December 10, 2012

Kim Flowers on why she writes gay YA

Guest post by Kim Flowers ...

I have been writing since I was a kid, so it was only natural that my first stories were about other kids. As I grew older, my characters grew with me, so when I became an adult I wondered if that meant it was time for me to write more "grown-up" books. I also grew from a child with feelings for girls that were supposed to be wrong into a lesbian who knows it's okay for me to be myself. So I started experimenting in all different kinds of genres to see if I liked anything different. I think what I learned has helped me so much!

First of all, I discovered I am horrible at anything to do with horror, mythical creatures, and crime. But I also found some surprising new loves: historical fiction, dystopia, and steampunk. But my characters' ages still never stray much higher than 18. I realized I still loved young adult, but that I now had a lot more flavors to add to the mix than before.

After that, there was only one last issue: I was afraid to write about gay characters. I thought that being labeled as a gay writer, especially for kids, would make it almost impossible for me to get published. My first book No Turning Back has lesbian characters that had been trying to come out ever since I first started writing the book when I was a kid myself. I finally just gave into the story that my characters wanted me to tell. Because I grew up in an environment in which being gay was considered wrong, I had doubts over whether it was okay for me to write a book with gay teen characters. But then I reminded myself that every controversial issue that comes up in No Turning Back is something I came up with when I was a kid, too, so why shouldn't other kids read about it, especially when they might be going through the same things? Also, I have also always written stories with diverse characters ... different races, religions, and beliefs. Why shouldn't I also include a very important group of teenagers whose voice isn't heard much in "popular" fiction?

Learning and experimenting with my writing has helped broaden my horizons, and opened new doors. I'm happy with the variety of stories that I now realize are available to me. No Turning Back is a contemporary adventure and romance, but I also have a recently published steampunk short story called Amelia's Revolution, and a forthcoming futuristic dystopia called The Divide. All these stories have diverse queer characters. The day will come when books with teen gay characters will be more accepted in the mainstream, but until then I have truly found my passion: to speak to those whose voices need to be heard!

Kim Flowers

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