of understanding and compassion because I understand, I’ve been there.

How long have you been writing?

Over nine years but February 2017 is my one-year anniversary of being a “published” author. I started with writing Serenity, the first novel in the Forever series. Oddly enough, it was my last release last year. I released 6 books in 6 months. Fun, but CRAZY!

How many books have you published so far?

I will be having my seventh release, Destiny, the second novel in the Forever series, in April 2017, so six.

Are you a multi-genre author or do you specialise?

Multi and then some! Hahaha… YA and NA. Contemporary/Paranormal/Fantasy/Metaphysical and the list goes on… I even have a MC book in the works.

What do you think is best, and why, to be a published author or an independent?

I’ve only been under my own publishing company but, from what I hear, being traditionally published you lose some of the freedom I have now. I love my job, and it would take a decent offer for me to change over to another publisher.

What projects do you have in the pipeline for the future?

Whooee! I have four releases planned this year. Destiny, Scar Me, River, and Red Waters. I might squeeze one more in (they are all mostly written) but may just wipe my brow and say, “Enough, girl. Stop the madness!”

Next year I plan on releasing the rest of the Forever series, which be four more novels, Mercy, Liberty, Hope, Trinity. I know, I’m a bit insane to be in editing with so many at once. Then I will get back to finishing my other series, A Stranger in the Woods, Haunted Roads, My Wolf and Me, Tainted Waters, then I will finish other books in the works. There is approximately twenty so far. For eight years I wrote 12 hours a day. My imagination insisted on it! My poor kids starved, haha.


Serenity (Forever Book 1)

An Interview with Serenity

I asked India for an interview with Serenity Dowell so that we can get to know this interesting character more closely.

• Tell me a little about your family and what it is like at home.

Oh gosh, my home life? Well, I usually don’t talk about it. I don’t want my friends to worry because they’re young too. If the adults in my life can’t protect me, how can other high schoolers? Ya know? But, this is a special occasion so I will try to give you a little insight. My mom is what you call a binge drinker, a type of alcoholic where, when she drinks, she doesn’t stop—drinks right through the night and day. She has a good heart, she really does, it just has been lost somewhere along the way. My Dad? He’s more complicated. He used to be great. That is why, what he has become now, is so incredibly painful for me.

• Is there someone special in your life and if so what attracted you to them?

Yes, Ma’am. Dereck Hamilton. And what attracted me to him was our past lives. There have been many, and with each one he has been what I can only describe as a dream. And this life? He’s fighting for mine, with all his heart.

• What do you do for a living and what is your ultimate ambition?

My only job at the present is high school, and it works me plenty, hahaha…

• What are you most proud of?

I would have to say surviving. No matter what, I somehow keep pushing forward and not giving up.

• What, if anything, would you change about your life?

If you asked me this a year ago, I would have said my home life. But, now I’m starting to see that it has made me stronger. Was it worth it? I think so. And it’s my life, and life goes on, right?

• What do you like to do to relax?

There is a spring behind my house, in the woods, and it calms my soul. Let’s me escape till the sun goes down…

• What do you dread most in the world?

This question is easy. I’ve had to witness Dereck die before… It was… awful. Something I fear, daily.

• Do you have any pets?

Nope. I’m still working on taking care of myself, hahaha.

• If you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you take as a luxury?

As someone who has lived without such things, I have no idea how to answer that. Monetary objects seem to hold no value for me. If it’s an okay answer, I would like to pick my journal. May not be worth much to others but to me, it is my link to the woman I get to visit in my dreams. Her heart is all the gold I need.

LINKS TO INDIA AND HER WORK

Serenity (Forever Book 1)
India’s Blog
India R. Adams on Author Central – See all her books here
India R.Adams on Goodreads
Follow India on Twitter
Keep up with India on Facebook

The other day one of my readers said:
“I enjoyed The Wings to Fly but there’s a lot about flying in it, isn’t there?”
“Yes, there is.” I said.
“It’s different. It’s not often you read a historical romance with much history in these days. They tend to about the chase and the catch and the good sex at the end.”
“Well, that’s your standard romance isn’t it? Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, things happen, boy gets girl back, happy ever after?”
“Yours isn’t like that though.”
“Why? What do you mean? Apart from the girls of course…”
She went on to explain that she felt this was more about a group of people, real people and their lives. Romance was a strong element but not the main one and there were boy/girl romances everywhere, plus a couple of girl/girl ones and not too much action between the sheets. I asked her if she was OK with that.
“Isn’t that what life’s like? It’s not just about two people between the sheets, it’s about all of us, our friends and what happens around us,” she replied.

I had to admit that was true; that we don’t all fit into convenient pigeon holes anymore than The Wings to Fly fits into a convenient genre. Life is full of awakenings, discoveries, disappointments, tragedies and, in time, true happiness when we eventually find love.

