I never set out to specifically write bisexual books. In fact, I wasn’t even out as bi when I began. I’d been tentatively feeling my way around LGBTQ+ lit for several years, but due to a number of factors, I was not ready to acknowledge (even to myself) that I was attempting to find myself on the pages.
When I first began to put free fiction up on my web site, I wrote primarily heterosexual couples and families (which, since I never actually said they were straight, could be read as bi if anyone chose to do so). I also had a handful of gay and lesbian characters (some of whom, again, could be read as bi because they never specifically identify any particular way). I had never purposefully written a bisexual character.
I’d read enough to know I disliked every single trope, however. When I wrote Lower Education, I’d had in mind that I would write the main character, Phin Patterson, as gay. He was really annoyed with me and in no uncertain terms let me know he was 100% bisexual. Which stressed me out slightly, as he was meant to be a person who didn’t much care who he hurt in order to get ahead in his career. (For what it’s worth, he also told me I was absolutely wrong about what kind of person he was).
In my second novel, Passing on Faith, the main character was once again meant to be gay. In fact, his love interest was also meant to be a gay man. Neither of those worked out so well. Cat made it clear he was definitely not a man, and he identifies as queer. Micah sobbed onto my shoulder and said he’d been afraid to acknowledge he might be bi because of his family’s religious bigotry and the pressure they might place on him.
Since then, I have never written a novel without a bisexual main character. I have a handful of short stories, mostly appearing in anthologies, with gay and lesbian characters, and there are always people of all genders and orientations in every novel. For me, making bisexuality visible in fiction is a political statement: solidarity, refusal to be erased, and bringing our lives to the forefront for a change. I write literary-leaning, character-driven, relational novels which usually have happy-for-now (rather than happily every after—who can see that far ahead?) endings. I don’t generally write romance, which frees me to explore complex interactions between friends and families. It also means I don’t leave the het sex off-page, even if that bothers some readers who only want one kind of sensuality.
Tomorrow, I’m going to provide a list of all my favorite bisexual characters written by other people. Today, though, I give you the complete list of my bisexual characters. Not all of these books use the word, and not all are focused on bisexual issues, but here they are, in order of publication date.
Phin Patterson, Lower Education – educational consultant and one-time state vulture
Michael Sloane-Wells, Lower Education – teenage son of the school secretary, Dani Sloane
Alice Decker, Between Us and the Penguins (short story in Downpour anthology) – penguin zookeeper
Zayne Cresswell, Passing on Faith, Leaps of Faith, Keeping the Faith – Micah’s BFF, a bisexual biracial trans woman
Cooper Trenton, Passing on Faith, Leaps of Faith, Keeping the Faith – minor character, Micah’s godson
Trace Watson, Electricity (short story) – stranded traveler
Angel Zamora, Electricity – mysterious mansion dweller
Tiffany and Garritt Engen, House Blend, Double Sweet (short story in Of Heartstrings and Hope anthology), Fifteen Minutes, An Act of Devotion – minor characters, a married non-monogamous couple
Paul Duncan, Chemical Reaction (short story) – head of the music department and object of the main character’s interest
Trevor Davidson, Anthem, Nightsong, Drumbeat– church musician writing songs which are not exactly about Jesus
Andre Cole, Anthem, Nightsong, Drumbeat – graphic designer and the subject of Trevor’s song
Adam Lansing, An Act of Devotion – graduate student not quite ready to grow up (graciously on loan to me by his original author, Adrian J. Smith)
David Simms, Walking by Faith – nurse and Cat’s lover (briefly mentioned in Passing on Faith, Leaps of Faith, and Keeping the Faith)
Izzy Kaplan, Nightsong, Drumbeat – EMT and drag queen
Dottie Flanders, Pink in the Mirror – drag race enthusiast with a pin-up girl aesthetic
Jamal Knight, Leaps of Faith, Keeping the Faith – professor of literature, married to LR
Chris Sharpe, Keeping the Faith (coming Nov. 1, 2017) – inter-denominational pastor, trans activist, and new friend to Micah
Annie Tomasso, Ashes and Alms (coming 2017) – doctor and world-traveler
Cian Toomey, Drumbeat (coming spring 2018) – deaf Irish dancer who is in a polyamorous family unit
I also have several other works-in-progress which feature bisexual characters, including two young adult novels, a sequel to An Act of Devotion, and the fourth book in the Notes from Boston series, Minuet.
Representation is important, and while these characters all have some experiences in common, they all have different histories and approaches to their bisexuality. Some feel no need to identify or even align with the bisexual community. Others feel deeply connected to their community roots. They are people of various genders. Some are monogamous, some are poly. Most (so far) are in same or similar gender relationships, but not all. Some have had successive relationships with people of more than one gender, and some have not. Some are (or will) enter different-gender relationships for the first time, while others are in a first-time same gender relationship.
Because I write primarily for a bisexual audience of multiple genders, my hope is that people can find themselves in the pages. I don’t write in a vacuum—I rely on the input of my big, beautiful bi community. So if there’s something you want to see on page, some aspect of being bisexual, please let me know! I’m always open to new angles.
Happy reading, and happy #BiWeek!