Sunday, January 13, 2013

2013 Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event: Laura Hardgrave and Taking Lesbian Fiction Beyond the Stars

Lesbian fiction isn’t something to be ashamed of. As avid readers and writers of rich, steamy tales between women, it’s something we should be proud of. That’s the reason we’re all here, right? Sharing our stories. Appreciating others who share their stories (and of course, appreciating KT for having us!). Years ago, lesbian fiction was pretty rare. Hidden in the closet still, if you will. That’s not the case anymore. Today we celebrate the wide variety of F/F fiction.

With that celebration also comes a fact—while what we are a part of is an excellent reason to hold our heads up high, the genre still has a ways to go. We’re not done yet.

One area ripe for growth is the sub-genre of lesbian speculative fiction. F/F romance is what sells the best, undoubtedly, but there is definitely an audience for lesbian science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal. I know because I’m a bit of a self-proclaimed sci-fi and fantasy geek. I also happen to be queer and love stories about queer women. The problem? Lesbian science fiction and fantasy is still fairly hard to find. My favorite stories are the ones that blend strong lesbian characters, a sparkle of romance, and plenty of action, adventure, strange discoveries, and journeys into the unknown.

Speculative fiction lets us dream about galaxies beyond our own and places and times that we hope we’ll one day hear about. It lets us stretch our imaginations and wonder “what if?’ It encourages us to ask the hard questions. It encourages us to lift the veil and begin the first steps to reshaping the world—through imagining it. Let’s take that first step and imagine a world where humans can simply be who they are and walk proudly, no matter their sexuality, gender, age, or race.

Our favorite characters in fiction often mirror those we know in real life. Speculative fiction deserves lesbian characters because that mirror exists.

As a writer, it’s one of my dreams to help bring more lesbian science fiction and fantasy out into the light and away from the dark corners. In 2012, I began the first step in the dream with my debut novel, Captive by the Fog, published by Musa Publishing.

Tagline: In order to survive, a prisoner must confront the darkness or crumble with the world around her.

Sam is caught in a life she can't escape as the caretaker for her terminally ill homophobic father, but what she wants more than anything is to find the courage to escape and live her own life.

One fog-filled evening, Sam, her father, and a group of strangers are captured by beings from another world. Held prisoner by this mysterious race, the band struggles to hold on to the hope of freedom.

As Sam finds herself unexpectedly falling into a leadership role, she also falls for the shy smile of fellow prisoner Kisana. But as freedom continues to slip beyond the reach of their prison, the group must find the strength to carry on, maintain their humanity, and most of all—survive.


I needed a better look. I headed into the living room and to the front door. To my surprise, the door was wide open and the couch empty. I sprinted out the door and found my father sprawled out on the ground, half of his body on the sidewalk, the other half on the stairs.

“Dad!” I yelled, “What the hell are you doing? What’d you do, fall off the stairs?” I bent down to help him up, and then realized he wasn’t looking in my direction. He was frozen in place, staring directly at the sky. I followed his gaze, and I too, froze. My heart leapt inside my chest, scrambling to escape.

A huge, metallic, disc-shaped object hovered in the foggy darkness above the grass of a nearby park. Round portholes on the sides emitted silver beams of light that screamed soundlessly into the fog. Three large metal beams extended from the base and onto the ground. Landing pads. I didn’t see a door. Yet.

My breath caught in my throat. My vision almost glazed over, and I had an overwhelming desire to run and escape my body and what I was witnessing.  

“I—it…c-can’t b-be…It’s…It’s a…UFO…” The words tumbled out of my mouth, rolling over themselves like a rock slide.

I averted my eyes from the object, and saw my neighbors all out on their front doorsteps. Their eyes and bodies were rigid as they stared up at the spacecraft. Some were in their robes and pajamas. One woman two doors down lay in the grass after having fainted, her hair in curlers. 

Bruce still hadn’t moved or uttered a word. He swallowed hard and gave me a quick, terrified glance. His mouth gaped open as he attempted to find words. There were none to be found, and his jaw shook with tremors. His frail frame shuddered beneath my hands, and my insides felt just as shaky.

My gaze drifted back toward the spacecraft, almost in slow motion. My mind tried to force my body to look away as if I were watching a horror movie, and the zombie was about to jump out of the shadows. A garage door-sized hull opened on one side of the UFO, and a large, metallic cube floated out. It was about the size of an RV, but had no windows or wheels. Instead, it had discs on the bottom that emitted blue beams of light down toward the ground. It hovered in the air through the power of that light. A single huge, mechanical arm extended from the front, and next to the arm were two mechanical jaws clenched shut. It reminded me of a trash truck—only sterile, alien, glistening, and unquestionably life-threatening. 

The door on the UFO snapped shut, and the smaller craft rotated toward us. It began to whirr, creating the revving noise I had heard. I could see what looked like a spotlight on the very front of the mechanical jaws. It twisted around and sent forward a bright beam of yellow light that cut through the fog like a knife slicing butter. The fog had little choice but to disappear in its path.


Laura Hardgrave writes science fiction and fantasy with a queer edge. Her current project is a four-part fantasy novel series involving the creation of life and magic, a GLBT host of characters, a talking rock, feline shifters, and lots of sake. She's a bit of a self-proclaimed weirdo. By day, she's also an MMORPG gaming journalist, avid gamer, reader, and animal lover. She also has a blog.


Jolie du Pre said...

Best of luck with your books!

She said...

Captive of the Fog sounds good. I'll have to check it out.

Laura Hardgrave said...

Thanks, guys! And thanks to KT for having me!