It’s the beginning of a whole new year; what time could possibly be better to become more motivated and inspired? You have a whole 365 days ahead of you, and now is the time to start making them count, so we're asking authors what they've got planned for the year ahead!
Kayla Bashe shares their wish list for 2019, including better stock photos, more novellas, and less ill-thought-through mpreg.
My Wishes for Romance in 2019
With Democrats having taken the House, 2019 is already shaping up to be a little better than 2019, or at the very least not worse. Here are a few things I think would make 2019 a better year for romance.
1) Better stock photos
You’re an indie author or cover designer who wants to find a picture of a plus-sized woman? How about “Plus-Sized Woman Being Sad with Salad?” or “Plus-Sized Woman Being Sad With Scale?” You want a picture of two lesbians? Well, how about “Straight Models Lick Each Other’s Mouths” or “You Thought These Were Lesbians, But Actually These Are Two Skinny Gay Men With Great Hair!”
Although there are many stock photo websites that focus on providing diverse stock photos to business organizations, or providing photos of diverse people in everyday settings to illustrate articles, the selection of neutral-background, high-quality photos that fit the needs of authors is profoundly smaller; I spent about an hour on Google and couldn’t find anything besides the adorable couples section on BRWN Stock Imaging.
But let’s say you want a photo of a fat femme in one of those Urban Fantasy cover leather jackets? Two nonbinary or GNC people together? Anything diverse in terms of historical or high fantasy costuming? Good luck enjoying your big heaping pile of nothing. Except for Vikka’s Zone. God bless you and your brown jacket, Vikka. I’m a lesbian, but you know what? Game can always recognize game.
2) Make 2019 the year of novellas
Not to be a hipster, but: a lot of publishers—with maybe the exception of Carina, LT3, and Ninestar—are sleeping on novellas, leaving self-pub indie authors to pick up the slack. And, with all due respect, why? Because novellas are amazing. They’re amazing for people who work practically 24/7 and want a satisfying story they can finish on their single day free from capitalism’s iron grip. They’re amazing for students who are also working 24/7 and have read all the novella-length fanfictions for their OTP already. They’re amazing for people with disabilities/mental illnesses, who may not have the energy/motivation to start something full-length. And they’re amazing for publishers as a low-cost digital investment.
Have you ever read a novella on your phone during a long commute? You feel like you’ve accomplished something. It’s amazing. Novellas: may we write them, may we read them, and may publishers decide to start releasing them.
3) Please, dear god, stop doing this in 2019
Am I the arbiter of what people ought to write? No. Which genders/presentations should be allowed to write m/m? Don’t ask me, especially since not everyone who looks like a straight woman is straight or a woman.
That being said, there’s one thing I don’t like: when I’m reading a gay romance about werewolves, or even not about werewolves, and one cisgender, penis-and-foreskin-having, hero turns to the other and tearfully says “Due to my past trauma, I can’t get pregnant.” Or “Honey, I’m pregnant with your child.”
According to fanlore wiki, m-preg was first spotted in Star Trek fandom in the 1980s as a way to play with the idea of aliens being able to impregnate humans, or something like that. It’s often combined with omega-verse, which came from Supernatural fandom in the 2000's.
But what I think is absolutely ridiculous—and I understand this may be a controversial opinion, but it’s mine—is when cisgender men get pregnant in M/M fiction. Where does the baby grow? The intestines? Where does it come out? The butthole? Have you thought about the biology of this? If cisgender men can get pregnant in your world, author, will you even bother exploring the way this changes society’s gender politics or the rights of women, or even including female characters who have story arcs in your work? No. The answer is, generally, 99 percent no.
When men being pregnant is seen as a biological anomaly that only Special Submissive Werewolves have, it plays into the societal marginalization of transgender men and AFAB non-binary people who choose to become biological parents via pregnancy as freaks. As this linked twitter thread from author K.M. Szpara states, “If you’re going to tell a SF story about being a pregnant man, you need to do it well-informed, researched, and taking into account that this happens to real men. … Stories like these perpetuate ideas like “pregnant men” as science fiction oddities.”
I’m not deeming myself the arbiter of what is okay to write, or sending hate mail to MPreg authors, but in 2019, I think we should at least start using the term “butt baby” to separate stories of cis men getting pregnant because werewolves, from stories of trans men who get pregnant due to having a uterus.
“But I just wanted to explore what it would be like if men could get pregnant/have periods!” Well, there already are men who do that in the real world. Please be more inclusive of their perspectives.
Also, buttholes do not work like that.
Kayla's latest release, The Gift of Your Love, is out now. For more information about them and their writing, check out their website, and follow them on Tumblr and Twitter.