As a gay male cis author, I have always written from that perspective. And I've had a lot of fun doing it! But when it came to writing the GetOut series, I had to shake things up a little.
Emma Goldsworthy was a secondary character in Tigers on the Run, acting as a foil to troubled teen Micah Johnson. She was an established character even before the introduction of Will Deanes in The Ongoing Reformation of Micah Johnson - who was only meant to have one appearance but will be getting his own book in the fourth and final entry in the series. Emma became such a strong character in her own right that I knew it would be doing a disservice not to tell her story.
It's also important to have differing representations of queer sexuality. Now, saying that, I have to point out there are a wealth of 'own voices' lesbian stories out there. They should be sought out. I can come from a queer perspective as a writer, but it is a cis male one. We need to be careful of appropriation of minorities and making sure that if we write about them we do so with respect. For example, although it is lauded by critics everywhere, I can't stand "A Little Life" by Hanya Yanigahara, as it comes across to me like gay tragedy porn bordering on bad hurt/comfort fanfic. Your mileage may vary. Yet "World Without End", written by straight author Sebastian Barry is a beautiful gay love story set during the American Civil War. What is the difference? Who knows; sometimes you just 'feel' it, and your opinion will be completely different to that of the next person.
But I couldn't not write about Emma Goldsworthy. The series wouldn't have worked without her book. Plus, it would be disingenuous of me to personally endorse diversity and inclusivity and then leave a blatant hole in the series by letting people believe Emma wasn't important or worthy enough of her own book.
Write what you love, love what you write, and hopefully in the end it will turn out okay. If there are any faults in the book, all the blame is on me and not on Emma. I love Emma Goldsworthy, and I hope you do, too.
In this excerpt, a flashback, Emma receives a visit from her girlfriend, who has bad news for her…
That’s when it occurred to Emma. “Oh, that’s what you’re getting at.”
“Enlighten me.” Trish was now pure attitude.
“You don’t want to have the high-school girlfriend when you go over there. How embarrassing it would be for you!”
“I don’t want any girlfriend when I’m there!” This outburst seemed even to shock Trish herself, like a truth had been revealed she hadn’t been consciously aware of.
“Oh, really.” The snarkiness was like a tennis ball being lobbed between them—Trish served it and Emma returned it, the power shifting with each play.
“It’s just, I want to focus on the sport for the moment. Just make sure my head’s entirely in it, and I don’t want to be choosing between that and a girlfriend—”
“Emphasis on the girl.” Emma didn’t know exactly why she said that, but it struck home.
“Well… there is that.”
This was the perfect situation where Emma wished she had the talent of only raising one eyebrow. Such a simple action that would say so much. Instead she had to settle for saying, “Oh. You’re not a lesbian anymore?”
Trish rolled her eyes. “Don’t give me that shit.”
“What do you mean, then?”
“Going back in the closet?” This was a joke, surely.
She put her hands up, whether to stop Emma or plead for peace, Emma wasn’t sure. “No, I’m just keeping my private life private.”
“That’s how homophobes work. You don’t talk about anything personal, while they can say anything they like. Gay people have to hide, and straights get to pretend there are no gays around to wreck their sport or movie watching. You’ll be the excellently neutered silent dyke.”
“When did you get so bitter?” Trish asked. “You’re barely eighteen.”
The age thing again. Trish was really trying to put distance between them. “Haven’t you noticed? I’ve always been bitter.”