“But what about the flying? Why was that so important to you?”
“I suppose it was the flying that brought the whole thing about. The book I mean. Without feeling the inspiration of those early aviation pioneers, the tragedy of war and the heroism of combat and ferry pilots I confess I’d just have finished my second vampire novel instead.”
“I’m glad you didn’t, I’m not too keen on horror, but that enthusiasm certainly comes through in The Wings to Fly . I really wanted to be up in the air with Midge in the Tiger Moth – and touch the clouds with John Magee in his Spitfire – I loved Amy Johnson and Amelia Earhart. I could almost feel the wind in my hair in that biplane.”
“Really? That is just what I wanted. I can think of nothing more wonderful than flying a plane like that. Not a big commercial plane though. To me that’s like being on a bus in the air and it’s a little scary being out of control. But to feel the response of a Spitfire or the lightness of a Tiger Moth in the wind? Now that’s the romance of flight, that overwhelming sensation of freedom most of us only get when we do truly fall in love.”

The Wings to Fly is available on Kindle and in paperback and you can read it free with Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime. I hope you will and that you will enjoy it.

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 woman 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.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this delightful book in a Goodreads Giveaway. To be honest, it is outside my genre as a reader (and certainly outside as a writer) but I have catholic taste and had entered thinking the blurb was intriguing.

So, These Days of Ours arrived without fanfare on my doormat one sunny day this Spring and I put it on my to be read pile. When I got round to reading it, it was a hot summers day and I was looking for something gentle I could enjoy between bouts of watching Wimbledon. (Whew! Is that exciting or what?) I thoroughly enjoyed this cosy romance, became increasingly angry at the jealous, vindictive and shallow Becca, found myself wondering how on Earth Kate could always be so kind, forgiving and wimpish and yet could not put the book down. (Except to enjoy Roger Federer of course).

The book is a delightful series of vignettes written around social occasions that outline the past history of Kate, Becca, Charlie, Julian and a varied supporting cast. It is actually beautifully written and the characters are very lifelike. Towards the end Juliet Ashton drops some real bombshells and without giving too much away (don’t you hate reviews that rewrite the story?) These Days of Ours has a very happy ending.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys old fashioned romances without too much sex or for anyone who is a sucker for long slow build ups and happy endings.

I just posted a short review of Suite Française on Goodreads. It is short because I wanted to digest the reading experience before committing anything final to the ether. First, here is an apologia. I studied French to A-level standard and can understand quite a bit of what I read but I never spoke French well and my days of writing criticism of French literature in French are well past. Having read Suite Française in English, I would feel daunted approaching it in its home language because it is a complex and intricate work full of description and characterization. Camus, which I read at school, is stark and simple in comparison.

Despite my linguistic failings, I would not dream of reading French poetry in English translation and I feel the French language has a gentler, altogether fluffier feel to it that can be lost in translation. When you read an author in translation, you are in danger of missing the music of their words. If the translator is worth their salt then the ideas will not be lost even if their execution is modified. This translation works well.

Suite Française was originally intended to be a five part novel of approximately 1000 pages. It was influenced by Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Nemirovsky also found inspiration in Chekhov and Flaubert. What we have therefore is very much an unfinished project. She was constantly planning changes and had sketched out the direction for the other other three books but this is as far as it got. What intervened was deportation and a month after this she was gassed at Auschwitz.

Bearing in mind that this is a draft of under one half of a novel, how do we fare as readers and does she achieve her goals? Reading the appendices was useful here. I particularly enjoyed this resource and the opportunity it gives to get inside the creative process of a talented writer. It set out her plans for the further development of story and characters; it set out the main purpose too and was really informative. I felt that the style was an impersonal one; Flaubert’s ideas were important to her, and she sets out ideas through the lives and actions of ordinary people. This is done with fine attention to detail, the preoccupations of a populace fleeing from a conquering army in all its sometimes banal detail. If anyone is killed there is a cold detachment that seems to say; “There you are, that’s all there is to it.” This flies in the face of the prior self importance of these characters, who are very much prisoners of the ego – as we all are from time to time. There is talk of the “hive community” of the Germans, but this comes through the French characters too perhaps.

Be prepared for some unorthodox punctuation. “Points de suspension” tend to be frowned upon by modern readers, as I know only too well. (I am fond of them in poetry and it has invited harsh criticism from some critics.) They are used extensively in the scene where Bruno plays the piano and emotions and ideas flow with a breathless and excited quality. It is a shame this way of using them is dying out…

Suite Française is not an easy read or a page turner, but it is a beautifully executed work of fiction based on real life and experience and as such I can highly recommend it. For those who prefer something more approachable, the film is also very enjoyable and much warmer than the fiction.

Sarya's Song is the latest work by author Kyra Halland. It is a beautiful dark romantic fantasy set in a world where music is magic (not just magic as in good, but magic as in spells). It offers a strong plot with danger, potent magic and plenty of romantic interest to the reader. For more details, you might like to visit Sarya's Song on Goodreads I wanted to interview Kyra about her writing and she had this to say to me.

