Posted in Articles

Why I Write Feminist Romance

If you asked me five years ago if I’d be writing romance and absolutely loving it, I would’ve laughed at you. Why? Well, I’m a huge tomboy, and growing up, the romance genre seemed to have no place for me. My glimpses into it was hyper-feminine girls, ultra-masculine guys–both things I veered away from in a big way. After all, I detest pigheaded, overly macho guys, and I hate being talked down to. My limited exposure taught me that romance as a genre was all about that.

Except it’s not. I wrote my first romance novella on a whim, just curious to explore a new genre and write a fun story about selkies (That’s By the Sea, by the way :P) as I dove further into writing the genre, I also began to read more paranormal romance, immersing myself in the stories. That’s when I first discovered the genre held more depth than I thought it did, more diversity, more variety than the rigid lines my exposure had gleaned me. As I dove deeper, I read stories with strong women, with softer men, ones with every sort of kink imaginable, every type of personality explored. Assault survivors, abuse survivors, people with horrifying pasts were featured in these books, their damage brought to the plate as they fought to heal from it so they could be in happy, committed relationships.

There was a depth to many of these stories that I hadn’t at first anticipated, and I began to believe differently than I’d thought from the beginning. Maybe the romance genre did have a place for a bossy tomboy like me. Older stories that adhered more rigidly to gender norms and stereotypes had no appeal to me, but I fast began to see that a lot of modern day romance authors were feminists like myself, and that their beliefs wove into their work seamlessly. Once I realized I didn’t have to become hyper-feminine to read and write romance, that I could be the rough-talking, crude chick I’ve always been I dove headfirst into the genre and I haven’t regretted it once.

Truth be told, I don’t want other women to experience what I did–feeling not-female because I didn’t adhere to the stereotypes of my gender, because I didn’t want to coo over purses and shoes growing up. I want women and men both to be able to enjoy romance, because I think emotional exploration is important, but to do that, to engage both sexes, feminism is beyond important. Men have to be allowed to be soft, to be real, to have doubts and fears and hopes, rather than representation as some grunting macho stud who can’t have emotions. And women need to be able to flourish, for their strengths to be highlighted, not quashed, and their personalities shine off the page.

So, I’ll continue writing my feminist brand of romance to prove that there are a thousand shades of strength in both sexes, and that our gender need not define our personalities. That we as human beings are complex, multi-faceted creatures worth exploring.

And, if you’re looking for a diverse and feminist urban fantasy to plunge into, Philadelphia Coven Chronicles will definitely be up your alley.

Thanks for tuning in!

-Kat

Posted in Articles

Consent in Romance

Now, I don’t often publicize my stances on things, mostly because even if your views are different than mine, if they don’t hurt people, I’ll respect them. However, this one’s been boiling in the back of my mind for a long time, and it involves the topic of consent.

I was in the mood for a paranormal romance the other night and decided to check out a different book. Solid writing and steamy sex scenes should’ve meant I was in for a great time, but instead, I finished it feeling knots in my stomach and bile in my throat. Here’s the deal, guys. If the heroine says no, that she doesn’t want sex, and swarthy, domineering alpha male charges in and takes what he wants anyway, that’s rape. I know, I said it–the ugly word–the one that makes people start shouting feminazi from the highest hill. But seriously, this shouldn’t be a difficult concept to digest, and I have to admit that it really twists me up inside to see this in a modern day romance novel.

Now, I know the domineering thing can be a turn on. So can possessiveness, aggressiveness, and all of those charming dom traits, but at the end of the day, if a vocal ‘no, stop’ is being disregarded because daddy needs to get his rocks off, this is no longer in the realm of sexy hero–we’ve stepped into the danger zone of thinking women aren’t human beings any more. And you know what? It’s so tired, people. Obviously, we are. I’ve read tons of romances where there are submissive chicks and dom guys and they all coexist happily and sexily ever after with consent. My point? It does not need to cross over into rape territory.

I’ve heard plenty of arguments during the height of the Fifty Shades shenanigans where folks defended abusive behavior. Maybe for some people, the abuse and rape is a fantasy, however, for a hell of a lot of people it’s real, and I can almost guarantee you know at least one person who has been, whether they’re open about it or not. So yeah, I don’t like those sorts of books–let me make that abundantly clear. I’m not here to tell you what you should and shouldn’t like, but I will say, that for modern day romance novels, as authors and readers, we can do better than those antiquated and outdated views.

For my readers, I promise you this: When I write two leads getting their groove on, I sure as hell guarantee that both parties will be one hundred percent on the same page.

 

 

Posted in Sneak Peeks

Exclusive Poetry

Check out the Exclusive Poetry section under the Poetry header. I’ve published some never before seen poems here and will be occasionally putting new pieces out.

The first two out are: The Fight and Stilettos, about the start of a breakup, and feminism, respectively.

Posted in Articles

Books That Have Shaped Me: Dealing with Dragons

Why the pulpy young adult novel, you ask? Yeah, this isn’t any Flowers to Algernon or the classics they spoonfeed you in school. However, I definitely have to say, Patricia C. Wrede’s oft underrated series definitely left a mark on my life and my writing. The story is great–I could read it again and again, but what I found so profoundly refreshing was the heroine.

As a tomboy, I had a tough time finding females in fiction to connect with, especially in older novels. Mind you, I mainly stayed within the fantasy genre, however across the board complex women were the exception not the standard. So often, you’d have a simpering, whiny princess, or some aloof and reserved queen that always held their temper and never said a bad word. Or just went gunning for the stereotypes like the beloved Belgariad and the Mallorean, where Ce’Nedra’s irrational behavior and lack of communication is attributed to her womanhood. On the flipside, if the ladies were tough in books, they were these sexpots that wielded sharp sarcasm and even sharper blades.

Cimorene was different. She was practical, stubborn, and didn’t give a damn about what people thought. While she had tomboyish tendencies, she wasn’t afraid to get neck deep in cooking and cleaning either. After glossing over so many caricatures of women, it was refreshing as a kid to find a heroine so realistic. As the series continued, I only admired her more, especially watching the banter between her and Mendenbar, because they operated as equals from the very beginning.

Now as an author myself, Wrede’s characterization has definitely rubbed off on me, because I find myself incapable of writing anything less than complex, interesting women. Strength takes many forms, whether it be emotional, physical, or simple common sense. Cimorene, Morwen, and Kazul are all such different characters, and yet I could identify distinct characteristics from each one. Cimorene’s stubbornness, Morwen’s practicality, and Kazul’s wiliness. (I also happened to adore that Kazul, despite being a female dragon, became King of the Dragons.)

So, if you haven’t read Dealing with Dragons, do yourself the favor. Plus, if you have kids, it’s a great option to read together. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a fantastic place.

Dealing With Dragons