When Scott posted an open invitation to write a column for QSF, I thought: “Cool opportunity!” Then I thought, “What the hell am I going to call it?”
That question followed me around for a while like a storm cloud, sending me hiding for cover, too filled with angst to even try to tackle a response. I mean, A: I’m an author, so whatever I called this column had to be clever and good. And B: QSF is a site for sci fi and fantasy fans and writers, so the expectation for cleverness is especially high. Then, C: Whatever I come up with, I’m going to have to live with forever, like a bad tattoo. Unless I beg Scott: “Take it down! I can no longer be associated with a column that has such a bland, unimaginative, puerile name.” How embarrassing would that be?
So after much procrastinating and pondering and thumb-typing into my iPhone Notes app, I decided on Dispatches from Hogwarts G.S.A..
I won’t tell you the other options I came up with.
I write and read queer fantasy just about 365 days a year, so you can trust me that I have something to say about it, though you are more than entitled to argue with me that it’s a load of crap. I envision this column as a place where I talk about what’s queer in fantasy, what’s not queer in fantasy but should be, probably a bit about the business side of being a queer fantasy writer, and maybe even a review every now and then of the books I like.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter of course didn’t have a G.S.A. (which stands for Gay Straight Alliance for those of you who have been under a Forgetfulness Charm for the past twenty years). But Hogwarts should have had a G.S.A., and that’s kind of the point of my column. There should be a place in fantasy fiction for queer characters. Actually, there should be many queer places—in Westeros, and Middle Earth, and Discworld, and Earthsea, and Azeroth, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and Percy Jackson’s Half-Blood Academy and…you get the picture.
Now, before you say: there are queer characters in fantasy fiction, you rat bastard! I know.
And before you say: I wrote a great fantasy book with tons of queer characters, you dope! I probably know that too, and if I don’t, sure, tell me about it.
Most of all, before you say: Gosh, you halfwit poser, lots of fantasy books may not explicitly have queer characters, but they still illuminate queer themes; it’s called allegory, dumbass. I most definitely know that already, and it interests me a lot. So thanks for pointing that out, and you can expect I’ll have something to say about how classic and “mainstream” fantasy relates to queer experiences and where that is helpful and where it is not.
To give you an idea of where I’m coming from, the Hogwarts G.S.A. is interested in expanding the number and quality of queer portrayals in fantasy, both for young adults and for readers of all ages. Our core beliefs are gay is great, lesbian is luscious, transgender is transcendent, bisexual is beautiful, and queer is…quintessential. If you want a copy of our charter, I’ll send it to you. Since Dumbledore died, we’ve been flying free without a faculty advisor, but every now and then Madam Sprout helps us with some pointers on parliamentary procedure to keep things on the up and up.
Some of my favorite fantasy authors are Neil Gaiman, Ursula LeGuin, Gregory Maguire, and Terry Pratchett. They don’t always write stories that are explicitly queer, but I love their writing and their points-of-view.
For queer fantasy, I’m always on the lookout for books beyond the M/M market. No disrespect to M/M. I’m just more interested in queer stories that are plot and concept and character-driven versus relationship-driven. Some queer books I have loved, just pulled out of the queer sorting hat, are Ginn Hale’s Wicked Gentlemen, Allison Moon’s Lunatic Fringe, Perry Moore’s Hero, Nathan Burgoine’s Light, Malinda Lo’s Ash, and Douglas Clegg’s Mordred, Bastard Son.
If any of that has scared you off, I apologize. If not, I look forward to sharing my thoughts and hearing back from you.