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 – Follow @WrrrdNrrrdGrrrl
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
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.
About the author:
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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