Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LGBT in YA fiction by Andrew from The Pewter Wolf

Today I have the great pleasure of introducing Andrew of The Pewter Wolf to the blog! I first 'met' Andrew through Twitter and have since run into him at bookish events. I love his enthusiasm for books and for music and I do love reading his blog. If you haven't followed The Pewter Wolf, I must insist that you do that.

To find out more about Andrew, please do visit the following websites:

I have been trying to write this blog for the past few days now. I had an idea that I liked and plans on how to write it. But when it came to writing it, I found it extremely difficult to ACTUALLY writing it!

I want to talk about LGBT in YA fiction. Now, as a young gay man myself, I should be able to say “There should be more LGBT in YA” and I do agree with that statement. But the thing about that statement is that I’m there that there should be more and it should be more obvious, and that in itself is my problem.

The reason I am in two minds over this is because, when a book has a lead gay character, it shouldn’t be seen as a big deal, right? So, why, I hear you ask, should I be writing this blog post about it?

Because, there are people out there who are LGBT. And reading YA is a connection. To show that they are not alone. And to those who are straight and don’t “get” that what it’s like.

However, now this is where it gets a little tricky for me. I don’t want LGBT novels in YA forced upon me. I don’t want it to be made a big deal. I don’t want to see on the blurb or on the cover, in giant bold lettering, “THIS IS A GAY LOVE-STORY!” or “THIS IS AN ACTION-THRILLER WITH A TRANSGENDER MAIN CHARACTER!”

Because, we don’t see that in straight novels. And, also, because this shouldn’t effect the plot, right?

For example, when The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was released, was the fact that Lisbeth Salander was bi made the book a bigger success? No, it was because it was a really good crime novel. Did the fact that Lis was bi affect the plot? No. It was who the character is.

This is the same with Huntress by Malinda Lo. I read this, knowing that there will be two lesbian characters. But while I read this fantasy story, I read two characters who slowly fell in love with each other. It didn’t matter that these two characters were women. That’s because the author wrote an interesting plot and an engaging characters.

There, of course, will be people who won’t be comfortable reading LGBT. I remember when JK Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was gay after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released. The amount of news outlet and people’s reaction over this news was a mixed of both positive and negative. This is also true with Malinda Lo’s debut novel, Ash. When it was reviewed by US newspapers, it was called "a lesbian retelling", “...and one such development could send readers reeling. Parents will want to read the final chapter before handing this book over to their teens” and “conventional”.

But with books, no one is forcing you to read a book that handle subject matter that you feel uncomfortable. I, personally, feel uncomfortable reading several issues like self-harm and rape, but it’s my choice whether to read a book that handles this subject matter or not. Most of times, I refuse to read the book. It’s my choice. If I feel uncomfortable reading a book, then I would stop reading it.

Now, I completely understand that authors get their characters and they know, from the word go, if a character is gay or straight. The same way the author knows if the character is white, black or of racial descent. And I’m not asking for the authors to change a character’s sexuality or the colour of their skin to please us.

I’m just asking if we could have more LGBT novels which are compelling and have engaging characters.

And as for love (seeing as this is Love Month) is that everyone deserves love. Love isn’t a physical thing, but something deeper that crosses boundaries. Whether that be gender, racial descent or sexuality.

So, to everyone who’s in a relationship, I hope you enjoyed Valentine’s Day and enjoy the rest of the year with your loved one. If you are single, treat yourself and love yourself.


  1. Hi there :-)

    Great blog! I have a question about this post. I am a writer of YA fiction and both my books have a LBGT characters in them. I am basically paranoid about 'doing it wrong' though because I really don't want any LGBT reader to feel offended by my writing. As you said, I always try to make all my characters 'real'- they will always have more to them than whether they are gay, straight, male, female etc. I hope they are likeable characters in themselves.

    Here is my question. In one of my stories there is a gay, male character who attempts suicide. He is a lovely and interesting person who lives in a small rural town and who finds it impossible to come out because of the latent homophobia in his family, hos school and the area in which he lives. His depression is not caused by being gay, it's caused by that sense of isolation he feels.

    I really wanted to write that story given the many 'real life' examples of young men who have committed suicide for similar reasons, and also because I know of a similar story that happened close to home.

    I'd love to hear your thoughts about that. i agree all stories featuring LGBT characters shouldn't have to involve tragedy or depression and my 2nd story has a character who is happy with his sexuality and has supportive friends and parents. But everyone is different and I am really concerned about the kids who aren't happy and wondering who will tell their story.

    Love to know your thoughts. thanks again for this post.

  2. Fantastic post! I completely agree with you, books should not be any more or less sucessful just because there's and LGBT character in it! Like, how does it make a difference?! Thanks for writing this!

  3. This is an awesome post! As a writer, I feel like a character's sexuality shouldn't be an issue-- characters are people, and all people are different.

  4. Thanks for writing this post! I completely know what you mean. I recently read Steam-Powered 2: More Lesbian Steampunk Stories, and it was awesome, because the stories were not just about people being lesbians, just as most books are not about people being straight. They were great steampunk stories in which the main characters were lesbians. We definitely need more of that.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful post Andrew! I couldn't agree with you more, that I'd like to see more LGBT characters in stories, but not at the risk of wedging them just for the sake of it!

  6. Brilliant post Andrew! I agree with everything you've said! :D


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