I absolutely loved Coda, and I'm so excited to share with you a guest post from Emma Trevayne for LGBTQ YA Month on her debut novel!
Over the long journey a book takes to publication, there are a lot of questions. Your agent asks you questions, your editor asks more, bloggers and readers (which isn't to say bloggers aren't also readers, they are some of the best) come along and ask questions your agent and editor didn't think of. Lots of questions. Some of them are unusual, and some tend to be fairly constant.
One of the constants I get is the question, in various forms, of why I chose to make the main character of my debut novel bisexual, and other characters gay. It’s why I’m here with this guest post, and I’m very thankful to Jo for a place to talk about something so dear to my heart. The plot--which is about music and a cruel society--would have worked just as well with other characters. With straight ones. The answer is really simple: I didn't choose it. They did. Anthem, my MC, the most insistently of all, and I arranged most of the plot and other characters around him. So I only listened to them when they told me who they were, and I didn't tell them they were wrong.
I did what I think everyone on the planet should do when someone comes out to them in any of the myriad forms that can take. I said, “Okay, awesome. I love you so much I’m going to write a book about you.”
It was a risk, listening to them. And to anyone who thinks it wasn’t, or shouldn’t have been, I agree with you, but it’s 2013 and this is still the most consistent question I get about a book that has nothing to do with struggles with sexuality. I guarantee you that if Anthem was a straight guy, people wouldn’t comment on it.
You only have to read a newspaper to know this is clearly a debate that’s still raging. And it shouldn’t be.
I’m for normalizing. Not that everyone should be the same, but everyone should be viewed that way as long as they’re not hurting anyone. We’re all unique, and the beauty in nothing being “normal” is that everything is. We are each normal for us.
I believe that the more we see the many, many facets of humanity portrayed as being as everyday as eye color, the less we’ll fight about it, and that sexuality is as much a choice for any person as their eye color. Peace and love. I would have made a fantastic hippie. And I believe that one of the ways we normalize is through the arts, through exposure to literature and paintings and plays and movies that depict people being people, with all their flaws and charms and preferences.
Many people write books about struggling with sexuality. Those books are essential and usually fantastic and I read lots of them. The people out there who are struggling need to know they are worthy of being represented, that they’re not alone, and--usually--that they can make it through the darkness. But for every person out there who hides, there’s a person who has the freedom to be who they are, which is someone with a whole other host of human problems to deal with.
And that’s how I approached CODA; as a cast of characters, straight and gay and bi, who kicked ass and took names and at the end of the day, climbed into bed with whoever they wanted, which was exactly nobody’s business except the two people involved. They are strong and capable and love deeply, which is an accurate representation of almost everyone I know. I’m not even going to put a label on that and say it’s true of every LGBTQ person I know.
It’s just true for everyone.
Thank you, Emma, for such a fantastic guest post! Be sure to check out Emma's blog, and you can read my review of Coda here.