1. When did you first discover you had a talent for writing?

I don't know about talent, but I've always loved to read and to tell stories to myself. I was a music person all though school and never even thought about writing, but after I finished grad school and became a stay-at-home mom with my first child, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel to see if I could actually do it, and I did! I found a huge feeling of accomplishment from doing that, and also discovered that I love inventing stories and characters and worlds. It's the most fun thing ever. And then when someone would read one of my stories and tell me they liked it, that just made it even more fun.

2. Of all your novels, which is your favorite and why?

That's like asking me which of my kids is my favorite! Each of my novels has its own unique personality and history, and they're all special to me. But I have to say I'm very excited about my upcoming fantasy-western series, Daughter of the Wildings. Writing a fantasy set in an other-world western-influenced setting is an idea that intrigued me for a long time, then I finally found the characters and the story to go with it, and they turned out to be a lot of fun. I just love the characters, the setting, the story, and the whole idea of it.

3. Which writers do you enjoy most reading?

Carol Berg is my favorite author right now. I love her style and her characters. Brandon Sanderson and Steven Erikson are other favorites, and I've been discovering a lot of great indie authors, too, like Lindsay Buroker, M. Edward McNally, and Jonathan Moeller. When I'm not in fantasy mode, I enjoy reading P.G. Wodehouse and Jane Austen, and I also like romance (especially Laura Kinsale) and the occasional mystery or crime thriller.

4. Who are the main influences on your writing?

I was influenced to start writing fantasy in large part by reading the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin and the Riddlemaster Trilogy by Patricia McKillip. I think Patricia McKillip's writing style influenced mine early on, but I've since developed more into my own style. Carol Berg's and Brandon Sanderson's originality encourage me to experiment and not be afraid of writing things that aren't like anything anyone else writes.

5. Do you believe that books should entertain or educate – or is a bit of both?

It depends on the book. If I want to be entertained, I want to be entertained. Exploring new cultures, places, customs, and history (whether real or invented) is always fun, and I know an author's outlook and beliefs are going to inform her writing, and all that's fine. What I don't want is to read page after page of research or worldbuilding, or to have the author hammer me over the head with her Message. When I want to be educated about something, I'll go find a book on that subject.

6. If you could choose 10 books to take away to a desert island, what would they be?

1. My combo edition of the Bible and the Book of Mormon (seen the play? the book is better!) My faith is the foundation of everything I am and everything I do.

2. Riddlemaster Trilogy anniversary omnibus, by Patricia McKillip. All three books in one volume, so it only counts as 1 :D One of my all-time favorite series, and one of the few books I re-read. I first read this series in high school in the late 70s, and each time I read it, it gets better.

3 & 4. Flesh and Spirit/Breath and Bone, by Carol Berg. My other all-time favorite fantasy series, and also among the few books I re-read. Carol Berg's writing is as rich and smooth as really good dark chocolate - she could write the phone book and I'd read it. And Valen, the main character, runaway sorcerer, deserter, thief, womanizer, con man, and drug addict, is one of my all-tme favorite characters. In spite of the hard life he's led, he has such a happy, gracious, gentle spirit. I wish he was real; I'd love to hang out with him.

5. A big collection of P.G. Wodehouse. Brilliant and funny.

6-10. Books 5-9 of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. I've already read books 1-4, and this won't get me to the end of the series but it should keep me busy until someone comes by to rescue me. Unless I can sneak #3 and 4 into one volume, and in that case I can have Book 10 with me too, to finish the series. :D

7. Do your characters speak to you when you write?

All the time. Mostly arguing, bargaining, and complaining. Sometimes they tell me things I totally did not know about their backgrounds, likes and dislikes, and so on.

8. Why do you think people enjoy reading your novels?

I think they enjoy my characters - one of my favorite reviews ever is one where the reviewer said she fell in love with the male main character. I also write a blend of fantasy and romance that is kind of hard to find, and I'm not afraid to dive deeply into emotions. I've also been told that I hit a good balance between too explicit and not explicit enough in how I write sex and violence.

9. What projects are you currently busy with?

Right now I'm releasing Sarya's Song, a dark romantic fantasy set in a world where music is magic. Up next is my 6-book fantasy-western series, Daughter of the Wildings. I wrote all six books before starting to revise, and now it's in the early stages of revision. I should be able to release the first book sometime this summer. I hope; I'm a couple of months behind schedule right now.

10. In short, can you tell us a little about your background and your aims as a writer.

My background is actually in music. I never thought of myself as a writer until after I finished grad school (Master's in Music History and Literature) and was home with my first baby and decided to try something new. I've always loved to read, though, so I was educating myself as a reader even before I ever thought of becoming a writer.

My aims as a writer are basically to share my stories and characters with other people. It'd be nice to be able to make a decent amount of money, to contribute to the family finances and have a little more to give to my favorite causes (especially no-kill animal rescue). But that's secondary to sharing my stories and characters and knowing that other people love them as much as I do. If I can give someone a few hours of enjoyment, maybe help them forget about their problems for a bit and provide some encouragement and uplift, that makes it all worthwhile.