Jea Hawkins is here today!
She released her latest novel, but first, Jea has something to say.
The first time I was aware of my sexuality as being different than the “norm” was 9th grade. It was the first time I’d looked at another girl and thought, “I would like to kiss her.”
She was my best friend and, no, we never kissed.
I am a very fortunate person – if I had started a relationship with another young woman when I was a teenager, my family wouldn’t have batted an eyelash. To them, being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is not abnormal. It is simply a fact of life.
I also know the flip side exists – that, for some families, being gay is not a fact of life. They abhor the very idea. Now that I am in my forties, I am sorry to say I have encountered many young people whose parents disapprove of their sexual orientation. These people wonder why their parents cannot be more like me: accepting of who they are and not questioning it or treating them like they are criminals.
How is this relevant to writing?
As a Gen Xer, I grew up on the wonderful fantasy and sci-fi of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, Marian Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey – they were just some of my favorite authors from my adolescence. I particularly enjoyed stories in which women formed friendships with one another and didn’t “need a man” to be a part of that dynamic.
Of course, I wanted to write the same kind of epic fantasy and science fiction. I wanted to explore new worlds and far-out ideas, with women as the central characters.
Over time, though, I found that while I enjoyed writing those genres, I wasn’t striking the chords intended. Sure, the stories were full of fun and action, but the heartfelt relationships within them weren’t taking center stage.
So I stepped back and rethought my writing. How could I write fiction for women that would be light, fun and uplifting?
Lesbian romance seemed like the answer, so I delved into it with all my heart. Sometimes it felt a little awkward to tell people “I write romance” when they asked what I was working on, but as I received reader feedback, I learned something important. Lesbian romance is so much more than some lines on a digital page that make readers smile. What do I mean by that?
Going back to those younger people I’ve met whose parents disapprove of their “lifestyle,” I realize now that writing light-hearted lesbian romance with happy endings is just one way to normalize how we fall in love.
Do my stories dig deep? It depends on the tale on my mind. Does love hurt? Of course. That’s universal no matter who we love. But when people realize they have a love worth fighting for, do they deserve the happy ending? Absolutely.
The awful trope of lesbians dying due to simply being who they are is atrocious and there is no place for it in our world.
I’m sorry to say there are still many, many people who believe being gay is wrong. In A Vote for Love, I explore that notion a little bit with Veronica, a senator’s daughter. However, many people who disagree with those people also exist and understanding that love is love transcends politics. Sometimes we can be quick to judge someone based on labels – their religion, political party, or something else. The story I hope Hayley and Veronica tell, however, is that actions speak louder than words.
Hayley’s family, for example, is as conservative as Veronica’s father. Midwestern farmers with deep roots in Nebraska, what does this family do when Hayley brings a girlfriend home? They welcome her with open arms, because love isn’t something we can dictate with a religious ideology or political platform. It’s just a part of life.
In the end, both Hayley and Veronica decide to transform their love into action and I think that is what I wanted to tell people: that you can do whatever you set your mind to, as long as you follow your heart.
I was fortunate enough to be able to date whoever I wanted without fear of judgment, to go out into the world with the knowledge that I could love without limitation. Not everyone has that privilege, however.
Gay people deserve so much more than token characters or cautionary tropes in fiction. I want to celebrate lesbian relationships with stories that aren’t driven by angst or pain, but instead by attaining that which my characters seek.
***And now for her new release: A Vote for Love***
What happens when a barista with dreams of becoming a journalist meets a senator’s daughter?
Hayley Becker is a hard-working Midwestern girl who dreams of being a journalist and her goal is within reach. That is, until she falls for glamorous Veronica Stone-McClusky, a senator’s daughter.
As these unlikely opposites attract, Hayley can’t deny the allure of Veronica’s world, a world she soon discovers is at odds with her ambitions. Hayley learns that dreams aren’t always what they seem and sometimes, like it or not, the least likely person is the one you fall in love with.
With career aspirations pulling her one way and her love life pulling her in another direction, Hayley is forced to make a choice or risk losing what she values most.
Jea Hawkins writes sweet and spicy contemporary lesbian romance. If love conquers all, then she’d like to think her heroines can rule the world one day. An east coast transplant to the Midwest, she loves to write about complicated women and settings that feel like home.
Personal addictions include autumn, cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, and the Sims 3. She’s both an avid reader and gamer, and hopes readers don’t mind a few geeky references here and there in her work.
Thanks so much for stopping by!