Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Agents and Publishers Dictating Characters' Sexuality

Are literary agents and publishers dictating the sexuality of fictional characters?  Apparently, Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith were told to 'straighten' one of their characters in their YA novel, or not have him come out until at least the third novel.  The responses to their blog post echo their dismay.

Read the post here:  http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/genreville/?p=1519

Teenaged readers will be totally aware of the existence of non-straight preferences.  Some of them will have non-straight preferences of their own.  So why, in the 21st Century, is this bigotry being perpetuated?  To me, it seems ridiculous.

Any agent or publisher with a similar tunnel vision need not apply to represent me.  (Ok, the way things work in this business is that traditional agents and publishers hold up the hoops for writers to leap through...)   My characters include straight people, bisexuals, homosexuals and one happy trio.  Mine are not stories about graphic sex; they're dark/urban fantasy tales with an underlying philosophy.  There's a bit of romance too.   While most of my characters are white English, which reflects the area in which the stories are set, there's a black English guy, some Welsh and some Scots people, a Japanese guy, and some who aren't human.  Diversity is the keyword here - as in real life.

I've been told that my novels are "too occult" (several times), and  to "make them more new age, like Pablo Coelho".  One agent advised me to remove all the philosophy and magic completely despite the glaring fact that this would eliminate one of the main threads which link my series of novels and short stories, which can be read in any sequence.  No-one's moaned about sex yet.  Maybe they didn't get that far.

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