by Alex Stargazer
Hello readers at the Blogger Girls! Today I’m going to talk to you about Fallen Love, my brand new LGBT urban fantasy book. More specifically, I want to discuss the question “What are LGBT books really about?” and “Why do we need LGBT representation in young adult urban fantasy books?”
Before I dive into things, check out the blurb so you can familiarise yourself with what the story is about.
From a successful crowdfunder, Fallen Love comes action-packed with flying cars, dark magic, and fallen angels.
Upperclassman Conall is rich, impeccably dressed, and set for a prestigious career in the Party hierarchy. He doesn’t lack for anything—except, maybe, love.
When he finds Mark, alone, abandoned and hurt, he doesn’t expect one act of kindness to alter the course of his life forever. There is more to Mark than Conall can even dream of. The beautiful, vulnerable boy Conall knows is not human. A dark power lies within Mark. It can make him immortal… but love might be the price.
Discover why readers are calling this book “nothing short of amazing” and “superb”. If you’re a fan of Cassandra Clare or Lauren Kate, you don’t want to miss this.
What readers are saying…
★★★★★ “To say this novel took me by surprise is a total understatement. This story surprised, astounded, and made me so happy that it is right up there with the top ten books I have read this year.” —Sharon, Blogger
★★★★★ “The writing is polished, even compelling in spots. If you’re looking for an entertaining read with ambitious world-building, give it a try.” —KD Edwards, author of the Last Sun (Pyr)
★★★★★ “This book was nothing short of amazing. I loved the characters, the action, it’s safe to say I loved everything about this book. I hope to see more in this series because I’m hooked.” —Ashley Tomlinson, author of Becoming Grim
★★★★★ “The world-building in this book is superb.” —Rion, Goodreads Reviewer.
What exactly is LGBT, anyway?
This question seems simple on the surface, yet think about it more carefully, and you realise there are multiple answers. It used to be that LGBT books were “issue stories”: they dealt with themes of alienation, homophobia, love and family, etc. For a long time, these sorts of stories were extremely depressing; the main character usually died from AIDS.
Sometime in the late 2000s, and particularly after the self-publishing boom facilitated by Amazon and Smashwords (2012 or thereabouts), we began to see a new kind of LGBT book. I say LGBT as a useful catch-all, but really I mean M/M.
These kinds of stories were a breath of fresh air, in a lot of ways. They showed that a romance between two men could be successful, beautiful, and even wondrous. The genre evolved away from issue plots and more towards the usual fare of romance: the characters desire each other but something is standing in the way (work/family/travel/whatever). Or, equally often, the characters themselves stand in the way.
I want to say that M/M books became less angst-driven during this transition. But that’s not really true; the angst became different. Gay romance retains one fundamental problem: it does not appeal to a large enough audience, and the reason is angst. To be frank, most men (of all sexualities) don’t want to read M/M romance because it’s boring.
What we need is another literary revolution. Authors like KD Edwards, Alex R Kahler and J Scott Coatsworth (not to mention yours truly!) are part of a movement to write LGBT books about adventure. I use the word deliberately. Fantasy and science fiction are about adventure—they’re about going on a quest to slay dragons (or befriend them) and venturing into deep space. Thrillers also count as adventure, as do many books for young readers.
Gay romance will continue to exist, like issue-based LGBT stories continue to exist today. But more than anything, what we need to see is fiction that just happens to represent gay characters, rather than fiction that is about a gay relationship.
LGBT Characters in YA, Paranormal and Urban Fantasy
I want to arrive at my ultimate question: how do we apply the principle of representing gay characters through adventure to the genre of YA Paranormal and Urban Fantasy? This is what I set out to do in Fallen Love.
The thing is, these two sub-genres have very particular traditions. Heterosexual books in this category—such as Fallen by Lauren Kate, Hush Hush, and Halo—follow a set formula: the heroine falls in love with a bad boy. They balance teenage angst with worldbuilding and action. I could have written something very similar and swapped out the heroine for a dude. I certainly played with the bad boy character.
The story I actually wrote can’t quite be described in these terms—it’s something else, something unique. The internal conflict works very differently when you have two boys instead of a girl and a boy. A good example is from Cassandra Clare (who is one of my favourite authors, by the way) in her Dark Artifices series. Mark, Kieran and Cristina’s love triangle is something that’s totally distinct from a straight love triangle. The boys don’t have to fight it out, and the girl doesn’t have to choose one of them; they can all be together.
I still think Cassie Clare’s story suffers from a little too much teenage angst, which is something I avoided throughout Fallen Love. If there has to be internal conflict, I want it to be something grittier; there have to be bigger stakes. Power asymmetry, persecution, life and death struggle—that’s what I want to read about.
Don’t get me wrong: angst has its place, especially in books about teenagers. But I believe I can write a better story, with broader appeal, when angst takes a back seat in favour of good old adventure.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.