So, I just published Following Orders, which is an MM Romance about an asexual man, who finally falls for someone. It’s a journey of self discovery, as well as a romance novel.
IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT, YOU MIGHT WANT TO COME BACK LATER. THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.
However, someone pointed out that he’s NOT asexual, just because he eventually begins a relationship that includes sex. Also that I have no idea what asexuality is and that I’m misrepresenting it.
First off – this is a work of fiction. Although Christian is loosely based on me, he’s his own person and his ideas are not necessarily my ideas. In one instance, the one the person took issue with – “no interest in relationships, sex, intimacy…everything.” – is my opinion. In fact, it’s how I’ve felt most of my life.
I never knew I was asexual. I thought I was just the weirdo who didn’t have an interest in relationships. I found guys attractive and was friends with a lot of them, but the whole “relationship” thing weirded me out and I was never really bothered by it. I tried it once or twice, with disastrous results, but it was never something I was comfortable with. I’m not a touchy feely person. I don’t hug anyone but my mum, (even other family members), and I don’t like kissing, cuddling or anything else that goes with a relationship. I can write about it, because it’s fiction. I also write about vampires, but that doesn’t mean I want to be one.
Know when I realised what I was? When I was reading the New Scientist magazine, that I used to read religiously. It had a two page spread on Asexuality and, before that, all I knew about the word was that it was related to plants. I read that article and suddenly everything made sense. It didn’t mean I couldn’t find guys attractive, it didn’t mean I couldn’t like holding hands or anything else, because there are different levels of asexuality. Everyone is different.
However, the reviewer who told me I didn’t have a clue what asexuality was really cut me up. I gave Christian a happy romance, because that’s what he pushed for. Writing it any other way didn’t work. I always ended up with a mental block and had to go back and rewrite parts a couple of time.
Has he become miraculously gay? No. He’s unlabelled, because he’s always been asexual. But Duncan is something different, that he can’t define. He’s not suddenly going to go around sleeping with anyone and everyone. Duncan is the exception. Just like I still harbour feelings of regret over never attempting to start a relationship with one particular person, because they brought out the strongest feelings in me that no one else had managed. I didn’t want Christian to live with regret.
Right now, I’m really sad. And hurt. Because this comment felt like a personal attack on me, whether the person meant it or not. I bleed into every book I write and I’ve had my share of 1 star reviews. When it’s about the plot, I can take it. When it’s about a character, fine. But when it cuts this deep, on a personal level, it makes me second guess everything. Maybe this person doesn’t know me at all, but the wording and brutality of their review was enough that it didn’t have to be personal. The review was a cruel, personal attack on my view of a subject.
Please…PLEASE…remember that, when you review a book, you’re talking about hours and hours of someone’s time. Literally, sweat and tears, that they’ve shed to bring this book to life. You’re welcome to your opinions on the book, but try to remember that you’re talking about a real person. Just because you haven’t met them or don’t know them or they’re an author, doesn’t mean they’re not a real person.
I’m not famous. I’m not rich. Most people in the genre don’t know who I am, yet. And, quite honestly, I don’t mind any of those truths. I’m happy as I am. But please don’t forget that I’m human. I’m as real as you are.