I’ve always been a bit of an outsider/ freak/ somehow ‘different’ since I came of age in the late 60’s and 70’s. My activist/revolutionary tendencies are rooted in the radical counter-culture identity of my generation that grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I experienced discrimination and disdain as a hippie for my anti-war, and environmental beliefs; I was truly a freak for being vegetarian (at age nineteen). Even joined a hippie commune in Tennessee and had two children born at home in natural births assisted by midwives. (Bonus points if you know what commune I’m talking about). Tried to save the world and wage peace and love the best I knew how.
By the time I got to middle age, I felt pretty familiar with always being on the edge of ‘normal’ society (if there is such a thing). Then, as I started grappling with my identity a gay woman, I discovered there was more than one “closet” I needed to deal with.
I went public with my romance writing. Further, my erotic paranormal romance writing. These words inspire such a variety of responses. Yeah, I feel the subtle judgements that crop up around my choices of fiction. Cuz this means I read the stuff, too, right? Beyond the writing, I outed myself as a person who didn’t always choose literary fiction first for pleasure reading. In a way, outside the romance community, I was a freak, again. I recognized the familiar feelings of being a little weird and shrugged them off. I am who I am, right? I wrote like mad and was given three contracts for paranormal romance books by a well-known publisher.
Cue my coming out as gay, and my entry alone into an unfamiliar lesbian community. I shouldn’t have been surprised by my discovery of another sort of “sub-closet” within the local lesbian scene, around my reading and writing romance. It’s a closet I’ve had to step through over and over. Explaining to lesbians of a certain age what I write can be cringe producing and funny. No one knows what ‘paranormal romance’ means – let alone reads any such thing. My halting explanations to bewildered meet-up dates (trying hard not to judge me!) and various social circles is fodder for future sitcoms. Word of advice – do not attempt to explain the history of the romance genre while on dating sites LOL!
To my chagrin, the women I’ve met near my age appear to read mostly literary fiction, thrillers, biographies and murder mysteries. Apparently, enjoyment of fantasy romance is a tiny fraction of the reading populace. Which makes me a sort of double freak. One for reading and writing it, another for being a lesbian who does. Why is that? I admit to being stumped. Maybe few had read a story they actually liked? Or thought was well written? Lesbians don’t like fantasy or science fiction very much? Hmm…My solution was to craft a quality story I thought might help sway opinions. Fantasy romance can be great! Etc. I also wanted to kick out the glass ceiling in the industry in general, regarding the equal value of lesbian romance stories.
So I applied myself to writing a kick-ass female/female paranormal romance. My publisher offered a contract and a hearty, “good luck with that.” Published in 2016, my book, “Unbidden Dragon” is available as an E-book for curious readers to check out. It’s hot and fun and features two sexy female main characters, Portland, magic and shape-shifting dragons. In my world, what’s not to like?
Yet another sub-closet category was revealed when I discovered I am one of only six lesbians in the entire U.S. who was ever a bona fide hippie. Ha ha! Who knew I’d end up such an outlier, even now? I’d love to meet another gay woman who went to Grateful Dead concerts. Just sayin’.
Indeed, it does appear I’m still a bit of a freak after all these years. And yet, the feeling is so familiar, it pleases me in some inexplicable way. I suspect freakiness comes with the territory when you’re waging the peace and love revolution in your own special way.
Long may we wage!
Louisa Kelley is the author of 4 sensual romance e-books featuring hot romance, shape-shifting dragons and urban story lines based in Portland.
She resides in Portland, Oregon where, in a strangely perfect combination of rainy winters and urban skyline, her writing inspiration abounds. Meet the sexy world that’s been evolving in her fevered brain…She’d love you to join her in some over-the-top kick-ass adventures with the Draca; dragon shape-shifters of a very different kind.
- Louisa Kelley Author@ Facebook
- Member of Romance Writers of America
- Member of Rose City Romance Writers