I first heard the news from RWA President Diane Pershing at the Princeton romance conference, though she asked at the time that the announcement not be made until the final details had been filed – so I didn’t mention it then. There was, however, applause and squeeing at the time. No comment on who exactly was squeeing.
So while I was waiting for the official word from RWA, which went out 1 May, I bothered Jade Buchanan, the president of the Rainbow Romance Writers, and asked if she’d answer some nosy questions.
Her reply cracked me up: “I’m a little long-winded I know …which is slightly puzzling for someone who writes mainly novellas.” SNORT.
So behold: an interview!
(And can I tell you again at how damn excited I am that there’s a GLBT chapter in RWA now? HOLY SHIT that is awesome.)
In your stated goals, you write: “to be an advocate within the industry for our genre.” Can you expand on that? What specific topics immediately demand advocacy?
Jade: At the most basic level, we want to promote the authors who are writing GLBT romances on an even playing field. The world of e-publishing and small press publishing has been wonderful for a lot of our authors, while traditional mainstream presses have been closed to the majority of GLBT romances with a few exceptions. Running Press has a new experimental historical gay romance (non-erotic) line and there have been a handful of publishers who have either published GLBT romances for brand name authors or for authors who have GLBT characters in their existing series. A lot of our authors have also been refused reviews from large review bodies because of the GLBT content of their books. While we believe that every publisher and review site has the right to limit their books based on their target audience, we do want to be able to promote our authors and their books to the best of our ability.
We are also aware that as a chapter we represent all our member authors who write in the fields of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender romances. Some of these are more popular at the moment, but all four categories (as well as all types of cross-over stories) deserve to be discussed and will be treated equally by us as a chapter.
Do you plan to have a newsletter, e-newsletter, or conference? How about contests for published or unpublished writers?
Jade: We are currently hard at work on our first electronic newsletter, which will include craft articles and publishing news as well as interviews with our current members. Weíve discussed having a conference at some length and have also discussed the possibility of published and unpublished contests. I deal a lot with management systems in my day job and I believe that a slow and steady approach is best for an organization to sustain itself in the long run. A GLBT romance contest is something we want to have, maybe in the next year or two, but we are not ready for it yet. The same goes for a conference. Hopefully in the future!
So far, no courses are listed on your website, but you’ve already created a space for them. If you were to offer online courses to your members, what topics do you think would be most important, or most appreciated? Who will you tap to teach them?
Jade: Two of the courses we have planned are on marketing and plotting. We also had a recent request for a class on writing short stories, which weíll consider. Weíre very lucky to have an amazing talent pool among our current members so we will initially tap interested members to teach courses and then branch out if needed. Weíll also consider virtually anything that our member authors would like to learn about, if itís feasible and if enough individuals are interested.
What issues or challenges face GLBT romance writers which most romance readers or the rest of the romance community might not know about?
Jade: I think one of the biggest misconceptions about our group is that our authors only write gay romances. We actually have quite a number of individuals that write lesbian and bisexual romances and we also represent authors who focus on transgender romances, including those with either transvestites or transsexual characters.
Our current members come from all areas of the industry, both published and pre-published authors, as well as agents, editors, publishers and other industry professionals. Because we are so diverse, our members have all had quite different experiences within the romance community. One thing we almost all have in common is the need for a place to discuss our careers and our writing goals within an open and accepting environment. While some of our writers have had positive experiences at local or other special interest chapters when we reveal our GLBT focus, there are a lot of our members that have had very negative experiences. Some of our members have been ostracized from other chapters and a lot of members have had to deal with stereotypes and negativity. We’re dedicated to providing all our members with a comfortable place to gather and discuss issues!
Would you personally – not speaking as president but as an author if that is a more appropriate perspective – want a GLBT category in the RITAs as part of RWAs annual recognition of romance novels? Or do you prefer that the sex/gender of the protagonists is not specified, and ultimately may include GLBT protagonists?
Jade: Speaking personally, and not as a RRW representative, I would prefer that GLBT titles not be considered as a separate category, but rather be welcomed within whatever category the book fits. It’s always been my belief that a great story is a great story because of the plotting, characterization, world-building, etc. and not the gender or sex of the protagonists. One of the reasons we decided to form this chapter was to give a voice to our genre and hopefully show that we represent a number of very talented individuals that are no different than any other group of romance writers out there. At the end of the day, we all write about love!
Thanks to Jade for her time, and congratulations to the new chapter. For more information about the chapter or to inquire about membership, visit them online at RainbowRomanceWriters.com.