Fiction teaches us many things whether we realize it or not. That being said, fiction has not been my way of writing as an adult. I wrote stories all the time as a child. Still, after reading many badly written lesbian novels when I got out of college, I’ve wanted a book that was more like my life. Needless to say, my life is not as exciting as those often used as the topics in lesfic. I am not a secret spy or talk, dark, and handsome. Still, love happens in my life and has its beauty and power.
Back in 1997 (wow that’s 20 years ago) I started a short story about a woman’s romance. It began to grow into a book. I set it aside because I wasn’t sure about its value. Then, Regal Crest, Bold Strokes, and other companies began to put out stories by writers that were good. The ones in the 80s (with the exception of Rubyfruit Jungle and Patience and Sarah) had no plot and many could not spell. It’s unclear if they even had editors. The topic was sex too, not romance. Yes, sex can be part of romance but if that’s all it is, then it’s boring to me. One of the things I’ve learned about myself throughout the years is that smart is sexy. Smart is interesting and engaging. I wanted characters that had depth as well as passion. I’ve started sharing the writers on my website that I encourage you to read when you’re interested in lesfic.
This is not to say that my fiction will be particularly “smart” or “sexy”, but it will have a story and I know spellcheck. Also, many lesbian stories have happy endings. Yes, there are trials along the way, but books can end on a fairly happy tone. My fiction will be more about life as many rural people experience it. This means that the mix will have lesbians as the main characters, but also there will be plenty of straight characters too. One may be able to live around many groups of LGBTQIA+ people in the city, but not so in the country. Rural settings are filled with people that are as diverse as in the city, but in a quieter manner. Also, any person living in a rural setting that is also part of the LGBTQIA+ community must be discreet and careful. My first novel is titled “Finding Home” and I will be getting the proof sometime this week. Hope to have it out for your consideration this summer.
One other thing I had to consider in writing fiction was whether or not I would use my given name on the fiction books. My first two books are non-fiction and rather serious books. As a result, I decided that I would use the pen name J.R. Frank for my fiction. I am working on another memoir and a collection of music essays that I hope are published later and since they are more serious, a pen name for the fiction makes sense. That way, when people expect a certain feel from my writing as JRobin Whitley you know what you’re getting. Same thing with J.R. Frank. The books published under J.R. Frank will be mostly lesbian fiction. I hope you will take a chance on my fiction even if you aren’t a lesbian. You never know, you just might learn that we are not a lot different than you.
Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown
Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller, Emma Donoghue