I have been doing a lot of thinking over the last month. In fact, I’ve got a Word doc on my computer that is basically 2,000 words of me thinking out loud (well, typing), trying to work my way through the quagmire of issues that 2020 seems to have brought to the light.
(Which is not to say the issues are a quagmire – they’re difficult, heavy issues, but they are definitely worthy of examination. Especially as I’m a straight CIS female white author who writes guys who have sex and babies together (and are often BIPOC to boot). I am probably at or near the top of the list of authors who require self-examination.)
I won’t bore anyone with my thoughts – but I think it’s worth sharing what I have decided, especially since it’s largely going to affect what I write and how I share it in the future.
So here goes:
1. I’m going to keep writing BIPOC characters. I live in a diverse household. Diversity in my books is extremely important to me. I don’t want to stop writing diversity, or start writing only white MCs.
But I’m going to ensure that I’m not doing it just to tick off a box, because as much as I hate to admit it, I have definitely done that in the past. (Did I realize I was ticking a box? Maybe. Did I realize how terrible that was? No. Do I regret it now? Oh, yeah. Worst part is, I still like the book itself, I think it’s a good story. But the box I ticked isn’t justified in the story in the slightest – it doesn’t add a thing, and therefore, it’s just a box ticked. I’m ashamed that I did it. I’m not sure what to do with it, either – do I remove the book? Do I let it remain out there? I don’t think it’s harmful, as it is – just not helpful.)
I promise I won’t write a character merely to tick a box anymore. If a character is POC, it’ll be because it’s appropriate to the setting or premise of the plot. It’ll be an intrinsic part of that character, and not just a side note. I don’t want to be ashamed of my books, or the characterizations within them.
That means there are some ethnicities that I will probably never write. And that’s okay. I’m not in it to tick boxes.
2. I will promote own-voices as much as I possibly can. I can do the research, hire the sensitivity readers, pay attention to every detail as closely and carefully as I can – but I cannot recreate the experience in the same way as someone writing about their own experience can. I believe the table is big enough for everyone – and I’m going to help make sure that there’s enough room for anyone who wants to be there by making sure their voices are heard and their books are visible. I’ve only got my one vote – but it might be the one vote that ends up mattering.
3. I’m not going to make my fanfic a secret any longer. I’ve never really linked to my fanfic from this website, but I’ve talked about my professional writing in my fandom spaces – and it’s only now that I realize how much of a relief that has been for me. I’m tired of being secretive on Twitter – and to pretend that part of my writing life doesn’t exist.
I started writing as azriona in the Harry Potter fandom in 2004. Since then, I’ve written in Doctor Who, Sherlock BBC, Check Please!, Yuri on Ice, and a bunch of shorter stories in varied fandoms. I’ve written Omegaverse and non-Omegaverse, slash and het, romance and humor and parody and horror and mystery. I’ve written AUs and canon-compliant and everything in between. I had a blast, and there’s a lot of stories in there of which I am immensely proud – and always will be.
And I think the writing world has come to a point where my experience in fandom isn’t a reason to dismiss my current work. If you want to see it – by all means, there’s a link on the menu above under Free Reads – it’ll take you to the main three fanfiction archives that house my work. I hope you find something you enjoy.
(And as a side-note: one of the things I’ve done the last few weeks was to look through my fanfic folders on my computer. I’ve found some fanfics I never finished, but in reading them, I started to think of how I could. One might be scrubbed and turned into a novel – I haven’t quite decided how to work it yet. But I’ll be adding to those archives again, very soon, hopefully before the end of the year. Fanfic was one of my favorite pasttimes, and I loved writing for the sheer joy of it. I need to have that again in my life, beyond what I write for publication.)
4. I’m going to continue to expand beyond the Omegaverse. I still love the Omegaverse, controversy and problematic issues and all. I still think it’s a great way to examine society and how certain members of it are treated. But there’s other stories I want to tell, too – and there are definitely stories I want to tell that don’t really fit in the Omegaverse world.
I’ve written previously about how I don’t plan to use a different pen name for my non-Omegaverse stories. I still think it’s possible to cross those genres under the same pen name, and be successful. Especially if I can bulk up my non-Omegaverse reading list with additional non-Omegaverse stories. So expect more stories without the mpreg implications from me in the future – perhaps not immediately, but they’re coming.
5. I want to write more stories about older people, not just young ones. The bulk of my MCs have been in their 20s – which is great. But it’s been a long time since I’ve been in my 20s, if we’re going to be honest, and more and more, I find stories about people in their 30s and 40s and even 50s just as interesting. Ageism is something that’s always been present in Romancelandia, though it’s never been a focus. (And that’s fine, there’s other issues much larger at stake.) But it’s something I can help to fix, and it’s something I can do now.
6. I’m going to take my books wide. This is something I’ve considered for a while. I know that the omegaverse is mostly centered on Amazon, and specifically within Amazon Kindle – but it does exist in other locations, too. I’m also tired of dancing to KU’s tune. I really wanted to make my entire catalog free for a longer period of time than KU was willing to let me do. Taking the books wide lets me do that much easier.
I’ve already begun the process of pulling the books out of KU. In fact, Country Omega, Omega Nanny, and Camp Lake Omega are all wide as of this past Wednesday, and there will be four more books out of KU by the end of the month. The entire list will be out of KU by the end of the year.
(The Omega’s Missing Mate, which comes out next month, is already registered for KU, and I can’t pull it out until it’s published. But it will only have one run in KU to start, and should be done by December.)
Additionally, The Country Omega is in the process of going PermaFree. It’s already free on Smashwords, and will hopefully be free on most other platforms by next week. Convincing Amazon to price match is always a waiting game, but it’ll get there in the end, I’m sure. I also plan to take some other books to PermaFree status, though I haven’t decided which. I’m currently examining the options. (Which is a fancy way of saying, I haven’t decided!)
So there it is. I don’t know if these are the right decisions, or the wrong ones – but they’re they ones I believe I should make, and hopefully they’re ones you support. Please feel free to let me know what you think of them – even if it’s to disagree.