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!
Olivia Waite shares her hopes for a 2019 filled with funny, heartwarming, diverse f/f romance.
Let me make a prediction: 2019 will be a banner year in f/f romance.
Several notable names are coming out with f/f books this year, including Courtney Milan's Mrs Martin's Incomparible Adventure and Alyssa Cole's Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, the latter of which is also Avon’s first f/f romance ever. A lesbian romance from a Big Five publisher, with two black women on the cover! It’s amazing, and it’s about time. That’s on top of a few recent under-the-radar gems like Effie Calvin’s Tales of Inthya fantasy duo from NineStar Press and Ada Harper’s f/f sci-fi political thriller A Treason of Truths. Meanwhile a lot of other authors have mentioned in passing that they have f/f manuscripts in the works—lesbian heroines, bi heroines, trans heroines, fighting and fucking and falling in love in romantic suspense, contemporaries, paranormals, historicals.
And, of course, there’s me—in June, Avon Impulse is publishing my first f/f historical, A Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, about a lady astronomer and an explorer’s widow who’s super into embroidery. I wrote it because I wanted to read an Avon-style romance with two heroines, and when that didn’t seem to exist I got impatient and wrote one myself. Which Avon then bought. It happened so fast! One year ago I hadn’t even started the manuscript—hadn’t even thought of it—and now it’s the start of a three-book series in a field where the prevailing wisdom for years has been that f/f doesn’t sell. Next year, looks like we’ll be spoiled for choice.
It feels like a sea change.
Some of it, surely, is that alpha heroes—and heroes in general—have a rather tarnished appeal in the wake of the election, and the Kavanaugh hearings, and the endless unsurprising revelations of the ongoing #MeToo conversation. There were times when my journal entry read simply: “Sick Of Dudes.” It was an enormous relief to have a world full of queer women to escape into, whenever I began to despair at the mess men were making of the present day. Clearly I wasn’t the only one having this particular reaction. And authors who have been writing women loving women for years deserve to step up and be recognized alongside the new wave: Cathy Pegau, Rebekah Weatherspoon, and Nell Stark, just to name a few. But one surprising thing I’ve noticed about the new slate of f/f authors is that they’re not coming up through the usual channels: Bold Strokes Books or Cleis Press or the other lesfic publishing houses. It’s self-published authors, the sci-fi/fantasy-adjacent, and the digital arms of the big presses. It’s not simply that there are the big names: it’s that the mainstream mass-market systems are shifting to allow f/f a little more metaphorical shelf space. That’s new, and encouraging.
Let me clarify that it’s not going to be all fairy tales and rainbow wedding cakes. This is still publishing, and there are plenty of ongoing problems to grapple with. Someone writing a queer experience is going to be criticized for not properly writing the queer experience. Other kinds of representation will be left out or misappropriated. Biphobia will swagger in, femme fetishization will rear its perfectly coiffed head, racism will put dirty boots on the dining table while the white hostess asks us to just ignore it for politeness’ sake.
We’re going to have arguments. That’s okay. It’s harder to harmonize than to hit the same note, and we’re adding a lot of voices to the mix this coming year. But I can’t wait till that curtain goes up, and we all start to sing.
It’s going to be beautiful, wait and see.
Olivia's historical f/f release, A Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, is available for preorder now. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.