I’m a queer woman, though it took me a long time to figure that out–just about thirty-five years, actually. Mine isn’t one of those stories of knowing from a young age, or living in the closet, or parental disapproval keeping me in denial. I was an introverted kid who had a hard time connecting to other people, let alone navigating attraction, and it took years for it to occur to me I might be happier with women than men. It’s still strange to wrap my head around.
There’s probably a lot of things that contributed to that, but I know a part of it comes from the media I grew up consuming. I was a tomboy in every way except for the sporty parts: I liked bugs, and dinosaurs, and violent video games, and horror movies. I still do. I was introduced to anime through magical girl Sailor Moon, but quickly gravitated instead toward fighting samurai, gun-toting heroes, and over the top action setpieces. I preferred high fantasy political conflicts over romance and didn’t care about any book, show, or film that didn’t have explosions, or blood, or a dinosaur.
Which sounds a little boorish when put like that, but ultimately what I wanted were great stories where the stakes couldn’t be higher, no matter what was going on. Even when I got to an age where I started wanting romance in my fiction, I was eager for it to be as dramatic and tension-filled as anything else in the story. I craved action in my escapism.
I still do, though now I’m more invested than ever in seeing a more diverse cast of characters in those stories. Though popular fiction is making strides in the arena of LGBT representation, the majority of the mainstream has been taken up by coming out stories, cozy romances or else doomed ones. When it comes to action faire, Hollywood is far behind. It isn’t until very recently that we’ve started to see queer characters in major science fiction, or even seen the sexualties of side characters hinted at in big budget drama, not counting mean-spirited jokes. However, when it comes to queer characters as protagonists in action, fantasy, and horror, saving the world or defeating evil with all the included romance and victory of their straight counterparts, we are still very much lacking.
That’s what my stories are very much about: action, adventure, and magic, with all the drama and spectacle, but gay this time. No hints of queerness in the subtext, but queerness in the text itself. Bring on the action gays, the trans Final Girls, the ace captains! Or as the case may be, bisexual polyamorous samurai going to war and seeking revenge for their murdered family, as in my latest book, KAZUCHIYO: Battle for Two Bridges.
Because sometimes when you want something to exist, you’ve got to make it yourself!
About the author:
Melanie Schoen is an indie author born and raised in Michigan. From a young age she enjoyed crafting stories, particularly those featuring historical settings with diverse characters, full of adventure and drama. After studying Japanese language and culture and earning a bachelor’s degree in East Asian Language and Studies, she spent several years translating manga for various American publishers. These days she works an office job to lend more time to her passion for her personal fiction, marrying her love of history with a desire for more progressive narratives.
In addition to Kazuchiyo, Melanie is publishing graphic novel Bang! Bang! BOOM! along with its prequel novel, Bang! Bang! BOOM! [NEW YORK], a jazz era adventure series featuring LGBT gangsters and magic. For updates, other news, and information about all her current projects, please visit http://www.melanieschoenbooks.com