As of late last night, Rising from Ash is live on Amazon. This is my third book, which is amazing. I never thought I’d write any books, and here I have three with at least three more queued up!
Publishing a book is a complicated mix of emotions. Excitement, relief, fear, trepidation, and many more I’m not great at expressing. I’m excited for Phoenix and Ash to be out in the world for everyone to meet. I adore them as a couple and for what they teach me about relationships. But I’m also concerned because writing barely represented identities is hard.
When I wrote Dal Segno I was blissfully ignorant of the backlash that can come from readers when you write a character they rarely see. Thankfully, I didn’t see this with Cam and her autism, though I am purposely avoiding Goodreads where the harshest reviews are usually posted (in general). Cam not being ‘autistic enough’ was a genuine fear of mine, a reflection of my own concerns that I’m not ‘autistic enough’ to speak about it. I recognize the ridiculousness of my worry, but I’m certain many others can relate.
As I researched Rising from Ash I realized I had to prepare myself for a specific type of critical review. Not because the story itself was bad, or the characters were unbelievable, but because there is a major divide within the LGBTQ+ community regarding asexuality and demisexuality. There are those who believe asexuals shouldn’t be included. There are those who think asexuals are fine but demisexuals aren’t part of the asexual spectrum and thus shouldn’t be included. This was made very clear to me as I looked at reviews of books I read that incuded demisexual or asexual representation. The harsh criticism was not based on the merits of the story but the personal beliefs of the reader.
Let me be clear. You are absolutely allowed to dislike a story or the characters within it. But I urge everyone to be very careful of gatekeeping. The asexual spectrum includes much more than just sex repulsed asexuals who never experience sexual attraction.
My approach to Ash, who is demisexual, is a mix of my experiences and the other asexual folks I spoke with. She’s different from the few demi characters I’ve read about before but still fits the definition. Because of this, I expect pushback from some. It’s the same negativity I see online directed at real people, myself included, for our sexuality.
The point of this post isn’t to say, don’t write negative reviews. It’s to be very careful of gatekeeping. Asexuality is real. Demisexuality is real, and it belongs to the ace spectrum. Both have always existed but not discussed.
The following are two concise explanations of demisexuality, gray asexuality, and the asexuality spectrum. Please give them a read so you can be an ally for the asexual community.
If you’re wondering why I say anything at all, it’s because books have power. Stories allow us to empathize and understand people in ways nothing else can. My hope is that my books make the world a little better place for marginalized folks to inhabit. Even if you’re tempted to say asexuals don’t belong in the LGBTQ+ community, please learn more about asexuality. Read my book, and maybe read the sequel next year. Read the links above and listen to the stories of asexuals and their struggles in the world. We’re all better together as one community. And let’s face it, the world is a challenging place still and we need all the support we can get.