Thanks for taking the time and trouble to send me your thoughts. I'm currently about a third of the way through my next book, and I'm a bit stuck. Since reading how much you're looking forward to it, though, I have been immensely cheered. In fact, I've been smiling all day.
I just finished reading Slow River and Ammonite (recommended to me by a straight male friend, in fact), and would like to thank you for the quality and care of your writing. Both novels were gripping -- I found myself having trouble putting them down while simultaneously pacing myself, rationing your words so that I could save some for later. I can't wait for your next novel.
Reflecting on both Ammonite and Slow River, I guess what strikes me the most is not that they are lesbian science fiction (though since I read a lot of both lesbian fiction and science fiction, it's wonderful to have the combination), but that both Lore and Marghe are so matter-of- fact about their sexual orientation. Books have always been influential in helping me see and understand things about myself, and at first I identified strongly with the more typical fictional lesbian characters who always seem to be second-guessing, debating, and agonizing over their desires to be with other women. However, as I've moved into a more accepting stage myself, these fictional characters haven't.
I guess I didn't realize how much these fictional lesbian characters always second-guessing themselves bothered me until I read your novels, and realized that there was no reason for them to, that they didn't have to. And I'd like to thank you for that, for portraying a remarkably reasonable not-so-distant future world (in Slow River) where gender and sexual orientation are just not issues.
Reading Ammonite was also an enlightening experience. Initially, I found myself making assumptions that various captains, commanders, etc. were male, and having to change my mental view when I realized they were female. I hadn't realized how ingrained the authority figure = male assumption was in my subconscious until I was confronted with a situation where all the characters, major and minor, were female. I found this quite interesting -- why should my default gender be male? I guess I should start assuming everyone's a lesbian, and go from there. :)
I guess this is more of a thank-you fan letter than it is a question. :) I just stumbled across this page, and it seemed a convenient way to let you know how much I enjoyed your books. I'm recommending them to many of my friends, and eagerly await your next works!
I know what you mean about all those lesbian and gay characters who agonize about their sexuality. I subscribe to the Nike school of philosophy: Just Do It. If you sit around and fret about it, you're not getting on with your life. Which sounds rather simplistic, but I don't think it is. Plan, yes; think, yes; what-if to a certain extent; but then there is only one more thing to do, and that's to Just Do It. There's no other way. And who wants to *read* about that stuff, anyway?
Every now and again, someone will ask me the secret of being a writer, and I say: write. People look for the magic bullet (a no-diet, no-exercise way to lose weight; a no-study way to get a degree; a no-sweat way to become a black belt) but there isn't one. If you're a lesbian, go fall in love (or just have sex with, depending on your personality) a woman, and get on with enjoying your life. If you want to write a novel, start writing one. Today. If it's awful, write another. You can go to workshops, too, if you like, but if you don't write, you don't ever produce a novel.
It's interesting, what you said about default gender. I talked to a man at a party once who got really angry and told me he bought Ammonite and read it and felt that the publisher had ripped him off. "Why?" I asked. "Because they lied on the back cover! They deceived me. They didn't say there weren't any men in it!" So I pointed out that *he* was the one who had deceived himself. He had read the back cover blurb, which talked about 'the natives' and 'the Company' and 'them' and so on, and just *assumed* they were all men. He blinked at me, confused. So I asked, "Did you enjoy it?" and he said, "Well, yes. But that's not the point!" I, on the other hand, think it's the main point.