Taking Risks in Lesbian Fiction

Welcome friend and fellow author, Deanna DiLorenzo, to the blog with this special guest post about writing lesbian fiction. 

Tell Me When I first wrote my novel, Tell Me, I knew it took some risks. There is a certain formula that’s followed in lesbian fiction and it goes something like this:

  • Girl meets girl
  • Girl struggles briefly with inner turmoil
  • Girl two patiently waits
  • Life-changing sex scene happens by page 40
  • Happily ever after is achieved by page 50

My numbers may be off a little but anyone who has read enough lesbian fiction knows this is the basic formula we’ve come to expect, whether we actively seek it out or not.

But what happens when someone shakes up the formula a little? What happens when characters don’t fall into line and do what’s expected of them? Well, that’s when you end up with a book like Tell Me.

Tell Me is a love story with thorns. When I wrote this story I knew the characters were going to leap off the pages, flaws and all. I also knew I was taking a risk. I was messing with the formula. My main character would not change overnight simply because the sex was good. She would struggle. She would fall. She would make mistakes that leave the reader wanting to slap her – but she would also be likeable enough, real enough, to be forgiven.

But the risks. Would it really be worth the risks? As a first-time novelist, shouldn’t I just put out a product that sticks to the formula? I asked myself these questions during the editing process, and when I was first sending the manuscript out to publishers. I asked myself these same questions even after the book had been accepted for publication.

I wondered if maybe I should use a pseudonym, just in case. In the end I decided to go with my real name because I would not hide from this. I had written a book that broke the rules, but there was no shame in that. The real shame would be if I hid from it.

Tell Me was released at the end of February (2013) and I am happy to report it’s been getting some wonderful reviews.

For the most part, people get it, and they’re more than okay with reading about less-than-perfect characters. Some are a little surprised when they find the book has clearly strayed from the formula, but they write to say they are so happy it did because it’s unlike anything they’ve ever read in the genre.

The response has been amazing. Emails come in expressing how Tell Me has touched people in ways I never could have imagined. There have been one or two people who weren’t pleased with the broken formula, of course, but I assume there would also be people who wouldn’t be pleased even if I did stick to the formula.  As they say, you can’t please everyone.

But if you know that going in… if you know it’s actually impossible to please 100% of people 100% of the time, then isn’t it worth the risks to write the story as it really wants to be written? Why stick to the formula when your characters are clearly not formula types? If they don’t follow the rules in their (fictional) lives, why would they follow the (unwritten) rules of a particular genre?

I’m glad I took the risks. I’m glad I broke the rules. And I’m proud I wrote a story that is affecting people in ways I never could have expected. If that makes me the “bad girl” of lesbian fiction, I’ll take it.  I’ll gladly wear that title if it means I’ve done something to break through the barriers of what is and what “should be”.

Special thanks to Brandon Shire for allowing me a voice in his space!


Deanna DiLorenzo

Book Blurb:

When Meagan Summers ends her three-year relationship with her deadbeat rocker boyfriend, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with a woman. Yet when she meets the beautiful blond poet, Amber Reed, that’s exactly what happens.

 But Meagan finds her relationship with Amber is fraught with just as many anxieties and frustrations as her previous relationships. She struggles to come to terms with her newfound attraction to Amber as she juggles work, familial expectations, and her own guilt and insecurity. At times it seems the only solace she can find is in the cherished moonstone ring her beloved grandmother bestowed upon her before she died, along with some sage advice Meagan is just now beginning to understand.

Yet soon Meagan discovers she can’t be the person Amber needs her to be, and when their relationship comes to a dramatic end, Meagan finds herself fleeing to London in an attempt to put the pieces of her life back together. Just when she finally figures out how to make things right, a tragic accident occurs, threatening to undo everything and everyone around her.

Author Bio:

Deanna DiLorenzo was born in Ontario, Canada and currently lives in Buffalo NY with her partner Mercy and their two dogs, a Chihuahua named Dani & a Boxer named Devito.

Get in touch with Deanna on her website, Twitter, or on Facebook