Congratulations Melanie H! She won a signed paperback copy of Five Moons Rising by Lise MacTague.
Lise MacTague, Andi’s co-pilot over at Lez Geek Out!, joins us today. She’s giving away a signed paperback copy of her latest release, Five Moons Rising. Drop a comment in the space below and I’ll do the drawing on Friday, June 23.
I’ve been told I write books with butch characters. I suppose that’s true enough, though it’s not something I set out to do purposefully. The kinds of books I write, the stories I find interesting, and the characters that move me are all over the board. I may have butch characters: Jak in the On Deception’s Edge series, Malice/Mary Alice and Ruri in Five Moons Rising (out now), and Isabella in Demon in the Machine (out in 2018), but I write other characters as well, so at first I was surprised to hear that.
But then I got to thinking. Something that has troubled me more and more of late is the way butch has become a dirty word, even within our own community. It’s been a bad word outside the lesbian community for some time. I’ve known that since I was a baby butch. I knew that the day a patron at the Milwaukee Public Library decided it would be a good idea to call me “butch.” His rationale for doing so: he thought it was my name, or so he claims. Straight people have been using butch as a cudgel to keep down those of us who don’t conform to their standards of femininity. I am female. I am proud to be female, but nowhere in my view of the world does that mean I have to be feminine or girly. I don’t want to be a man, I haven’t wanted that since I was sixteen. That was the summer I discovered girls, and realized that I didn’t have to be male to be with them. When I was little, I thought I wanted to be a boy, but what I really wanted was the same treatment boys got. I wanted the freedom to run around and rough house with my friends, to wear the clothes I was comfortable in (even ones with a distressing lack of pink), to go shirtless. I wanted to be able to do those things without getting sideways glances and disapproving stares from adults.
So when I had the opportunity, the choice to come up with characters who excited me, there should be no surprise that some of them come down on the masculine side of the spectrum. I was so happy when the cover of my first book, Depths of Blue, featured a butch-looking woman on the cover. I’ve seen my share of badass babes in pop culture, and most of them could pass as cishet women without even thinking about it. I love that we have those role models, but they don’t look like me. My publisher, Bella Books, and my cover artist, Sandy Knowles, got what I was doing with Jak’s character, and the cover nails it. It’s great to see badass women in movies and on TV. It’s great to see lesbians in movies and on TV. I love that we finally have those things, that our representation is expanding. Two women kissing is a wonderful, powerful image, one we actually see on occasion, so why does it also make me sad sometimes?
Lesbians are being represented on TV, which is great. Butches are not, at least not in a positive fashion. When was the last time we saw a true blue, beautiful butch who wasn’t the villain or the butt of a joke? Why are butches mostly shown to amuse or frighten? When am I going to see myself represented in popular culture?
Butch is not a bad word. Butch should not be an epithet, certainly not within the queer community. Without butches, we have no lesbian community. Are we perfect? Of course not, who among us is? But we’re here, we have a right to exist, we have a right to exist as women.
So I write butches. How can I not?
If you want more stories with butch characters, check out my latest release: Five Moons Rising. Malice Nolan is a genetically-modified soldier who hunts the worst the underworld has to offer (werewolves, vampires, demons, and more). The only thing that keeps her anchored in the human world is her relationship with her family, but when those bonds are threatened by a rogue werewolf Alpha, she has to figure out how to keep her family together and alive. Ruri Samson is the Beta of the local werewolf pack. After her Alpha is killed, she is thrust into the world as a lone wolf. Just when she’s regained her equilibrium, she crosses paths with Malice. Faced with few choices, and all of them bad, Ruri does what she must to survive, but soon her heart is what is in jeopardy.
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