Putting Them Back in the Closet
How the Big Five Romance Publishing Houses Make Gay Characters Disappear
At a recent Sci Fi Convention in the U.S. I was sitting on a panel on Building Your Character's Back Story and a fellow panelist revealed she was quarreling with her publisher because in her most recent novel she had an expository character -- a character that existed to help the hero/ine tell his/her/it/they/them/Mz story -- that was gay. Gender on this occasion is irrelevant.
When she'd first submitted the story the purchasing editor wrote back to her saying that having a gay character might not go over well in some areas of the world. The author replied that it was an important facit of the back story, besides even if it wasn't she wanted that character to be gay. Her book, her world, her characters, her vision. The story was purchased and the author thought that was that until the book was released in both e-book and print then she discovered that the character's gender had been changed to female/heterosexual.
She immediately protested to her agent and the company.
Many apologies and conversation back and forth and eventually the publishing company declared that, yes, they knew her original vision for the character, except, they didn't think it was a good idea. The book was released with no gay character.
She protested which was answered with shrugged shoulders. Too late to change it now. And, unfortunately for the author, no legal position to challenge because publishers reserve the right to "EDIT."
I added that in a Regency era novel I wrote I made a plot point of the regency era law that said that homosexuality was a capital crime. I received pushback from two big publishing houses that 'suggested' that if I wanted to be published I should take that entire plot point out because no one straight wants to know that, the gay don't want to be reminded, and I would offend unnecessarily a large pool of potential readers which meant my other books wouldn't be read either.
A small press eventually published it, unchanged. (and has over 1000 reviews on amazon, only one of which complained about the plot line.)
Now, these are not isolated incidents.
If you are wondering why the Big Five romance publishing houses don't have characters with alternate gender identities it isn't because authors aren't writing them but that the editing department have the authority to make these characters go away.
And they use this power over and over.
Yes, there are some small publishers who are going for the gender alternate market and small headway is being made in movies and screenplays, but be aware, authors are trying to write worlds that reflect the diversity of the human condition and getting very subtle, very nasty, sabotage. Readers, vote with your dollars. The Big Five aren't going to change their editing policy until they feel the pain in their wallets.
D.L. Carter is an Australian author now living in the U.S. Her aim is to write Reasonable Intelligent Heroines,
Dee is the Contributing Editor of This is Reel Life our movie supplement, and a regular contributor to Festivale.
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Crystal Publishing Closes Submissions For the Year
From Joe Mynhardt
Crystal Lake Publishing will not be open to submissions (even from agents) until middle of next year. It's my goal to open for subs at least once a year every year, or even permanently, but we're not there yet.
I hope everyone understands. I want to keep publishing quality work, and not just everything that comes across my desk. Plus, I'd rather spend more money on advances and marketing.
StoryBundle couldn't be more excited to present The Haikasoru Japan Sci-Fi Bundle!
What's Haikasoru? Let's let them explain:
Haikasoru is VIZ Media, LLC's "internal small press" dedicated to bringing the best of Japan's science fiction, fantasy, and horror to English-speaking audiences around the world. Since our launch in 2009, we've published Hugo Award-winning fiction, inspired a Tom Cruise film, and have shown the world that the future is Japanese!
Our bundle includes some of our favorites. The Lord of the Sands of Time by Issui Ogawa was our very first title, and is a thrilling time-travel military science fiction adventure. Our groundbreaking science fiction anthology The Future is Japanese includes the Hugo Award-winning short story "Mono No Aware" by Ken Liu, as well as work by cyberpunk legend Bruce Sterling and Vampire Hunter D creator Hideyuki Kikuchi.
The bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!
The Series Series
Updated Series Series (Reading order) pages: Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series;
The Usual Questions Project
More authors have answered The Usual Questions, our quirky, Q and A sessions.
Anyone who is a professional can be part of the project: authors, illustrators, film-makers, performers. The Usual Questions index page has a list of the authors and film-makers and illustrators participating in the project.
People who have answered the questions in the past include Terry Pratchett, Lawrence Block, Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, Tanya Huff, Harlan Ellison.
This issue, the following authors and editors and illustrators have responded:
Jennie Bentley answers The Usual Questions
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