By Holly Evans
Holly Evans is a passionate red-head who refuses to take the easy path in anything. She fell into writing LGBT+ Urban Fantasy despite many intelligent people telling her that was making her life too difficult. She’s determined to write books that she’s madly in love with that also give readers what they’re looking for.
Write What You Know
So, this story all started with Dacian. He’s my gay tattoo magician, and he’s how I got into writing LGBT+ Urban Fantasy. No, that isn’t fair. This started with Quin. He was the twin brother of the heroine in my first series. Quin began the series as a typical straight guy, had a new girl in his bed most nights—then there was a guy. Suddenly he wasn’t interested in those girls any more, and over the course of the series he comes to realize he’s bisexual. I didn’t sit down and plan it that way, my subconscious just wove the character arc and I loved it, so I ran with it.
Then there was Dacian. He was the one that made me realise writing LGBT+ Urban Fantasy is what I want to do with my life. I knew I wanted to write Urban Fantasy, I just hadn’t realized that I wasn’t going to write any more straight protagonists.
I wrote the first four or so chapters of Stolen Ink (Dacian’s book 1) and then let them sit while I wrapped up the last book in my Infernal Hunt series. Now, the heroine in the Infernal Hunt series is the only straight member of the cast, so I was already edging towards writing LGBT+ Urban Fantasy. When I returned to read those chapters of Stolen Ink, I noticed that Dacian described men differently, and, given all my books are written in first person, that meant he thought about men differently. I had a lightbulb moment. He was gay!
It took all of twenty minutes for me to realize the entire cast was either gay, bi, or asexual. It felt so right, so natural. Stolen Ink was already my passion project. I’d been wanting to write a tattoo magician for years, and the book is set in what my readers have dubbed “the Feinverse”. It’s a huge fantasy kitchen-sink world with twenty types of magic, and every supernatural being I can think of. I’d been dying to write a huge, colourful, magic-packed world for ages, and I was finally doing it!
Having Dacian turn out to be gay was just the icing on the cake, and it felt so right. When I’m asked why on earth I write gay and bi protagonists, the answer’s really very simple. I’m bi, I grew up around a lot of LGBT+ people, and the majority of my close circle are LGBT+, so I’m doing what writers are told to do again and again—I’m writing what I know.
As I’m being honest, the LGBT+ part isn’t the only way in which I decided to really follow the advice to write what you know. Most of these books are set in Prague, because that’s where I was living when I wrote the first couple of Ink Born books. How could I resist? It’s a gorgeous city with such a fantastic atmosphere, and it’s crying out to have raven shifters perched on top of the many spires on the cathedral and pixies hiding out in the underground bars.
Now, this is far from an easy path. I am absolutely cutting down my potential readership by writing these gay and bi heroes and heroines. There are plenty of very vocal people who dislike that fact, and that does reduce my promotional opportunities for these books.
Some very intelligent people have told me that I shouldn’t be so blatant about the fact my worlds contain very few straight people. I see two problems with that, though.
Firstly, if I try and hide the fact my protagonists are bi or gay, some people will be very angry when they find out. I want to make readers happy, not angry! Secondly, by being really clear about what I write, I’m helping those people who have been eagerly awaiting Urban Fantasy adventures with people like them as the hero find my books. I’m waving a big flag saying, ‘I’m here!’
This entire endeavour is one of passion for me, and it really has to be. It is harder getting my books out there, and my readership is smaller than if I were writing the same books with straight heroes and heroines. In a weird way, I really enjoy that, though. I love the challenge that comes with trying to find ways to best approach this, to best get these books into the hands of readers who love them as much as I do.
On the more difficult days, I turn to my inbox and I look at the emails I’ve had from readers. I have some really amazing emails from gay guys who are over the moon to have books where they see themselves as the kick-ass tattoo magician; and asexuals who see themselves in Vyx, who’s very much kick-ass in her own way. Reading those emails and seeing how I’ve brightened these people’s worlds kicks me out of whatever darkness I might have been feeling. There’s nothing like knowing I’ve touched people in that way.
By writing what I know, I’m giving people like me a place where they can see themselves in a world packed full of magic. I’m giving them a vehicle for adventure and a way to escape what can be a miserable grey world. Yes, my reasons for beginning this endeavour were entirely selfish. I wanted to write what I loved, to create these vivid places that had more layers than I’ll ever be able to get down on paper. The outcome, though, has been far better than I could ever have dreamed.
Check back here tomorrow for an exclusive sneak peek of Holly’s latest book, Blood of The Wolf, now available on pre-order
Holly Evans is an urban fantasy author with an unhealthy fascination with blades, a deep love of hellhounds, and would love one day to wake up as a fae. When she isn’t wrangling rogue characters and trying to tame her muse, she’s researching shiny new ninja moves. During her spare time she fights crime and rights wrongs on the streets of County Kerry.