Why Diverse Fiction?
A word from Darksbane Books author Shei Darksbane.
I grew up in a small town, and no one was gay. Well, that’s not true, but it may as well have been. No one was out. Not one person. I knew I was different from a young age, but I didn’t know anyone else who was, so I just kept it to myself and went along with the crowd. When I got to highschool, I heard rumors like anyone else. That guy was gay, or that chick was a lesbian. But it was just hurt-mongering. My best friends turned out to be a pair of gay guys who were in band with me, and they were the first other LGBT people I ever knew. It wasn’t until I was 14 or so that I really started accepting that I was different. After all, before I met my gay friends, I thought I was the only one who felt that way.
How could I have been expected to feel any differently? I had zero examples of LGBT people in my life. Except for Ellen Degeneres, who I only knew of in the vaguest of concepts from having heard my parents talk about how evil and wicked she was and how they’d never watch her show now that she’d come out as a lesbian.
What I’m getting at is simply this: Media representation is important. And up until a decade or so ago, it was utterly non-existent in most people’s lives.
Even in my twenties, by which time I’d well figured out I was on the LGBTQIA spectrum, I could rarely find any representation of people like me in ANY media save fan fiction and specifically yaoi and yuri animes. For a young LGBTQIA+ person, that was rough. I felt like all the love songs were for straight people. All the romance movies were for straight people. All my heroes in my favorite books…well, they were always going to find a hetero romantic partner, and that other relationship I really felt was never going to happen because it’d be homosexual and no one did that.
So some time later, I grew up and became an author. It was never a question to me what to write. It had to be Dakota. And Dakota was gay.
As soon as I rubbed those thoughts together, I realized what I really wanted was to someday be thought of as the gay equivalent of Jim Butcher. Not just for me… But because I wanted the gay equivalent of Jim Butcher to exist.
I never intended to allow Dakota to be an LGBT-only series. I planned from the start to make the series accessible to a broader audience. I wanted this series to exist as just another urban fantasy which happened to have a lesbian protagonist, presented as simply as that. Not “a lesbian story with urban fantasy styled plots” but an urban fantasy story with a lesbian in the driver’s seat. The story would not rely on her being a lesbian. It wasn’t about her being a lesbian. She just was one. And this was her story about being Awakened to the supernatural, and her journey from there onward.
Because I feel it’s important for stories like that to exist.
Not just stories where you crack open the page to read about lesbian sex or gay sex, and I guess there’s a plot in there too… But simply fiction like any other fiction. With representation.
That’s what Darksbane Books is all about. We publish great fiction with diverse representation.
And maybe because of that, one day, someone like me will pick up a book in a library alongside Storm Front and feel like they’ve found themselves in Dakota Shepherd.
Maybe that person won’t feel so alone. And maybe they’ll realize a little earlier than I did that whoever they are…that’s wonderful.