When It’s Personal. When It’s Political.

I have a book coming out on Tuesday.

More precisely, I have a book with a queer protagonist, a bisexual protagonist, a world-saving protagonist coming out on Tuesday.

Later this year, I have another book with a bisexual protagonist happening.

Here’s the order in which I wrote the novels I’ve thus far written (this is relevant):

  1. PRIMEVAL (2008ish), which you will likely never see because it was the first one and it’s like a really optimistic finger painting, if I used David Eddings and LJ Smith as paint.
  2. ELEMENTAL (2008-09ish), the sequel. Ibid.
  4. STORM IN A TEACUP (2008 – 2012, but all but the first chapter in 2012)
  6. SHRIKE: RAMPANT (2013)
  7. STONEBREAKER (2014-2015: this is on submission and is an epic fantasy and I’m goddamn proud of it and hope it sells someday)
  8. ANY PORT IN A STORM (2015)
  9. TAKEN BY STORM (2015)
  10. EYE OF THE STORM (2015-2016)
  11. LOOK TO THE SUN (2016- in progress)
  12. ALADRA (2016- in progress)

There’s a timeline hidden in those books.

My life story is hidden in those books.

It’s plied together like spun Harris wool, made into yarn, woven into stories.

TW for mention of abuse and rape.


In 2008 I was raped twice. When SHRIKE: THE MASKED SONGBIRD was first written, it dealt with that. Clumsily, painfully, in a way that didn’t make it past those early drafts, because when I wrote it I felt helpless, and when it was published, I’d taken pains to take back control.

In 2011, my cousin died. Suddenly. Shockingly. One day he was preparing for his daughter’s first birthday and celebrating making it to the big 3-0 the week before, the next he was gone. I couldn’t write about it for over a year. Then I wrote A HALL OF KEYS AND NO DOORS, which ended up dealing with that…and with something else. Unexpectedly. Also clumsily, also painfully, also in a way that didn’t make it past early drafts. In writing A HALL OF KEYS AND NO DOORS, I came out to myself.

I knew Ayala wouldn’t stay with her love interest from STORM IN A TEACUP. As Veronica Mars is wont to say, “The hero is the one who stays.”

I knew who she needed to love. I knew who needed to love her.

I wrote the rest of the Storme story with painstaking deliberation. I carefully planted seeds of trust. I watered them and fertilised them and watched them grow up while the world of that story came tumbling down. Writing the rest of that series? I needed to fall in love with a woman. So Ayala did for me.

I watched characters like me dying on screen. Over and over, I watched myself die on screen. Queer death after queer death after queer death.

Sometimes those stories are important, but when that’s all you see, you need another narrative.

I was desperate to see another narrative, so I wrote one. I wrote A HALL OF KEYS AND NO DOORS and came out to myself. I wrote ANY PORT IN A STORM, TAKEN BY STORM, and EYE OF THE STORM and owned it.

These books will never not be personal. And they will never not be political, because our world politicises my agender body, my bisexual life, my loves, my self. I have to fight to be included. I am not the default. These books are #OwnVoices books, but when I wrote them they were not OUT voices books. I was not out. Closets are oppressive things. Needing them is a product of oppression.

Writing bi characters is still a radical act because being bi in a world that tells us our sexuality is whoever we are currently fucking erases us every day — being bi is a radical act. It’s asserting and coming out over and over and over to people who often ought to know better. As my friend put it the other day:


Bi people are not part straight and part gay. We’re 100% bonafide queer. We’re not straight when we’re in a relationship the world perceives as straight. Every relationship we have is a queer relationship because we are queer. Ayala was no less bi when she was with Mason than she is with Mira. Full stop.

It’s hard to write coherently about this right now, in the wake of Orlando. It’s hard because of so many reasons. The #QueerSelfLove tag this week was so needed, to see queer faces saying, “I’m here. Let me show you around my life, because I am a person.”

Having to promote a book coming out next week, a book that has a queer protagonist, is daunting right now. I could just shut up about it, but I’m tired of queer people having to shut up, to be polite, to just blink through the homophobia and the bullshit. To smile through the jovial transphobic jokes, to be invisible and marginalised even if we have intersectional identities. To need sanctuary in queer spaces with all of us always having known what happened at Pulse could happen to us.

Ayala’s story is important to me, not just because she’s a badass with swords who fights for her world and her family, but because she is queer, because she is not tragically queer, because she also gets to fight for her happy ending.

Promoting anything right now feels horrible. But one thing that I feel good about is that I can offer SOMETHING to my queer family that I wrote for me, but that maybe right now somebody else needs. I can offer a story where Ayala gets to be queer and can put our world’s burden of homophobia down. Where the men in her life don’t sexualise her or ogle her and Mira. Where the worry is the fate of the planet and not, you know, the gender identity of Ayala’s romantic partner.


EYE OF THE STORM is coming out Tuesday. Until then (and a little beyond), the other books in the series are on sale.



TAKEN BY STORM is $1.99.

EYE OF THE STORM is available for preorder.

A HALL OF KEYS AND NO DOORS is available for preorder.


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5 thoughts on “When It’s Personal. When It’s Political.”

  1. I have loved every minute of the Ayala Storme series and can’t wait to get my little fingers on Eye of the Storm.

    This week has been like no other week in my entire life. After Orlando, I tried to hard to be a good “cis-het” ally, even though I wasn’t really. And inside I started to feel anger. No just the anger at the shooter and society over the shooting, but something deeper and more internal. More like a wounded animal.

    Then those posts came out from people who didn’t feel queer enough and it was.. I don’t even know how to put it into words. It was like somebody took my blindfold off and I suddenly saw something amazing and sad and beautiful and painful.

    I had to face up to some stuff that had been just sitting inside me since forever but never really been examined or addressed. In doing so, and in sharing those posts, I found a bunch of other people who felt the same or very similarly. Talking with them, and with you, helped SO MUCH.

    At this point, I’m not even sure what label to use for myself. I’ll get there, and I’ll do my best to wear it proudly. But I need a little time to sit with it. I have Therapy on Monday and I know that’s going to be a big conversation.

    And when it comes right down to it, I’m one of the people who has needed to read the Ayala Storme books (and others like them, but I haven’t found all that many). They have burrowed into my heart the way only a few other books have. You have a gift as a writer and an amazing person, but you’ve also given me a gift by sharing those books with me (and others).

    Thank you is too small of a phrase, but it’s what I have. Thank you.

  2. Orlando hurt me. I’m still processing and trying to understand what it means to me. I’m scared, I’m angry, I’m frustrated. You’re doing an amazing job. I’m so proud of you. Please keep writing and doing because you’re a voice necessary. I wanted so badly to read supernatural stories with queer main characters, and you’re doing it! For those who died, you’re giving them a voice. Hugs.

    1. <3 <3 <3 Orlando hurt me too. So damn much. I have used a lot of words recently and I still don't know that I've found the right ones.

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