The Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event has been an amazing gift to a writer like me who was once told that no one would ever read F/F. I still remember the day many years ago when I walked into a “specialty” bookstore and found Annie on My Mind. From what I have heard from others, this YA book was one of the first that they read. I was amazed by this naturally unfolding love story, but I hated the way that the relationship was portrayed as something that upset them, their families, and their communities. I know that prejudice, angst, and all of the difficulties of simply having and enjoying a F/F relationship are part of life as we know it, but must we keep replicating this in fiction? I want to read stories about women who care for each other and a world that allows this to happen.
In my books, there are no shocking, horrifying revelations (think The Children’s Hour) that someone discovers she is a lesbian and therefore her life is ruined. Nor are there explicit scenes of hot lesbian sex to satisfy voyeuristic curiosity. I have encountered plenty of naysayers in my publishing journey who say that F/F will not sell or that it is only a tiny niche market, but I have also found colleagues and supporters who encourage me to tell the stories that I want told. I am bursting with pride that my publisher, Lazy Day, has been part of this series. I am also thrilled that my other publisher, Blushing Books, recently featured me on their blog to promote my new F/F book, Desire in Any Language.
Desire in Any Language, is a lyrical meditation of a twenty-something girl, Mira, who studies abroad and is smitten with her female tutor. It is both a coming-out and a coming-of-age tale, and Mira makes many wrong choices in her attempts to deny her identity. Yet at the same time, the unfolding of her self-acceptance is accompanied by the love of those around her. It is a coming-out story that I wish more could enjoy in real life, rather than the prejudice and even discrimination that many have faced.
To date, I have two published books that primarily focus on an F/F relationship. The Vengeance of Mrs. Claus is a light-hearted, family-centric modern fairy tale that includes the mentoring of twenty-one-year-old Claire by Mrs. Claus. In my storyverse, it is not Santa but Mrs. Claus who wields the power.
At the moment I have two more F/F books scheduled for publication and several others under contract. The Way Home, a story of two college roommates who become involved in a ten-year on-and-off-again domestic discipline relationship, will be released by Lazy Day on March 6th. Simple Gifts, the love story of a brilliant but difficult professional violinist and the childhood best friend who teaches her discipline, will come out in April. All of the updates about my books are available on my blog.
These few weeks of the Lesbian Fiction Appreciation Event have been a moment of community, an F/F oasis in a male-dominated world that tries to tell us that women’s stories do not matter. That a household or relationship must contain a man to merit attention.
F/F is not about hating men. It is about loving women.
Blurb: Mira thought she wanted a spanking. What she got was love.
On her own for the first time, Mira is studying abroad for her translator’s certificate. Unfortunately, the heady excitement of dance clubs, late-night parties, and endless shopping quickly distracts her from her educational goals. Mira’s advisor offers her private tutoring with a womanly touch, but the combined pressures of culture and language difference threaten Mira’s progress at school. She is unable to get her act together until she makes a discovery that horrifies and tantalizes her: in her new country, corporal punishment is a way of life. The secret to her academic success just might also fulfill her wildest, unspoken dreams.
“Mira, look me in the eye and tell me that this isn’t some crazy ploy to get out of telling me that you haven’t done your homework for today.”
Oh crap. I thought she didn’t do interrogations. I thought she was Encouragement and Cheerleading and Meticulous Dedication, not some psychic mind reader suddenly seeming far more than four years older.
“Could you just sign it?” I mumble. Even though her tutoring is private, it is still an official registered class. It was, naturally, she who waded through the mounds of paperwork and red tape to give me transcript credit for her after-hours labor of love.
“I could sign it,” she says in a strange voice.
I involuntarily look up to see such vulnerability and hurt on her face that I again have to look down. Blinking the tears away.
“I could sign it and let you walk away from the months you’ve invested in this school—all because you couldn’t take one day to complete your work. I hope you’re not planning to attend another language institute in the near future because a drop-fail will hardly help your chances for admission. Is that what you want?”
I hadn’t thought about jeopardizing future school plans, but I have to admit that she is right. Suddenly this all seems a lot more serious than I thought. I thought I could just pick up and leave on a whim. After all, I’ve already done the college thing. This is just extra. But if I want to become a translator, at least some official credentials are needed.
“No,” I admit in a small voice.
“What do you want, Mira? Have you thought anything except just to run away?”
“Why are you scolding me?” I ask plaintively. I know it’s a mistake even before the words are out, and her voice stiffens.
“What do you want me to say? ‘Yes, go ahead. Walk away. Give up on yourself.’ Do you really want me to say that?”
The tears are becoming dangerously close now. This lecture might be a once-in-nine-months occurrence, but she’s certainly packing enough punch to make up for lost time.
“I’m sorry,” I murmur. Her warm, sweet-smelling arm rests on my back and gently presses me to lean against her.
“Don’t be sorry,” she says in her familiar gentle voice. “Be persistent. You owe it to yourself to give it another try.” I can only nod as the tears slip noiselessly through my closed eyelids.
“I’m sorry,” I say after a moment. “I don’t really want to leave.”
“I know.” She lets me rest against her for a moment. I pull away, sniffling and wiping my eyes with the back of my hand.
“And I think we need to make some changes in our modus operandi.”
Her gaze wanders briefly to the “rod of love” lying horizontally across her desk. Her eyes search my face questioningly. I gulp. Me? Like a high-schooler? Finally, I give the smallest possible nod.
Desire in Any Language at Blushing Books (will be available on Amazon within the next day or two)