Where have you been?

Heyyyy internet, it’s been a while! I had to set down my writing career for a while in order to be a real life person, and I am so excited to be back. It’s a beautiful, thunderstormy summer here in the charming middle of nowhere, New York, and I’ve got a lot planned.

What in the world was I up to?

  • I stepped back from my day job, so I am now writing (and taking classes) full-time. My boss ordered me to spend at least two weeks relaxing, so I immediately ignored that.
  • I got married! I’m a wife! I have it on very good authority that I was the most beautiful bride in the entire history of the world, that I had the best ceremony, and that everyone present was enchanted by the timeless love that my wife and I have for each other. My wife wrote me a love letter and made vegetarian s’mores with her bridal party; I made sure our desserts would be peanut allergy-friendly and then fell dead asleep to the sounds of my bridal party playing board games.
  • We went on a honeymoon to Iceland, where we did not eat any endangered animals but we did see a lot of tiny museums and drink a lot of good hot chocolate. We skipped all of the traditional tourist destinations, which has been a great disappointment to nearly everyone since we’ve returned. (“Oh, my sister went to the Blue Lagoon!” “That’s great! We had a wonderful time at the nonsense museum!”)
  • I got stitches for the first time in my adult life… when I cut my hand opening the beautiful chef’s knife a dear friend gave us for our wedding. It’s very sharp. It cuts beautifully. The emergency room staff were all amused. My wife says a prayer every time I take it out of its case.
  • I remembered, occasionally, that it would be a good idea for me to write, and then I 100% didn’t.

So what’s next?

  • I’m finishing up another novel, tentatively titled Reckless Entanglement, a lesbian coming of age story set in rural Wisconsin just after the end of the world. DJ is a pragmatic n’ere-do-well from Las Vegas (no, not that one) whose bad girl past and ability to fix practically anything have served her well in the shifting landscape of her adulthood. Adrian is sweet and shy, a hard-working, bookish girl who will be anyone to survive. This one is tense and sexy and very gay, and it’s such a joy to write. Sign up here to get sneak peeks and a chance to win a free copy before it’s released!
  • I have a few short stories I’ve got finished and am hoping to make available to you shortly. By which I mean that I am hanging out and partying in the submissions process. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a big-shot editor, this is a great chance to offer me cash money in exchange for the best disabled lesbian vampire story you’ve never read.
  • Once Reckless Entanglement is complete, I’ll be ready to start the sequel to Eelgrass. (Working title: And Then Things Got Worse.) This one takes place on dry land, and let me tell you, if you ever have the choice between writing a novel in which all the characters are FLOATING IN THE OPEN OCEAN and one in which they’re not, pick “not.”
  • Writing as a day job gives me more time to devote myself to the business, which I need and appreciate! Expect more process and decision-making posts.

Extra Credit: Choosing a coming out narrative in Eelgrass

When I started writing Eelgrass, my first novel, I planned that the main lesbian romance would be a surprise to no one, least of all the main character, Efa.

“She’s never really been in a relationship before,” I remember telling my mom, feeling very smug, “but it’s not going to be a huge surprise when she ends up with another woman.”

My mom says that she never mistook me for straight, but certainly it was clear after my kindergarten teacher made me cry by telling me I couldn’t grow up to marry a girl. It took me a few years longer. By the time I was ten, I had fallen in love with yet another female best friend, written the requisite six weeks of embarrassing poetry, and come out to my entire school. After a few more years of low-key self-doubt every time I had a new crush, I concluded that “bisexual” was good enough and stopped worrying. I think I was thirteen.

I’ve always known that, thanks to a confluence of factors ranging from “a very cool family” to “the Upper West Side of Manhattan circa ’04,” I figured myself out fairly quickly and easily. But it always seemed like the fictional characters I knew – in such classic works as Magic’s Pawn and But I’m A Cheerleader – took a really long time to think it over and panic. Or they were a character in RENT, in which case being gay was an important backstory for horrible tragedy.

So I was really excited to write a story where it was no big deal. Mermaids! Selkies! Emotionally healthy lesbians!

And then I realized that I was writing a story about a woman whose best friend was kidnapped and forced into marriage to a stranger. A woman who couldn’t find anyone to agree with her that this was a problem. “Oh,” I said. “This is a story about rape culture.”

When Eelgrass starts, Efa has bought into her society’s gender roles her entire life. Being a good friend, daughter, and sister suits her. Even when she experiences conflicts between who she is and what other people want from her, she tends not to want to (bad joke alert) make waves. We all know these people. If she didn’t need to save her best friend, she would have ended up in her eighties, teaching a great-grandchild to dig up clams and saying things like, “Well, of course I loved your grandfather, but I don’t know that I was ever really in love with him.”

I wasn’t writing about the sort of woman who would fall in love with a beautiful she-beast from the depths and immediately start reading Alison Bechdel, like, uh, I did. Efa’s more likely to panic over what her mother will think, and is it worse that this monster thinks it’s morally right (probably) to cut open someone’s belly and guzzle their innards, or that she’s a girl?

It didn’t quite turn into the forty pages of beleaguered angst that I was afraid of writing, but Efa’s story of glamorous lesbian self-discovery changed a lot to fit the rest of the book. And I’m still not (totally) sure how to tread the line between magical, bedazzling coming out stories and characters who have been sure of themselves for what seems like ever.

But hey, at least nowadays we can have fun figuring out who we are.