Op-Ed: What My Characters Taught Me

A fiction author shares how creating a gay charactor for her debut novel made her a gay ally for life.

BY Liz Borino

May 25 2012 4:31 PM ET

An author writes a book with the hope that the story or characters will have an impact on readers’ lives, alter their perspectives, or at the very least provide an enjoyable escape. What authors — especially new authors — very rarely expect is the impact their books will have on their lives.

When you sit down to write a book, you usually begin with a set of characters who have a problem, generally caused by another character, idea, or natural event. For a book to take the reader out of the world in which they exist day to day and into the author-created one, these characters must live and grow inside their creator. They’re real. Authors love and hate them — sometimes simultaneously. And you know what? That’s good. 

What does all this have to do with becoming a straight ally? Well, the concept for my first published novel, Expectations, was simple: young adult identical twins fighting to win their overbearing father’s approval and sizable trust funds. The fight came in because neither liked the contingencies. Matt had to work at a job he hated, so he coped with women and alcohol. Chris was told to marry and have a son. Seemed simple enough, but even given a smart and beautiful woman, it didn’t work. Then again, it couldn’t. His heart belonged to his best friend, Aiden. I never intended to have two gay men for main characters. However, honoring their love was more important than my plans.

Tags: Books

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