I don’t know if you would want to answer this on the blog, but it’s something I’ve wondered for a while. I enjoy the diversity in your books and how well you normalise queer relationships. I was ecstatic when you gave Barabas and Christopher the beginnings of a relationship in Magic Binds. And the way the balance of their equation changed towards the end, there is surely a novella worth of story to tell about those two. But while, in the case of Jim/Dali and Andrea/Raphael I pretty much expected a novella dealing with their romance (thank you for their stories!), I find myself tamping down hope that Barabas and Christopher will ever get their own book. LGBT+ romances tend to be treated like tiny niche genres and most mainstream authors don’t deviate from straight romances to put out a novel/novella on queer characters. (Especially when most of their series has dealt with straight couples.) I’ve heard people defend this by saying that it would confuse/alienate their readers, or that the book may not sell.
So, my question(s) is:
When discussing Barabas and Christopher’s romantic arc, did you stop to wonder about your readers’ reaction? Given how popular the characters are, will you consider putting out a novella on them? How difficult is it (in general) to write queer relationships in a mainstream series? And how do publishers react to pitches with a same sex couple in it, outside the literary fiction world?
^I couldn’t distil my questions into a single one, but I would be happy with an answer to any of them.
One at a time. 🙂
When discussing Barabas and Christopher’s romantic arc, did you stop to wonder about your readers’ reaction?
No, we don’t really wonder about reader reactions to Christopher and Barabas or any other LGBT couple or person. There was this big furor about five years back about how daring it was to write about LGBT characters and how their mystic ways had to be learned and researched as if they were from another planet. Gordon and I talked about this before and we never understood it. People are people. From our point of view, one writes about LGBT couple just like one would write about any couple. Robert and Thomas are married. They are just like any other long-term couple, with problems and issues and deep love for each other. Christopher and Barabas are trying to figure out how to become a couple or if they will even become a couple. That’s kind of it.
Given how popular the characters are, will you consider putting out a novella on them?
It’s not the matter of popularity, but, as corny as it sounds, inspiration. We have done work-on-demand before, where we are contractually obligated to write a book or a novella, and we make it happen, but it’s not as much fun as when you get a really awesome idea. At the moment, neither of us has an awesome idea. We’ll wait until we get one.
How difficult is it (in general) to write queer relationships in a mainstream series?
Nobody has ever emailed us, from publishing house or anywhere, in fact, and asked us to alter any of the LGBT relationships in our work. I would have to say, zero pressure for us personally to change the narrative in any way.
And how do publishers react to pitches with a same sex couple in it, outside the literary fiction world?
I don’t know. We’ve never pitched one, so I have no personal experience with this. Sorry to not be more knowledgeable. If we’re ever in the position to pitch something like that, I will report on success or failure.
One of the things that I should probably mention, because we did get a few worried emails about it before. There is an entire genre of male/male romances written usually by straight women and, I believe, read widely by straight women, that feature a high level of heat. One of the tropes of this genre is portraying a relationship between two men where one is very dominants and the other is very submissive and almost feminine. We are not going that route. It doesn’t match the tone of KD series and it doesn’t match the characters. That’s simply not who Christopoher and Barabas are.
If the novella happens, it will be more of a romantic love story rather than an erotic relationship. Christopher and Barabas are very complicated and simply throwing them in bed together isn’t going to sort things out. That’s actually one of the difficulties with writing such a novella: not only they are complicated, but they are men. Not just any men, but men who are used to guarding themselves and doing their best to appear inscrutable.
It would have to be nuanced, because Barabas, for example, isn’t going to say, “I’m really attracted to you, Christopher, but I’m conflicted about the sincerity of your feelings. I know you believe them to be genuine but we can’t ignore the fact that you were in a vulnerable state for a long time, with me as your primary caretaker. That sort of relationship often results in attachment, and if we were to pursue a romantic relationship, I’m worried that in time you will come to regret it, so my personal ethics do not allow me to move forward.” He’s going to say, “I don’t need to see him in a suit.”
Hopefully, that answers your questions.