[Guest Post] Writing Relationships As An Ace Author – by Rachel Sharp

Today, I want to welcome author Rachel Sharp to Read Diverse Books. She is a fun and interesting personality on Twitter who’s worth a follow. She also has a new book, Phaethon, out now! It’s an Urban Fantasy/ Tech Fantasy that nerds will love. Please read her guest post below about writing romance and sex scenes as an asexual author and then add her new novel, Phaethon, on Goodreads!

Having Rachel Sharp on my blog made me realize that I have not reviewed nor read any books with explicit ace representation. This is a personal request, separate from the author’s guest post: If you have any recommendations or links to listicles recommending ace books, do share them in the comments so that I and others can find these books!

Without further ado..


Rachel Sharp –  

 

It’s important for people to write our own stories. To draw from experience, to see ourselves and people like us on the page, and to tell the whole truth—that not every story centers on an eighteen to thirty-five year old straight white man—is still radical. We will have to do it for a hundred years before our stories are considered “normal” and treated with parity.

And we’re doing it. It isn’t easy. We were taught very young that stories center on Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, and James Bond, and we had to learn to tell our stories instead of theirs. We wrote about ourselves even though we were “marketing risks.” We wrote about ourselves even though we were “niche.” We are making it happen.

Good job, everyone. Seriously. We are kicking some butt.

I was invited to write this blog about one of the aspects of myself that doesn’t mesh well with the traditional archetypes. I’m ace, or asexual. Asexuality has a lot of varying degrees and doesn’t exclude romantic attraction. For me, personally, finding the word for it was a long road. I called myself bi for a long time because there wasn’t really any difference between the way I felt about men and women. I learned (not felt, but learned) that sex was one of the ways that people communicated, so I studied the rules of those interactions and tried to be good at them, because it seemed to make people happy. I do feel romantic attraction. I do get crushes (a lot). But for me, a crush isn’t about sex. It’s a cuddle-crush. I want someone I like to like me back and be affectionate. If sex is involved, okay, that can be fun. But so are roller coasters, and swimming in the ocean, and playing video games together. I feel approximately the same emotional investment and drive for all of these activities.

I have been informed that not everyone feels this way about sex.

Which explained a lot, really, once I started to figure it out.

And then I started looking at my writing.

My characters are straight, gay, lesbian, bi, pan, ace, and aro. They reflect the people I know in real life. The character in my first book, Mab, is bisexual and demi-romantic (not that there was much chance to discuss it, as she’s alone for most of the story). My next book, Phaethon, is about a married hacker couple. Book two in that series will introduce their rockabilly lesbian next-door neighbor.

Obviously, some of these people are probably having sex.

I forgot to write any.

Right about now, people who experience sexual attraction in the more usual way are probably lifting an eyebrow. “You forgot? You forgot that sex was a thing?”

Yeah. I kinda did. I didn’t even write one of those *they kiss, camera pans left* scenes that so often comprise the PG-13 version.

This probably shows you just how important sex is to me.

When I realized that I had written around 300,000 words of fiction and not one sex scene, I started to wonder if my own relationship with sex was interfering with my storytelling. Was I denying my characters the full spectrum of their emotion by ignoring the sexual components? It worried me.

Then I realized that what I was really worrying about was failing to write to archetype. Having sex isn’t part of the plot, or part of the character. I’m not denying their identity. Their attraction is explicit. The sex doesn’t have to be, any more than I need to spend three pages on what they ate for breakfast. I’m not going to shoot my books full of unnecessary sex scene just because sex sells, or because James Bond did it. If I added sex scenes, I would be bored. My ace readers would skip them. And if my other readers want sex scenes so badly, there are plenty of other books for that.

I have to write the stories as seen through my lens.

We’ve all got to write our own whole truth.

No one else will do it for us.


Phaethon – by Rachel Sharp

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Hacker couple Jack and Rosie crack technology, but the newest device, the Phaethon, isn’t like other phones. The parts are junk, yet it can do the impossible. Though gentle prodding and data theft, they learn it’s powered remotely…by a living creature.
Cracking the Phaethon enters them into a war. Some, like Calthine, the bitter Bogle, are on their side. Others are controlled by ​a new type of fae; the bosses of the Phaethon corporation, who have steel for eyes and iron for souls. Now, the hackers have to fight creatures they’ve never heard of to save the friends they’ve just made.

