Today I’m participating in the blog tour for LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE. I can’t speak for the ace rep because I haven’t gotten a chance to read it yet, but it has one of my favorite covers of the year! Claire Kann stopped by to share a guest post on what it’s like write marginalized characters that have very little representation in media. Keep reading to find out her thoughts.
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: January 23rd 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Alice had her whole summer planned. Non-stop all-you-can-eat buffets while marathoning her favorite TV shows (best friends totally included) with the smallest dash of adulting–working at the library to pay her share of the rent. The only thing missing from her perfect plan? Her girlfriend (who ended things when Alice confessed she’s asexual). Alice is done with dating–no thank you, do not pass go, stick a fork in her, done.
But then Alice meets Takumi and she can’t stop thinking about him or the rom com-grade romance feels she did not ask for (uncertainty, butterflies, and swoons, oh my!).
When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn, and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library employee badge (close enough), Alice has to decide if she’s willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated—or understood.
Guest Post by Claire Kann:
Let’s Talk About Love’s main character Alice is Black and biromantic asexual.
I’ve said this a few times now, and one day, my frankness will probably get me in trouble, but the honest, hand-over-heart truth is this: I wrote this character and this book because I wanted to.
When I get asked the question of why, I always feel there’s this expectation of a grand story behind my choice—of discovery and realization, of seeing the lack of representation and the decision to step in, and of a profoundly personal justification and assertion of a right to exist. And while some of that may be true, I’m not going to talk about it.
But let’s talk about getting it “wrong.”
Using the Swoon Reads site, as much as I loved it, was a double-edged sword. Writers post finished but not professionally edited works online for community feedback and a hope of being selected for publication. The first version of LTAL posted, at its core, was absolutely the story I wanted to write—a genre romance with a Happily Ever After for two characters who rarely get to have one. And while some readers loved it, it felt like the whole of the internet came crashing down on my head when those who didn’t began to speak up.
When writing about an identity that has so little representation in media and has had such negative portrayals recognized as the standard, the individuals who do identify that way will understandably lash out, #ownvoices work or not. There’s this assumption that callouts for bad rep only happen to white writers, but that isn’t true. I’m not white. It still happened to me and it’s happened to other authors of color. It hurt something awful to watch my manuscript being publicly torn to shreds and I’m not just talking about over the ace representation. There were inherent flaws in the romance itself and Takumi’s characterization as well. I forced myself to read every tweet and subtweet, rant and review until I could figure out the epicenter of the hurt I’d caused.
The first draft of LTAL came from my heart, but that wasn’t enough. I decided that I still had some learning and growing to do because LTAL was no longer something I had written just for me. Once I decided to post it on the internet, once I accepted my book deal, the story was no longer mine. I had an obligation to fix it, and thank the universe I had the time and team behind me willing to do whatever was needed to make that happen. I threw away 75% of that first manuscript and went back to the actual core—a genre romance with a Happily Ever After for two characters that I loved. It became so important to me that they existed and thrived in the best story I was capable of giving them at that time because they deserved it too.
Through multiple revisions, hours of research, and with the help of sensitivity readers, I feel like I got there in the end. LTAL isn’t a perfect book because there is no such thing. Not everyone will like this final version either, but I know I gave that book everything I had to get it “right” and ensure it was still the story I wanted to tell. And I own that.
About the Author:
Claire Kann hails from the glorious Bay Area where the weather is regrettably not nearly as temperate as it used to be. She has a BA in English/Creative Writing from Sonoma State University, works for a nonprofit that you may have heard of where she daydreams like she’s paid to do it. LET’S TALK ABOUT LOVE is her debut novel.