‘Growth’ was a challenging story for me to write. Oddly, in some ways, because it’s one of the more straightforward pieces I’ve written in recent years. Though some parts are emotionally close to home , it was not in the dark, and often pretty twisted, way I sometimes explore my psyche.
The call for submissions requested positive portrayals of QUILTBAG (that is, gender and sexually diverse) families. It turned out there was a lot to the opening line to Anna Karenina – functional families can be hard to write without being boring. But it’s also so important we tell the stories of queer families that aren’t mired in pain and destruction. So I started thinking about the narrative of a young queer person escaping their family and their home town and turned it on its head. It’s an important narrative, which reflects many people’s stories, but it’s become the default to an extent I’m not comfortable with.
What if, I thought, a young person voluntarily lives in a situation where distance from their parents is literally impossible – and it works out okay?
And then Tay emerged, late teens, fiercely loyal, with a difficult past but secure and loved, who persuades their parents to make a decision that can’t be undone.
Once I have my main character, I usually know that things are going to come together. In this story, more than most, Tay pulled it along. It’s a story about change and community, and how neither needs to be a threat to the other. I sometimes joke that it’s the queerest story I’ve ever written: among my cast there are genderqueer, pansexual, lesbian, asexual and bisexual characters. Cos we’re sick of being the sidekicks.
And ‘Growth’ is also out now, along with 14 other stories in the Fierce Family anthology from Crossed Genres press, in both print and ebook formats. I’m really excited about this anthology, and it’s making for a great start to 2014.