 

Add on Goodreads | Amazon: Phaethon (Phaethon Series Book 1)


About the author:

Rachel Sharp is an author and lifetime member of the Somewhat Eccentric Creative Persons Club (which she just invented). 

Originally from Vermont, she now lives in New York City with her partner, several plants, and her boundless sense of inappropriate humor. At time of writing, she is working on entirely too many projects. The previous statement will be true regardless of time of reading. 

She also lives with chronic illness, plays ukulele, and tries to save the planet.

 


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30 thoughts on “[Guest Post] Writing Relationships As An Ace Author – by Rachel Sharp

  1. I had the same thought when I started writing my book (my main is an ace POC half-based off me and her gf is a bi POC based off my older sister’s best friend.) and I honestly have had no intention of writing any sort of explicit content or even sexual tension. That stuff makes me uncomfortable and I honestly skip over it in most books anyway. I barely write love anyway, so I want to write this one the way I want to read books. I think I’m more sex-repulsed than Sharp, but I’m glad someone else is out there writing. 🙂

    1. She probably didn’t feel compelled to or has probably done it so much that she doesn’t want to explain it every time. Did you ask her to explain? If you’re always curious, the internet will answer many of your questions. 🙂

  2. I love this post! There needs to be more asexual representation in literature. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an Asexual character which is very unfortunate.

    The premise of Phaethon sounds interesting! I’ll add it to my endless TBR list.

  3. Awesome post – thank you! And thanks for leaving out the sex scenes 🙂
    Books with ace protagonists: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (who is ace); Clariel by Garth Nix (tragic story, though, sort of how Clariel becomes an anti-hero); Lirael by Garth Nix (identity isn’t stated, but Lirael is uninterested in sex and many readers see her as demi. I haven’t read Goldenhand yet, though, so I don’t know if anything changes); Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith.

  4. Awesome post. I don’t think I’ve ever come across an explicitly ace character in a book. I’d be happy to read about one. I don’t usually like romances in books, so I’d love to see a female character kicking butt without simultaneously obsessing over potential boyfriends. I also don’t care if a book has sex scenes in it. Sex scenes don’t bother me, but love is more than sex, so I’ve never questioned the lack of sex in a book.

    1. I usually don’t questions lack of sex either. But I find it interesting that ace authors often forget to write sexual/romantic scenes altogether. haha. I don’t mind either way, but I will definitely be seeking out books with ace representation in 2017.

  5. I haven’t read it yet, but We Awaken by Calista Lynne has an asexual protagonist and I remember seeing some pretty positive reviews for it.

    I loved this post, btw. I wish more authors would just write romantic relationships rather than trying to show their characters’ attraction to each other through sex scenes. I’d personally rather read about a really close, positive relationship instead of reading a couple of sex scenes as “evidence” that the couple love each other. There’s so much more to love and romance than sex and I wish that were reflected in books more often.

    1. Thank you, Kourtni! I’m compiling a personal list of books with Ace rep I’l like to start reading over the year. I’ll be sure to add We Awaken by Calista Lynne. 🙂

      I’d also rather see positive portrayals of relationships through nonsexual romance & shared experiences. it’s why I stay away from Romance novels on most days. haha, but every now and then, I’ll pick one up. :p

      1. Yup, I’m the same way. Every once in awhile, I get in the mood for a romance but most of the time I avoid them because they tend to have so much sex in them. It’s also why I like YA romance better than adult romance – they tend to have fewer sex scenes but still offer a great story if I’m craving romance.

  6. I’ve had a few questions in my Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian column about books with ace characters, and I learned a lot researching those questions. One person was just asking for books with strong asexual characters (https://caseythecanadianlesbrarian.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/ask-your-friendly-neighbourhood-lesbrarian-7-books-with-asexual-characters/) and another one asked for ace characters with different romantic orientations in YA (https://caseythecanadianlesbrarian.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/ask-your-friendly-neighbourhood-lesbrarian-7-books-with-asexual-characters/). I found some pretty rad looking books for those lists. And now I’ve found another author to follow from this post!

