Today I am so pleased to welcome April Kelley to Joyfully Jay. April has come to talk to us about her latest release, The Journey of Jimini Renn. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
The Challenges of Writing about Bisexual Characters
I don’t particularly care for labels myself. I suppose this is an individual thing. Some people need the label because it makes them feel as if they belong somewhere, or maybe they have a different reason. Labels help us in certain situations. They certainly help us when it comes to writing because we have a word for a particular identifying trait or gene, or whatever scientific-y thing makes us who we are. I don’t claim to know all the science behind all that. I just know it’s not a choice. So for the sake of simplifying things I’ll use the terms bisexual and gay as identifying labels.
In The Journey of Jimini Renn both of the main characters, Jimini and Aaruth, are bisexual. This is my first experience writing about characters that identified so strongly with this label. Every time before I sort of just skated over the label as if it didn’t really matter and it really didn’t. Ultimately, it isn’t about labeling anyone anything, but about the romance between two people. Every time I sit down to write a story the romance is always more important than anything else. However, the main characters sexual identity does come up in the book as a conversation between them. So I discovered some challenges in writing bisexual characters that aren’t really there when writing about gay characters.
For example, one if the challenges I had was how to show a character is bisexual. So many times as writers we here the term show don’t tell. I found this to be difficult when it comes to bisexuality. The question I found myself asking: how do I effectively show a character’s bisexuality without showing them as being promiscuous?
Now might be a good time to tell you that I am bisexual. I have been happily married, to the same person, for nineteen years now. I don’t have a burning need to be with both genders, and I’ve never cheated on my spouse. I’m just attracted to both genders, well not every single person on the planet, but you get what I’m saying. Gender wasn’t a thing for me. And I loathe the connotation that bisexuality equals an unfaithful, sex-crazed person. Not true at all. Even despite the fact that I understand completely how bisexual characters feel, I still found it difficult to write about it effectively.
I think it helped that the Journey the title speaks of isn’t at all about Jimini Renn’s bisexuality, but rather a physical and an emotional journey. Not making the story solely about this one thing opened up the possibilities for a discussion between the two characters that was both effective without making them out to be promiscuous. I also thought it was easier for me to write about bisexual characters in a post-apocalyptic or dystopian world simply because there was no discrimination at all regarding sexuality, at least not in Jimini Renn’s world. Perhaps in another setting bisexuality would be harder to write about. For me, I find it more of a challenge in modern times simply because of the connotations I mentioned above.
As for future projects, I plan on incorporation more bisexual characters and perhaps tackle some of the issues we face in regards to discrimination.
In a world without surface water, Jimini Renn wants nothing more than to live inside the protective walls of Adam City for the rest of his life, but his little brother has other ideas.
As far as Jimini is concerned, Adam City has everything he needs. It has a well that provides much-needed water, food, and safety from the dangers of the outside world. When his bookworm of a brother leaves to chase waterfalls, Jimini must follow even though he knows it will probably mean his death. When the first person he meets on the outside pulls a gun on him, he’s proven right. No one who calls himself a slaver and has a gun has Jimini’s safety in mind, even if he is sexy. The journey Jimini expects isn’t the one he gets.
Living in Southwest Michigan, April resides with her husband and two kids. She has been an avid reader for several years. Ever since she wrote her first story at the age of ten, the characters in her head still won’t stop telling their stories. If April isn’t reading or writing, she can be found outside playing with the animals or taking a long walk in the woods. If you wish to contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please visit her website at authoraprilkelley.com