One of the reasons I wrote Ace in the Picture was that I wanted to represent asexuality as it really is, or, rather, accurately represent one section of the ace-spec to the best of my ability. I am ace so I felt that I could do that. When I write about polyamory, though…it’s different. I don’t even know any poly-people irl. (Not knowingly, that is. “Hello. I’m name and I’m poly” is a pretty unlikely greeting.) And yet, I’m part way through my fourth fictional novel about four polyamorous men. I’m not even male. I couldn’t be more cisgender, monogamous and female if I tried, but here I am, throwing my quad into crimes and mysteries with er…gay abandon…and I don’t know if I’ve got their lifestyle spot-on or insultingly wrong. I don’t take this as lightly as it might sound. Fictionalising lifestyles, especially non-normative ones, is a responsibility. I reckon one can do a lot of harm via casual misrepresentation.
I started off the County Durham Quad series with a real life quad in mind, three members living, one, sadly, dead. (See link below.) I don’t mean that my fictional men are based on these real ones – they’re not – only that I saw an interview and I was deeply touched by the obvious mutual affection, and amused by the references to domesticity. Those were two things that I’ve tried to bring out in the books – the supportiveness of such a relationship and its total normality. In all honesty, I think that in Book 1, Badge of Loyalty, I was simply finding my way through the ins and outs of an alien lifestyle. (Alien to me. The stories are neither fantasy nor paranormal.) As I ran with the plots, though, and developed the characters, I found myself analysing the lifestyle, wondering what might threaten, destabilise or even tear a poly quad apart, and, equally, wondering what would cement it. Hence the title of Book 2: Polyamory on Trial. In my head, I was placing polyamory in the dock. I hope, I really do hope, that I did the lifestyle justice.
Ace in the Picture was different. I looked at polyamory, or, rather, my take on it, from my own ace perspective. Well, not quite from my perspective for I’m not homoromantic, as Nick, the ace character, is, and I don’t share all his hang-ups, but, really, in that book, it was poly through asexual eyes. So, if a reader should be polyamorous and think, “It isn’t like this, actually,” I wouldn’t be overly worried. From my own-voice Ace POV, it is a correct interpretation.
And the next in the series? Well, Nick will be there again, trying to sort himself out, but I want to return to the poly-centre of the stories and, in particular, explore trust and fear of loss. I might take a while to finish it because I need to get it right. I owe it to people who are polyamorous to do my best to get it right! That’s what I mean when I say that writing fiction carries responsibilities. I can’t experience the lifestyle I’m writing about directly, so I need to read and read and not just run with my imagination, which, basically, is what I’ve done before. I’ve found some wonderful blogs and I’m trying to learn from them. There’s Carmen’s for example at https://ohmymermaid.com. If any one should wish to recommend others, please do comment below. Thanks – suggestions much appreciated.
Amazon author page: https://amazon.com/-/e/B07PDGWWPG