Please welcome my second guest to discuss gay writing today, Sandy Lowe. This fellow Australian is a Senior Editor with Bold Stroke Books, and has a Master’s degree in Publishing from the University of Sydney. In her capacity as Senior Editor, she reviews submissions and proposals, edits and develops content for publication, and oversees publication production.
Kevin: As you were growing up, where did you find queer literature?
Sandy: I grew up on the Central Coast of Australia. I first came across published queer literature by browsing the LGBT bookshelves at a Borders store. After reading such classics as The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall and Curious Wine by Katherine Forrest I searched by publisher to discover many more contemporary works, the first of which was Above All, Honor by Radclyffe. Discovering Radclyffe eventually led me to a position working for the publishing company she founded, Bold Strokes Books.
Kevin: What trends have you seen emerge in GLBTI writing?
Sandy: In the last decade M/M (stories primarily written by women for a female readership) literature has taken off, with several publishing companies solely devoted to publishing this type of fiction. Romance and it’s sub-genres still comprise the majority of titles published. More broadly, topics tend to mirror those also popular in the mainstream (first responders, alpha heroes or heroines, small-town romance) as well as topics trending in the media (oil spills, terrorism, race tension).
Kevin: What topics, character types and situations are discussed now that weren’t around ten years ago.
Sandy: The biggest change within the last decade is the prevalence of erotic romance and erotica. The erotic romance began to be categorised by publishers in the early 2000’s–Ellora’s Cave (publisher of heterosexual fiction) was the first, with LGBTQ publishers adopting the category by 2005.
Genre fiction often mirrors cultural change so stories that depict the lives of LGBTQ lives have also changed over the last decade as marriage has been legalised, adoption and IVF have become more prevalent and discrimination has reduced. For example: Bold Strokes Books has a series of wedding themed novellas upcoming in the fall.
Kevin: And what topics have dropped from gay lit these days?
Sandy: Certainly some topics are less prevalent. Stories with unhappy endings, conversion stories (from gay to straight) and stories where LGBTQ discrimination plays a significant role in the plot and coming out stories are fewer though the latter is still a popular topic with readers. Religious themes also continue to be popular leading me to believe that coming out and religious struggles are still contemporary issues for many LGBTQ people.
Thank you Sandy Lowe for your insight as someone who sees the trends first hand. And keep a look out for her own novel, Party Games, to be released on June 1 2016.
And please, join the conversation yourself, through the comments section below.