(I originally posted this article on Medium.)
When I set out to write my YA novel (First Charge) I had two reasons for wanting to create my fifteen-year-old main character as a lesbian. I wanted to make it clear there was no chance of her becoming romantically involved with the secondary character, Theo. Their relationship resembles that of a brother and sister.
The other reason was, I haven’t come across many positive LGBT role models in books. The books I’ve seen — or in some cases subjected myself to read — all insist on having explicit sex scenes in them. Yet books about straight characters aren’t always like this. So why do authors seem to do this? I’m sure some books are out there to prove me wrong, but I’ve struggled to find them. I’m happy for people to tell me about them in the comments section.
People’s eyes light up when I say I’ve written a book about a lesbian mermaid and they seem disappointed when they find out it’s not what they think. I’ve been asked how Meredith knows she’s a lesbian if she doesn’t hook up with girls — that’s the polite version of the question. The simple answer is, because she’s attracted to girls.
Anyway, my character is fifteen in the first book, so this was never going to be erotica. She’s unsure about her destiny to save the world. Part of her enjoys being different (and her mermaid ancestry) but another part of her wishes she could live a normal life. The thing I wanted to do when writing Meredith was for her to feel confident about her sexuality; although relationships aren’t a priority for her and she’s conflicted in other parts of her life instead.
Without giving too much away, she does meet someone, but I didn’t write any explicit scenes. Even with the character of Theo, who sleeps around with a lot of women, I hinted rather than showing this. The reason for even including that was to demonstrate how he separates himself from people and doesn’t show his true self. He’s a shapeshifter descendant with the ability to change appearance.
I may have overdone it on the violence instead, but when you’re fighting people from an evil organisation who want to let half the population die, there will be some bloodshed. It’s essential to the story. The plot can cope without unnecessary X-rated scenes though.
Amanda Steel is the author of First Charge.
A list of links to buy the book can be found HERE