There’s been something weighing heavy on my mind these last few weeks as I prepare for the release of THE BLOOD KING. And while I’ve struggled with how exactly I want to say things, I think it’s important now more than ever.
I am an LGBTQ ally.
Full stop. I have a list of reasons that I won’t just shout into the void here. The biggest reason: Many of my closest friends are part of the community, and I support and love them. I know this and they know this, but those who don’t know me should, too, because it’s simply part of me.
It’s important that I say this not to make a stand or get into some political or moral blog battle, but because a huge theme in THE BLOOD KING is about and for LGBTQ. I don’t want readers to be surprised or offended–and quite frankly, don’t want anyone berating the book because of it. It’s still a Young Adult dystopian novel also featuring a King, after all. You can not like a book due to its plot or writing style or the like. But if it’s just because LGBTQ isn’t something you’re into, I think it’s important to be upfront about what you’ll read in this new release and know that it might upset you. I think I need to say it now because while it’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me in person, I tend to be quiet online and don’t invite negativity into my conversations. No one is going to change my mind on this matter, so there’s no use in confrontation.
Reina Torres is a 17-year-old girl who also happens to like other girls. This is part of her, but not her sole defining characteristic. She’s also sarcastic and strong, enthusiastic and hopeful. She enjoys reading and cooking, wants to change the world for the better, and turns out to be braver than she ever thought she could be. When King Magnus attempts to force her to marry his cruel son, it’s obviously not what she wants. Plenty of other things happen along the way, but in short, Reina Torres knows exactly who she is.
When beginning the outlines of THE BLOOD KING, it was important to me that Reina already be very aware of her preferences. I want readers, particularly teens, to know it’s okay to struggle and it’s okay to know, and it’s okay to be exactly as you are. Most of the story is about Reina’s struggle, not with liking other girls, but fighting to be herself in a world where she’s told not to. The kingdom of Brighton is dangerous for those risking their lives for love, and Reina is terrified–but she’s probably going to do it anyway, because in the end, she has to be true to herself.
By the end of Book 1, I want readers to feel hope. Hope for Brighton, hope for our own real world, hope in whatever struggles they face. It sounds so hokey when I put it that way, but that perhaps childlike optimism is why I wrote this duology in the first place. Ultimately, I want all readers to know it’s okay to be exactly who you are. And for those who identify with LGBTQ, know that you have an ally in me.