Today, I’m happy to have author Claudie Arseneault on Read Diverse Books. Claudie is an important voice in the asexual and aromantic online communities. She is also behind the Aromantic and Asexual Speculative Fiction Database, which is a fantastic resource for those seeking books with aro and ace representation. Browse through the database, add some books to your TBR, and share it with others!
Be sure to follow Claudie on Twitter and Tumblr if you’re looking for smart, vocal, and active members in the aro and ace communities. Below is her guest post about why romantic retellings, even Queer retellings, are not enough for the Aro community.
Claudie Arseneault – Follow @ClH2OArs
We’ve all seen stories where characters develop a romance as their adventure unfolds, and in the end, that powerful connection allows them to overcome their fears and face the final challenge. We’ve witnessed countless wives and girlfriends get kidnapped or fridged for the benefit of a male hero. We’ve read story where the point was to finally be able to get together and live happily ever after, and others where love leads character into unrepairable mistakes and only tragedy can ensue.
Love—romantic love—has been a motor of stories since pretty much ever. How often have I read that romance is part of any great story? (The answer is often: it might be the most common microaggression I run into in the writing/book community). It’s obviously an important part of great many lives, and the QUILTBAG community has been hard at work taking back those narratives of romance (especially the happy ones) and retelling them while showcasing queer characters. Claiming these tales as ours is powerful and vital.
But for the aromantic community, what would that look like? We can’t transfer these narratives the same way, and in fact, we often find ourselves erased from the queer retellings of the rest of the community. Whether it’s two girls or your run-of-the-mill straight couple who vanquish evil with the power of their love, it’s still all about that romance. LOVE is LOVE, these stories say… except when it’s not.
Our stories center friendships, family (found or otherwise), and queerplatonic relationships. They explore a space where the most important person in your life is not your husband, girlfriend, or romantic partner(s)—there might not even be one person! Suddenly you fight the dragon to save your younger sister, you form an impossible circle of magic with your friends/found family, you turn your life upside-down to save a new friend. These flutters in your stomach are from a strange form of crush, in which you want to hang out forever with someone who gets you in a special, fireworks-in-your-head kinda way.
But beyond that… friendships in fiction are often static. The bestie is the rock upon which your main character relies as they go through the ups and downs of romance. Sure, the best friend might tell the MC off every now and then, but we all know it’s not for ever. The romance is the dynamic element, changing with the plot.
I don’t know about you, but my friendships sure aren’t as static. They deepen and stretch with time and events, sometimes a slow growth and sometimes like a lightning-strike—an intense flash but gone as fast as they started. It’s that dynamism that enriches my life so much. I wish we more often had the chance to see friendships evolve on the page… and as is often the case, my wishes spilled directly into my fiction.
I was halfway through revising Isandor when I realised how much it explored non-romantic relationships. They take so many shapes, go in so many directions. A queerplatonic relationship that draws one out of his shell and grounds him, a trio of friends shattered by the events, an unexpected bond with the enemy, a one-sided friendship, a hundred-year-old camaraderie resurfacing after a long absence, an inter-generational bond… name it!
The point is that there is a rich field of complex, heart-wrenching or lifting friendship stories to be told. These appeal to me as an aromantic writer and I’ve placed them at the heart of my writing. Stories of friendships, of platonic crews, of tightly-knit groups? They make me feel at home, like I belong at last—and that, in many ways, is the most powerful thing one can offer our too-often excluded and ignored community.
Claudie has a new book, City Of Strife, coming out on February 22nd, 2017. On February 18th, I will be hosting a giveaway for it on my blog.
As the author describes it, City Of Strife is a “friendship-centered political fantasy with criss-crossing storylines and an all-LGBTQIAP crew.”
Add the book on Goodreads if you’re intrigued and come back on February 18th for a chance to win the book for free!
About The Author:
Claudie Arseneault is an asexual and aromantic-spectrum writer hailing from the very-French Québec City. Her long studies in biochemistry and immunology often sneak back into her science-fiction, and her love for sprawling casts invariably turns her novels into multi-storylined wonders. The most recent, City of Strife, comes out on February 22, 2017! Claudie is a founding member of The Kraken Collective and is well-known for her involvement in solarpunk, her database of aro-ace characters in spec fic, and her unending love of octopi. Find out more on her website!
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