  7. *hears someone mention ace recs* *bursts through the wall like the Kool-Aid Man*

    GOT YOUR BACK yo.

    But first — Rachel I love this post!! It’s kinda comforting to know I’m not the only ace who constantly forgets the more sexual elements of allo relationships? When I write I have to school myself because I’ll forget to include attraction oops XD

    I’ve had a lot of the fear you describe with romanticism, actually (turns out I’m aro-spec in addition to ace). I used never to ship anyone with anyone and I discovered I had *so little* romance in them, and it’s never that central. Took me some time to just decide that was the way it would be. ^^

    but yeah! Ace recs. All of these are *by* ace authors, too.

    1. FOURTH WORLD, by Lyssa Chiavari. YA, sci-fi, two ace spec protag (one is demi, the other is sex-repulsed). Mars archeology mystery/dystopia.

    2. DAYBREAK RISING, by Kiran Oliver. NA, fantasy, one of the two main is an ice-flinging demisexual lady (Kiran is ace spec too). Basic concept is Teenage Chosen One failed to overthrow regime and must lead a second attempt years later.

    3. CHAMELEON MOON, by RoAnna Sylver. Dystopia with superheroes, but really full of love and hope. Dys-hope-ia. Parole is a quarantined city over a burning fire, and everyone in it is super queer, lead character (Regan) is an anxiety-ridden ace lizardman. Contains the most fabulous f/f/f mom trio.

    4. THE MYSTIC MARRIAGE, by Heather Rose Jones. Historical fantasy, f/f with a demisexual lead. This is the second of a series (Alpennia) and the ace character is secondary in the first, but the focus of the second. Huge cast of women loving women and helping women out, in a Victorian-era fake Germanish country. It’s amazing.

    And mine. I mean, I wrote one too, and it involves an ace noodle-lover flying in a hot air balloon and overthrowing an evil scientist who has control of the governement. With a radio show. It’s … a thing, lol. VIRAL AIRWAVES, if it’s your thing.

    For the record, I’ve heard some really iffy things about Clariel, especially the last book. More concerning its arophobia but yeah.

    I have recs for two shorter stories too (not sure if authors are ace spec or not), so tag me if you want them!

  8. Ace is definitely an orientation I would like to see more of in books. I spent weeks at a time being ace as a teenager (in case anyone who isn’t Naz (who knows,) is reading this – I’m sexually fluid,) and I would also seriously like a diversion from the ‘everyone must be paired up to be happy’ subtexts; like, I was happy, but now you’ve told me that as a single virgin, I can’t be. And that, oddly enough, makes me kind of unhappy.

  9. Thank you Naz for hosting Rachel Sharp on our blog. This was such a powerful post for me to read for many reasons and I really appreciated Rachel’s honesty and sharing her experiences. So much of our socialization is about how important sex is for relationships and I am so so happy to see that narrative challenged. Definitely on my TBR, a definite read for me in 2017!

  10. I adore this guest post. So thankful for hosting it. I see the pressure around sex in relationships in so much of society & the media and I know many people will be glad that ace writers and their stories exist for comfort and to show how diverse relationships can be too.

  11. Thanks so much for your post Rachel and thanks to Naz for hosting! We definitely need to see more ace rep, I can only remember one book w it Every heart a doorway. Also always nice to hear particular ace experience since it’s such a spectrum.
    Tryin to remember my last read with explicit Sex which I don’t mind but is so often relegated to erotica. Wish people would start warning for romantic scenes 😁

    1. Hi! So far, my characters deal with more common disabilities (nearsightedness, bee string allergies, etc.) but none have dealt with serious chronic illness like mine. To be honest, I haven’t been ready. Adjusting to life with disability has been a long and difficult road of feelings, and I have a tendency to cry when I try and blog about it. I hope to someday be coping well enough to write an #ownvoices disabled character, but I’m not there yet.

      1. Hey! Thank you so much for writing back! I write, too, and the stuff I really want to talk about comes out in short, hateful bursts in short stories, but anything longer seems… scary. Like, in writing a longer piece, what will I learn about myself, you know?

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