This is Violetta Vane introducing my good friend Ruth Diaz. She’s got some fascinating things to say about writing lesbian relationships in romance.
Like Ruth, I also come from a background that’s more science fiction and fantasy than romance. I miss reading women-centered stories, so I take frequent breaks from m/m and go back to non-romance, or mmf or m/f erotic romance. I also write secondary women characters, including lesbians, in my m/m romance… but I haven’t really read much lesbian romance. I’m happy to report that The Superheroes Union: Dynama was an awesome place to start. It’s got a tight, exciting plot and wonderfully three-dimensional characters I really cared about. Here’s Ruth to talk about it some more.
The Superheroes Union: Dynama is the best story I never expected to write.
Romance is very new to me–I grew up on science fiction and fantasy, and the couple of times a friend loaned me a romance she thought I’d like, the writing was dreadful. So I just assumed all romances were dreadful. It’s only in the last two or three years that I discovered well-written romances, and that yes, I can write romances that really interest me.
When I decided I was going to try my hand at writing romance, I decided to start with a framework I was already comfortable with: space opera. I think I was four or five chapters into my space opera romance when I read the words “superhero romance” together somewhere. They seemed so at odds with each other, I couldn’t imagine how on earth you would write that.
And then my character Annmarie spoke up out of nowhere and gave me the critical line for a superhero love story.
I always intended to write non-mainstream relationships in my romances. But I also began writing romance in an effort to make some amount of money from my writing, however small, and from what I could tell, romances about two women weren’t terribly commercial. From that point of view, I should have back-burnered it. But TJ and Annmarie’s love story wanted to be told, even though it was nothing I could have expected to write.
Now, in the midst of promoting its release, I find I’m in the same position again, only this time, with regards to marketing. Since I never expected to be writing this story, I had no background in how to label it. A romance between two men would be labeled M/M. A romance involving three people might be MFM, MMF, MFF, or any other variety of lettered labels which seemed less about people than they were about body parts. But I was learning romance marketing from scratch, so I obligingly labeled my story F/F.
Come to find out, F/F isn’t romance written for queer women. The helpful write up on the blog I was approaching for review said F/F is targeted at straight women and bi-curious women. I imagine it would be even more likely aimed at men, except that men are less likely to read romance in the first place. The Superheroes Union: Dynama should be properly labeled “lesbian romance.” Of course, I had already sent out a couple dozen requests with the label F/F. Oops.
Well, sometimes we learn the hard way.
In the end, I don’t really look at my unexpected story as any of those labels. I look at it and I see a love story. It happens to be a love story between two people, as opposed to three or four or more. It happens to be a love story between two people who are female-bodied and femme-identified. It happens to be a love story between two women who are queer and comfortable with that, whose parents cared far more about their daughters’ superhero status then their sexual orientations.
The Superheroes Union: Dynama is not an “issue” piece. It’s just a love story, by any other name.
TJ Gutierrez used to be a superhero. But after the birth of her twins seven years ago, she hung up the yellow spandex. Until the day her archenemy and ex-husband, Singularity, breaks out of prison. When it becomes clear he’s after the kids, she’s forced to call the nanny helpline—and once again become…Dynama!
Annmarie Smith doesn’t have a superpower. She saves the world by keeping kids safe while their parents fight evil. She temporarily moves in with TJ, and the way the magnetic mama puts family first captures Annmarie’s respect, and maybe her heart—even though she knows better than to fall for a superhero. Still, it’s hard to resist their wicked chemistry. Kapow!
But they can only hide from the world for so long. When Singularity’s quest for custody puts the kids’ lives in danger, can the two women conquer the evil villain and save TJ’s family—all before their first date?
Ruth Diaz writes genre romances about non-mainstream relationships. She hides a number of publications in a different genre under another name, but The Superheroes Union: Dynama is her first romance publication. For more information, you can subscribe to her blog, like her on Facebook, or follow @RuthDiazWrites on Twitter (where she is most active and, well, opinionated).